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Julianne Donaldson

April 01, 2012


1. Marianne's relationship with her grandmother does not, on the surface, appear to be a loving one. Is there love between them? What evidence do you find in the story to support your theory? Have you ever had a relationship like this one?

2. What do we learn about Marianne from her interactions with the highwayman and, later, Mr. Kellet? What would you have done in her situation?

3. Most romances feature the hero as the only significant man in the heroine's life. Were you surprised that it was Marianne's father who saved her at the inn? Why was that scene significant? How would the story be different if it had been Philip who had saved her? What role does Marianne's relationship with her father play in Marianne's relationships with others? How do our relationships with our fathers shape our romantic relationships?

4. How does the death of Marianne's mother's change her life? How does the death of Charles change Philip's life? In what ways has the death of a loved one changed your life?

5. What was Philip's motivation for keeping his identity a secret? What does this tell us about his character?

6. Marianne struggled with comparing herself to her twin sister Cecily. How do we compare ourselves to other women? How is it helpful? How is it detrimental? What do you think about the resolution between the sisters at the end? What do you imagine their future relationship will be like?



What made you interested in writing a romance set in the regency period?
When I was seventeen I contracted pneumonia and spent a month in bed. A good friend saved me from boredom by giving me a stack of Georgette Heyer novels. I devoured each one, and then read them again and again. I have been in love with the Regency period ever since. I studied British Literature in college, watched every period movie produced, and dreamed of men in breeches. When I decided to try my hand at writing a novel, my mind automatically went to the Regency period and refused to leave. It was like the hometown of my imagination.

How did you go about conducting research for Edenbrook? Is there travel involved?
Researching Edenbrooke was so much fun. I felt as if I needed to actually see the places I was writing about. So I dreamed big and called a friend and we went to England for a week. We spent a day in Bath, where I found the gravel path that Marianne walks on in the first scene and the Royal Crescent where she lives with her Grandmother. We spent a day driving through the countryside in Kent, where a river called Eden does actually flow. (Although I didn't know that at the time I imagined and named Edenbrooke. It was a cosmic coincidence, I suppose.) We also spent a day at Wilton House, which is near Salisbury. There I saw the bridge that inspired the twirling scene and the gardens that Marianne and Philip wandered through. I came home even more in love with England than I had been before.

How do you get to know characters from a different time period?
I did not really set out to get to know my characters as much as I began listening in on their conversations. They talked to each other in my mind, in an annoying way at times, for they often interrupted real conversations I was having with real people. At first they were imitations of characters I had read and loved in other stories. But over time, they emerged as distinct individuals that poked at me if I wrote a scene wrong or put words in their mouth they didn't want to speak. When my imagination pulled me too far to the modern, I had to stop and think about what I knew about the time period and the world my characters lived in to get myself back in the right direction.

How much did Jane Austen’s and Georgette Hyer’s books influence you? What were your biggest obstacles?
Jane Austen and Georgette Heyer are undoubtedly the masters of Regency novels. I gobbled up their stories, savored them, studied them, and even wrote college papers on them. Along the way, of course their writing influenced my own. What we share in common is the subjects we write about. I love Austen's heroines and the dilemmas they face; the hard choices they make; the growth that they show in the space of their stories. I love Heyer's wit, her heroes, and the way she weaves in a good dose of intrigue. But as much as I love their works, I knew that I wanted my writing to be different from theirs. I wanted to keep the flavor of the Regency period but make the story accessible for a modern reader. So I intentionally made my language a little less formal and moved my plot along with greater speed.

What were your biggest obstacles?
The hardest part about writing this story was making it fresh while keeping it believably Regency. It was a very restrictive time to live, especially for a young lady. I had to consider everything from language to geography to social customs to class distinctions to chaperones. There were many times I dreamed of writing a fantasy instead, so that I could shape an imagined world around my plot instead of trying to work my plot into the tight box of a Regency world.

What is your favorite book, and why?
This is like asking me to pick a favorite of my children. There are so many books that I love that it's impossible to choose just one. But I do have a special shelf for my best-loved books, and featured on that shelf are books by Eva Ibbotson, Mary Stewart, Scott Westerfeld, Martine Leavitt, Nancy E. Turner, Megan Whalen Turner, and Kate Morton. I love compelling stories that are well-written, uplifting, have a moving portrayal of love, and end happily.

Where is your favorite place to write?
Next to a window, preferably in a room where nobody will interrupt me. You can usually find me in my local library, but I would love to have a quiet writing room at home.

Name one thing from your bucket list that you’d like to do, or see, or try.
I would love to learn how to play the cello.

Can you give us a hint concerning what your next story is going to be about?
My next story, which is also set in the Regency period, is about a young lady who dreams of going to India, a grand estate with too many secrets, a smuggler, a gentleman, and a bargain.