08 December 2013

Author Interview: Victoria Vane

This week, we're pleased to welcome author Victoria Vanewhose latest novel, THE SHEIK RETOLD, is set during the 20th century. The author will offer a free copy of The Sheik Retold to a lucky blog visitor. Be sure to reply to Victoria's question at the end of this post for a chance to win. Here's the blurb.


In E.M. Hull's 1919, The Sheik, the heroine Diana Mayo is enchanted by a heartrending rendition of The Kashmiri Love song. This song is performed by a mysterious and invisible singer in the moonlit hotel gardens the night before her planned trek into the desert.

And as they sat silent, her thoughts far away in the desert, and his full of vain longings and regrets, a man's low voice rose in the stillness of the night. "Pale hands I loved beside the Shalimar. Where are you now? Who lies beneath your spell?" he sang in a passionate, vibrating baritone. He was singing in English, and yet the almost indefinite slurring from note to note was strangely un-English. – from The Sheik by E.M. Hull

Curious to learn more about this song, I discovered that it originated from a poem by the same name, first published in 1901 in a collection known as India's Love Lyrics. The following year it was set to music and "Kashmiri Song" became widely popular and remained a drawing room standard until the Second World War.

When I read The Kashmiri Song lyrics in full, I was immediately struck by how clearly it mirrors Diana and Ahmed's relationship. Although E.M. Hull made another brief reference to the song in her novel, she only used the first verse and never fully explored the parallels or the passion of it. Perhaps she believed readers in her time would have already been familiar with the lyrics?

In either case I thought the inclusion of the more passion-filled verses added a special poignancy and romanticism that I wished to develop more deeply in The Sheik Retold.

** Author Interview with Victoria Vane**

Why did you re-write The Sheik?

E.M. Hull's  The Sheik  had been on my reading list for years, but it was only in discovering it free on Amazon, that I decided to finally read this controversial romance classic. I finished it with extremely conflicted emotions. I loved some aspects of the book and was appalled by others. The characters, setting, and beautiful descriptive prose captivated my imagination, but the pace was plodding and the writing repetitive. What bothered me most was the premise that the heroine would fall in love with a man who repetitively rapes her. She also falls for the hero far too abruptly to be believable. I could not relate to this at all.

Moreover, I felt the author did not stay true to her own characters. Diana begins as a strong and independent woman but by chapter three she seemed another person altogether- whiny and whimpering. I could not respect her. Although it fell short for me in so many ways, E.M. Hull's The Sheik nevertheless, haunted me. I kept envisioning the book that could have been and the way that I wished it had played out. When my mind began conjuring the scenes and dialogue I knew I had to write my own version of the story.

What changes did you make? 

Firstly, my version of the story is told from Diana Mayo's POV. Although The Sheik Retold follows the same basic plot as the original story I begin and end the story very differently and condensed several scenes to improve pace.

The biggest change I made was to Diana herself. My version of the character stays true to her strong-willed and independent nature right to the end. Although she is a captive and knows her submission is inevitable, there are a number of twists. Time after time, Diana meets Ahmed toe-to-toe. As their relationship develops, it is almost as much on her terms as on his.

Lastly, I wrote this as an erotic romance, which is still very much in keeping with the original story which always was a tale of the heroine's sexual awakening.
What is your favorite line/scene from the book and why? I love all of the intimate scenes between Diana and Ahmed, as each one has a different "tone" and serves to deepen the developing romance, but my favorites shows that Diana is determined not to submit meekly but to meet the sheik on equal footing.

What type of hero do you like best?

Strong and self assured, but not domineering (Ahmed Ben Hassan being the exception to this rule). I like my heroes to be unconventional, unpredictable and multi-faceted. I also adore flaws.

What’s in the works or next up for you?

The Sheik Retold is my eleventh published title and was my first departure from historical romances set in the 18th century. I loved the experience of venturing into French Algeria in 1920 and hope the reader will share my enthusiasm. As far as other historical projects go, I am in the process of completing Jewel of the East, the next installment in my Award-winning Devil DeVere series and have begun a collaboration with another historical romance author on a Viking series.

Last but not least, I am expanding my work into contemporary romance. I have a four book contemporary cowboy romance series coming from Sourcebooks fall of 2014, and have just submitted a proposal for another contemporary romance series set in Las Vegas. This is all new and exciting for me. I hope for big things in the coming year. 

THE SHEIK RETOLD by Victoria Vane & E.M. Hull

The Desert Was Never Hotter!
A haughty young heiress for whom the world is a playground…A savage son of the Sahara who knows no law but his own…When pride and passion vie for supremacy... 

Blistering desert days are nothing compared to sizzling Sahara nights…
THE SHEIK RETOLD is available now in print and e-book

Victoria Vane is an award-winning romance novelist, cowboy addict and history junkie whose collective works of fiction range from wildly comedic romps to emotionally compelling erotic romance. Victoria also writes historical fiction as Emery Lee and is the founder of Goodreads Romantic Historical Fiction Lovers and the Romantic Historical Lovers book review blog. Look for Victoria's Contemporary Cowboy Series coming summer 2014 from Sourcebooks

Web: http://www.victoriavane.com 
Twitter: @authorvictoriav 
Facebook: Author Victoria Vane 

For a digital copy of THE SHEIK RETOLD, Victoria asks, what is your favorite love song?