13 February 2011

Guest Author: E.D. Walker

This week on Unusual Historicals, we're welcoming Noble Romance author E.D. Walker, whose latest medieval romance, THE BEAUTY'S BEAST, features a werewolf knight in Norman times. Here's the blurb:

Lady Kathryn's father has sent her to court to find a husband, but being penniless and disinterested doesn't bode well for her success. Bored by the petty intrigues of court, she finds her loneliness is eased when the king charges her with the care of his newest acquisition: an uncanny black wolf. What the king doesn't realize is his remarkable pet was once Gabriel, his favorite knight, cursed into wolf form by an unfaithful wife.

The beast's too-knowing eyes and the way he seems to understand her every utterance convinces Kathryn the wolf is more than what he seems. Resolving to restore him, she doesn't count on the greatest obstacle being Gabriel himself. The longer he stays in wolf form as a captive of the court, the harder it becomes for him to remember his humanity. And to fight his wolfish urges to maim and kill.

Only Kathryn's affection and determination stand between Gabriel the wolf and Gabriel the man. But when the man who betrayed him returns to court, will Kathryn's love be enough to keep Gabriel from exacting a brutish revenge that will condemn the wolf to death?

"...a page-turner fairytale for the adult (or younger!) dreamer....I really enjoyed this tale! How can you not like a book with a cheeky protagonist and a noble gentle-were?" ~ Night Owl Reviews

"I bought and read it all on in one night, and I loved every minute of it." ~ Book Geek Reviews

"I believe that THE BEAUTY'S BEAST is E. D. Walker's first published novel. I certainly hope it will not be her last, because I enjoyed this story enough to want more from her. Excellent job, Ms. Walker. Keep up the good work!" ~ The Book Wenches

Tell us a little about yourself.

I'm a SoCal girl born and bred, and right now I'm finishing up a (somewhat overdue) BA in English Literature at UC Berkeley.

I understand your inspiration for THE BEAUTY'S BEAST came from a homework assignment?

Yep. My World Lit professor assigned the medieval poem "Bisclavret" by Marie de France. As soon as I read this great poem about an accursed werewolf knight I knew I wanted to write a novel based on "Bisclavret." Just the two-word description gets me all excited: Werewolf. Knight. That's awesome, right?

That does sound cool.

Yeah! Who knew homework could be so exciting?

So, as far as 'writing' homework, were there any interesting research problems you encountered on THE BEAUTY'S BEAST?

Definitely. One really problematic aspect for me was that my hero is injured in the beginning of the novel, but he's injured in his wolf form. This meant I had to research medieval veterinary care, information about which is, understandably, somewhat limited. Eventually, I based the treatment for my wolfy hero on the sort of things that might be used on a prized hunting dog.

Were there any parts of researching the book that were particularly fun?

The clothes! I am a total historical clothing geek. I love historical fashion, so getting to play dress-up with my characters is always one of my enduring joys as a writer. For Kathryn's gowns I looked at historical paintings and woodcuttings. I also used Tom Tierney's paper doll books a little for inspiration. It was really great, actually, because my sister is an artist and this past Christmas she surprised me with a paper doll collection of my very own of the two main characters from THE BEAUTY'S BEAST. She's so detail-oriented she actually drew little wolf details on the trim of the heroine's gowns.

Often, in historical novels some real life historical figures show up. Do any real historical figures appear in THE BEAUTY'S BEAST?

Not many real historical people pop in, but I did feel so indebted to Marie de France for giving me such brilliant source material that she has a very small cameo in the book.

Can you offer any recommendations for books similar to THE BEAUTY'S BEAST that your readers would enjoy?

I would definitely recommend the Brother Cadfael chronicles by Ellis Peters. They're cozy mysteries set during the civil war in England between Stephen and Maude. The main character is a monk, but there's a little romance in each book between secondary characters. Cadfael books are straight historicals, so no fantasy elements, but I was heavily influenced in my tone for THE BEAUTY'S BEAST by that series with its warm, comforting presence. Another great historical read that does have fantasy elements is The Spirit Ring by Lois McMaster Bujold. That book is set in Renaissance Italy, and the heroine is the half-black daughter of a master goldsmith and magician. The Spirit Ring is chock full of action, court intrigue, romance and magic.

What's up next for you?

My second book HEIR TO THE UNDERWORLD actually came out late last year. It's a YA fantasy romance. Not a historical, alas, but the book is filled to the brim with ancient mythology, gods and fairies, so I think there's stuff there for a historical fan to enjoy.

Anything else you’d like our readers to know?

Yes: I love hearing from readers! I have a blog that I update at least 3 times a week, a website where readers can learn more about me and my books, and a Facebook page where I post news and interesting links all the time.


Thanks for stopping by today, E.D! Readers, E.D. is giving away a copy! Just tell us which shifter type is your favorite. I'll draw the winner next Sunday. Void where prohibited. Best of luck!