Today I have newly published author Elf Ahearn as a guest. Elf's new release, A Rogue in Sheep's Clothing, was just released this week and is already climbing the charts! Here's the blurb:
In Lord Hugh Davenport’s opinion, women of the ton perpetually hide behind a mask of deception. That’s hard for Ellie Albright, the daughter of an earl, to swallow—especially since she’s disguised herself as a stable hand to get back the prized stallion her father sold to Hugh to pay a debt. If Hugh learns her true identity she’ll lose the horse and her family will go bankrupt. Somehow, though, losing Hugh’s affection is beginning to seem even worse.
Already only a step away from being snagged in her own web of lies, Ellie’s deceit threatens to spin out of control when Hugh’s mother invites Ellie and her sisters to a house party. Now Ellie has to scramble to keep Hugh from knowing she’s the stable girl he wants to marry, while simultaneously trying to win his trust as herself. Can she keep her costumes straight long enough to save her family? And even if she does, will it be worth losing his love?
Doesn't that sound fascinating? I asked Elf some questions about her life and about her writing:
What do you do when you're not writing?
Do you want the truth or a lie? The truth is my husband and I watch a lot of TV. The lie is, I jog, cook gourmet meals and listen to Beethoven.
The truth would be closer to what my life is like! What would your fans be surprised to know about you?
That I like boxing. I’m not obsessed with it or anything. I don’t tune in to watch the latest match or know the names of any of the boxers, I just think it’s a very elemental sport. Whacking each other is really what competition is all about, isn’t it? What do they do at hockey games – punch each other. Basketball games – punch each other. No matter what athletic event, the moment one guy gets a little hot under the collar he hauls off and decks his opponent. In boxing, they just go at it without all the preliminary skating and dribbling and stuff.
Interesting observation. What's your idea of an ideal vacation?
Well, it’s not sitting around watching TV, I can tell you that. My ideal vacation would be to go to a place with super unique and inexpensive stuff to buy and a beach. A few years ago, I visited Thailand with a small carryon. I returned with a six-foot diameter suitcase and that carryon nearly burst open on the plane. You can buy some awesome stuff in Thailand and some of the beaches are beautiful. Hot though.
I haven't been to Thailand, though I have an aunt who lives there. My parents went to visit and told me how hot it was. Sounds like you had a great trip! Is there any particular author or book that influenced you in any way either growing up or as an adult?
When I was living in New York City, brokenhearted by how little money I could eke out as a professional actress, I had a terrible dream. It was so upsetting that for days afterward I felt as if I were shaking inside. In the dream, I was standing on the downward slope of a side street in Manhattan. Below me was a man with a huge black snake on a leash. The snake looked like the inner tube of a tire, but stretched straight out for maybe 20 feet. Suddenly, the man holding the leash took a hatchet and drove it into the snake just behind its head. In agony, the serpent opened its mouth revealing huge sharp teeth. Horror at the snake and pity for its pain made me wake up crying. I realized then that the man who cut the snake was an agent I’d been hoping would represent me as an actress. I’d known him for years, he dated two friends of mine and seen my work countless times, but I could never get him to send me to an audition. Shortly thereafter, I read Of Human Bondage by W. Somerset Maugham. In it, a minor character struggles to become a painter, but she has no talent. Seeing her literally starve for her art, the hero goes to his teacher and asks if he’s got what it takes to be a success. The teacher says, no. When I read that, I realized I had the talent, but not the confidence to take the kind of rejection acting ladles out. The book changed my life. I subsequently became a newspaper reporter and have been writing ever since – with relatively few rejections.
Fascinating story! It's not often that a single book has that great an impact on one's life. What books/authors have influenced your writing?
When I read The Rake by Mary Jo Putney, I knew I could be a romance author. Have you read it? It’s awesome. The story becomes deeply emotional and dramatic as the hero struggles to overcome alcoholism.
No, I haven't read The Rake, but I love Mary Jo Putney's books. Can you tell us about your challenges in getting your first book published?
Having experienced the trauma of rejection in the theatre, I was worried if I didn’t get a publishing contract pretty early on, I might not have the heart to keep going. I submitted A Rogue in Sheep’s Clothing to a few editors. They came back with some amazingly detailed and excellent advice on how to improve the manuscript, but they didn’t accept it. A year went by while I re-worked the novel. My critique partners, who are the best people in the world BTW, kept gently pushing me to put the book out again. Finally, I took a second plunge. Nothing. Okay, I thought, write another book. Lots of people have drawers full of manuscripts that never made it into print. So in six months, I banged out my second book, Lord Monroe’s Dark Tower. That novel was accepted immediately by Crimson Romance. Then I pitched Rogue to them and they took it as well. Earlier this week, A Rogue in Sheep’s Clothing was featured on USA Today’s hot romances list, and the book was ranked 18,400 of the top sellers on Amazon.com, so I’m happy!
Critique partners are the best. Congratulations on the USA Today list! Have you written a book you love that you have not been able to get published?
No, but I’ve written a play. It’s a full-length drama based on the true story of an English nurse named Edith Cavell. She lived in German occupied Belgium during World War I, and is considered responsible for saving the lives of as many as 200 Allied soldiers. She sneaked them out of the country right under the German Army’s nose. They caught her, tried her for espionage, and shot her by firing squad. Her death and the sinking of the Lusitania are considered two of the major reasons the U.S. got involved in the war, but no one’s ever heard of Edith Cavell.
I love historical novels, and this play sounds fascinating! What has been the best compliment?
“I stayed up all night reading your book.” Bet you’ve heard that one before.
Yes, that certainly is a great compliement! Where can readers find you?
My Web address is elfahearn.com and I welcome folks to friend me on Facebook.
Thanks so much for visiting! Where can we get your book?