The playlist that inspired PROOF OF LOVE includes:
Holding Out for a Hero – Bonnie Tyler
Both Sides Now – Joni Mitchell
I Hope that I Don't Fall in Love with You — Tom Waits
Something — The Beatles
I Won't Say I'm in Love — Susan Egan (Hercules Soundtrack)
Can't Get You Out of my Head — Kylie Minogue
Two Out of Three Ain't Bad — Meat Loaf
I Can't Make You Love Me — Bonnie Raitt
Look What You've Done to Me — Boz Scaggs
Piece of My Heart — Janis Joplin
She's Got a Way — Billy Joel
Sorry Seems to Be the Hardest Word — Mary J. Blige
We're All Alone — Boz Scaggs
Unchained Melody — the Righteous Brothers
Loving You — Minnie Riperton
Read an excerpt from Proof of Love
Visit Arabella Stokes' web site
About Arabella Stokes
I was born on my family's estate in the Cotswolds. As the pampered youngest child and only daughter, I was -- Oh, forget it. I was born and raised in the pine woods of NW Florida. But I've been dreaming of British manor houses and foxhunts since I was old enough to open a book, and now I write Georgian/Regency romances and chicklit. By day, I work as a lawyer for a local government agency and raise my two teenage daughters with my husband (fondly referred to as Lord of the Far Junior College.) As for what I read: Words. Words in a row, of any kind I can put my hands on. The more, the better. Visit me at arabellastokes.com or tweet me @romancemama.
An Interview with Arabella Stokes
By Holly Hewson for The Romance Studio
HH: Arabella, thank you for talking with us at TRS! Your featured book is Proof of Love and it's your debut. What can you tell us about your journey to being a published author.
AS: I've played around with writing for years. Back in my school days (when dinosaurs roamed the earth), I would avoid paying attention in class by writing stories. The weird thing is, though, that I never did anything with them. To me, "authors" were special people, who lived in a world I knew nothing about. Everybody I knew did regular jobs, to make a living. So I became a lawyer, did the normal 8 to 5 thing, but I read everything I could. Books are a major addiction for me.
As I practiced law, I got in the habit of reading romance. At work all day, I had to think fast and concentrate, and all my cases were depressing -- I did criminal law and divorce, where you never see any happy clients. So I would come home and read light, lovely stories about beautiful people doing pleasant things.
Then one day I very unexpectly stumbled across a used paperback called "You Can Write a Romance Novel." It was a revelation! You mean I can write one? I devoured it, and started talking nonstop about how I was sure I could write something as good as (fill in author's name.) So one day, my Dear Husband drove me up to Best Buy, bought me a cute little laptop, and said, "Do it." (Well, actually, I think it was "Do it or hush up about it" but you get the idea.
And the rest is history.
HH: What can you tell us about Proof of Love?
AS: Proof of Love is the first romance novel I finished, although I've edited and revised it several times since I first typed "The End." After watching The Duchess, I got interested in her very dysfunctional family. One of the weirder shoots on the family tree was Henry Cavendish, a Georgian-era scientist. Although he made numerous historical discoveries, he was so painfully shy that he did not publish his journals, and much of his work was attributed to others until recently. In fact, some people think he would be diagnosed with an Autism Spectrum disorder if he was around today.
Poor Henry was the original starting point for my story, although my Duke is not nearly as shy -- especially around the ladies!
HH: What do you like best about Lady Susan and why will readers relate to her?
AS: Oh, I love Susan! Seriously, she's like another daughter to me. She's very much a lady, proper and wellbred, but she has a spine of steel. When my editor at Champagne read Proof for the first time, she made a note about Susan in the margin: "She's feisty!"
The story opens up with Susan in a pretty bad spot. Her brother was lost at sea, and as mere girl her only usefulness to her family is to make a good marriage. Unfortunately, her betrothal ends in scandal and heartbreak, and her father makes her life a living hell. Despite everything, though, Susan remains true to herself and makes her own choices.
I hope I'm not making her sound too Pollyannish – she's also opinionated and stubborn, with an unfortunate tendency to jump to conclusions. But that's what makes her such a good match for the Duke, who is no pushover himself.
HH: What do you like best about the Duke and why will readers love him?
AS: Edward is really, really brilliant. While I love reading about a ne'er-do-well rake as much as the next girl, in real life I've always been attracted to the smart guys. So I wrote a hero that has interests and talents beyond the gambling table and foxhunts.
Remember that the Georgian era was a time when scientists were making incredible discoveries. Cavendish, Galvani, Herschel, Dalton, Watt, Franklin -- there are really too many to list. And unlike modern scholars who concentrate on one specific area of inquiry, these guys were "polymaths" -- experts on a variety of areas. I wanted Edward to one of these Georgian renaissance men who were enthralled by the mysteries of the physical world.
Now, while Edward is incredibly brilliant about science, he is less sure of himself when it comes to emotional issues. He expects everyone around him to be as calm, detached and rational as he is. You can imagine that this leads to some misunderstandings with Susan!
HH: What sort of research did you do for this series?
AS: Oh, the research! I'm lucky that I am, as I mentioned, a voracious reader who will read anything that comes to hand. And since my Dear Husband is, like Edward, one of those brilliant scholarly types, he has books all over the house, on every scientific and philosophical topic you can think of. I did a lot of general reading on scientists and inventors of the Georgian era, then I narrowed it down to specific topics, like chemistry, electricity which I googled to death. I went down all kinds of fascinating rabbit trails, too -- from how we began using Latin for scientific names (Edward compares Susan's lips to Paeonia peregrina, or peonies), the development of stud books in horse breeding, and the towns where early British scientific societies met. Maybe I should go on Jeopardy -- if there is a Georgian Scientists category, I'll clean up!
I have to say, I greatly admire the authors who wrote historicals before the internet was invented! I cannot imagine how much work it was back then.
I also want to mention one book that became my constant companion while I was writing Proof of Love: The Age of Wonder by Richard Holmes. Fabulous book, scholarly and well-researched, and yet tons of fun to read.
HH: What else do you have in the works?
AS: I'm finishing up the next story in my planned three-book series, about Edward and Susan's friend Lord Martyn and a very unusual young lady who challenges him to a game of cards. After that, I've got a good beginning on the last book, which is Lady Lydia's story. I don't want to tell you too much about it -- my muse is a pantser!
I've also started a series of contemporary chicklit stories, kind of "if Bridget Jones was a Southern Baptist." The first book in that series finalled in last year's "Get Your Stiletto in the Door" contest, and I've got it out on requests -- fingers crossed! The title of it keeps changing, though. It's either Holding Out for a Hero, Desperately Seeking Darcy, or maybe something else I haven't even thought of yet.
HH: How do you view the future of ebooks?
AS: Ebooks are the future, baby. Get on board or get left out.
Recently, I was reading a reprinted article from 1995, in which the author, a pretty well-known expert, scoffed at the idea that ebooks would ever take off. In just 16 years, we've gone from "it will never work" to epublishing holding a good-sized share of the industry. As the hardware improves and becomes less expensive, you are going to see ebooks grow even more explosively.
HH: How much of your day is devoted to your writing career?
AS: Not nearly enough! In my dayjob, I'm general counsel for a pretty large governmental agency, so last week alone I had three 15-hour days. But it comes in waves. Today I got to leave a hour or so early and write, which was sheer heaven.
I don't really have a set time period for writing, but I made a resolution this year: I have to write 100 words of fiction every day. Now, that seems like nothing, but I can tell you, when I wander home at 10 pm without having eaten or even had a potty break all day, it ain't easy! Still, most of the time, if I can make myself sit down to do the hundred, it turns into a lot more. The secret is making yourself write consistently, every day.
HH: What's your favorite way to interact with readers?
AS: Oh, my goodness! I'm still getting used to the whole idea of being an author, The fact that I have readers is mind-boggling, and I don't really know how I interact with them!
But I am twitter-mad, and I've made so many great friends in 140-characters or less! Y'all follow me -- I'm @romancemama, and I love to talk about books, gorgeous British actors, and food. Not necessarily in that order.
HH: Any conference or appearance plans this fall?
AS: I am incredibly excited to be making my first appearance as a real, published author at the Southern Magic Romance Readers Luncheon in Birmingham, Alabama on November 5.
I also have to put in a plug for my chapter's Silken Sands Conference, March 16 – 18, 2012 in beautiful Pensacola Beach, Florida. Just two years ago I did my first agent pitch there, sitting on a deck overlooking the sugar sand dunes of the Gulf of Mexico. I thought that was how they were always done! It really is the most beautiful setting for a conference, and the speakers this year are top-notch. Y'all plan to be there!
HH: Thank you!