Friday, June 26, 2009

Friday Book Club: Guest Author - Jennifer Ashley: The Madness of Lord Ian Mackenzie

Winner: Thank you to Jennifer Ashley for being such a fantastic guest!!

I've drawn the random winner of a copy of The Madness of Lord Ian Mackenzie, using a random number generator, and the winner is: Barbarita V! Congratulations!
__________

It's a special book club today!

I recently read The Madness of Lord Ian Mackenzie and just loved it. Ian is such an intriguing character, and watching his and Beth's relationship grow had me glued to the page.

Follow the link to read an excerpt and check out information about the series.

Jennifer was kind enough to agree to guest on the blog today and answer your questions, so get them ready!

Here are a few that I asked:

1. Lord Ian Mackenzie is one of the most unusual heroes I've read. How did you come
up with his character?

I wrote about Ian because I got to pondering how people in the past dealt with autism or Aspergers. Autism (and Aspergers) wasn't defined until the twentieth century and many still don't fully understand it. Aspergers, I learned through my research, doesn't present the same way in each person--I read about or was given widely different accounts of Aspy behavior.

I thought Ian's struggle would make for an interesting story. His character grew in my mind over a couple of years before I had a chance to write the book. And it was challenging! I went over each of his scenes many times before I was happy with them.

I also wanted to write a family saga--I want the series to be more than just about couples getting together. I'm writing not only about how each brother finds the lady of his dreams, but also how the brothers grow and strengthen as a family. Ian's troubles are only one part of the whole.

2. Of the remaining three brothers, whose story do you think will be the most challenging to write?

Most readers might think I'd say Hart, the dark, oldest brother. But I love redeeming baddies, and I'm looking forward to having him meeting the lady who brings him to his knees. :-)

Personally I think Cameron will be a big challenge (I'm already writing Mac, so I might change my mind, LOL). Cam is kind of an enigma--I'm not sure I know him well yet, and I need to make him a fully fleshed out, interesting character. His heroine is a little different, too.

3. What are some of your recent favorite historical reads?

My favorite this year is Scandal, by Carolyn Jewel. Carolyn is the nicest person, ever, and I was eager to see what she'd written after a short hiatus from historicals. I started reading Scandal and was entranced. It's a rich, deep, character-driven book that I enjoyed very much. Her hero is to-die-for, and I loved that her heroine is a writer (a lady novelist). I recommend it to historical lovers.

~

I've got an extra copy of The Madness of Lord Ian Mackenzie to give away. Everyone who leaves a comment by Sunday noon New Zealand time, goes into the draw. If you haven't got a question for Jennifer, how about saying what intrigues you about the book. :)

69 comments :

Kerry said...

How did you know you wanted to write historical Romance and not just paranormal or modern????

I love your books, i haven't read these but my hands will be flipping through those pages pretty soon.

Happy writing
x

Alcott said...

I've been dying to read this book. It's gotten some incredible reviews. I'd love to be in the drawing for a copy!

Have a great weekend!

orannia said...

HI Nalini and Jennifer *waves*

I have to be honest, I haven't read The Madness of Lord Ian Mackenzie (TMOLIM) yet, but it's on my TBR list and I can't wait :)

Jennifer - I was wondering what sort of research you had to do in order to write TMOLIM, not just to ensure that Ian's character was accurate, but also to determine how such a character would be dealt with in the time period you were writing in.

Sorry...sticky first question :)

Raonaid Luckwell said...

I love Jennifer's Immortal books! I've read one of her historicals and well I love her Dragon series under Allyson James.

I'm reading the Dragon Master right now thanks to a friend.

Any chances that you are going to write more paranormal themed stories?

I know that you, Nash, and Popp finished the Immortals which was awesome. I prefer paranormal to historicals (though I do read them.)

LouiseD said...

This book intrigues me because I've read so many good reviews, I want to know what everyone else loves about it.
I've read the immortals series and loved them, so I'd like to read one of Jennifer's historicals

Jennifer M said...

I haven't been reading many historicals lately because they've seemed all the same, but this one looks like exactly what I need to get out of my rut. I love the idea of having a character that is different and dealing with true to life issues.

Cindy W said...

This book is on my wish list, I'd love to win it! I don't know anyone who's not loved it Congrats to you Jennifer, you are a part of keeping the Romance genre fresh!

penney said...

Hi Jennifer, I love the historical romances, I enjoyed reading the blog today,
Thanks for being here,
Penney

Jennifer Ashley/ Allyson James / Ashley Gardner said...

Hi everyone, and thank you to Nalini for inviting me! I'm so flattered that an author I think is awesome liked my book. :-)

I'm reading your questions and later I'll come back and answer. Keep em coming. I'll be around.

Barbarita V said...

I just bought the "Scandal" today. I would get my hands into it this weekend.

Laurie Schnebly Campbell said...

Jennifer, what fun to see you here! If you get time, could you tell us how you chose Ian's name?

limecello said...

Oooo I am *fascinated* by this hero! I only learned about Asperers in college - and I have a few friends with autistic kids/nieces and nephews.
Did you find anything interesting in your research? A treatise, medical records that might have hinted at a diagnosis of autism?

twalls said...

I love this book and would love to own my own copy! This is the first book I have read by you and I hunted it down because I was so intrigued by how you would write Ian's character. It was a fascinating insight and I thank you for writing a hero out of the norm. I can't wait for the rest of the brothers' books.

tetewa said...

I'm always looking for new authors to read and she would be one for me!

celi.a said...

Jennifer, what is your favorite recent paranormal romance? I'm definitely looking forward to reading about Ian and his relationship.
Nalini, thanks for the interview!

celialarsen(at)gmail(dot)com

Jennifer Ashley/ Allyson James / Ashley Gardner said...

To answer questions:

Kerry said: "How did you know you wanted to write historical Romance and not just paranormal or modern????"

I've always loved history and historical novels. When I first started writing romance, I'd only read and write historicals. I had no clue how to write about things happening today. :-) I really started out wanting to write fantasy, but at the time, no one was buying fantasy romance and historical was the closest I could get. Then became addicted to historicals!


Orianna asked: "I was wondering what sort of research you had to do in order to write TMOLIM, not just to ensure that Ian's character was accurate, but also to determine how such a character would be dealt with in the time period you were writing in."

Research: Firsthand accounts of people who had Asperger's or were parents of Aspy children. I read books, blogs, emails, and other things. How he'd be dealt with? I read books on how Victorians viewed and dealt with madness. It wasn't all bad, actually. The science of psychiatry was just around the corner, about ten years after my story. People started psychoanalyzing and trying to understand, not just locking them up. But having someone committed was a lengthy process that involved a committee and a trial. It was basic and humiliating. Ian went through a lot!

Nalini Singh said...

Jennifer, I'm interested in how you ended up writing under three different names. Was it a conscious choice or did it just happen along the way?

Jennifer Ashley/ Allyson James / Ashley Gardner said...

Raonoid said: "I'm reading the Dragon Master right now thanks to a friend. Any chances that you are going to write more paranormal themed stories?"

Yes. I'm just finishing up a paranormal romance/contemp fantasy (as Allyson James) starring a Navajo heroine and her boyfriend who weilds fire. :-) It's called Stormwalker and will be out next May (a "prequel" is coming this fall in "Hot for the Holidays" from Berkley). Allyson James will definitely continue with paranormal.

Jennifer Ashley will too--I have a paranormal out in Feb. called Pride Mates, a shapeshifter romance.

Laurie says: "If you get time, could you tell us how you chose Ian's name?"

Hi Laurie!! (waving) Well, I was looking for something Scottish. :-) I have a book of clan histories, which contains a brief description of each clan and their tartans. I liked the Mackenzies, so I picked them. I've always loved the name Ian. And Cameron. I don't remember where Mac and Hart came from. I just started calling them Mac and Hart.

BTW, if anyone here is a writer, Laurie does fabulous writing workshops. Her workshops have helped me quite a bit.

Limecello asks: "Did you find anything interesting in your research? A treatise, medical records that might have hinted at a diagnosis of autism?"

I don't think I'm expert enough in psychology or autism to recognize what the Victorians might be describing when they discuss cases of "madness." (although there was one story of a gentleman in the 18th century who had the personality of a five-year-old, and his wife and her lover were trying to get him committed and control his money. They would hit him, and he would cry and hide behind his butler. Sad.) Not saying that an expert in the field wouldn't immediately pick up on it, but the descriptions of symptoms in historical discussions were often quite vague. Many forms of "madness" were lumped together. All of this is what made writing the book interesting!

Jennifer Ashley/ Allyson James / Ashley Gardner said...

Nalini asks: "Jennifer, I'm interested in how you ended up writing under three different names. Was it a conscious choice or did it just happen along the way?"

I started writing under two names (Jennifer Ashley and Ashley Gardner), because I sold two different types of books (romances and mysteries) to two different publishers at about the same time. One publisher asked me to take a different name at the other pub. I agreed, because the books were so very different.

Allyson James came about because I wanted to try writing erotic romance, and I didn't want to lose my Jennifer Ashley readers by suddenly changing my voice. Plus, if the erotic books did poorly, it wouldn't hurt my Jennifer Ashley name. But Allyson James found an audience, so I kept on with it, segueing into less erotic paranormal romance.

It can be confusing to readers (and I apologize), but it just kind of happened. I take comfort in the fact that in the old days of scifi and mystery writing, authors often took a new pseudonym every time they wrote a new series. Andre Norton had four or five different names, something like that. :-)

Erika said...

The hero of this book sounds very interesting. It will be interesting to read how a romance with him evolves

Erika said...

Sounds like an interesting hero and read.

Lynnette said...

Would love a chance to win this one. I've read all your paranormal books, but haven't tried any of the historicals yet

RachieG said...

Don't count me in for the book...because I already have it and TRIPLE LOVE IT!! I was lucky enough to talk to Jennifer on a promotional chat thing on writerspace a few weeks back and she was such a great person..and the book looked great I rushed out and bought it that night!!

I was NOT disappointed!! Such a good book, it moves along fast, great romance...and I could smell a series or sequels!! :D I totally checked her website the moment I put down the book and I don't have too long to wait.

Please, if you havn't read it yet..Please do!! You won't be disappointed!!

MaryK said...

I already have the book, but I haven't had time to actually sit down and read it yet though I have dipped into it a bit. :)

I really like Beth and how good she and Ian are together. Sometimes when the hero of a book is complicated, the heroine suffers in comparison. Not so in this book. Beth is no stock heroine from central casting; she's unique. It takes a special heroine to love a hero like Ian, and Beth is exactly the heroine Ian needs.

Chez said...

I love, love, love this book. Don't put me in the draw as I already have it and have been pimping it out to friends since I finished it. Have always loved your historicals since I read the Pirate Next Door (second favourite now to Lord Ian). Well done and I can't wait for the next one.

Orangebeaker said...

Based on your many years of experience in writing about relationships, does it get easier for you to come up with your ideal hero and heroine?

valysam said...

Sorry, I haven't read your books, but I have a question: How do you come up with the right Lady for one of your heroes?
What I like with Nalini's Friday Book Club is that I learn of author I didn't know, read exerpts and most of the time, buy their books.
And this time, I get a chance to win the book leaving a comment? Count me in!

Eva S said...

I loved the book and I'm looking forward to the next ones in the series.
Don't count me in, I already have the book on my keeper shelf!

I love the Nvengaria series too and would love to see more books... Will you continue to write that series too?

bittybye2000 said...

Sounds like a very unusual romance. I wouldn't mind giving it a read.

Sara H said...

This book sounds really interesting. I'm with another poster, in that I skip by historicals these days, but this one I'd like to read!
I've read the Dragon series by Allyson James, and would like to know if there will be more in this series?

maered said...

I haven't read this book yet but I am definitely interested in a "damaged" hero. Sounds good!

Ingrid said...

Jennifer, Once i started reading i couldnt put it down! As it is said so many times, Ian is such an unusual hero, but I really think that is what we want/need as readers. Your portrayal of Ians family and friends and how they related to him through Asp. was unbelievable...yet believable.
Thanks so much & cannot wait for more!

Ingrid

Annie said...

This book is amazing! I would love to own a paperback copy!

CrystalGB said...

The Madness of Lord Ian Mckenzie sounds good. I would love to read this book because I have heard great buzz about it and I want to read Ian's story.

Minna said...

Sounds like great book!

Jennifer Ashley/ Allyson James / Ashley Gardner said...

Celi.a said: "Jennifer, what is your favorite recent paranormal romance?"

I've been reading and enjoying Patricia Briggs's Cry Wolf series. I love all her work, and am looking forward to more of the Mercy books.

Jennifer Ashley/ Allyson James / Ashley Gardner said...

Thank you Eva, Chez (waving), Ingrid, twalls, Rachie, Mary for your nice words about Madness of Lord Ian!! I feel like I say "I'm so glad you enjoyed it," a lot lately, but I am! Glad. You enjoyed it. Really!

Thanks also to Allyson James fans here. I'm just finishing up a new one! Will give it to my editor next week.

Jennifer Ashley/ Allyson James / Ashley Gardner said...

Eva asked: "I love the Nvengaria series too and would love to see more books... Will you continue to write that series too?"

I have one more in that series, a novella in "A Christmas Ball" coming out in Octorber. My story is "The Longest Night" and it is about Mary and Valentin from Highlander Ever After. After that, my historicals will be all Mackenzies for a while. :-)

Paula said...

I haven't read this one (yet) but I was intrigued by the hero when I heard of him. To me, "perfect" characters are the boring ones.

Jennifer Ashley/ Allyson James / Ashley Gardner said...

Orangebreaker asks: "Based on your many years of experience in writing about relationships, does it get easier for you to come up with your ideal hero and heroine?"

No. LOL It gets more difficult for me because I don't want to write the same couple twice with different names. I want each one to be unique. That's difficult--it's easy for a writer to write what's comfortable and works. It's good for me, though, because it challenges me to not be lazy and truly work at making the couple special and not stock. A writer's life is brutal, brutal. :-)

Jennifer Ashley/ Allyson James / Ashley Gardner said...

valysam asks: "How do you come up with the right Lady for one of your heroes?"

Many audition, few are chosen. For the role of Beth, I took several shots at it, and she didn't come out quite right until about her fifth manifestation. Once I got the idea in my head of a woman who'd known hardship but had just inherited a lot of money, so she didn't *need* to marry for security--and she now had freedom--Beth clicked.

In general, I look for someone who will challenge the hero and be good for him at the same time. It's a delicate balance!

I daydream characters in my head for months and months, sometimes years before they are "right."

Patty said...

I own and have read the book. It is on my keeper shelf- no need to include me in the drawing.

I read a review of the book and was instantly intrigued because I work in a school in which children with Autism Spectrum Disorders(ASD) are taught. I was amazed at how well you, Jennifer, captured some of the behaviors of an individual with Aspergers. Aspergers kids are usually brilliant although they lack social and communication skills. I also appreciated the fact that you gave Ian a love life and a happily-ever-after. Too often we think of people with ASD as damaged goods when, in fact, this is just what makes them unique and special in their own right. "Quirky" is the term I use for the students I have taught. They can be hard to work with at times, but are also a lot of fun because they have a different perspective than the "average" student.

Una said...

I haven't read your books yet as I haven't gotten into Historical romances. However, a few short stories in the past anthologies I've read have peaked my interest.

Ms. Ashley, your new story has me completely intrigued. I find it fascinating that your hero doesn't just have his own personality flaws to deal with to have his HEA, but that he has a condition that will be something that needs to be worked through. What do you find is most challenging in writing historical romances? How did you pick the time period you write in? Thank you for your time and the contest!

Thank you Nalini for bringing us another new (to some of us) author! I just love Friday Book Club!!

Pissenlit said...

Don't count me in this giveaway as I already have a copy!...Which I very much enjoyed, may I add!

Jennifer, I can't wait for the subsequent books! Will we see any more of the Mackenzie brothers after each brother gets their story told?

Also, yargh! After doing some online searching, I realised that your Captain Lacey Regency Mystery Series doesn't appear to be in print anymore. Guess I'll have to scour the used bookstores.

MaryK said...

"Your portrayal of Ians family and friends and how they related to him through Asp. was unbelievable...yet believable."

Yes. I love how they all look out for him each in his own way.

Meg said...

I'm very intrigued and interested in reading about a hero that is not only labeled as mad, but has a disorder that makes social interactions...interesting.

Lindlee said...

I've already read this book also and really loved it. I fell in love with Ian's character and loved the relationship b/w him and Beth.

I'm so glad you're also planning on exploring the family relationships. That was one of the things I also really enjoyed about the book. Seeing how the brothers ineracted was a pleasure. You could tell that Ian's brothers really loved him even when they didn't always understand him.

I'm so anxious for Mac's story to come out. I'm not sure how I'm going to survive waiting for the entire series!!

Oh yes, and I also already own a copy of this book so I don't need to be entered in the drawing.

Hilcia said...

I read this book and loved Ian and Beth! I can't wait to read Cam, Mac and Hart's stories. :)

Ms. Ashley, how hard (or easy) was it to write a Romance about a character who is not supposed to know or feel love? I must admit that it's what peaked my curiosity about this book.

Thank you Nalini -- please don't count my post for the contest.

May said...

I love The Madness of Lord Ian MacKenzie. It is definitely the best book I read this year. So I am dying to know when the next one is coming out?

orannia said...

Thank you so much for answering my question Jennifer. I so can't wait to read this book :)

Jennifer Ashley/ Allyson James / Ashley Gardner said...

Thanks for all the questions: They're great.

May asked when the next one is coming out:

I just signed the contract for the next three books, to the answer is--I don't know yet. However, I am working on the books right now, and will start turning them in soon. Sometime next year, I would think for the pub dates.

Jennifer Ashley/ Allyson James / Ashley Gardner said...

Hilcia asks: "how hard (or easy) was it to write a Romance about a character who is not supposed to know or feel love?"

Not easy. :-) Writing Ian was a challenge, but I liked it, because he kept me from being lazy. He couldn't give stock answers or act in a conventional way. I went over his scenes and dialog about a million times before I was satisfied.

Part of what I was trying to show was that Ian really did know what love was like; but he had trouble recognizing it and expressing it. He loves his brothers, who were there for him from day one, and then he's first fascinated by, then deeply in love with Beth. Beth helps him realize how much he loves. (I don't think that's a spoiler; I'm speaking generally. :-)

Again, all great questions!

zahra said...

Wow! This is one of the few historicals that I've heard of which address very real but also slightly 'taboo' issues - in other words, issues which the majority of society tries to forget about. So, kudos to Jennifer!! I haven't read 'The Madness of Lord Ian Mackenzie' yet, but will definitely get my hands on it now!

Caitie said...

I haven't gotten to it yet, but I do have one of your Allyson James book in my teetering TBR stacks. I don't read many historicals, but this one sounds somewhat different from most, and I'm intrigued by your description of the hero! Will definitely have to see about getting my hands on this one:)

kelbar77 said...

I loved this book! Such a unique hero, and I can't wait for the next one.

orannia said...

Part of what I was trying to show was that Ian really did know what love was like; but he had trouble recognizing it and expressing it.

Jennifer - that explanation has me desperate to read the book :) Because expressing oneself can be so very difficult. All the best with writing the next book!

Lysander said...

I'm sorry to say I'd never seen this book before but it sounds really interesting. I'm looking forward to reading it, thank you!

Anonymous said...

Your hero sounds special, Jennifer. - I`ll add your book on my amazon wish list.
- He remind me a bit on "Flowers from the Storm" by Laura Kinsale. Her hero is suffering under the consequences of an apoplexy and the society brand him as an madman. Did you know this book?
How was the research after the clinical picture? Was it difficult or easy?

~Eva

Virginia said...

I absolutely cannot wait to read this book! Imperfect people who accept and refine each other's rough edges make the most romantic couples. Theirs is the most lasting kind of love, which grows and enrichens as time passes.

nightdweller20 said...

It was refreshing to read about a character as unique as Ian. I've only read one other book featuring Aspergers in fiction, and although both of the heroes have Aspergers, neither possess the exact same traits from it, so it was great to see how Ian molded to it differently than what I had read before.

I learned more about Aspergers syndrome because of this book, so thanks to Jennifer for helping me to enjoy a good story and get my learning cap on!

Hilcia said...

Miss Ashley, thank you for taking the time to answer my question in such wonderful detail. I'm really looking forward to the rest of this series. :)

Jennifer Ashley/ Allyson James / Ashley Gardner said...

To answer a couple more questions before we're done:

Yes, I did read Flowers from the Storm a long time ago and liked it. Laura Kinsale is an amazing writer. A couple of her books are my favorite romances.

Madness of Lord Ian is a little different because while LK's hero could fully recover Ian never can. He's going to be Aspy for the rest of his life. It's how he deals with it that will determine his happiness. But I fully believe in Ian's HEA, and I hope you all do too!

It was not all that difficult to research the perception and reaction to "madness" in the Victorian age, because psychology/ psychiatry/ psychoanlysis was just starting to be studied (e.g., William James and his work). There's a lot of material. I also researched the legal issues of committing someone--English law did have rules about having someone declared mad, in order to prevent people locking up family members simply to gain their money. There had to be evidence and witnesses, and an examination of the "mad" person in question. The person had to be able to count from one to twenty and other things. It was all quite interesting! Only about a fraction of everything I learned made it into the book. :-)

Jennifer Ashley/ Allyson James / Ashley Gardner said...

Once again, thanks for all your terrific questions and comments! If you enjoyed Lord Ian and want to be notified when the next books come out, you can join my newsletter by going through my website (http://www.jennifersromances.com). I send the newsletter infrequently; it's mostly announcements of releases.

And again thanks to Nalini for inviting me over! It was fun. Keep writing those great books so I can read them!!

Raonaid Luckwell said...

Just finished Dragon Master last night and it invoked two questions. Do you plan to write anymore to the dragon series AND will Axel the Baku ever get his book. He's a trip.

Jennifer Ashley/ Allyson James / Ashley Gardner said...

Roanaid asks: "Just finished Dragon Master last night and it invoked two questions. Do you plan to write anymore to the dragon series AND will Axel the Baku ever get his book. He's a trip."

I am starting another paranormal series as Allyson James but it will tie into the dragon books. I like Axel, too, and I hope to write his story. Nothing contracted at this point, but I don't want to drop him. He's too much fun. :-)

Aymless said...

I've heard so many good thing about this book. I'll have to pick it when I'm in the money again.

orannia said...

Congrats Barbarita! And thank you very much Jennifer and Nalini :)

Barbarita V said...

Thanks so much!

Anonymous said...

reading this book now. went out this weekend after reading the excerpt. love this book and can't wait for the rest!

although, did anyone notice the boo boo on the cover?!?

~mimi