Dark Lady, by Dawn Chandler
Dawn Chandler is joining us today to talk about her novel, Dark Lady, published by Black Opal Books.
Dawn’s book is historical fiction, and we often don’t think about historical novels in those terms. Let’s hear what she has to say.
Van is a housewife in 12th century England. It is not a position that she asked for and the change does not sit well with her. She is in charge of running the castle and the grounds, but it is supposed to be more of an honorary title, like most women have in medieval England at that era. She decided to take over the management in a more active capacity than her husband expects and it causes strife within the household.
Q. Describe your male lead’s career and experience.
Peter is the king’s champion. He is a swordsman and a knight. In his position he is the epitome of manhood. He believes himself in charge of Van and all his surroundings. Van though has other ideas. He also teaches pages and squires to become warriors. These students live in the barracks of Peter’s castle where he runs his school.
Q. Do either of your lead characters desire a career different than the one they want?
Van does not want to be a housewife, she wants to be a knight. Like she has always been. She has excelled in being a dangerous knight, and it is the only life she has ever known. She is loath to let that part of her life go. As a wife she struggles to become the woman that society, and her new husband, expects her to be. She fights to fit into her new position, but her biggest obstacle is keeping one step ahead of her enemies. If they find out she is truly a woman, than she could lose everything she holds dear to her, including her life.
Q. Would you characterize your story as an office romance? Why or why not?
Yes, I suppose in a way it is an office romance. Though Peter does not know it, Van had been a page in the castle and a squire in Peter’s army. So while the story is happening it is not an office romance, but they did work together in the past.
Q. Did you use any personal experiences when building this career theme? Explain.
I had never thought about it before, but I believe I did. I have never fit into the girly role that I believe society expects me to have as a female. If I had been born in Van’s time period I would have fought as hard as I could for rights. I have never fit into the mold that society wanted, even when I was younger. I read too much, I learned to much and I loved to play football with the boys. I was more of a tomboy than I was anything else and I think to an extent I applied those feelings to this story, though I would never behead someone.
Excerpt from The Dark Lady – Chapter One
He sucked in a breath and jerked his eyes open as pressure was put onto the wound. The boy looked over his shoulder at Richard. “Go get the doctor. If he does not want to come, and come now, you have my permission to get him here at your enjoyment.” The voice came out in a growl, an order too full of self-assurance to come from a mere page. No, he was a squire, no doubt. The kid had battle under his belt. Instinct and experience told Peter that the trick with the monster of a warrior who had almost killed him was just the beginning of his cunning.
Peter closed his eyes and his breathing became shallow. Numbness was beginning to overtake his mind. His thoughts were getting slower. He could feel it. He tried to concentrate on the boy’s voice above him, but his mind felt heavy and sluggish.
The voice that had been gravelly and deep at first had changed—softened, like a gentle breeze across his heart. He was confused at his thoughts. His mind was hazy. Delirium was obviously setting in. A groan slipped from beneath his numb lips.
The sweet, concerned voice caressed him, washing over him like a warm caress. “Are you with me? Can you focus on my face? Come on, talk to me. Open your eyes. I need to know you are going to be all right.” The gentle voice was like a melody to his war-ravaged ears, a loving voice that brought forth images of that life his father had spoken of. Of children to hold and to love, not just some faceless heir to be his future, but a child to be his life.
He opened his eyes to the young boy’s blurry face. The light from the fire pierced into him, cutting through him like a dagger. He shut his eyes again with a moan.
“Come on, focus. You are going to be all right.” There was fear in that soft voice that told him he was cared for. That he was needed. “Look me in the eye.” The worry that he heard enveloped him in warmth in a way no fire ever could. He could almost picture the mother of those children who would hold him at night when he was cold, as he was now. She would be beautiful, dark, and exotic.
When he opened his eyes once again the boy was gone and in his place was the beautiful, yet blurry, face of a girl. “Are you all right?” she asked sweetly as she leaned close to him.
“I am here with you.” Concern filled him as he spotted the large gash on her cheek, oddly in the same spot as the lad’s injury. He shook his head to clear it. Confusion swirled through his weary mind. Peter lifted his hand and ran his fingers along the uninjured cheekbone as blood dripped onto his injured shoulder. “Your face. You are hurt. You must have it looked at.”
The face swirled in and out of focus and the boy was there once again. Peter closed his eyes tightly and shook his head. “I will. You first, I can wait,” the soft voice told him.
When Peter opened his eyes once again, she was smiling down at him. Her face was still blurred, but he knew it was her from her melodious voice.
“You have such dark eyes, almost black. One could get lost in them.” Peter continued to stroke the smooth cheek above him, sliding trembling fingers down the warm and inviting skin gently cupping the soft and shapely chin before starting again. He squinted in an effort to keep the world focused as he looked deeply into those black eyes and thought of his future. “You are so beautiful.”
Full lips parted in a sweet tinkling laugh, like water rippling over stones. “I will forgive you that since you have lost so much blood. Your thoughts must be scrambled and your vision faulty.” A wide, beautiful smile took the sting from the words.
A deep trembling breath caused the world to shimmer and the image of the boy was once again before him.
Peter pulled his hand away in confusion. “Quite. I have lost a great amount.” His arm dropped as darkness swallowed him.
Dawn Chandler was born in Coffeyville, Kansas but doesn’t remember much about it. Though she recently had the opportunity to visit there with her husband, and she very much enjoyed the Dalton Museum. She always thought she should have been born in the Wild West. She moved to Idaho when she was 6 and grew up on Murtaugh Lake, where her father was the dam keeper and the ditch rider. She spent her days in the lake, swimming, catching fish and tadpoles, from sunup to sundown most days. Not hard to imagine that her first full length novel was about a mermaid. At nights she would spend her time watching football with her dad or cooking with her mom. In 8th grade she had a teacher, Mrs. Smith, who wanted her to publish one of her short stories.
Looking back on it she says she should have done so. If she had, she would have been an author before now, but she was not ready to be published back then. When she first started writing in class she hated it. She had to write their way and only their way—in the correct process, outline, rough draft, and so on. Chandler has learned in the progressing years that she is a seat-of-the-pants author, but in the beginning she just thought that writing was not for her. She could not, no matter how she tried, get the outline done. She could not sit and sketch out a whole story from beginning to end. She found quickly that if she just sat and wrote, she could get the first draft out without a problem, but the teachers didn’t want her to do it that way. She really began to love writing when she met Mrs. Smith and she told Chandler that she could write it in whichever order she wanted. She understood her as a writer and didn’t push her to be something she wasn’t. She has been writing ever since.
Dawn is grateful to have the support of her husband and children. Together they have 7, Charles, Cynthia, Kara, Mary, Tina, Pam, and Richie. She loves them all dearly and is happy to have them in her life. Now that her kids are all grown up, she likes to spend time on the semi-truck with my husband, Rod, seeing the country. She loves visiting all the small towns and is grateful to all the nice people she has met. She enjoys swimming, camping, four wheeling with her 4 X 4 group, spending time with family and friends, hiking, writing (of course), drawing, painting, reading (a vastly wide list of authors, her favorite though is Stephen King), and she loves taking pictures as she travels the countryside (if she is lucky and they are not in a big hurry and can even stop to take them). Today she is busily writing her novels. The Dark Lady, was released in 2013, through Black Opal Books, The Infamous A.H. to follow shortly (fingers crossed), and about 50 more started in the computer that will be released as time and her muse allows.
Dawn, thank you for stopping by. Dawn would love your comments below.
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