Friday, March 20, 2009

Spotlight Author ~ Marjorie Gilbert

Welcome Marjorie Gilbert!

Author Introduction: Marjorie Gilbert is the author of The Return, a historical novel set in Georgian England.

I decided to write a book because I'm a fan of Jane Austen and Georgette Heyer, and I just love the Georgian and Regency periods. I got the idea for my first book when writing a screenplay for an adaptation of Jane Austen's Mansfield Park. When I reached the part where Sir Thomas goes to the West Indies, I began toying with the idea of two families who lived near each other in the Cotswalds and how the second son of an earl and the daughter of the other family grew up in each others' pockets. The son assumed that they'd get married, but as he was the second son, she dumped him to marry someone richer. This nearly destroys the son, makes him face some unpleasant truths about himself, so he leaves for the West Indies where he stays for 10 years. As I was writing the book I realized, since I was writing about his return to England, that there would have to be more books written to tell his story--that in fact I was writing book three in a series of five. George Lucas did something similar with Star Wars, and CS Forester with the Hornblower series, so why not me...

My favorite part about the writing experience is the research. I get to read fascinating books, talk with fascinating people, learn about so many interesting things. I got to learn how to box from an amazing man who had champions as students (boxers, kick boxers, grapplers, MMA artists, and more, plus a five time Junior Olympic kick boxer and boxing champion as a son), shadow a two-time world cruiser-weight kickboxing champion, meet with a gem cutter and a silver smith, observe draft horses get hitched to a wagon in the same kind of harness that was used in the 1800s, and so on. I've even gone the length of making a period Empire gown from Janet Arnold's book, Patterns of Fashion 1: 1660-1860. It took me three tries, but the gown came out very well (http://marjoriegilbert.net/album_33_020.htm). I have attached an excerpt from my WIP, Lord Wellesbourne. It is set in July of 1800. As my second book is half historical and half not and set in Maine.

The hero is an earl who discovers a woman lying on the Great North Road as he's traveling home to his country estate in Warwickshire after Parliament's session ends. He inherited his title following the deaths of his father and older brother, both of whom nearly ruined the estate through their irresponsibility and poor management. He does not wear boxers or briefs and not even drawers--the Georgian equivalent of going commando, I suppose. We'll just say he strips to great advantage.


Sudden shouts. The coach jolted, shuddered, jerked with the movements of the horses as they reared and finally halted.
“What is happening?” yelled William Sinclair, Earl of Wellesbourne. When no one answered, he lowered the glass in the coach, and felt the cold rain dampen his hair. He winced as lightning flashed, then threw open the coach door and leapt down to the ground when the light revealed a still shape in the middle of the road.
When he reached the body and knelt, another flash of light shone on the delicate features of a woman who lay in the boneless manner of a discarded doll. He checked for a pulse and found one, then gently attempted to determine if her neck was broken. Though the woman’s head lolled, her neck had not, it appeared, received any damage. More disturbingly, the woman’s skin felt very cold and she did not respond to his efforts to revive her.
“Is she dead?”
Wellesbourne looked up briefly to see his groom standing over him. “No. But she will be if she remains here.” He gathered the woman into his arms. The groom walked with him as he carried her to the coach, and assisted him to climb in and position her safely so she sat across his legs with her head resting against his shoulder. “What happened, Thompson?”
Thompson pulled a woollen travelling rug from beneath the other seat and wrapped it securely around the still woman and Wellesbourne. “I don’t know, my lord. Roberts could tell you. All I know is that suddenly the horses are rearing, and that postillion’s yelling his head off. Then I see a saddle horse standing beside the road.” He shrugged. “You know the rest, my lord.”
“My lord!” Roberts stood in the open doorway of the coach, rain streaming down his beaver hat and shoulders. “She’s not dead?”
“No. Not yet. What happened?”
“If it hadn’t been for the lightning we might not have seen her. The horse, hers I think, is still here. I made that postillion catch him. That worthless wrench nearly tumbled from the lead horse, bellowing like a stuck pig. As if he didn’t know that racket wouldn’t add to the cattle’s fright.” The coachman seemed so overcome with fury he could not continue.
Wellesbourne did not wait. “Thompson, check the saddle horse to see if it is sound, then ride it to Mr Tanney’s. Tell him his services are required immediately. Roberts, we must get back to Taunton Hall as quickly as this weather will allow. This woman needs to get into some dry clothes and a warm bed. Lord knows how long she has been exposed to the elements.”
Roberts tugged his forelock and disappeared. Thompson nodded and climbed down, then paused as he closed the coach door behind him. “What if the horse is lame, my lord?”
“Ride the postillion for all I care. Perhaps then he will finally be useful.”
The next ten miles passed with painful slowness.
Wellesbourne could see the woman’s face in momentary bursts as lightning penetrated the dark recesses of the coach, see lines of strain etched there.
She lay still against him. Her body remained cold despite his warmth and the heavy woollen rug that enfolded them. They must reach Taunton Hall soon. Wellesbourne clenched his jaw, forcing down a rising sense of anger. He could not allow this one to die.

Thank you to Marjorie Gilbert!

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Anonymous said...

Great posting and a very intriguing excerpt! I can't wait to read the rest of your book. I love historical novels! Unlike you, I was afraid to get into the research because it all seemed so overwhelming. But I had this story in my head that wouldn't leave me alone. So I finally bit the bullet and started researching. Now, it's fun and it finally paid off - my book, The Stranger She Married was published. Keep up the good work!