Delilah Marvelle has now joined us to reveal some of her secrets about her new Scandal series of books from HQN.
What was the initial spark that put this story in your head? Please describe the event or series of events.
It all started with a red little etiquette book from 1881 that I had in my library. I started wondering who might have owned that book and why. Kind of like who are the people who buy self-help books and how do they apply it to their lives. That small nugget of an idea then started growing into a series. I wanted to join a series, not by characters but by an object. The rest of the characters and the stories took time to develop, but that basically started it all.
It seems that most authors use something from their own lives, or the lives of people they know as an integral part of the story. Is there anything in this story like that? What?
Hemingway once said, “A man’s got to take a lot of punishment to write a really funny book.” Truer words have never been spoken, though I would have been the first to point out to Hemingway that the same applies to women, not just men. I had a really rough upbringing that warped my outlook on life and enables me to twist ideas and situations in my head and, in turn, apply it to my writing and my humor. I'm pretty twisted. Ask anyone who knows me.
In Prelude to a Scandal, there is one particular scene in the book that is VERY personal to me. It's the scene in which the heroine is being attacked by the hero's brother, Carlton. I sobbed writing that scene knowing what it meant to me. My husband was brutally attacked and almost murdered before me by two random men. We were at the wrong place at the wrong time. Witnessing the brutality of that night swept its way into the pages of my book. I wrote that scene hoping to let go of the anger and the violence of that horrible moment. Few will ever know what that scene means to me. Some reviewers have called that scene melodramatic but little do they know that it's based on MY reality. Sadly, melodrama to one is grim reality to another. It's something readers and reviewers alike don't realize when they're reading a book. We, as authors, get very personal without them even realizing it.
I’m so excited you have a trilogy and that I can read the books back-to-back. Can you tell me, does this story background relate to the next two books? In what way?
As I had mentioned earlier, all three books are actually linked by an object. Although throughout all three books there is one hidden character that emerges come book 3. A character that has been there all along but few will notice.
Is there a particular scene in Prelude to a Scandal that you really loved when you finished it? Which one and why?
My favorite scene in the entire book would have to be the ending. I don't want to spoil it, but it's something that I want for myself and my husband. To be swept away in a moment and in Africa surrounded by nothing but ourselves.
I’ve loved your “A Bit of Muslin” blog that shares a lot of your research around sex in history. What are a couple of your favorite research books and where in the world did you find them?
My favorite books are actually memoir-related. Like Casanova's memoirs as well as the raunchy MY SECRET LIFE. In reading these books I learned quite a bit about the “uncensored” realities that many readers would be SHOCKED to behold. If they think my writing is scandalous, I dare them to pick up historical accounts of REAL scandal...
It seems you are making a name for yourself in the sexy historical genre. For me, what sets you apart from other historicals that are labeled “sexy” is that you deal with sex as the central part of your novel. It’s a lot more than describing love scenes in detail, it’s really about the role of sex in the lives of these characters, and sometimes its very complicated. Why have you chosen to explore the sex part of history? I mean this seems like a “calling” for you.
I don’t write racy books because I have an orgasm quota my editor and readers expect from me, lol. I write these books because it fascinates me to explore the nuances of grittier, more intimate moments between people in a relationship. People take on a different persona once the clothes come off and THAT is what intrigues me. It allows me to dig a little deeper into my own understanding of my characters and in turn allow my readers to have a deeper understanding of them, as well. It’s not about the sex. It’s about what happens to them emotionally during those moments and how it carries itself through the rest of the story.
What sets me apart, I feel, is that I'm writing about taboo topics usually only found in erotica but bringing it into mainstream historical romance. Taboo topics like syphilis, male prostitution, and other issues set within a time when sex and sexuality wasn't understood. Many people have a tendency to say this creates stories that aren't historically accurate and to that I say, history and its books from that period were CENSORED. Which means there was quite a bit left unsaid. I am simply filling in the blank words that all those bastards left out, lol. I take history as it was and what I know of it, flesh it out and add “what ifs.” That doesn't make it historically inaccurate. It simply makes it a story. Modern readers have a horrible tendency to base their own assumptions on history (books they've read, movies they've seen) and apply it to what I write. And sadly, not all books they've read or movies they've seen can be considered “historically accurate.”
I hope you’ll come back when the next scandal book is ready to launch. Is there any preview you can give us on that book that will get people to pre-order now? I know I’ve already pre-ordered the rest of the series. I don’t want them to run out before I get mine.
Book 2, Once upon a Scandal is a grittier take on Cinderella. Only I twist the story on its head by making the hero Cinderella. It's the most romantic out of all three books because the hero is a hopeless romantic that won't quit until he's found his happily ever after.
Thanks for joining us, Delilah! Dear Readers, RUN to get your copy of Prelude to a Scandal. Even though it says it's available January 1st, it's already in many bookstores and definitely available for order online! It is not to be missed. While you are ordering, you might as well pre-order the rest of the series to make sure you get them each month. I don't know about you, but I'll be counting the days until the next book is available. They are THAT good.