24 August 2008

Book Release: Eye of the Beholder

This week we're talking to Delia DeLeest, a long-time contributor whose book EYE OF THE BEHOLDER is now available in print and in Kindle. Today's she's joining us to discuss the Roaring 20s and to give away a copy.

A marriage of convenience isn't what Adeline Pierce had in mind for her life, especially since she was practically engaged to the man of her dreams. But, time is running out for her critically ill brother, who needs to move to a warm dry climate or face certain death. A move of that magnitude requires a lot of money--money her family doesn't have.

When Will Denning, a man physically and emotionally scarred from his time in the trenches during World War I, offers her family the money they need in exchange for her hand in marriage, she feels she has no other option. Learning to love Will is hard enough, but it's made even more difficult by the fact that her former love is determined to do whatever it takes to drive them apart, including murder.

Why the 1920s?

There's a variety of reasons why I write books set in America in the 1920s.

Most people know very little about the Jazz Age, and what they do know mostly comes from gangster movies. But the 1920s are so much more than Al Capone and bootleg whiskey.

It was a fascinating time to be a woman in America. All the old rules and restrictions were thrown out the window and not only women, but the population in general experienced a vast new freedom unknown in previous generations. Corsets and high-buttoned shoes were discarded, replaced by knickers, tube dresses and brassieres. Couples were no longer required to sit nicely in father's front parlor, but had the freedom of the road to go to dance marathons, silent movies or to just park on some deserted road and neck. People no longer had to work from dawn to dark to feed themselves. The ordinary Joe had something he never did before--free time. Time to watch Douglas Fairbanks swashbuckling his way across the silver screen, to go on car trips around the country or to take part in some of the ridiculous fads sweeping the nation, like flagpole sitting and dancing the Charleston.

It was also a time of great political upheaval. President Warren Harding brought in the decade with one of the most corrupt administrations of all time. He was followed by "Silent" Calvin Coolidge, known more for his dry one-liners than any political stance he'd taken. Then, there was poor old Herbert Hoover, the man many blamed when the excesses of the decade came crashing down around the country's ears in 1929. The Teapot Dome Scandal, the Red Scare and the Ku Klux Klan all had their names emblazoned in the headlines of the nation's newspapers and tabloids were filling the country's previously unknown need for sensationalized gossip.

With all this excitement going on, instead of wondering why I would write things set in the 1920s, maybe we should be wondering why more people don't.

Tell us about EYE OF THE BEHOLDER.

After falling in love with Gerard Butler's Phantom of the Opera, I started wondering how I could bring the Phantom to the 1920s, and William Denning was born.

Injured horribly during WWI, Will returned back to the US, only to watch his family die in the influenza epidemic of 1918. Alone and shunned by society, he became a hermit. It was only his desire to keep the Denning name alive that made him leave his sheltered existence and search out a wife.

Desperate for the money needed to keep her sick brother alive, Adeline Pierce reluctantly accepts the marriage proposal that is more like a business proposition. Leaving her family, and the man who loves her behind, she goes to make a married life with the lonely, bitter man who became her husband.


Once in the house, she closed the door securely behind her, then watched out the window as the car sat there for a minute, then slowly pulled away. She jumped about a foot when her mother's voice came from right behind her.

"Where have you been? We were beginning to worry about you. Was that a car dropping you off?"

"Um, yes it was."

Her father entered the room and she tried casually making her way around him and up the stairs to her room before she could be questioned further. It didn't work.

"Who were you with?" Her mother asked. "Was it Mic? Why didn't he come in?"

"No, it wasn't Mic." She tried to escape once again, but her father put a hand on her arm and stopped her.

"Who were you with, Adeline?"

"William Denning," she muttered as she studied the floor.

"William Denning? The man who gave us that insulting offer? What were you doing with him?" Her father's voice was ratcheting up to a roar.

"Oh Adeline, you didn't." Her mother looked at her in shocked dismay.

"We're getting married Friday evening."

Dead silence filled the air for about fifteen seconds, then her father exploded. "Absolutely not! I refuse to let you marry that man, no matter how bad we need the money. You will not sell yourself off just so we can pay a few bills."

"It's more than a few bills and you know it, Daddy." She looked up from the floor and into her father's eyes. "This is a matter of Jimmy's life."

"But this is marriage, Adeline, a lifelong commitment. You'd be sacrificing your life, your chance for happiness."

"I have the ability to help Jimmy, to give him the climate and medical care he needs to live. If I denied him that for my own selfish reasons, do you think I could ever be happy anyway?" Her throat grew tight with unshed tears as she pleaded with her eyes for her father to understand.

"Refusing to marry a complete stranger is not a selfish reason. I can't let you--"

"Please Daddy, I'm an adult, making an adult's decision. Let me do this." The tears won their battle and sprung into her eyes as she looked at her father. "I'm scared enough the way things are, please don't make this harder for me."


Thanks for stopping by, Delia. If you'd like a chance to win a print copy of EYE OF THE BEHOLDER, leave an answer to the following question: what comes to mind when you think of the 1920s?

A winner will be drawn at random next Sunday. Good luck!