Today we have special guest, T.J. Brown revealing the beautiful new cover of her upcoming book, Summerset Abby, to be released from Gallery Books in January, 2013. The book is available for preorder at Amazon.
Teri Brown is proud of her two children but coming in a close second is the fact that she parachuted out of a plane and beat the original Legend of Zelda video game. She is a word scribbler, head banger, math hater, book reader, rule breaker, food fixer, novel writer, kitty keeper, and city slicker. Teri lives with her husband and way too many pets in Portland, Oregon.
Q: Welcome, Teri! Please tell us about Summerset Abbey.
A: Here’s the official blurb
Reminiscent of Downton Abbey, this first novel in a new series follows two sisters and their maid as they are suddenly separated by the rigid class divisions within a sprawling aristocratic estate and thrust into an uncertain world on the brink of WWI...
Rowena and Victoria, daughters to the second son of the Earl of Summerset, have always treated their governess’s daughter, Prudence, like a sister. But when their father dies and they move in with their uncle’s family in a much more traditional household, Prudence is relegated to the maids’ quarters, much to the girls’ shock and dismay. The impending war offers each girl hope for a more modern future, but the ever-present specter of class expectations makes it difficult for Prudence to maintain a foot in both worlds.
Vividly evoking both time and place and filled with authentic dialogue and richly detailed atmosphere, Summerset Abbey is a charming and timeless historical debut.
Q: It sounds wonderful! What inspired this story?
A: Like millions of other people I am completely enamored by Downton Abbey on PBS. My love of the Edwardian period of history began when I was about 15 years old and I got my hands on a book called Amanda/Miranda by Richard Peck. The time period fascinated me as soon as I realized it was the same era as A Tree Grows in Brooklyn, one of my all-time favorite stories, only this story was about the very rich in England, as opposed to the very poor in New York. But the time period, that moment in history when the industrial revolution was changing everything, completely fascinates me. They had telephones, autos, electricity and airplanes, but everything was new and experimental. It truly was the cusp or the birth, if you will, of the modern era. And just to be clear, the dates of the Edwardian period of history is much disputed… strictly, it is the time when King Edward ruled, a scant ten years, but as an era, it is generally thought to have run from 1895 to the first world war, which of course, changed everything.
Q: Fascinating! I also read and enjoyed Amanda/Miranda. What is the story behind Summerset Abbey?
A: The story is one of those strange, whimsical things that happen sometimes in publishing. Like so many other people, I was watching Downton Abbey and loving every minute of it. It just popped into my head that I’d love to write a story set in that time period. Then I thought that if I got some other authors together, we could write an anthology and I bet it would sell! I had seen many tweets on twitter go by from editors also in love with Downton Abbey. So I shot my agent a “hey, what do you think of this idea” kind of email and she wrote back telling me to put something together ASAP and she’d send it out. Because my agent, the amazing Mollie Glick, is just the sort of person who makes things happen.
So I came up with a concept, got three other authors together and put together a couple of paragraphs and a bio from each of us. My agent sent it out. Most of the editors loved the idea, but were hesitant to buy something without a big name attached to it or that wasn’t even written yet. The very last editor who had it, Lauren McKenna from Gallery Books, loved the concept and was a huge Downton Abbey fan. She wrote my agent back and basically said, I don’t want a four novella anthology, I want a three book series around this concept, and I don’t want four authors, I just want Teri, can she do it?
Ahem. Yes, yes she could.
Two conference calls, two chapters, one rewrite and a little over four weeks later, I had a three book deal. Do I know how rare that is? Yes!
Q: What a wonderful turn of events! Why do you choose to write romance?
A: This one is more women’s fiction than romance, because there is a surprise at the end that is a bit different than the HEA (happily ever after) that most romances offer. Of course, this is only book one.<smile> But even though I write YA under my Teri Brown name, all of my books have some kind of romance in them because romance is a basic part of the human experience, period. The pain and joy of falling in love is something that everyone can understand. So it’s usually a part of my character’s experience, as well.
Q: Which of your characters is most like you? Least like you? And why?
A: There are three main characters in Summerset Abbey, Rowena, Prudence and Victoria. Rowena is probably the least like me because Rowena is the least proactive about her life and situation. She feels almost paralyzed to do anything and though I have occasionally felt that way, I am the type to leap in and do something even if it’s wrong. But Rowena has been searching for her true self and hasn’t yet found her passion. This is really difficult on her as the eldest, because she feels like she should be the one taking care of everyone. In the beginning of the book, she makes a decision that has drastic consequences on the other two women and it freezes her for the rest of the book. By the end of the story, she has found her passion; she just isn’t sure what to do about it! I am more like a combination of Prudence, who is a caretaker and loyal to a fault and Victoria, who is this amazingly inquisitive, imaginative, outgoing person.
Q: Did you choose the title of your book and if so how did you do it?
A: I actually didn’t choose the title of my book. I kept coming up with things that weren’t quite right until I hit on the idea of Summerset Manor. Summerset is the name of estate where the story takes place. My editor felt that Summerset Abbey was a better title because she wanted people to know that if they loved Downton Abbey, they would enjoy this story because it was a fresh take of the same time period. So basically it was a marketing decision.
Q: Interesting. What’s next for you?
A: Well, I am really excited about my YA series set in the 1920’s under my real name, Teri Brown. The first in the series is called Born of Illusion and it’s about Harry Houdini’s illegitimate daughter. It will be out June, 2013. I have two more Summerset Abbey books— the second, Bloom in Winter, will be out in March and the third is scheduled for August. I’ve always wanted to have dueling careers and would love to continue writing adult historicals under TJ Brown. In fact, Elaine, a secondary character in Summerset Abbey, is waiting for her story to be told, so I would love to get the chance to do that. I also have another idea concerning a radical underground group of suffragettes with a shocking tie to Jack the Ripper, also set in the Edwardian era. It just depends. Right now, I’m just happy to be making my next deadline!
Q: All these projects sound wonderful! Would you like to ask readers a question?
A: Yes! I’ve told everyone what I love about the Edwardian Era. I would love to hear what readers like or dislike about that era!
Thanks so much for being our special guest today, Teri! Everyone, please visit Teri online at: https://twitter.com/tjbrownbooks