Today, I am honored to have award winning author, 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!
To win a man’s heart, a woman must have the mind of a diplomat, a general, and Cleopatra, all in one.
Desperation has led Anne-Sophia Duncombe to a life of exile. Still, she is always just one mistake away from capture and a marriage she would rather die than endure. As a last resort to remain hidden from her former life, Sophia attempts a radical scheme; a life of humility and disguise.
Rumor has it Wilhelm Montegue, the Earl of Devon, is insane. A tormented war hero haunted by scandal, he is only tolerated because of his brilliant mind and swarthy good looks. His unmentionable “condition” which keeps him confined to his country home is also the source of his talent for composing music.
When a new housemaid is hired at Rougemont, Lord Devon is perplexed to find himself fascinated by her. He knows the exquisite beauty is keeping secrets but her siren’s voice draws him ever closer, and he can’t resist the intoxicating scent of danger surrounding her.
Song for Sophia is a 2012 RWA Golden Heart finalist, 2012 OKRWA National Reader’s Choice Award winner in Historical Romance and a Best First Book finalist.
Re-released by esKape Press September 2013, Song for Sophia is available in ebook format, and is coming soon in print.
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 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?
The King of Threadneedle Street, Book 2 in the Rougemont series, is a Victorian twist on Romeo & Juliet. It releases Dec. 1, 2013 from esKape Press. Book 3 is coming spring 2014.
Surprise! I also have a paranormal romance series in the works: You might call them superheroes. “Extra-sentients” are one in 4.5 million with the extraordinary ability to unlock the full potential of the mind. Inspired by X-Men, this paranormal series might appeal to fans of the hit TV shows “Fringe” and “Alphas. I’m announcing the book deal on my blog as soon as the ink is dry on the contract.
How can readers get in touch with you?
I love connecting with readers on my blog: http://moriahdensley.com, where I post news, free chapters, giveaways, and snarky articles about publishing and life as a writer, including a series called “Weird Stuff Kids Say.”
Check out what readers are saying on Goodreads!
Hang out with Moriah:
SONG FOR SOPHIA in ebook is on sale for .99 at these retailers:
Moriah Densley sees nothing odd at all about keeping both a violin case and a range bag stuffed with pistols in the back seat of her car. They hold up the stack of books in the middle, of course. She enjoys writing about Victorians, assassins, and geeks. Her muses are summoned by the smell of chocolate, usually at odd hours of the night. By day her alter ego is your friendly neighborhood music teacher. She lives in Las Vegas with her husband and four children. Published in historical and paranormal romance, Moriah has a Master’s degree in music, is a 2012 RWA Golden Heart finalist, 2012 National Reader’s Choice Award winner in historical romance and ’12 NRCA “Best First Book” finalist.