Eileen Dreyer has enjoyed critical acclaim for her first foray into historical romance in 2012 with her Drake’s Rakes series, a nine book series, which follows the lives of a group of British aristocrats who are willing to sacrifice everything to keep their country safe. Eileen is currently working on the second trilogy in this series aptly named Last Chance Academy, who each finds herself crossing swords with Drake’s Rakes. Eileen has spent time not only in England and Italy, but India as well to research the series… oh, for the life of an author…
When creating the perfect hero and heroine, do you rely solely on your imagination or do you draw inspiration from other sources (family and friends, actors/actresses etc.) or a combination of both?
I think whether we know it or not we’re taking bits and pieces of everyone we know. I think of authors as magpies. We run off with the shiny bits. But once the hero and heroine show up on the page, if I’m lucky, they tend to write their own stories and become unique. I do admit that for the first time I did use famous people as physical templates in my Drake’s Rakes series. That’s because I’m doing nine books (which is a REAL stretch for me) and have to easily differentiate. For ONCE A RAKE, out now, I modeled Ian Ferguson after Tom Hardy (with Liam Neeson’s body) and Sarah Ferguson after a young Emma Thompson. Right now I’m working with Michael Fassbender (Alex Knight) and Saffron Burrows (Fiona and Mairead Ferguson) for TWICE TEMPTED.
Which character from your own work would you most like to meet in the real world and why?
Oh, there are so many to choose from. I love every one of my heroes, there is just something that sets apart one particular hero. I think I have to go all the back to a Kathleen Korbel book A SOLDIER’S HEART and Tony Riordan, a Vietnam veteran who seeks out the army nurse who saved his life, only to unleash her PTSD. I think it might be because Tony’s story began with my own brother’s decision to close his books over Vietnam. And Tony reminds me a lot of him, a strong, honorable, funny, wise man.
Which character from another authors work would you also like to meet?
Depending on what mood I’m in, either Atticus Finch or Richard Sharpe (only if he’s being played by Sean Bean). I don’t think I have to explain which mood is which.
If you had to choose between writing a story that would leave your readers LAUGHING out Loud, CRYING from all the intense emotions or with a pressing need for a COLD SHOWER, which response would you prefer?
I think laughing and crying. I mean, I’ve definitely done my share of steamy novels, but I think there’s much more variety in emotional issues than positions. Of course, it never hurts to combine the two.
Living and breathing a cast of characters for months/years while writing a story must make it hard to set that character aside when the story is finished. Which character did you most have the trouble with saying “Goodbye” to?
Actually, I think Ian Ferguson of ONCE A RAKE. There’s just something about a huge Scot who fights like a berserker yet can be gentle and funny and wry that makes me want him to stay. Especially if he shows lovely unexpected vulnerability. Okay, the kilt I got him into didn’t hurt either.
A lot of authors are now using social media websites like FACEBOOK and TWITTER to connect with their fans and promote their new and upcoming work. How much of a difference do you believe that these interactions help in engaging new readers/fans to your work?
I think it has the potential to be great, actually. First of all, I love the immediate interaction with my readers. I love meeting new people, especially book people. I probably should be doing more focused marketing. There are people out there who are brilliant, but I’d rather it just be fun (okay, and sell some books).
Now that self-publishing is growing in popularity and even established “Print” authors are choosing to release some of their work outside the traditional norm of a publishing house, do you believe that the added level of control given to the author will ultimately see a rise in the quality of the works available or just the quantity?
I think at first you’re going to see a proportional drop, since there won’t be the same gatekeepers who monitored quality. It’s like e-bay. I have bought some wonderful art on e-bay. But because anybody can put their art on line, I had to scroll past hundreds and hundreds of awful watercolor unicorns. We as readers need to find a new paradigm to week out the amateurs and bad writers. I think the new gatekeepers are showing up, places like Goodreads and Librarything. If you’ll pardon the analogy, we’re travelers who have gone from using travel agents to Trip Advisor. It will shake itself out eventually, and I think the competition will raise the level of quality again.
Speaking of control…when it comes to the cover art, when a character or couple are portrayed it’s not uncommon for them to be shown as a perfect model of themselves without any of the descriptive flaws found inside the pages of the story. Do you think that readers prefer the more romanticized version or would they rather see a truer version of the characters being portrayed? AND, which would you prefer?
Actually, I have no trouble with romanticized versions on the cover. The cover is a sales tool, and I know that when I’m choosing books I am first attracted to a good cover. In my second Drake’s Rakes book NEVER A GENTLEMAN, the heroine, Grace, is extremely flat-chested and very plain. The cover didn’t really reflect that (although we did tone down the cleavage). So far I’ve never had anybody complain that it was false advertising. I’ve had a lot of great response to the cover Grand Central designed for me. It’s lush, romantic, and gorgeous.
The NEWS is always doing stories on pirate and file sharing websites that illegally make copies of music, movies and television freely available online, but they rarely if ever include mention of eBooks in these reports. What are your thoughts on the lack of attention being given to this issue?
Sadly the most recent generations have developed an odd sense of what I call on-line entitlement. I saw it first in music, when I had to repeatedly instruct my children’s friends that the people they were hurting by illegal downloading wasn’t the record company but the artists. The kids felt they had a right to the free music. We can’t be surprised that the same is happening in publishing.
The publishing industry has always lagged behind other more intrinsically techno-savvy industries like music.I think they’ll catch up, just as they did on line. I belong to groups like Author’s Guild in the hopes that they have the clout to speak for me in these issues, since as one person I don’t make that much of a wave.
Would you care to share something about your latest release or a story that you are working on now?
I would love to. ONCE A RAKE is my newest book in the Drake’s Rakes series. It can certainly be read as a stand-alone, but of course I’d say it’s more fun to read the preceding books. RAKE is the story of Ian Ferguson, a rather outrageous Scottish soldier who finds himself shot, accused of treason and bobbing in the English Channel. It is up to Sarah Clarke, a woman with her own secrets, to save him without herself being arrested for treason and ruining her little family. If you know my work, you’ll already know that there are nefarious spies after Ian, and Europe’s most feared assassin. Oh, and Willoughby, a 600 pound pig, who is Sarah’s best friend.
Thank you so much for inviting me to visit. You ask great questions. It was a pleasure to answer. If anyone would like to get in touch, of course I have all the necessary contacts: