Tuesday Book Club: Jude Knight’s A Raging Madness
Earlier this year I was honoured to be invited to join The Bluestocking Belles, a wonderful group of historical romance authors who are outstandingly talented and successful.
It’s my great pleasure to introduce Jude Knight, from New Zealand, just across the Tasman from me!
Before we get into today’s interview, a reminder to join us on April 28/29 for a wonderful Facebook Party, called Love Speaks.
What were you like at school?
I was the quirky kid in the library; the one who got the teachers’ jokes and wrote parodies of the poems we were studying in English. My school’s crest featured a lion, so I started an underground newspaper called ‘Bleat: the student’s voice’, whose symbol was a very unhappy looking lamb. I had a lot of illness in my school years, and missed quite a bit of school, but still managed to pass most things; mostly because I wrote good essays and have the kind of brain that stores away trivia. Anything that required work, like memorising foreign language vocabularies or learning dates, I didn’t do so well at. One teacher once wrote on an exam paper of mine. “You have written an excellent English essay. It is a pity the subject is History.”
What inspired you to write?
I have always told stories. My mother swears I began before I could talk, and certainly by the time I was at preschool, I was making up stories for the other children. Somewhere in my seventh or eighth year, I first announced that I planned to be a writer and a mother when I grew up.
Which writers inspire you?
How long have you got? Here’s a brief of the top of the head selection. Asimov, Le Guin, Tolkein, Agatha Christie, P.D. James, Patricia Wentworth, Terry Pratchett, Elizabeth Hoyt, Georgette Heyer, Grace Burrows, Shakespeare, Dickens. And many more, from whom I’ve learnt and in whose pioneering feet I aspire to tread. The writers of the Psalms and the translators of the Bible are right up there, too. (What a wonderful set of authors! – EEC)
What inspired you to write this story?
As with all my books, many different things came together to make this story.
I started with Ella. She wandered into my head, determinedly not a victim despite her circumstances. I met her in the precursor to the scene where she climbs from her bedroom in her shift, and hears her in-laws plotting against her. Two years ago, I saw that scene, and now it is written and on preorder. Isn’t that wonderful? (I love it when that happens – that’s when you know you have something special. – EEC)
Alex wasn’t going to be my wounded soldier in Farewell to Kindness, but once I swapped him for the original friend of my hero, I fell in love with his courage and wondered what had caused his suspicion of women. A Raging Madness was how I explored the answers.
The theme came early, and prompted both the title and the number of villains. Envy poisons, and love heals. That’s my story in a nutshell.
The canal trip had three reasons. First, I’ve always wanted to do one, and reading about them and watching Youtube clips was nearly as good. Second, I wanted to throw my hero and heroine into close quarters, and a canal boat cabin did it. Third, it tickled my fancy to have my hero and heroine fleeing in one of the slowest modes of transport ever invented.
How much research do you do?
Way more than ever shows in the books. I’ve never met a research rabbit hole I didn’t immediately want to leap down, and I have a dread of getting some simple thing wrong.
Can you give us a blurb to let us know what the story is about?
Their marriage is a fiction. Their enemies are all too real.
Ella survived an abusive and philandering husband, in-laws who hate her, and public scorn. But she’s not sure she will survive love. It is too late to guard her heart from the man forced to pretend he has married such a disreputable widow, but at least she will not burden him with feelings he can never return.
Alex understands his supposed wife never wishes to remarry. And if she had chosen to wed, it would not have been to him. He should have wooed her when he was whole, when he could have had her love, not her pity. But it is too late now. She looks at him and sees a broken man. Perhaps she will learn to bear him.
In their masquerade of a marriage, Ella and Alex soon discover they are more well-matched than they expected. But then the couple’s blossoming trust is ripped apart by a malicious enemy. Two lost souls must together face the demons of their past to save their lives and give their love a future.
Give us an insight into your main character. What does he/she do that is so special?
What I love about Alex is that he fights his own desires and convictions to give the woman he loves the right and power to make her own choices. What more can a girl ask of her hero? And Ella? As I said before, I love that her trials have tempered her. She has enormous courage.
Which actor/actress would you like to see playing the lead character from your most recent book?
When I was writing A Raging Madness, I had a photo of Alex Pettyfer as my visual inspiration for Alex. I’d love to see Anne Hathaway as my heroine.
What book/s are you reading at present?
My current research book is Secret Service: British Agents in France 1792 to 1815, by Elizabeth Sparrow. This is for one of my current writing projects.
I finished Jessica Cale’s Broken Things a day or two ago, and haven’t started anything new yet. I’ve also read Caroline Warfield’s The Reluctant Bride and Sherry Ewing’s Nothing But Time, and want to read the other books that are being launched with mine on 29 April (Elizabeth’s Dark Heart, Amy Quinton’s What the Scot Hears, and Caroline’s Holiday in Bath). That should keep me amused.
What writing project are you working on next?
I have two novels on the go. I am writing the sequel to A Raging Madness, which is called The Realm of Silence. I am also researching for Concealed in Shadow, which is the sequel to my historical mystery, Revealed in Mist. Given my reading matter, it won’t surprise you to know that both novels involve spies.
I’m also writing novellas for two different anthologies, and both are departures from my usual period. The first is for the Bluestocking Belles, and is set during the Mt Tarawera eruption in New Zealand in 1886. The second is for the Speakeasy Scribes, and is set in the late 21st Century, 40 years into a new ice age.
Tell us something unique about you that they wouldn’t guess from just looking at your photograph?
I am short. I mean really short. I mean under five feet / one point five metres.
Not unique? Okay. My ambition for my old age is to become a grammar guerilla and sneak out at night to correct typographical errors in signs. (I’ve found your role model! – EEC)
What is your favourite positive saying?
There are no problems; only challenges.
What is your favourite book and why?
That’s as hard as listing the authors who inspired me. I have a long, long list. I love books that are soundly based on research but that don’t hang it all out like wet laundry; ones in which real people walk and live and act in accordance with their times and their natures; ones that deal with important issues (and yes, falling in love is important).
What is your favourite quote?
I like different ones on different days. Today’s is “To write means more than putting pretty words on a page. To write is to share part of your soul.” A perennial favourite is ‘The aim is publication not perfection”.
What is your favourite movie and why?
The Sound of Music. Because even though I’ve read both the Von Trapp Family Singers and the debunking reports, it is just so outrageously cheerful and optimistic. And everyone should be able to sing their way out of being dragooned by the Nazis.
How can readers discover more about you and you work?
Jude Knight’s writing goal is to transport readers to another time, another place, where they can enjoy adventure and romance, thrill to trials and challenges, uncover secrets and solve mysteries, delight in a happy ending, and return from their virtual holiday refreshed and ready for anything.
She writes historical novels, novellas, and short stories, mostly set in the early 19th Century. She writes strong determined heroines, heroes who can appreciate a clever capable woman, villains you’ll love to loathe, and all with a leavening of humour.
Would you like to share an excerpt from your book?
Alex poured the coffee, his rinsed shaving mug doing service for Jonno’s portion. Ella sat and sipped while Jonno cleared the table and pushed the serving trolley out of the way. At Alex’s gesture, he sat on the stool again.
“Now, Lady Melville. What trouble are you in, and how can we help?” And should he believe a word she said? She did not act like a lunatic, apart from appearing half-naked in his room in the middle of the night. Apart from the panicked response to her brother-in-law.
That she had taken opium in some form was beyond a doubt. The contracted pupils, the loss of appetite, the shaky hand, the restless shifting in her seat, all spoke to that. Thanks to his injury, Alex had far too close and personal an experience of the symptoms to mistake them. The bruises on her jaw hinted that the drug taking might not have been voluntary, but perhaps her keepers needed to drug her to keep her calm.
Sane or not, Alex hoped he would not need to hand her back to Braxton. Her fear might be irrational, but when she had stood at bay, begging for his help, he had been thrown back ten years. Not that she begged him then. But he left camp on a short trip for supplies, and returned to find Ella married and much changed, her fire banked; her joy extinguished. That time, he had ignored her plight, hardened his heart and left her to the fate she had engineered. And had suffered with her as the consequences quenched her vitality and sucked away the last of her childhood. Suffered, and been powerless to help.
“I have been drugged,” Ella said baldly. “Twice a day. For weeks now. They won’t tell me why. If I refuse, they force me.”
“‘They’ being Braxton and his wife?” Alex prompted.
“And Constance’s dresser.”
“Go on.” He was careful to show no disbelief, no surprise.
“I have been kept in my room. They locked the door. They took all my clothes, my shoes. I saw you out the window and so I came. Will you help me, Alex?”
“I can take you to the rector.” Even as he said it he remembered the plump little man greasing at Braxton’s elbow. Ella would find no help there.
“No!” Her rejection was instant and panicked. “He will give me back and they will send me to that place. No, Alex. You do not know what they plan for me.” She was weeping. Alex had seen her calm under cannon fire, dry-eyed at her father’s funeral, efficient and unemotional in the midst of the carnage of a hospital tent after a battle. He had never seen her weep.
He captured her hands, and kept his voice low and soothing. “I do not, Ella. Tell me.”
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