Monday, March 17, 2014

Creating Characters: Conversation with a Duchess

This month the spotlight is on on characters, how to develop them, why they are so important and what can make them shine. But we are also talking to some of them and letting you get an idea of who they are in the books we read. Today as a guest, we welcome Duchess Amelia Augusta Ethrington, who is the main character in The Duchess' Necklace by Mariah Lynne. 
Duchess, please tell us about where you live and what brought you there?
Yes, thank you Rebecca. I am honored to be here. As the rightful Duchess of Abbington, I live in Abbington Manor, a large fieldstone manor house surrounded by lovely colorful gardens with fountains and walking paths. I inherited the property and the title of duchess that came along with it from my aunt who bore no children. She had hoped to keep alive the legacy of my great-great-great uncle Duke Hestor of Abbington who asked the king to give him special authority to pass ownership of the duchy to his daughter rather than his son.
Abbington Manor is located in the middle of England and serves as a proper royal residence. A lovely river wraps around the property to the east. My home boasts twenty five rooms including a large ballroom where I host my many parties and holiday celebrations. The library has a marble fireplace and has hand carved shelves filled with the classics, many first editions. As you stroll through the manor’s large corridors, you will see many artifacts from ancient Greece and Rome bequeathed to me by my ancestors. I also have a large collection of art from the famous masters on the continent.  I have many loyal servants who help me keep the grounds and royal residence in immaculate condition. Some, such as my personal maid and bodyguard, I regard as family.

You’ve reached the advanced age of 32 and people consider you an old maid.  You’re fourth in line to the throne.  Why do you not get yourself a husband?
The traditions of my time are much more stifling than yours. Oh how I wish it were not so. First the man I marry would have to be of equal social standing. More than likely, the marriage would be arranged, loveless, and boring. My new husband would then become the Duke of Abbington and would be in control of my property, my finances and my life. I could not do that to myself. I would be breaking a proud tradition my great great Aunt Susanne passed down to me. Instead of being chained to a miserable marriage, I enjoy secret trysts and illicit romances with traveling knights and strangers. I now know after Travelling to your time that  such a thing would not happen to a woman of standing. A woman could chose not only her spouse but her job or station in life and control her own wealth. I long for that. 

What would change your mind and make you want to marry?
If I met a man who was caring enough to respect me for the woman I am. Someone who would have no designs on my duchy but who only wants my love. I’d like him to be soft-spoken, intelligent and love my dog Duke. I often ponder what I might surrender for such a gentle man.

Why do people consider you so headstrong?
I haven’t been able to get a grasp on why myself. Perhaps it’s because I take charge of my duchy, my property, and my life. I’m ahead of my time in that regard and will not stop until I finish the task at hand no matter how long it takes or how difficult. If that makes me headstrong, then so be it. I know how to ride a horse like a man and shoot a pistol.

How do you see yourself?
I see myself as a warm wonderful woman who loves life, cares about those around her, and even though I have illicit trysts long to meet the love of my life. I am charitable to the less fortunate and treat my servants’ family the way I would want mine to be treated. When my guard Arthur was murdered while protecting my estate, I vowed to take care of his family for as long as I remained duchess.
What would you say your strongest qualities are?
I think those that make me seem headstrong. I am independent, intelligent, and caring. I am not afraid of being alone or a spinster. I want love on my terms and not dictated by royal decree.        

 Your weakest?
Ah, I am always taken in by a handsome strong man with great romantic skills. That is what got me into such deep trouble this time. I should have been more careful about my last tryst, but that handsome young Traveler made me feel so young, so vibrant, so beautiful, I let my guard down. I had to pay a hefty price to seek revenge.

 What do you wish for most?
 Happiness and true love. They should come hand in hand. I often ponder what I might surrender for such a wonderful life if I met the right man.

We understand you have the Abbington Jewels. Can you tell us about them?
They are famous throughout England and once owned by the king himself. They were given to Uncle Hestor to designate his rightful heir and were passed down to me when I became duchess. Whoever possesses the jewels possesses the title and all that goes with it. The jewels, large yellow diamonds and emeralds, are set in a large and heavy gold chain. They can be worn by either a man or a woman.

What makes them so valuable?
Of course the gold and gemstones, but also the fact that they belonged to a king. As I said, whoever inherits the jewels, inherits the duchy and all that goes with it, the manor and the money.

What would happen if you were to lose the necklace?
If I were to lose the jewels and my evil male cousins found out about it, I would lose everything. My cousins are the direct descendants of the son Uncle Henry passed over. They want to get control of the duchy and would be only too happy to throw me out. That’s why when my necklace was taken from me, I had to risk everything to get it back. That meant even betraying the kind man with whom I fell in love,

The Duchess sounds like a fascinating character. But all characters must come from some author's fertile imagination. That particular author is Mariah Lynne:  
Ever dream of traveling through time? Mariah Lynne does. She writes stories that take her readers along on exciting journeys. Travel to distant times and beautiful places with strong-willed independent heroines whose memorable tales will entertain with twisted plots that dabble in the paranormal. Both of her novellas, THE LOVE GYPSY and THE DUCHESS’ NECKLACE, fit that description to a T.
A Graduate of Syracuse University, Mariah lives on a beautiful Gulf Coast Island in Florida. She is a member of Romance Writers of America and the Southwest Romance Writers. When she is not writing, she enjoys swimming, traveling and spending time with her husband and dolphin hunting dog, Max.

Want to know more? Here's a blurb:
Amelia Augusta Ethrington, 18th century Duchess of Abbington, fourth in line to the English throne, is considered by society an old maid at thirty two. She refuses to marry and relinquish royal authority to a husband. Instead, she finds romance in trysts with total strangers.  Amelia’s sole entitlement to her duchy is an intricate and valuable necklace, The Abbington Jewels.  An unscrupulous Traveler wishing to steal the jewels and sell them at future prices seduces her catching her off guard and snatching the necklace.

Amelia must now risk everything to Travel with the aid of a kind gypsy seer to find the thieving scoundrel, kill him and retrieve her title before her jealous male cousins lay claim to her duchy. Complications arise after she meets a handsome shy man, a museum appraiser sent to acquire the jewels. Amelia falls in love with him but realizes she must focus on her quest to regain both her necklace and title. The Duchess is now faced with the most difficult decision of her life. 

To contact Mariah:

1 comment:

  1. What a delightful interview. The Duchess sounds like quite a lady!! God post. Barb Bettis


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