Hi! Thanks so much for coming today. Tell us a little bit about yourself.
Hi! Thanks to you for welcoming me at Romance with a Bite. I’m joining you from London, England. My debut novel Oxford Whispers was officially released on October 8th, so it’s a very exciting time for me. I’m looking forward to sharing my dreams and my stories with readers.
Tell us a bit about your book.
Oxford Whispers is a New Adult Paranormal Romance. For those of you who are not yet familiar with the term “New Adult,” I could also qualify it as Upper-Young Adult or Mature-Young Adult, or even College-Lit… Anyway, what it means is that my main characters—Madison and Rupert—are in their early twenties and grad students at the prestigious Oxford University.
Although the plot revolves around a mysterious Pre-Raphaelite painting (a real one titled The Wounded Cavalier), and my heroine has psychic abilities she has inherited from her creole family, her journey is still one that many of us (poor gift-less human beings) have taken—or are still walking on—in our early twenties, these “in-between-years” when you’re not a kid anymore but not yet an adult. First time away from home, first friends who don’t know about our background or where we come from, first jobs or job searches, and of course first ‘real’ love, i.e. with the potential to become a long-term/lifelong relationship.
Oxford Whispers has a central mystery plot with a vengeful ghost, a reincarnated love triangle, and some Voodoo spicy flavor, but it’s also about independence, uncertainty, and building your own life.
Is this part of a series?
Yes, it is the first book in a trilogy… The Oxford Trilogy. The second book, tentatively titled Oxford Shadows, will be released in spring 2013, and the last installment in winter 2013.
What was your favorite part?
In the writing?
I’d say revisions are my favorite part of writing. A lot of authors would call me crazy for saying that but it’s really true. I hate the first draft because I always feel that I have let my characters down, that they have much more to say, much more to feel. I know I have to go deeper than what I have done so far and do justice to them by exploring their emotions and contradictions.
Therefore, I’m the masochistic writer who is always super excited to receive the cover letter and line-edits from my editor, or comments from my Critique Partners and Beta Readers.
Writing can be a solitary endeavor (although I NEVER feel lonely when I write), and I enjoy the team-work and bouncing ideas. But for doing that, I must have the first draft done and dusted.
In the book itself?
Well, you know at the end, it’s a romance, so I absolutely love writing the key scenes, the key steps in Madison and Rupert’s relationship: the first time they meet, the first time they kiss, the first time they fight, the first time they make love… but I hope the sexual tension is present in all the scenes they share in-between! That’s probably the most challenging part for a romance writer.
Although most of the novel is set in today’s Oxford, there’s a parallel love story set in seventeenth century’s England. The voice, the tone had to be different, more lyrical. It was very interesting for me as a writer to create that parallel world, and interweave the story threads from the past and the present.
Why did you choose to write romance?
I was very lucky to attend prestigious universities, with lots of very cultured and bright people. I read a lot of classics, not only in English literature, but also French and German classics. I’m so grateful for that opportunity to feed my imagination with so brilliant references.
That said, modern high-brow literary fictions often gets on my nerves. I want entertainment, I want to dream, I want to escape, I want to fall in love again and again… That’s what romance promises and delivers. But there’s so much more. Romance heroines are so influential in the way they inspire and open new paths for so many girls and women.
So, even if I don’t think romance should be limited to a female readership, I am also proud to be part of a cultural phenomenon that empowers women! That’s certainly what I have tried to achieve though Madison’s journey, her experience as a young woman in a foreign country, and in her relationship with her new friends, her family back home, and of course her love for Rupert.
Do you ever have any conversations in your head with your characters? If so, can you give us a hint of what you might talk about?
No, I actually don’t talk with them in my head. Or, at least, not for long. As soon as a snippet of dialogue springs out in my mind, I write it down in one of those moleskin diaries… My characters talk to each other, they don’t talk to me…
That doesn’t mean that I don’t think of them or about what’s going to happen to them next, I do that ALL THE TIME! Hence many sleepless nights ;-)
Rate your story in terms of steaminess
Oxford Whispers is the first book in The Oxford Trilogy. Madison and Rupert have just met, and although the attraction is there from the first time their eyes lock… it has to be realistic. She’s twenty-two with her own (limited) experience. So I’d say the first book tends to be still relatively sweet and follows Madison in her exploration of her own sexuality, desires, needs. Things are steaming up in the second book.
So, on a scale from 1 (Sweet Valley High) to 10 (Fifty Shades), Oxford Whispers ranks 6.83!
What are you reading right now?
I’m a very happy reader at the moment as there seems to be a wave of New Adult romances. I have loved Because of Low and While It Lasts by Abbi Glines, the fantastic Easy by Tammara Webber, the controversial Beautiful Disaster by Jamie McGuire…
I know this is like asking who is your favorite child, who is your favorite romance author (s)?
Gosh… This is such a difficult question. I think I will have to pick (for today, at least) Simone Elkeles. She’s the fantastic author of Perfect Chemistry and a wonderful lady.
What is your favorite romance book or series?
Can I cheat and throw a few titles here?
Yes! Thank you for being so kind…
I loved the Vampire Academy series by Richelle Mead (big fan of Adrian… so definitely a happy bunny now with her Bloodlines series)
And, yes, I’m going to say Twilight and Fifty Shades!!!!
Kill me ;-)
Who is your favorite romance character? If you could go on a date with that person, what would you do? Details please! *wink*
I’m an old-fashioned type of girl… So it will have to be Rhett Butler. I will ask him to do what he did to Scarlett (and more!), just with the doors wide open… So that all Atlanta can hear me screaming.
Boxers or Briefs?
Seriously, has anyone ever answered “Briefs”?
Twice actually LOL *wink*
Chocolate or Vanilla?
Vanilla… Chocolate gives me migraine.
Do you have a special piece of clothing you wear when you write?
Being a writer has taken a serious toll on my fashion choices… I write in my sports gear with a thick, woolen, ancient, over-sized pullover because I always get cold otherwise. I would write in my PJs if I could but I have to go and get my daughter from school… so can’t do that unfortunately, without taking the risk of having social services knocking at my door.
What is next for you?
I’m currently writing the second book in The Oxford Trilogy, which will take it on right from where Oxford Whispers stopped. It’s tentatively titled Oxford Shadows and explores the dark mysteries of Tudor England. It will be released in spring 2013.
What were your first impressions of each other?
Rupert of Madison: What a hot and stuck-up little number!
Madison of Rupert: He could melt the hinges on the gates of Hell…
What are your favorite parts about each other?
Rupert of Madison: the soft skin over her collarbone.
Madison of Rupert: the nape of his neck.
What’s next for you?
Rupert: re-connecting with my dysfunctional family, and making Madison the center of it (if she lets me to)
Madison: embracing my Voodoo-stamped heritage (and praying this doesn’t kill my fledgling relationship with Rupert)
I am a true citizen of the world. I was born in West Africa, grew up in the South of France, and studied in Vienna, Paris, Berlin, Cape Town, and Oxford before finally settling down in London. This wide variety of cities has provided lots of inspiration for my writing. Talk about culture exposure!
In addition to being an author, I work as an entrepreneur, wife and mother-of-one but spend a good deal of time with books, DVDs and listening to my mp3 player; all for the sake of inspiration, of course. My debut series, The Oxford Trilogy, has been a blast to write because I can indulge in my favorite types of music: Country and English rock.
My main goal as a writer is to make readers dream bigger and cause their hearts to beat a little faster. Since my writing is all about sharing dreams and stories, I love connecting with fellow readers and authors.
Two star-crossed lovers in the English Civil War
A painting with haunting powers
A murderous ghost back for revenge
Madison LeBon is dead set against the dead. She has vowed to ignore her Voodoo-stamped heritage and the psychic gift passed down through her Louisiana family. The world of the living is where she wants to belong.
But her resolution shatters when the ill-fated lovers in a painting—the subject of her first history class at Oxford—begin to haunt her. The lovers warn her against their own nemesis, a Puritan from the English Civil War.
In misty present-day Oxford, Madison embarks on a quest to unravel the secrets of the past and understand her personal bond with the painting. To protect herself, she must learn to accept her gift before life imitates art, in all its tragedy.
College becomes more complicated when she falls hard for Rupert Vance, a troubled aristocrat and descendant of one of the characters in the painting.
With the spirit of a murderer in hot pursuit, Madison comes to realize that her own first love may be doomed…
Based on a real Pre-Raphaelite painting, Oxford Whispers is full of romance, drama and suspense.
Fall in love for the first time… Again
Marion will be giving away a $20 New Adult Reading pack --i.e. selected NA titles on Amazon to one commenter on the tour) and encourage your readers to follow the tour and comment; the more they comment, the better their chances of winning. The tour dates can be found here: http://goddessfishpromotions.
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