01 March 2015

Author Interview & Book Giveaway: Charlotte Brentwood on THE VAGABOND VICAR

This week, we're welcoming author Charlotte Brentwood, whose latest title is THE VAGABOND VICAROne lucky visitor will get a free e-book copy of The Vagabond Vicar; this giveaway is offered worldwideBe sure to leave your email address in the comments of today's author interview for a chance to win. Winner(s) are contacted privately by email. Here's the blurb. 

William Brook is an idealistic young cleric, desperate to escape dreary England for a mission adventure in exotic lands. It's his worst nightmare come true when he is posted to a parish in a small backwater village, populated with small-minded people and husband-hunting mamas. He’s determined not to form any ties and to escape the country as an independent single man.

A free spirit, Cecilia Grant is perfectly content to remain in her family home in Amberley village - when she's not wandering the countryside at all hours painting. Marriage options are few, but that won't stop her mother from engineering a match with one of the ruling family's sons. Cecilia attempts to win the man, but what is it about the new vicar and his brooding ways that is so appealing? Could he be the only one who has ever really understood her, and can she discover what he is running away from?

As William struggles not to fall in love with the lady's intoxicating beauty and mysterious eccentricity, he finds himself drawn into the lives of the villagers, despite their best efforts to alienate the newcomer. When he makes it clear he's not sticking around, Cecilia strives to restrain her blossoming feelings for him. Just when it seems love may triumph, dark secrets are revealed in Amberley and a scandal from William’s past may see the end of not only his career, but his chance at finding an everlasting love.

**Q&A with Charlotte Brentwood**

Many thanks to Unusual Historicals for hosting me today. I’m delighted to introduce my debut novel, The Vagabond Vicar. If you love Jane Austen and Georgette Heyer, can't get enough of Downton Abbey or Cranford, or just prefer old-fashioned boy-meets-girl stories, this story should appeal to you.

How would you describe the genre of THE VAGABOND VICAR?

It’s a traditional regency, which means it’s a clean/sweet read (no sex on the page) with the focus on character development and verbal exchanges between the hero and heroine. This book sits somewhere between straight historical romances and historical fiction.

What inspired you to feature a vicar as the hero of this book?

Vicars are often much-maligned in historical literature - either snivelling, pompous, hypocritical, or just plain boring. I created a vicar character for another book, but he wasn’t very interesting and I soon gave up on that book. While writing something else, the character of William began forming in my mind. He kept telling me tales of his mercy missions in the seedy parts of London. He told me about how he was given a living in a small village, but that he would much rather be sailing the seas to adventures in exotic lands. I was moved by his compassion, his earnestness, and his heart. I knew I had to give him his own story.

I set out to create a vicar who was not only true to his convictions and compassionate, but also heroic, bold and downright swoon-worthy. I think this quote from a reader sums it up nicely: “I’ve never been one to “fall” for a religious man, but William Brook is likely to get fans fluttering and cheeks flushing. Dare I say he’s a strong contender against the famous (and my literary love) Mr. Rochester?”

Despite William’s occupation, I tried to keep the novel away from being “inspirational” or preachy. The story is primarily about a man and his ambitions, and the great love which consumes him.

It’s unusual for a Regency to be set away from the ballrooms of London. Why did you choose a small village as your primary setting?

It’s true, there isn’t any mention of Almacks in this novel, and no dukes either! Inspired by the likes of Cranford, Emma and other novels with small village settings, I wanted my drama to play out on a stage where there are long-held loyalties, beautiful country settings and all the politics that come along with a small town. The small village was also the perfect place to strand William, to make him face his demons away from the distractions of London or locations overseas.

Jane Austen gave this advice to her niece on writing novels: “Three or four families in a country village is the very thing to work on…”

How long have you been writing?

Although THE VAGABOND VICAR is my first published novel, I have completed two other full works in my writing “apprenticeship” along with many other uncompleted works. I wrote my first multiple-page story at the age of six and the bug has stuck with me throughout my life. As a teenager I composed many melodramatic poems. I was in my twenties before I seriously set my sights on pursuing publication.

What are you working on next?

I am working on the two follow-up books to THE VAGABOND VICAR in tandem, as the stories of Amy Miller and John Barrington are related (though separate). I already have a lot of scenes drafted for each and I’m about to knuckle down to plot out all the details. I hope to get these stories out in the coming year.

Learn more about author Charlotte Brentwood

Charlotte developed serious crushes on a series of men from age fifteen: Darcy, Knightley, Wentworth and Brandon. A bookworm and scribbler for as long as she can remember, Charlotte always dreamed of sharing her stories with the world. The Vagabond Vicar is her debut novel.

She lives in beautiful Auckland, New Zealand. When she's not toiling at her day job, writing or procrastinating on the Internet, Charlotte can be found snuggling with her cat Sophie, warbling at the piano, sipping a hot chocolate or enjoying the great outdoors.