Amber: Welcome, Jessica! What does autumn mean to you, in your writing career and in your life? Is there something you especially love about the season?
When I was younger, there was a living historical farm in my area. Each year, they'd have a Harvest Time Festival where I would spend the entire day wandering about the property. I can still remember the clackity-hum of the spinning wheel, the scent of lye being boiled to make soap, the charred smell of burning wood as scrabble was cooked over open fires in cast iron pots, and the stickiness of pulling taffy.
During the festival, we were invited to dip wicks melted fat and wax, to harvest apples, to draw water from a well—so for a full day each year, I wandered in the late 1700's/early 1800's. I loved every minute of it. Perhaps that's one reason why when frost comes and the wind grows brisk, I feel drawn to withdraw and write the past alive.
Amber: That's so neat! Sounds like a memorable season, for sure!
If the hero of Born of Persuasion was invited to a harvest party, what would be his reaction? If he decided to go, what would he wear and how might he get involved?
Jessica: He would not become caught up in the gaiety of the party, but remain on the fringes, observant.
Amber: Intriguing... ;) What about your heroine? What is her favorite part about autumn in her hometown?
Jessica: Her home was isolated from the village and surrounded by tall grass. In the autumn, she would have relished long, winding ramblings through the countryside, and then coming home with numbed fingers and cheeks, ready to spend an hour in the kitchen, sipping a bowl of broth, while the maid-of-all-work, Sarah, told stories as she blackened the stove or cored apples.
Amber: Sounds lovely! Could you share a snippet from the book?
Jessica: Here's a tea scene from Chapter One...
~ Excerpt from Born of Persuasion ~
“I am quite vexed with you.” Mrs. Windham placed a slice of lard cake on a plate. She eyed my dress hanging loosely over my frame, then added another sliver alongside a gooseberry tart. “Why did you not tell us your mother was ailing? Had I knowledge, I would have visited before she passed; indeed, I would have.”
My hand faltered as I reached for the plate. While I’d known the topic of Mama’s death was unavoidable, I had not expected it so soon.
“Mama.” Elizabeth cast her mother a disapproving look over the rim of her teacup. “You can scarcely blame Julia for it.”
“Blame Julia?” Mrs. Windham dabbed her eyes with the corner of her gardening apron. “What a notion, child.” Then to me, “Did she linger in much pain? Did she send me remembrances? Did she call for me in her deep despair?”
Tightness gathered in my chest as I sought for an explanation, knowing full well the Windhams wouldn’t be fooled into believing Mama had pined herself into an early grave over my father’s death.
I placed the plate on my lap, then set about tearing the cake into bite-sized pieces. “She called for no one. The cholera took her quickly.”
Elizabeth froze, midsip, as if detecting my lie. Mrs. Windham frowned, but I wasn’t certain whether she sensed deception or simply disliked being robbed of the notion that Mama had died crying out for her.
Mrs. Windham turned toward the window, pressing her lace handkerchief against her mouth. “Well, if you’re going to try to spare me, I am sure there is nothing I can do.” Her voice trembled. “I have lost my dearest friend, but why should anyone consider me?”
A long silence ensued, during which Elizabeth frowned and I twisted my cup in its saucer. We both knew trying to start a new conversation would be useless until her mother had been properly indulged.
After a minute, Mrs. Windham’s mouth puckered. “Humph. Well, do not think yourself cleared on all accounts. I am even more outraged you agreed to have this . . . this guardian. I scarcely believed my own ears when I heard the tidings. Nothing, no, nothing, could have made me believe you would choose this person over me. Whatever are you thinking?”
I tore the cake into yet smaller pieces.
Elizabeth darted an apologetic look at me, wrapping her hands about her cup. “Mama, you can scarcely blame Julia for whom her parents selected as her guardian.”
“What else am I to think? Especially when Lucy wrote me a mere month before her death begging me to care for Julia should this very thing happen. Well, all I can say is that Julia has certainly made it clear whom she prefers. Surely this person has no tie, no claim over you. I never heard of such an odd thing in all my life. Not give a name, indeed! And that man who came. That rude man! Is it so unreasonable to assume your guardian would have taken it into account that I have a daughter, and as such made allowances? See if I merit approval. Of all the insults.” She snorted into her half-empty cup.
I shot Elizabeth a questioning look. She’d not written anything about my guardian sending someone to Am Meer. Instead of meeting my eyes, her gaze drifted to the open windows.
“I never met such a rude man as that Simon.” Looking at my untouched food, Mrs. Windham fluttered her handkerchief at it. “Indeed, I wish we’d begun dining amongst higher spheres before I listed our acquaintances. That would have swept the smug look off that Simon’s face.”
Elizabeth let out a short sigh. “His name was Simmons, not Simon.”
“I think I should remember better than you, missy. I tell you it was Simon, and I cannot imagine a more disdainful or trying butler.”
“Butler?” I asked, more perplexed than ever. “Are you saying my guardian’s butler came here?”
“He was no butler; trust me,” Elizabeth said.
~ End of Excerpt ~
Amber: Love the sense of mystery! Thanks for sharing with us today!
Jessica is giving away a paperback copy of Born of Persuasion! Here are the rules:
- Leave a comment with your e-mail address (required). Let us know what you think of this introduction to the hero and heroine of Born of Persuasion!
- This drawing is open to residents of the U.S. and Canada only.
- One winner will be randomly drawn using the List Randomizer on Random.org, and will be announced on this blog on Saturday, September 28th.