Tuesday, June 14, 2011

Lady Gilchrest speaks with Lilly Gayle

Today's blogpost is going to be fun! Or maybe just a bit whacky. At any rate, I've joined a blog chain and each participant has agreed to let one of their characters inteview them. Yep, I'm going to be interviewed by an imaginary person. And she's not even from this century! But here goes...

Nikki invited me to sit down. She was an American like me, and newly wed to a British Earl. The former Nicole Keller was now a countess, and rumor had it the marriage was one of convieneice. But she seemed happy.

I sat in a beautiful but uncomfortable rosewood and gold upholstered parlor chair. Nikki addjusted her wide skirts and sat across from me in a matching chair. She leaned forward, her curly brown hair falling over her shoulder as she met my gaze. "I heard you recently celebrated your annivesary. Which one?"

"Our thirty-first. We celebrated June 7."

"May I offer my felicitations?" Her voice was unnaturally cultered, the slight inclination of her chin stilted, as if she wasn't used to the regid posture or the formal speach.

I cracked a smile. "Thanks. And congratulations on your recent marriage."

A smile brightened her face as well. "Thank you. Do you have any children?"

"I have two beautiful daughters. My youngest lives at home while attending her last year of college." I didn't say she was currently enrolled in UNC's School of Radiation Therapy or that she worked part-time as a radiologic technologist. Wilhelm Conrad Roentgen wouldn't even discover x-rays until November 1895.

"She's attending college? Oh my! That's so...adventurous." Envy colored Nikki's face. "I have no formal education beyond the school room. But I learned much, sailing on my father's ship as a young girl. What of your oldest?"

 "She's married and living in Germany. Her husband is in the army, and she works for the army." Again, I kept my secrets. My daughter worked for the MWR, the army's version of parks and recreation. Her husband was an airtraffic controller. But in Nikki's time, airplanes didn't exist.
A frown wrinkled Nikki's brow. "But America isn't at war with Germany."

Hmm. I hadn't thought about that. I thought she'd have questions about my daughter's job. There were only so many acceptable jobs a women could have in her time. I shrugged.

"It must be difficult," she added after a moment of awkward silence. "My mother and I travelled together to England. In fact, she lives with Chad...I mean, Lord Gilchrest and me. But your daughter lives so far away, and overseas mail take so dreadfully long."

But email and texting were instant. And there was always Skype and the telephone. Both my daughter and I had Vonage so there was no long distance charges. Besides, my husband and I had just visited my dauther and her husband in April. It was our second visit since her marriage in December 2006. And this time, we took a side trip to Amsterdam. But I didn't say anything. I simply lowered my head to hide a smile.

Nikki cleared her throat. "Germany isn't so very far from England. Perhaps you could sail there before heading home?" she suggested.

I hid another smile. "Perhaps."

"I understand you're from North Carolina."

I nodded. "I live in north central North Carolina."

Her golden brown eyes brightened. "Have you ever been to Portsmouth Village? I grew up there on the island."

I hesitated, not sure how to answer. Nikki left the island in 1857. I was there in 2006.  "Yes..."

Her face glowed with excitement. "It's wonderful. Isn't it? I love it here at Lands End, but I miss North Carolina and would love to show Lord Gilchrest where I grew up. It's been over a year since I left. Has it changed much, do you think?"
What could I say? My husband and I visited Portsmouth Island when I was doing research so I could revise Slightly Tarnished, my historical romance about Nikki and her husband, Chad. But the Portsmouth Island I'd seen was nothing like the home she remembered.

Portsmouth Village was once the largest settlement on the Outer Banks and a major shipping center until the hurricane of 1846 cut a deeper inlet through Hatteras. After Ocracoke Inlet began to shoal, Portsmouth and nearby Shell Castle Island became lightering stations. During Nikki’s time, tall ships dropped anchor off shore and slave labor transferred the cargo to and from lighter, shallower draft boats for the journey out to sea or back to the wharf and further inland to other ports.

By 1860, the population of Portsmouth had grown to 685 residents. But after North Carolina succeeded from the union in 1861, many of those residents fled for the mainland to avoid the Union Army as it marched across the Outer Banks. Many never returned and eventually, the shipping industry shifted north and the village began to die.
Fishing replaced shipping for the islanders that remained and in 1894, the U.S. Life-Saving Service was established on the island. It played a vital role in the community for 50 years. But by 1956, only 17 residents remained on the island.

Eventually, the isolation became too much, and in 1971, the last two residents moved to the mainland.

The island is now a state park and visiting is like stepping back in time. Some of the houses remain and a church still stands as does the school and post office. But the mosqitos and flies will eat you alive. I wondered how people managed in Nikki's time. But I couldn't ask. She thought I was a woman from her own time who wrote sensation novels.
I cleared my throat. "It's been a couple of years since I visited. I'm sure the place has changed."

"Oh, I doubt it's changed much," she said with a laugh. "The people of Portsmouth Island live simple lives and don't cotten to change."

"I know you miss your home, but don't you like it here--in Land's End with your husband?" I know longer knew who was interviewing whom. I'd written Nikki's story to have a happy ending, but things had happened. Terrible things. So, was she really happy? I needed to know.
She smiled as if hiding a great secret. "I hated London. But Gilchrest has it's own private beach. And except for it being a castle, it reminds me of home. So yes. I'm happy. I love it here."

I sighed with relief, knowing she was happy with her life and her husband because I'd written  her that way.

Slightly Tarnished, my first published historical is now available from the publisher: The Wild Rose Press http://www.thewildrosepress.com/index.php?main_page=product_info&cPath=176_138&products_id=4516

Amazon http://www.amazon.com/Slightly-Tarnished-Lilly-Gayle/dp/1601549237/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1308007635&sr=8-1
and Barnes & Noble http://www.barnesandnoble.com/w/slightly-tarnished-lilly-gayle/1031415856?ean=2940012929167&itm=2&usri=lilly%2bgayle

If you enjoyed this interview, please check out the other particiapting authors in the chain to see which characters interview them.
 Here's a list  of participants in order of their participation and estimated dates:

6/6: Aimee Laine : http://www.aimeelaine.com/blog
6/8: Lyla Dune : http://lyladune.com/blog.html
6/10: Carol Strickland : http://carolastrickland.blogspot.com/
6/12: Amy Corwin : http://amycorwin.blogspot.com/
6/14: Lilly Gayle : http://www.lillygayleromance.blogspot.com/
6/16: Rebekkah Niles : http://juturnafaerthing.blogspot.com/
6/18: Laura Browning : http://www.laurabrowningbooks.blogspot.com/
6/20: Andris Bear : http://andrisbear.wordpress.com/
6/22: Marcia Colette : http://marciacolette.wordpress.com/
6/24: Nancy Badger : http://www.nancylennea-inlove.blogspot.com
6/26: Sarah Mäkelä : http://blog.sarahmakela.com
6/28: Jennifer Harrington : http://www.romanceadventures.blogspot.com/
6/30: Scott Berger : http://romanticadventurestories.wordpress.com/


  1. Yeah! An education in NC geography, a whole lot about you and what a fun way to keep the current day from your interviewer. She's so missing out by being set in past times, but I'm guessing that parts for you. ;) Great interview!

  2. What a great interview--I loved the information about Portsmouth island. If you're ever interested in coming on my blog to talk about some of your research like that, I'd love to have you. :)


  3. I never knew all that about Portsmouth! Interesting! I like your play on the historical aspect - all the things you can't tell her. I can't blame her for wanting to interview you, instead. ;)

  4. LOVED the history lesson! We are headed to Hatteras this weekend, and now I want to detour to Portsmouth for a look-see! Great interview! And I loved "meeting" one of your new characters!

  5. Yes, loved the lessons! And I was surprised that Nikki didn't comment on the way you dressed. You did make it clear that you were from another time period? I mean, meeting Dr. Who for travel arrangements had to give something away, right?

    Ooh, you make her story sound so mysterious. Definitely intriguing! Everyone needs a definite HEA.

  6. Loved the post! The idea of what our characters would think of us intreges me.

  7. Thanks for the sweet comments ladies. And bummer Carol. I didn't even think to describe my wardrobe. My only mention was that Nikki thought I wrote sensation novels. Once again, I fail Clarity 101. One of my biggest hurdles when writing is clarity. I sometimes assume the reader will know something because I was thinking it when I wrote it. Or I'll assume the reader's mind will follow the same track as mine. And somtimes I assume I really did make myself clear until my critique partners Andris and/or Amy say something like "WTH?" Or maybe they're not that blunt, but they make it clear I wasn't clear. Is that clear? lol! And Amy, anytime you want me to visit your blog just holler! You have a lot more followers than I do. :-)

  8. "I doubt it's changed much..." LOL! I knew where you were going as soon as you mentioned Portsmouth Island. How cool to have your character from there. And how natural for her to be happy at Land's End. A very fun interview! The book sounds interesting--NC gal marries an earl! That's an HEA I can get behind.

  9. Thanks Jennifer. I love NC history, but I esp. love the NC coastal region.

  10. Lilly, the history lesson was wonderful! And the personal photos were a great touch. Well done!

  11. Thank you, Scott. Can't wait to read what you post for the blog chain.

  12. WOW! SLIGHTLY TARNISHED IS AN AMAZING READ! Everyone put this book on your summer reading list! What a n imagination you have, to think of being interviewed by Lady Gilchrest,an imaginary person. That's why your book is TOPS!
    Your input on the Portsmouth Village and Outer Banks makes me want to visit.

  13. Thanks Becky! I loved visiting Portsmouth Island but I'll never go in August again. The flies and mosquitoes were almost unbearable!

  14. Thanks everyone for stopping by all the blogs. The winner of the e-copy of Slightly Tarnished is Jennifer Harrington. Congrats Jennifer!