I’ve begun a Wednesday weekly post to present interviews with authors across all romance genres. Although I’m primarily an historical romance writer, I do read outside my genre and suspect a lot of you do as well. And what’s more fascinating than finding out more about either your favorite authors or new ones? I plan to change up my questions (most of them at least) every three months or so, just to keep the interviews lively.
So now gather round the tea table, grab a scone or cookies, and a cup of tea or coffee and discover a new friend in the writing world.
This week on Be My Guest, as promised, I am interviewing historical author Elf Ahearn! We are currently sharing an historical romance boxed set, Her Perfect Gentleman, so I thought I’d take this opportunity to introduce you to Elf–her real name and I love it!–and let her tell you about herself and her historical novella, His Lordship’s Darkest Secret.
Elf Ahearn, yes, that is her real name, lives in New York with her wonderful husband and a pesky (yet irresistible) cat. Before becoming a novelist, she spent 20 years in Manhattan working as an actress in nearly 100 productions (yet rarely being paid for any of them). From that lucrative career, she jumped to journalism, and then to corporate communications where she garnered multiple awards for a newsletter she wrote and edited. Her novel, A Rogue in Sheep’s Clothing hit #1 in its genre on Amazon this September, and bless its heart, has been consistently selling for over three years.
Newsletter: email firstname.lastname@example.org to subscribe
And now let’s meet Elf Ahearn!
Who is your favorite romance hero or heroine and why? What qualities do they possess that make them memorable?
I know this will sound odd as heck, since I’m not into gay romance, but there’s a male-on-male author from England named K.J. Charles who is brilliant. In her book An Unseen Attraction, there’s a character name Clem Talleyfer, who grows clumsy when he’s being pressured or jostled by people. His personality is so beautifully drawn, I could have spent another 1,000 pages with him.
Hero worship knows no bounds, Elf. He sounds fantastic!
Who was the first romance author and book you read?
I wish I could remember the title, but it was by Sabrina Jeffries, and it was the sexiest work of literature I’d ever laid eyes on. Needless to say, I couldn’t put it down. The book that really pushed me on my writing path, however, was M.M. Kaye’s The Far Pavilions. I knew when I read that novel, I wanted to create stuff that had that same sense of adventure, and characters pushed against impossible odds who would sacrifice everything for love. Only the romance genre will let you do that.
OMG, I love M.M. Kaye! I love The Far Pavillions, but I really think I love In the Shadow of the Moon even more. Her books put a trip to India on my bucket list.
Are you a pantser or plotter? What is your process?
I’m kinda both a pantser and a plotter. Since I always know my ending, I draft a loose outline with a few scenes I think will take me where I want to go. However, my characters inevitably march over that outline, trampling the poor thing to pulp. That’s okay, as long as I can persuade them to come home and make nice with my climax and denouement.
You’re a better writer than I am, Gunga Din. I have to have a detailed outline or I can’t start to write at all!
What is your favorite holiday and why?
Christmas is my all-time fav, which stands to reason since my name is Elf. BTW, I swear that came straight from my parents’ imaginations.
What I adore about Christmas, though, is that everyone is thinking about someone other than themselves. Even if coming up with a gift for Aunt Betty is a hassle, and a drag, and something to drag oneself into kicking and screaming, Aunt Betty is still taking up brain cells. To me, more than Santa Claus or even the birth of Jesus, that’s the miracle of Christmas.
What is the most exciting/daredevil thing you’ve ever done?
I went to Europe alone. It was shortly after I graduated from college—pre-internet days, mind you. The trip was pure daredevil, but I got lonely fast and wished I’d had someone with me. For example, on one of my last nights, I missed the train out of London and had to book a room. This woman at the accommodations desk told me the only hotel available in the entire city was the youth hostel I’d stayed in the entire week. Then they didn’t have a single, so I ended up paying an astronomical amount for a room with 10 beds in it. Had someone been with me, they might have shouted, “No Elf, don’t do it!”
We must get together and chat about our experiences. I had a similar one when I was a senior in college!
Do you have any hobbies/passions outside of writing?
Watching TV. Wait—is that considered a hobby?
I do, unless you can find a way to turn it into a profession.
What is your favorite cuisine?
Food that someone else cooked…
A woman after my own heart. 🙂
Now, tell us a little bit about one of your books.
What was your inspiration for this story?
Just after my wedding, I discovered that during the reception, which we held at the house, someone stole my silver jewelry. Not the expensive gold stuff, just the silver, and only the pieces I wore frequently. A few years later, I figured out that the thief was my best friend—one of my bride’s maids. And that’s when the story came to me. The evil side of the villainess in His Lordship’s Darkest Secret is based on that friend. The hoarding side came from my sister.
When my father died, my sister kind of lost it, taking everything we didn’t sell from a huge house and stuffing it in and around her tiny house. It was so bad you couldn’t see the front door, and there were plastic tarps all over the property under which furniture, books, sofa cushions, and valuable artwork moldered together and rotted.
I have a photograph of the interior of the house. You literally can’t tell up or down except for a single mask hanging on the wall.
First-hand experience—that’s what inspired this novel.
Wow, I’d say!
I am a fanatic about my character names. Are the character names special in any way?
Another sister, the one who told me I should write romance, had a much-loved kitty named Flavian. He walked like a truck driver, and mewed like a pansy. The hero in His Lordship’s Darkest Secret is named after him. Hopefully, he’s a little more alpha than the cat, though.
Now, the Infamous Lightning Round: (Choose 5-6 of the questions below)
What is your favorite amusement park ride?
Rollercoaster. Hate the Ferris Wheel, though. Scares me to death.
Tea or coffee and how do you take it?
Tea! The first cup of the day has soy milk, the second cup is black.
Hot dogs or Hamburgers?
I eat more hamburgers, but I do love a good dog every once in a while.
Favorite all time movie?
The Producers. As a former actor, I can’t get enough of that film. Shakespeare in Love is another one that turns my crank.
That is a hoot!
Chocolate or vanilla?
So easy, it’s almost shocking you ask, Jenna. Chocolate, naturally.
I never meant to shock you, Elf!
Boxers, briefs or commando? (preferred for your heroes)
Since the gentlemen who occupy my pages, are, as I said, gentlemen, and since none of them has made it out of the 19th Century, I’m going to say boxers.
How many states have you lived in?
Three. I’m a pretty sedentary creature.
Would you rather skydive or scuba dive?
Way rather scuba dive. Swimming is my bag, baby.
Cat person or dog person?
Cats, cats, cats! But I do love dogs too. Sufie, the kitty of my heart, is asthmatic, so we can’t have a dog because it would upset her delicate equilibrium. Someday, though, I’ll have a dog.
I’m a cat person too. There’s something purrfect about them. 🙂
What’s the one thing you would never do?
Steal my best friend’s jewelry…
What’s your favorite Starbucks drink?
I was going to say iced coffee, but I have to admit, I love those cold frappuchinos. OMG, are those things addictive!
Who is your favorite cartoon character?
If Lady Claire Albright had one wish, it would be to forget brooding, powerful Lord Flavian Monroe. But even after two years of bewildering silence, she yearns to touch his sinuous arms and feel his calloused hands upon her cheeks. Then, on the brink of her come out, they accidently meet. His ward is ill, and he begs her to use her knowledge of healing to help the girl. But this patient is sick in a way that’s far different from what Claire expected—dangerously different. And, as she struggles to find a cure, Flavian resists rekindling their love. Is it the ward’s illness that keeps him cold and distant, or a dark and terrible secret?
The thought of Claire in the arms of another man is unbearable, but in his heart, Flavian knows he mustn’t ask her to share the consequences of his mistake. Nor should he have brought her to his home and exposed her to his ward’s sickness. Yet he lacks the strength to send her away. Each time he looks into the blue pools of Claire’s eyes, the urge to feel her body pressed against his consumes all reason, and he is left unable to utter the word, “Goodbye.”
Next Wednesday my special guest will be Marie Higgins, a fellow historical romance author. Hope you return to you favorite Wednesday spot to meet her!