I love love love this quote, and haven't found another description quite so accurate in a while! Christina Courtenay earnt a little soft spot in my heart when I read Monsoon Mists (review here), which was my favourite book of the summer. Never Too Late was kindly sent by Choc Lit to me and I was lucky enough to be given the opportunity to have a mini interview with Christina Courtenay herself! This novella is a really quick, easy read which you can finish in a couple of days, or is brilliant for a long coach/plane journey.
Maude and Luke, young lovers, seek to elope, but their plans are thwarted at the last moment. Set during a period in which Maude's father can control her life, their plans are discovered and she is locked up at the last moment, a fact that Luke remains unaware of. Forced to marry his older brother Edward, who is the inheritor of the family estate, Maude lives a miserable life until he dies and Luke must move in. Despite their rocky past, can their feelings overcome their fate?
Question and Answer with Christina Courtenay
1.) What time period is Never Too Late set in? And what were your inspirations for writing a novella set during this period?
It is set during the Regency period, in about 1812-13. I didn’t have an exact year in mind but the hero has fought in the Peninsular War which lasted until 1814 and has had to sell his commission to come home and take over the running of his late uncle’s estate so it’s before the end of the war. My main inspiration was the incomparable Georgette Heyer – I have loved her books from the moment I first found one in my school library. She made the Regency period come alive and that’s what I tried to do too, although my story is a bit more provincial than most of hers.
2.) Having read Monsoon Mists, what are the benefits of mixing romance with crime//mystery?
I think having a mystery as well as a romance adds depth to a story and hopefully makes it more enjoyable for the reader. You don’t just have the “will they-won’t they” questions of the romance, but also “will they even survive to have a romance” added to the mix. I didn’t actually set out to have a crime/mystery in this particular story, it just sort of evolved that way once the idea of the stolen talisman entered my mind. I figured it was the sort of object that was bound to cause greed, corruption and envy.
3.) I've noticed that your sex scenes are quite realistic and tend to steer away from the "50 Shades of Grey" bandwagon that a lot of contemporary authors have jumped on. What do you think of this craze?
Thank you, I’m glad you think they are realistic! I have to admit I haven’t yet read 50 Shades – I know, shock, horror! I just haven’t had the time – but apart from the sex it obviously has some very special characters to have attracted so many readers. Jumping on any bandwagon is never good though – publishing tends to move quite slowly so if I were to write a story like that now, it wouldn’t be published for at least a year, if not more, by which time that craze will almost certainly be over. It’s been great for those authors who already had similar stories ready, but now it’s too late. I think it’s better to write the kind of stories you want to write, as well as you possibly can, and hope it’s what your readers will like.
4.) Where do you seek inspiration from to create such diverse books?
I find inspiration from lots of different things and anything can spark a scene in my mind – a house, a person, an object. I can’t remember what made me write Never Too Late, but Monsoon Mists came about because the hero, Jamie, had seemed to be one of the bad guys in the previous book in the Kinross trilogy (Highland Storms), but in reality he wasn’t. So I wanted him to be allowed to tell his version of events. Some of my other stories have been inspired by for example a ghost in a house I used to stay in (I never saw it but the owners did), an extraordinary painting in the National Gallery and a replica of an old sailing ship.
5.) Who are your favourite male and female characters that you've created and why?
I have a soft spot for Killian Kinross, Jamie’s father (and the hero of Trade Winds) because he’s
gorgeous, has a great sense of humour and is very mischievous – he’s the archetypal “bad boy” I suppose you could say and I love those! I like his wife Jessamijn too – she stands up her step-father who tries to bully her. But I also really like Nico Noordholt and Midori Kumashiro, the hero and heroine of The Gilded Fan. It’s difficult really because as an author you are usually totally into whichever hero/heroine you are working on at the moment. Right now I’m writing about a Cavalier with long dark hair and green eyes …
Thank you very much for inviting me!
Any comments/questions are always very welcome :)