Wednesday, March 19, 2014

Say Hello to Sweetheart Cari Hislop!

--Are you wondering where you heard of that name? Well, it was from here at Romance Magicians. Cari has been a commenter since her first time on April 23, 2009. (She commented on a post of mine!) We have appreciated her comments and insights over the years. So I figured you are like me and wanted to know a little more about our sweet friend. So here we go.--

How did you find the Romance Magicians' blog?
I didn’t have any friends who were romance writers and I really needed to find a tribe where there were other people like me. People who talk about their experiences of being romance writers as well as dealing with story telling and stubborn characters. I visited numerous websites, but they seemed more reader orientated. The great thing about Romance Magicians is that you cater for both readers and writers. It’s really obvious that you’re a lovely group of people who love sharing your stories and your experiences. Reading your blog posts often make me laugh as well as think. Because of Romance Magicians I know I’m not crazy, I’m just a romance writer.

--Aww! That's kind of you to say that. We're happy that you found us. Some of our regulars may not know but Cari lives in England.--

You're a published author. Tell us a little about your books.
I write Regency romances (I feel like I’m in a meeting admitting I'm an alcoholic – I find writing romances very addictive). I discovered them as an early teen and I’ve loved them ever since. As a story teller, I love how the historical setting allows me to develop characters with all sorts of individual morals. They can be a whore or a rakehell or virgins or in between. The Regency period gives me a broad canvas I find endlessly inspiring. My stories have character driven plots with lots of face time between the main characters. For me as a reader, I want the romance to develop on the page so that’s what I write. Some might say I torture my characters. I rate my stories PG 13 circa Pretty in Pink. The main characters all have to wait till the end of the story to have sex (at least with each other). I’m not Barbara Cartland. I don’t leave the reader outside the door with epitaphs of “Mountain peaks of ultimate joy”, but I do leave the act to the reader’s imagination. That’s what I usually read so that’s what I write, but my stories aren’t "Sweet". They often have bitter-sweet elements and or violence (my evil characters tend to be really evil).

Who are your top five authors to read?
That’s nearly impossible, but five would be:
Jodi Taylor (Her time travelling romantic historians are brilliant – funny and sad – beautifully written –  I am a fan!)
Dorothy L Sayers (I’m a long time Peter Whimsey fan – I prefer my mysteries dished up with romance)
Catherine Cookson (Often savage characters, but there’s usually a light at the end of the coal tunnel)
Fannie Hurst (Beautiful haunting stories with complex character development written in the early 20th c.)
Agatha Christie (If I ever grow up I want to be Miss Marple – some dreams will never come true!)

What is your go-to book to read over and over again?
Charlotte Bronte’s Jane Eyre or Laurie King’s The Bee Keeper’s Apprentice

Who influenced your writing the most? Why?
That’s a hard question, but I think it would have to be my college English teacher, Cathy (sadly I can’t remember her last name). She is the one who  taught me how to rewrite. It’s her voice in my head when I think I’ve got something good that says… “It can be better!” Imagine a Fashion Design student writing esoteric essays on “Dust” over and over. It was very valuable torture!

Describe where you are the most productive when you write.
I have a little white box of a work room just big enough for my white table-desk and a white chair and a few book shelves. The white is slowly disappearing under drawings, posters and pin boards. I think this is a healthy sign. If I wasn't married I’d probably have large posters of men in kilts…as it is my English husband is at least Scottish by descent (he does have nice legs – even if one is shorter than the other).

Tells us a little about your current book?
My newest novel is Dancing the Maypole. I’m having brain freeze! Why is it so hard to explain one’s own book? I've been sitting here for an hour and I’m struggling to come up with more than, “I think it’s funny.” I will never have a career in PR!

I’m going to have to go with part of my synopsis or I won’t make the deadline!

Taller than most men, Isabel de Bourbon has rejected numerous proposals of marriage. There is only one honourable man big enough to be her flesh and blood hero. A private scribbler of romances, Isabel has been penning the adventures of Pierre, a literary doppelganger of Peter Smirke, Viscount Adderbury. The man has been a widower for a decade, but Isabel is terrified of rejection. It’s safer to write about making love to the imaginary Pierre than face the real man. The identity of Pierre remains a secret until Isabel’s father announces at the breakfast table that Lord Adderbury is advertising for a wife. Monsieur de Bourbon dismisses the desperate Lord Adderbury as mad, but Isabel’s eyes fill with longing. Observing his daughters reaction, and wanting to find her some happiness, Monsieur de Bourbon impulsively orders his daughter to apply for the position.

Peter of course is unaware that his sons have published the awful advertisement until fellow guests at a house party all start mocking him. Enraged, he rushes home to vent his fury on his children only to find his dream mistress standing in his parlour. He has no memory of meeting Isabel, but he knows her intimately.

The story is full of helpful relatives offering embarrassing help, but Peter also finds himself haunted by the ghost of a Restoration Rakehell who claims to be a Romantic Agent with a mission to help Peter succeed in finding love. Agent 1680 is not always very helpful…

Show us your one favorite scene of dialogue from that book.
From chapter 7

Peter mumbled under his breath, “Horrid little frog!” Peter slammed the door behind him and glared at the romantic agent. “Well? Where am I supposed to find the k-k-key?”
“What key?”
“The key to open my mental chest! What is it? Where is it?”
“I can’t tell you, but it’s as obvious as a pretty pair of eyes.”
“The key is a pair of eyes?”
“That’s not what I said.”
“If this is what you call help, you can go to the devil!”
“Suit yourself. Good luck finding that key…if she hasn’t already burned it.”
Peter’s eyes went wide with horror. “She’s going to burn it? Why didn’t you tell me? Heartless fiend!” Peter turned and race back down the corridor his mind whirling with unpleasant thoughts. Had he bullied his wife? Had he bored Katie to death? A sick feeling in his stomach hinted he wouldn’t like the answers. He didn’t want to think about it. Katie was dead; there was nothing he could do to make up for his failings as her husband, but Mademoiselle de Bourbon was alive and hating him. He couldn’t remember the dance with Mademoiselle de Bourbon, but there was one person who would.
Reaching Isabel's door, he stood there catching his breath; if he knocked, she’d lock the door and he’d never remember. Opening the door, he saw his dream lover kneeling in front of the fire; her face pressed into a bundle of white fabric. “Mademoiselle?” Without looking in his direction, she slowly uncovered her face and fed the dress to the fire filling the room with the acrid smoke. Coughing, she ignored him as he stepped inside and closed the door. “Mademoiselle, did we d-dance eighteen years ago?”
“What does it matter?”
“What are you b-burning?”
“Memories of that dance.”
“That was the dress? You wore white?”
“I was a debutante Mr Smirke.” She pronounced his name with a sneer. “White was de rigueur in 1800.” She flung an old pair of white leather dancing shoes and then two white stockings with blue clocks into the fire. Peter hunched down by her side as she picked up a fan and lovingly unfolded it to gaze upon the painting of Robespierre having his head removed by Madame Guillotine and then slowly closed it.
“You used that the night we d-danced? May I have it?”
“Non.” She threw it at the fire, but Peter caught it midair. “Give it back!”
Isabel’s words were almost a scream, but Peter clutched his treasure. “Describe what happened. Help me remember.”
“Why would you want to remember dancing with a maypole?”
“I need to remember!”
Her lips pursed in contempt, “Then remember somewhere else. I can’t erase you from my life if you’re crouched next to me like a giant spider. Give me my fan!”
“Tell me what happened. Please!” Peter held the fan out of reach as she tried to grab it. “How d-did I look at you? Did I seem in love?”
Her eyes filled with tears. “You were a married man. Why would you look at a debutante maypole as if you were in love? Why would you even ask such a question?”
“Something happened that night…did you f-f-fall in love with me?” Peter winced in pain as he was pushed off his feet onto his back, hitting his head on the floor. The next thing he knew Isabel was crawling over him and reaching for her fan. “Comment Diable!” He paled as his most tender flesh was crunched under a knee. Clutching the fan, he automatically grasped his attacker and rolled her underneath his heavier weight to protect himself. As pain subsided he was mesmerised by trembling lips. An invisible electric current jumped like an arc light from teary brown eyes into his brain, drenching him with sweat. Feeling her warm length underneath him was sweeter than anything he’d dreamt. His voice cracked with longing, “Help me…or I’ll k-k-kiss you.”
Read the rest of the novel for free! Go to Smashwords and use the Romance Magicians coupon XQ23G to download a copy of Dancing the Maypole. The five digit code is not case sensitive. If you prefer something shorter I have a short story, Lucky in Love which is always free to download. 
--Thanks, Cari!!--

What do you believe makes a man sexy?
I find a cynical attitude coupled with great intelligence, a resonant voice connected to nice legs very sexy. I call them goblins. I don’t see them coming. I hear them snarl and they become visible (goblins are magical). They tend to be loved-starved creatures hence their public mask is often tinged with a dyspeptic sneer or weary exasperation. Hidden under the crotchety exterior is always a tender heart. Maybe I’m insane (probably), but it almost doesn't matter what the man looks like it always makes him sexy.

--Love that description and so true. Thank you again, Cari, for letting me interview you and for the free downloads!--

Carla Swafford
The Circle Trilogy
Look for me on Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, & Google+
Time Magazine, ". . . involves deadly assassins, drug lords and doing it."


Lexi said...

Welcome to the blog, Cari! I love Regency romance too. Total Georgette Heyer freakazoid. I was a tall geek in high school, so I can relate to your heroine's struggles.

Aidee Ladnier said...

So wonderful to meet another Dorothy Sayers fan!!!! I used to dream of meeting Lord Peter (pre-Harriet, of course).

amy o'neal said...


Ali Hubbard said...

So great to learn about you. I've seen your name so often :-)

I LOVE Regency romance, and really enjoyed hearing about what you write!

Cari Hislop said...

Thank you so much for interviewing me! You totally made my month. I love the Romance Magicians. You're all so lovely and inspiring. I've done a short post about Romance Magicians on my blog to encourage people to come over and discover some great authors!

To Aidee - Oh my goodness I'd have been the crazy woman trying to win Lord Peter Whimsey from you! It took me years to admit that Harriet actually was a good match. Before I married I had two paintings of Ian Carmichael on my wall (I'm not obsessive compulsive). One of my favorite romantic moments is that scene in Gaudy Night where Peter and Harriet are punting on the river! So sweet!

Carla Swafford said...

Cari's blog is at if you have a mind to say hello there.

Thanks again, Cari, for letting me interview you and for being such a loyal commenter.


Naima Simone said...

Hi, Cari!
It's so cool to meet the person behind the comments! LOL! I've seen you often on the blog, and after this interview I'm like, she IS as cool as she sounded all this time. I adore your description of a sexy man. Cynical, world-weary, hard-exterior and tender heart. Sigh. Thanks so much for visiting with us and wonderful excerpt!!

Meda White said...

Hi Cari- so nice to see you on here and read about your book. I love that you credited an English teacher with influencing your writing. They very rarely get kudos for the work they do. Best wishes with your books!

Larynn Ford said...

Thanks for telling us a bit about yourself. I enjoyed meeting you!

Cari Hislop said...

Carla - I've been thinking about how well you handle dark themes and damaged heroes (I HAD to crack open C of D again - at the risk of sounding like a broken record I LOVE Ryker). If there's anyone who could do proper justice to a vampire romance it would be you!

Naima - I also think it's really sexy when a man feels big (big as in feeling self-confident). I seem to irritate or intimidate a lot of men. One of the things I admire about my husband is that even though he's only of average height and he doesn't have a prestigious job or know important people - he's a big man. He's not intimidated by anyone least of all me! I love that.

Meda - English teachers are VERY important! My 8th grade English teacher was the first person in my life to tell me that I had promise as a writer. She taught me to have faith in my dreams!

Larynn - thank you!

Chris Bailey said...

Thank you for the free read! Looking forward to checking out Dancing the Maypole!

Cari Hislop said...

For anyone who reads my interview after the coupon for a free copy of my book Dancing the Maypole expires (today 31 Mar 2014) if you contact me via my website

Tell me you missed the cut off for the Romance Magicians coupon and I'll make a coupon for a free copy just for you (just because the Romance Magicians are so lovely). Thank you again Carla!