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Oh, do I have a treat for you today! Jen Turano’s current historical romance series, Apart From the Crowd, has been such fun to read! (You can find my review for Behind the Scenes here, and my review for Out of the Ordinary here.) I can’t wait to dig into the third in the series, Caught by Surprise. But in the meantime, we have the privilege of visiting with Jen! Before we begin, here’s a quick peek at the back cover.
When Mr. Gilbert Cavendish is called upon to rescue a missing woman, he follows the trail to Chicago only to discover that the woman is his good friend Temperance. Before they can discover who was behind the abduction, they’re seen alone together by a New York society matron, putting their reputations at risk.
Gilbert is willing to propose marriage–except Temperance will have none of it. She’s finally stepped out of the shadow of her relations and won’t give up her independence. But when it becomes clear the misunderstanding in Chicago has escalated into a threat on her life and followed her to New York, accepting Gilbert’s help in solving the mystery may lead to more than she ever could have dreamed.
Welcome, Jen! What inspired you to write this series, or Caught by Surprise in particular?
I’ve always been drawn to stories about Wallflowers, and I began writing stories set in the Gilded Age after reading an article on Alva Vanderbilt’s famous ball of 1883. So, with that said, I decided the perfect way to have a book open at that particular ball would be with a wallflower, and…a series was born with Behind the Scenes. Three lovely wallflowers took shape on the pages, all in desperate need of their own stories.
I’m so glad they each had that opportunity! Do you have a favorite character from this story? Why is this character your favorite?
I adore Miss Temperance Flowerdew, although she was a character who took her time letting me know who she wanted to be and what her story was. In the beginning of the series, she was very timid, didn’t speak much, and seemed somewhat, well, boring. But then, as her character began to develop, she changed, or rather, found the Temperance she’d been before her life turned upside down and she lost everything dear to her. She was fascinating to write, and I never knew where she was going to lead me next.
You do have to watch out for those quiet ones… 😉 Who is your favorite secondary character in this latest novel?
Mr. Gilbert Cavendish is also a favorite of mine. He’s a very structured gentleman, longs for order, and it was a riot to shake-up his world and pair him with a character like Temperance.
Now if that isn’t intriguing…! Why did you choose this particular setting, and have you been there?
The story is partially set in Chicago, which is a different setting for me. I wanted to get my characters out of New York for once, and since I have been to Chicago numerous times, and just adore that city, I decided to have my characters travel there, although not by choice. Readers will get a taste for the Palmer House Hotel, but while I do mention some of the department stores there, I won’t be visiting those stores until my next series when Miss Beatrix Waterbury, after her mother has had quite enough of her shenanigans, goes off to visit her spinster aunt who is a strong supporter of the suffragist movement and decides Beatrix needs to get a job – at a department store.
I can just imagine the fun you could have with that! Did you do any traveling for research? If so, could you tell us about it?
I do travel for research, but since I lived in New York for quite a few years, I’m more than familiar with the city. Newport is a favorite of mine, what with all the cottages and the cliff walk, but my next research trip is going to be Boston – I’ve not been there for years, but do think some of my characters might enjoy visiting that city.
It certainly sounds like a good excuse for a trip! Do you have personal experience with any of the events in your story, and if so, could you share about that?
All of my books have something from my personal experience in them – whether it’s the madcap adventures, although I’ve never been abducted, to the relationships the characters share with their friends. Some of my heroes are inspired by my husband, who is just a great guy, clueless about women of course, but has a great sense of humor and a taste for the absurd.
What do you hope your readers take away from Caught by Surprise?
I would hope that readers see a bit of themselves in Temperance and realize that it’s fine to embrace who you really are, and not hide that sense of self simply because others expect it.
Speaking of self, we’d love to know a little about you. Would you share a few fast favorites? What is your:
Favorite color? it changes – right now it’s green
Favorite season? fall
Favorite beverage? I drink a lot of water, not that it’s my favorite, but since I gave up soda, it’s my go-to drink
Favorite animal? dogs
Favorite movie? Harry Potter – all of them
Favorite vacation destination? anywhere with lots of trees and water – I love lakes
Favorite ice cream flavor? chocolate
Did you have a favorite story/book as a child? Why was it a favorite?
Andrew Henry’s Meadow – It was a favorite because Andrew made these super cool tree houses that reminded me of the tree house I had.
How fun! If you could travel back in time to the general time period of your novel, which one person would you most like to meet?
Alva Vanderbilt – she was certainly a snob, but I bet she could give me a ton of color on the New York Four Hundred.
Haha! She probably did know all the dirt! If you could live during the time period of your novel, would you? Why or why not?
Nope – while the Gilded Age was fascinating, not many people lived the lives of the socially elite. Most people had difficulties making the rent, and then there’s the whole hygiene thing, and…no way would I want to stuff myself into a corset.
There is definitely that. I’m with you there! Do you have a favorite or “life” verse? Why is that one important to you?
Isaiah 30:21 – Whether you turn to the right or to the left, your ears will hear a voice behind you; saying “This is the way, walk in it.” It’s a reminder that I need to listen to that voice and walk the path God has set out for me to walk.
That’s a great reminder. Can you give any hints about what you’re working on now?
I’m writing the second book in a new series – The American Heiresses.
What do you feel is the most challenging part of the writing/editing/publishing process?
First drafts – all those pesky blank pages looking back at me day after day.
They can be quite intimidating, can’t they? If you could offer a word of encouragement to an aspiring author, what would you say?
Just keep writing – and know that the first book you write might not be ready for publication – but write that second book, and then the third. Those are your stepping stones used to perfect your craft. I have seven stepping stones that will never see the light of day, but if I’d stopped, well, I wouldn’t be doing what I truly love.
Wise words! Thanks so much for taking the time to visit with us today, Jen!
Your turn! If you could travel back in time, would you want to meet Alva Vanderbilt? Why or why not?
More about Jen:
Named One of the Funniest Voices in Inspirational Romance by Booklist, Jen Turano is a USA Today Best-Selling Author, known for penning quirky historical romances set in the Gilded Age. Her books have earned Publisher Weekly and Booklist starred reviews, top picks from Romantic Times, and praise from Library Journal. She’s been a finalist twice for the RT Reviewers’ Choice Awards and had two of her books listed in the top 100 romances of the past decade from Booklist. When she’s not writing, she spends her time outside of Denver, CO.
Caught by Surprise Giveaway:
Jen has generously offered to give away a signed paperback copy of Caught by Surprise. Giveaways are subject to the Giveaway Policy.