Today, I am honored to have RWA 2012 Golden Heart Finalist, Moriah Densley, with me to share a bit about her background, her research for Song for Sophia and how she indulges herself after a long day of writing!
“If she truly knows her business, a woman has the mind of a diplomat, a general, and Cleopatra, all in one.”
Anne-Sophia Duncombe is ruined, a victim of her father’s high-stakes gambling. Stolen moments at the piano are her boon. Wilhelm Montegue is a washed up war hero, rumored insane. His “condition” – modern diagnosis: savant autism – is the source of his gift for composing music. Anne-Sophia and Wilhelm thought they had missed their chance for love, but anything can happen in the music room.
Song for Sophia was released June ’12 by Crimson Romance and is available in e-book or paperback format.
Tell us about your background before you started writing.
Before last year, the closest I came to creative writing was a research paper on violin pedagogy. I’m a music geek, it’s my day job. Needless to say, learning craft has been a long journey for me.
What writers have influenced your own writing?
Some you would expect, and a few you might not. Books I read over and over:
The Count of Monte Cristo by Alexandre Dumas, Ender’s Game by Orson Scott Card, Outlander by Diana Gabaldon, The Host by Stephenie Meyer, Blue-Eyed Devil by Lisa Kleypas, Villette by Charlotte Bronte, A Room With a View by E.M. Forster. For a day at the beach I pack Susan Elizabeth Phillips, Meredith Duran, or Linda Howard.
Are any of these your favorites too?
How important is the portrayal of families in your work?
Your question made me realize I always write orphaned characters or dysfunctional families. Odd, considering I came from a traditional nuclear family and have my own now. I admire people who make it on their own. I love to cheer for the underdog, and I’m a sucker for drama. I think the most interesting stories come from imperfect families.
In Song for Sophia, Wilhelm has his three young nieces dumped on him. Sophia is on the run from her abusive father, her mother is a frivolous courtesan, and she’s been told by the best doctors in Europe she’ll never bear children. Enter Wilhelm’s sharp-tongued great Aunt Louisa, her flirtatious sailor nephew, and a snarky butler . . . These troubled characters piece together their own [weird] family and make it work.
That’s true to life. We make the best of our circumstances and create our own families from the people we love who are there for us. Family isn’t just blood, it’s a job and a calling.
Tell us about your research for the book.
My hero, Wilhelm Montegue, is an autistic savant with a photographic memory and a talent for mathematics and music. He was exploited by the army during the Crimean War as a spy and assassin before being captured and tortured by the Russians. He has PTSD on top of the autism. I hit a wall writing the first draft. My protagonist was so way smarter than me. Composers, literature, and linguistics I can fake, but calculus? No dice.
I had to learn about the Quadratic Table of Residues – sounds like a kitchen sanitation issue to me – well enough to convince readers these brainy thoughts flowed naturally from the character. A normal person observes in approximation: “Falling from three stories is a long way down!” But Wilhelm inherently makes a calculation: “A human body falling one-hundred-sixty feet lands in three seconds.” Sophia, the heroine, inspires his “mathematical erotica” [http://moriahdensley.com/teaser-5-song-for-sophia/] which I did enjoy inventing. The hero assures us the equation is completely viable.
Savant syndrome and synesthesia have always interested me. How can a person be off-the-charts genius yet struggle with a simple limitation? Prodigy musicians, chess champions, architects – who couldn’t tell you how to fry an egg, who don’t comprehend sarcasm. I took the most brilliant qualities and the most frustrating limitations I found in real cases, added a dazzling pair of pectorals, and Wilhelm Montegue emerged. Think Rain Man with “X-Men” Wolverine’s attitude in Jude Law’s body.
After a long day of writing, how do you indulge yourself?
I love writing, but it makes me stir-crazy! Unwinding is important, and helps keep the ideas flowing. Takeout, movies, Zumba, target practice, even a good nap works wonders.
What are you planning next for your readers? What’s next?
You might be surprised to hear my next book is a paranormal romance, The Valkyrie’s Guardian, releasing October 22 from Crimson Romance. [http://moriahdensley.com/the-valkyries-guardian/]Cassiopeia Noyon is descended from the most powerful known extra-sentient, but she’s a disappointment – no impressive talents except a healing ability which lands her in trouble. She’s all wrong for Jack MacGunn, her dazzling immortal berserker bodyguard.
How can readers get in touch with you?
Visit moriahdensley.com for teasers and sample chapters, and humorous blog articles on life as a writer. See reader reviews on Goodreads.com. Connect on Facebook, Twitter, or Pinterest. I love hearing from readers!
Song for Sophia is available now wherever e-books are sold.