Another Column at MyShelf.Com

Beneath the Covers
A Romance Column

August Back To School Web sites and an interview with Deborah Hale

    August, just the mention of that month and I can automatically feel the anxiety of thinking about going back to school.  Whether you are in college or high school you know the importance of finding the right school supplies and just the right "in" clothes.  I have took the liberty of searching the web for some of the hottest spots. I hope that you will find each one as interesting as it was to discover them. 

Back to School Ideas, Activities, and Ideas
Getting to Know You, Icebreakers, Learning Names, and More to Help You Through. Find back-to-school ideas and activities for the first day of school and first weeks of school. 

Back To School Survival Guide
Just what parents and kids need to start back into the routine of school. 

Back-To-School Lunch Ideas
Back to school lunches - recipes and information for kids lunches. 

Back to School - Products, Sales and Learning Tools
Back to school time - great sales on supplies, clothes, and more! Learning tools and testing aids. Make your learning a more powerful and productive experience! 

Office Depot
Pens, Pencils, Planners, Organizers Tape, Dorm supplies and more. 

     For the month of August , I had the privilege interviewing Deborah Hale. I first discovered Ms. Hale through her May 2003 Harlequin Historical Beauty and the Baron. From page one I was captivated by her delightful cast of heart felt characters. Ms. Hale is the type of writer who you will long remember after you finish her books. Her writing style stands in a class all by itself. 

Turning Priceless Movies Into Books To Treasure
An Interview with Deborah Hale

Suzie Housley:  Thank you for taking time out of your daily work schedule to conduct this interview. It is a pleasure having you here for August's Beneath the Cover interview.

Deborah Hale: It’s my pleasure. I always enjoy talking about writing. 

Suzie Housley: I am totally enchanted by your book Beauty and the Baron. I hope to see more books published with this same theme. Will this be a possiblity?

Deborah Hale: Thanks so much! I love it when my stories can touch a reader that way. I don’t have any immediate plans in that direction, but Beauty and the Beast is one of my favorite fairy tales and I love finding fresh ways to present it. My very first book, My Lord Protector, had some elements of Beauty and the Beast, since the hero was older and quite gruff at first.

Suzie Housley: You combined three of my all time favorite films to create Beauty and the Baron (Beauty and the Beast, Phantom of the Opera and Cyrano de Bergerac). Did you plan it this way, or did the plot come to you as your wrote?

Deborah Hale: Those are my favorites, too! I did plan it to a certain degree. My stories have often borrowed from films, fairy tales or classic stories. My second book, A Gentleman of Substance is a blend of Sabrina and Pride and Prejudice. The Wedding Wager is a twist on Pygmalion/My Fair Lady and Carpetbagger’s Wife is based on the film Sommersby. Since I was doing that anyway, I decided to think about my favorite films/stories. Those three came to mind and before I knew it, I had a scarred, masked hero trying to woo the woman he loves on behalf of another man.

Suzie Housley: Did you have a difficult time selling the concept of Beauty and the Baron? I ask because my future novel features a perfect/imperfect theme.

Deborah Hale: It was a very easy sale – I hope yours will meet an equally enthusiastic reception. At the time, I was hoping to sell Harlequin Historical a series about five sisters. Beauty and the Baron was to have been a part of that series. Senior Editor Tracy Farrell had reservations about the series, but she was very enthusiastic about this story and said she’d like to see it as a stand alone. Because she particularly liked this story, I dedicated it to her for the wonderful editorial support she’s given me since I sold my first book to Harlequin.

Suzie Housley: What has been the most exciting thing you have experienced as a writer? What have been your biggest drawbacks?

Deborah Hale: One of the most exciting things for me is seeing my covers. The art department at Harlequin have done such a beautiful job on each one. They’re all so unique and well-suited to the books.. I also get very excited seeing my foreign copies and thinking of people, in countries I’ve never visited, reading my stories and possibly knowing my name. Any time I hear from a reader who has enjoyed one of my books, it’s enormously fulfilling. I haven’t experienced too many drawbacks. Negative reviews can be hard on the ego, but I’ve made peace with the fact that I can’t please everyone. The pressure of deadlines can be difficult. I usually try to build in plenty of time to allow for life happening, but sometimes an special opportunity arises that I feel I have to go for, and if that means putting other things on hold and sweating a tight deadline, so be it.

Suzie Housley: How did you go about selecting the publisher for your book? Did you apply to random companies?

Deborah Hale: At first I did because I knew so little about the business. Gradually I learned more, and I feel fortunate that those publishers rejected my first book. I’m not sure I would still be publishing and working as happily if I’d started with a different publisher. After I won the Golden Heart, I secured the representation of a knowledgeable agent who submitted my story to a number of publishers including Harlequin. They were willing to take a chance on the imperfect hero of my first book.

Suzie Housley: Are you a full time or part time writer? Has you life changed drastically since you incorporated writing into your lifestyle?

Deborah Hale: I write full time and I’m also a full time stay-at-home-Mom. I have four children – 15, 12 and 9-year-old twins who keep me busy. Unless I’m on a very tight deadline, I arrange my writing schedule around their school time. I wrote my first manuscript when my eldest son was a toddler and my daughter an infant, so it’s hard to remember what life was like before that. My children have grown up with me writing. Getting paid for writing was a very welcome lifestyle change!

Suzie Housley: How do you rate a good unforgettable romance book? What elements do you look for when you give one this worthy title?

Deborah Hale: A couple of elements that make a romance unforgettable for me are characters that stay with me after I close the book and a vivid sense of place (particularly important in historicals). I admire a unique writing style that’s suited to the type of story and I love it when a story evokes strong emotion in me. 

Suzie Housley: Your online serials have been very captivating, I have enjoyed reading them. Is there any chance that you will offer a link on your web site in the future? 

Deborah Hale: Thanks for checking them out! I had great fun writing both Midsummer Masque and Mistress of His Heart. My web site will soon be undergoing major renovations as I branch out from historical romance into the realms of otherworld fantasy. Links to the on-line reads at would be a great addition to the site. I appreciate the suggestion!

Suzie Housley: The cover of Beauty and the Baron is very romantic. What can you tell us about the cover models?

Deborah Hale: I was so delighted with the cover – that lavender-gray mist, and a tasteful clinch on the back cover. I’m not sure who the model for Angela is, but the model for Lucius is a very striking Austrian cover model Stefan Andreas Schwarz. I discovered that by accident when I did a Google search for Beauty and the Baron and found he had posted the cover on his web site. I couldn’t have picked a more perfect Lucius Daventry!

Suzie Housley: Do you see a trend of authors that are writing what is the "in" theme for the year? Or do you believe there is a diverse range of subjects out there to select from.

Deborah Hale: I’m not sure there’s an “in” theme, but historical Regencies do seem to be an “in setting” with the historical market getting increasingly narrow. There are fewer Westerns and fewer medievals, let alone really unusual settings. That’s one of the many things I love about writing for Harlequin Historical. The program is dedicated to offering historical readers a variety of settings. They are still willing to take risks on ones that haven’t been done much, like my third book which is set in my native Atlantic Canada in the early 1820’s. Since then, they have published other Canadian-set stories, which I was once told were a hard sell.

Suzie Housley: What advice would you give to a new writer trying to break into the published market?

Deborah Hale: View the journey to publication not as a sprint, but as a marathon. Pace yourself and be prepared for it to take awhile. Celebrate every little success and think of rejection letters as badges of honor. One of the best pieces of advice I got when I started out was from NYT bestseller Jennifer Blake. She said, “Write the kind of story you’ve always wanted to read but can never find.” 

Suzie Housley: What do we have looking forward to in your next book? Could you give us a preview of what is to come?

Deborah Hale: I’d love to! My next book won’t be out until April 2004, which will be my longest lapse between books since I sold my first. It will be an otherworld fantasy for Harlequin’s new imprint, LUNA, titled The Wizard’s Ward. The story is set on a pre-industrial Earth-like world where magic is a fact of life. It borrows a little from both Sleeping Beauty and King Arthur legends. A young princess-enchantress must find and wake the legendary Waiting King, who is destined to help her save the kingdom from its cruel conquerors. In May 2004, Harlequin Historical will release my next book for them. The Last Champion is a 12th century medieval about a young woman who must persuade a renowned warrior to take up his sword one last time in defense of the lands that once belonged to him, but are now hers. After those, I’m contracted for two more historical romances and a sequel to the fantasy.

Suzie Housley: Is there anything that we haven't covered that you would like to share with readers?

Deborah Hale: I just wanted to let aspiring writers know that they can find a variety of articles and writing tips on my web site. Before I became a writer, I was a teacher, so I enjoy being able to pass along some of what I’ve learned about writing craft to others. Also, any readers who want to chat with me can usually find me on the Books and Authors message board at eharlequin, in a discussion called The Harlequin Historical Society. 

Suzie Housley: How can fans contact you?

Deborah Hale: I love to hear from readers. They can contact me through my web site or by email to Or, they can write me at P.O. Box 829, Lower Sackville, Nova Scotia, Canada B4E 2R0.

Suzie Housley: Thank you again, for being with us at Beneath the Covers. I wish you all the best in your future writing endeavors

Deborah Hale: Thanks for the invitation and best wishes for your writing career! 


Beauty and the Baron
By Deborah Hale
Harlequin Historical - May 2003
ISBN: 03732925544 - Paperback
Historical Romance 

Buy it at Amazon
Read an Excerpt

Reviewed by Suzie Housley, MyShelf.Com

    She brought light into his darkened existence . . . 

    Lord Lucius Daventry had returned from war bearing scars that will forever be a constant reminder of what he had suffered in the Napoleon War. He once had been known as a handsome carefree dandy who had broken countless hearts in his pursuit of love and adventure. Now he lives the life of a recluse, for he refuses to allow anyone to come close enough to view the horrors of what the war had left of his ravaged face. His life is cloaked in darkness and secrecy, his nightly adventures has made him the talk of the local townsfolk gossip. They gave him the nickname of "Lord Lucifier", for they were convinced these ventures were of a sinister nature. When Lucius learns his beloved grandfather is dying, he is determined to make his grandfather's last precious days on earth as happy as possible. He devises a plan that will require him to reveal himself by showing up on the doorstep of Angela Lacewood. While he was away at war, Angela and his grandfather had developed a close relationship. He knows it would please his grandfather greatly if he believed the two of them were engaged, and she was soon to become a part of their family. In return for Angela's agreement to go along with the rouse, he offers to pay for her brother's commission to the military. Will she be able to look past his scars and deformities to see a man so deserving of love?

     Beauty is in the eye of the beholder . . .

    Angela Lacewood had accepted the fact that she was to live her life alone as a spinster. She knew without a proper dowry, she wouldn't be able to entice a proper match with only her charm and beauty. When she receives an unexpected visit from Lucius Daventry she is stunned to hear why he is paying her a visit. His unusual request is for her to pose as his fiancée for the sake of his dying grandfather. She finds herself torn between deceiving a man that she has grown to care for and respect. Reluctantly, she agrees to pretend to be engaged to Lucius. As each day passes, she finds a growing love that is quickly developing among herself and Lucius. Will she be able to erase the haunting memories that hold Lucius prisoner and replace them with the happy times they are sharing? Or is she setting herself up for heartbreak-for at the death of his grandfather, he has sworn to release her and help her find someone worthy of her love and devotion.

    Beauty and the Baron is by far the best romance book I have read in 2003. Ms. Hale does an outstanding job in capturing her readers emotions. I found my heart being torn into shreds as I read the highly emotional love scene, the dramatic conclusion was the material that only top rate movies can produce. This book is a definite keeper; I highly recommend it to anyone who enjoys a romance that will stay with you for a long time to come. I plan on rereading this one for many years to come, for it is an emotional roller coaster worthy of the highest rating ever bestowed upon any book. 

2003 Past Columns

Deborah Hale
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