by Cathy Sova
Welcome to our New Faces column, where you can meet debut
romance authors and discover their books. This time we are visiting
with Donna Thorland, whose first book is The Turncoat
from New American Library. Letís meet her.
NAME, welcome to TRR! Tell us about yourself.
I grew up in Bergenfield, New Jersey, and was the first person
in my family to attend college. At Yale I studied classics and
art history and as the old joke goes, got my MRS. I met my husband,
who was a law student, during my sophomore year.
Are you coming to romance writing from another job? Do you still have a day job?
My first career was in public history. I managed architecture
and interpretation for the Peabody Essex Museum, in Salem Massachusetts.
While there I wrote and directed a Halloween theater program
which was so oversubscribed that one of my mentors suggested
I try to reach a wider audience. So I applied to film school.
At USC I produced about a half dozen short films, and shortly
after finishing my MFA, I won the Disney Fellowship. Since then
I've been a filmmaker and screenwriter.
What led you to write romance?
When I was a teenager my brother and his wife moved their family
to South Jersey. I used to spend several weeks with them each
summer. They were grown-ups with disposable incomes and insatiable
reading habits. I slept on the pull out couch in their book-filled
den and late at night I'd binge on their paperbacks.
My brother read sci-fi and my sister-in-law read romance, and
I read everything. But it was discovering Dorothy Dunnett's
Lymond Chronicles in high school that made me want to write
a really epic love story.
Tell us about your road to publication.
The Turncoat won The Catherine from the Toronto RWA in 2011.
I got insightful feedback from the judges and amazing support
from the organizers.
What kind of research was involved for your first book?
I already had a grasp of daily life in 18th century America
from working at the Peabody Essex Museum, but I didn't know
the Philadelphia Campaign well, so I dove in and read everything
I could about that glittering winter of 1777. When I discovered
that General Howe's officers had thrown him a lavish going away
party, the Mischianza, complete with a costumed joust and river
flotilla, I knew I'd found the set piece for The Turncoat.
Tell us about your debut book.
Major Lord Peter Tremayne is the last man rebel bluestocking
Kate Grey should fall in love with, but when the handsome British
viscount commandeers her home, Kate throws caution to the wind
and responds to his seduction. She is on the verge of surrender
when a spy in her own household seizes the opportunity to steal
the military dispatches Tremayne carries, ensuring his disgrace-and
implicating Kate in high treason. Painfully awakened to the
risks of war, Kate determines to put duty ahead of desire, and
offers General Washington her services as an undercover agent
in the City of Brotherly Love.
Months later, having narrowly escaped court martial and hanging,
Tremayne returns to decadent, British-occupied Philadelphia
with no stomach for his current assignment-to capture the woman
he believes betrayed him. Nor does he relish the glittering
entertainments being held for General Howe's idle officers.
Worse, the glamorous woman in the midst of this social whirl,
the fiancée of his own dissolute cousin, is none other
than Kate Grey herself.
Who are some of your influences as a writer?
Dorothy Dunnett, George MacDonald Fraser, Lauren Willig, Diana
Gabaldon, William Martin, Bernard Cornwell, C.L. Moore, Dorothy
Sayers and Margery Allingham.
What does your family think of having a published romance author in their midst?
My husband reads everything I write and I'd be lost without
him. He's often my harshest critic and always my biggest fan.
Tell us about plans for future books.
Next up is the second book in Renegades of the Revolution,
a pirate story set during the siege of Boston in 1775, when
American privateers took on the British Navy. Penguin will be
publishing that as well, so look for a teaser chapter at the
back of The Turncoat!
How can readers get in touch with you?
Readers can check out my website www.donnathorland.com
and connect with me on Facebook.
Donna, thanks for joining us, and best of luck with The
March 31, 2013
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