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Saturday, December 10, 2011

Interview with Author Penny Ehrenkranz

Today, I'm pleased to be able to interview author Penny Ehrenkranz about her two new releases, Lady in Waiting and Mirror, Mirror.
Marsha, thank you for hosting me on your blog today.  I want to let your readers know I’m holding a contest.  Everyone who comments and leaves contact information on the blog will be entered into a drawing.  At the end of the blog tour, I will pick two names.  One person will receive a copy of Lady In Waiting and the other will receive Mirror, Mirror.

The blurb for your November release, Lady In Waiting, tempts readers into an interesting examination of courtly life dilemmas taking place in and around the castle of Prince Blayne. Is the setting Medieval or Renaissance or perhaps from some earlier Scandinavian era? Why did you choose that particular time period?

The setting is late Medieval.  This story first came to me as a fantasy piece.  I fully intended at least one of the main characters to have magical abilities.  Most fantasies tend to be Medieval in feel, so this is the main reason I originally chose this time frame.  As the story progressed, and my characters began to tell me their story, I realized the fantasy element wasn’t going to work, and it ended up being more of an historical romance than a fantasy.

The genre of Lady In Waiting is historical fiction. What research did you do to prepare to write this work? How carefully did you adhere to known customs of the historical period?

As I said above, most fantasy, which I read a lot of, is mainly Medieval, so I already had a feel for that time period.  I have several reference books that I referred to as well as research I did on the Internet.  I tried to adhere to known customs of the period, but it’s possible an expert would be able to find a flaw or two.  I certainly don’t consider myself an expert. This is not a full-length novel, being more a novelette at around 10,000 words.  With the shorter word length, I didn’t have to delve as deeply as I would have needed to if I were writing a full-length novel.

One of the characters in Lady in Waiting is a bard. Do you include samples of his poems? Was it difficult to emulate the style of period poetry?

Unfortunately, no I didn’t include any poetry.  I showed his talents more through his sensitivity and spoken words.  It’s a great idea though, and I’ll keep it in mind for the next time one of my characters tells me he’s a bard.

In your time travel romance, Mirror, Mirror, the action begins with the heroine purchasing items for a costume she intends to wear at an upcoming Renaissance Fair. Did local Renaissance fairs inspire your story?

Yes!  We were fortunate to have a traveling fair come to our small rural community a few years ago.  I loved wandering through the “streets” of the fair, watching all the people in costumes, tasting the food, and watching all the performers.  As I did, I couldn’t help but wonder what it would be like for a person, one of the fair goers, to be transported back to that period.  How would she cope?  Would she be able to survive?  What would she think about the way women were treated?  The idea of a time travel romance was born.

Since Mirror, Mirror is a time travel romance rather than an historical romance, do you take some liberties with recreating the world? 

I tried not to, although there is some magic involved.  I wanted to be fairly true to the culture, dress, food, building structure, etc., so I did similar research to what I had already done for Lady In Waiting.

Your two coming releases share a similar historical setting. Do the time periods and/or settings differ? A clear difference is the heroine of Mirror, Mirror originally comes from present day, sifted back in time, unlike the heroine of Lady in Waiting, who remains in her natural setting. Which perspective for your heroine was more interesting for you to write?

The time periods are fairly close for the two stories, so they’re fairly similar.  The differences are more in the settings.  Lady In Waiting takes place in two different castles and involves royalty and their families.  Mirror, Mirror, on the other hand has a MC who is a modern day paralegal, drawn against her will, back through time to help two lovers torn apart by a father’s strict rule.  There are no royal families in Mirror, Mirror, but there is definitely intolerance of the upper ruling class against the lower working class.

I would say I had more fun writing Mirror, Mirror, but I think that’s because I love a good fantasy.  The Medieval and Renaissance periods both intrigue me.  They seem very romantic to me, but when I researched those periods, a lot of the romance got lost.  It was a hard time when people had no heat, no refrigeration for their food, differences between the classes was so extreme, and common people struggled just to survive.  Indoor plumbing was almost unheard of, and as Lindsey found out, there were no washing machines to do laundry!

Author links:

Book Links: Lady in Waiting released November 18th from MuseItUp.  Direct buy link

Mirror, Mirror will release in December.  MuseItUp Bookstore buy link

TITLE:  Lady-in-Waiting

Tag Line: Through a series of misunderstandings, Through a series of misunderstandings, Mabriona is forced to live a lie, but when the man she loves awakes from his coma, will she confess her deceit? 

Blurb: Mabriona is cousin to the beautiful and spoiled Princess Alana.  When Alana is forced to marry a man she despises, Mabriona is torn between her loyalty to her cousin and her attraction to the handsome Prince Blayne.

Tragedy befalls the cousins on the way to Prince Blayne’s castle.  Servants, believing Mabriona to be Alana, refuse to listen when she tries to explain.

While she waits for Blayne to recover, Mabriona meets his equally handsome younger brother, Madoc, a bard.

When Blayne awakes, will Mabriona choose life with a future king, will she be sent home in disgrace because of her inadvertent lies, or will Madoc win her love with his poetry?


Mabriona assisted Alana down to the common dining hall as was her duty.  The big room was warmed at both ends by huge hearths.  In honor of Prince Blayne’s arrival, the boards had been scrubbed until they gleamed.  Warm, fresh-baked loaves of bread graced each table, and the delicious aroma made Mabriona’s mouth water as they entered the room.  Jars of honey mead sat within easy reach of all.  Pewter bowls piled high with fresh picked apples and pears were artfully placed. Serving wenches waited, poised, with huge pots of steaming porridge.

King Cedric already sat at the upper table with Prince Blayne at his right hand.  His face lit up with a smile when Alana and Mabriona approached.  His voice boomed as he greeted his daughter, “Here she is, the flower of my life.”

Mabriona’s breath caught in her throat as her eyes met Blayne’s.  As Alana had feared, the young prince was dark-haired with eyes the color of jet, his stature kingly.  Broad shoulders and well-muscled arms nicely filled out his deep purple brocaded doublet. A full beard of coarse black hair covered his cheeks and chin, but what stopped Mabriona was his smile.  Never before had she seen someone’s face light up like the sun rising on a summer’s morn.  Yet, this was what came to her mind.  Clearly, Blayne’s smile was meant for her, but why? 

He stood and walked toward the women.  “Princess Alana,” he said, bowing before Mabriona, his glance speaking words of heat and passion.

“Oh no, Your Highness,” Mabriona said, blushing.  “I am Princess Alana’s lady-in-waiting, Lady Mabriona.”  She felt Alana glaring daggers at her and quickly curtseyed to hide her embarrassment.  Alana made it clear earlier she wasn’t attracted to dark-haired men, why is she so angry?  It isn’t my fault the prince was confused. Alana looked down at the floor before glancing up at the handsome prince.

“Forgive me, Lady Mabriona.  I’ve made an unthinkable error.”  Prince Blayne bowed again and then turned to Alana.  “Your Highness, your beauty should have made it clear to me you are my intended.”

Mabriona’s heart sunk.  She saw Alana’s cold look as Blayne bowed and took her hand to kiss. She knew then that Alana hated him, yet Alana would marry him as her father decreed.  It was unfair, but Mabriona was already wise enough to know she couldn’t change her lot in life.  Alana would marry the handsome prince and live happily ever after, and she would remain the ever-faithful servant catering to Princess Alana’s every wish.

Blayne grasped Alana’s elbow and led her to the table to sit beside him. Yet as Mabriona watched them, Blayne’s gaze slid back to her, lingering as if he could imprint her image upon his soul.  Her knees felt weak, and Mabriona quickly took a seat at the far end of the board.  Her heart beat rapidly in her chest.  What was happening to her? Prince Blayne was not the first man to have caught her eye, yet he was certainly the first to have affected her so she could barely breathe.  Unobserved and temporarily forgotten, she watched the couple.  Just as she suspected, Alana kept her nose in the air and cringed each time Blayne looked at or touched her.  King Cedric would get an earful as soon as Alana got him alone, of that Mabriona was certain.  Her heart bled for the handsome prince.

She looked up to see Alana motioning furiously at her.  She went to the princess and bent near her.  “Yes, Princess?”

“Get me out of here, now,” Alana whispered harshly.

Mabriona offered her hand, and Alana rose from her place.  Blayne looked up, catching Mabriona’s gaze.  His eyes sparkled, and a smile spread across his face.  He bowed his head slightly.  He openly flirted with her.  This could not be happening.  If King Cedric saw the interplay, what would he think?  Blayne was the intended of Alana. Things could not get any worse.  Her thoughts tumbled like the bones the guards threw when they played at betting games. 

TITLE: Mirror, Mirror

Tag Line: Lindsey Baker’s purchase of an antique mirror sends her back in time to salvage a love torn apart by class restrictions.

Blurb: Lindsey Baker is intrigued by everything about the middle ages, but when she purchases an antique mirror and a costume to attend a Renaissance Faire, she suddenly finds herself transported back in time.  There she finds she’s been called by a witch to right a terrible wrong. 

Graham loves Prudence, but he can’t marry her because he’s landed gentry, and she is only the baker’s daughter.  Before Lindsey can return to her own time, she must convince Graham to marry against his father’s wishes.  Unfortunately, she also finds herself falling for the handsome gentleman.


“Fool-born child!  Watch where you are walking. The master will have your hide for getting mud all over his clean shirts.” 

Someone pulled her ear—hard—and Lindsey yelped with pain.  She was tugged up into a kneeling, then standing position, before she opened her eyes.  She realized in the first moment she was no longer in Oregon.

“Where is your cap?  If the master sees you with your hair hanging down all over your face, he will switch us both.” 

She stared wide-eyed as a large, buxom woman bent down, picked up dirty white shirts from the ground, and thrust them into Lindsey’s arms.

“‘Tis not here. Take my extra one.”  The woman grabbed Lindsey’s hair, balled it, and shoved it into a long, sleeve-like cap, which came to Lindsey’s forehead and fell down around her shoulders.  Balancing the load of shirts with one hand, she felt the cap.  Not a shred of her hair was showing. 

“Um, thanks,” she said.

“Well, donna be thanking me now.  You just watch what you be doing next time, clumsy girl.  Now march back into the washhouse and get the mud off those shirts.  When you have finished, hang them out to dry. Then get you into the kitchen and help cook with dinner.”  The woman brushed her hands off; then she smoothed her apron and marched through a courtyard toward a large stone house.

Dumbfounded, Lindsey stood where the woman left her.  She looked down at herself and saw she still wore her second-hand clothes from St. Vincent de Paul’s.  Her feet were bare. Then she noticed the woman walking away from her was also barefooted.  Despite the muddy courtyard, the air was warm and so was the soil.  But where am I?  As she looked around, the structure of the buildings reminded her of pictures from her British History course in college.

In the opposite direction from which the woman took, Lindsey noticed a path leading to a small outbuilding.  Smoke rose from a chimney.  She trudged back to the washhouse, opened the door but stepped back outside when her eyes began to tear, and the heat blasted her face.  Do people actually work under these conditions?  With the door opened, some of the smoke and steam cleared, and she was able to see a large wooden tub sitting on metal legs straddling hot coals. Lindsey dumped the load of shirts into the tub, picked up a stick and stirred the load in the water.  Before long, her muscles ached, and she had blisters on her hands. Once the tears began, there was no stopping them.  Until this point, she hadn’t thought much beyond putting one foot in front of the other.  She collapsed on a small overturned crate and with head in hands, had a good cry.

With red, puffy eyes, and stuffed nose, Lindsey looked up when the door opened.  A wizened old woman leaning on a cane shuffled in.  She looked at Lindsey with questioning eyes.  “Is it really you, Mistress?” she asked.

“What do you mean?  Who am I supposed to be?” Lindsey responded between sobs.

The old woman began to dance.  “It worked!  It worked!”

Lindsey wiped the tears from her eyes with the bottom of her skirt.  “What worked?” she asked, realizing this woman might know what happened.

“Why the summoning I did for Mistress Prudence.  So you’re the one, eh?”  The old woman pinched Lindsey’s cheek and turned Lindsey’s face from side to side to get a good look.  “Well you do look like the young Mistress.

When are you from, then?”

“You did say when, not where?”

“Of course.  I know you’re not from now, foolish simpkin.  I brung you here.”

“This morning it was 2011.  I’m not sure what year it is now.”

“‘Tis the year 1421, and you need to get busy, little missy.  You need to get the Master to accept Prudence as his bride.  Soon as you do, we can send you back from whence you came.”

Lindsey stood and looked down at the little woman. “Just how do you propose I do that?  Who is this master, anyway?”

“Why, he be the master of the house.  He loves our Prudence, he does, but his father wants him to marry for money.  He’s just distraught our Master is.  I wager you be a smart woman. You can get our Master to marry you. I canna help you anymore, but I’ll be watching you.”  The crone turned and shuffled toward the door.

~ ~ ~
Marsha A. Moore is a writer of fantasy romance. The magic of art and nature spark life into her writing. She is the author of the novel, TEARS ON A TRANQUIL LAKE, the first in a trilogy. Part two, TORTUGA TREASURE is contracted for release in January, 2012. Look for her first of an epic fantasy romance series, SEEKING A SCRIBE: ENCHANTED BOOKSTORE LEGENDS ONE, to be available March, 2012. For a FREE ebook download, read her historic fantasy, Le Cirque De Magie.


Penny Lockwood Ehrenkranz said...

Hi Marsha, thanks for hosting me today. Great questions.

Anonymous said...

Would love to have a copy!
Put me in the drawing.
Author Jackie Lee Miles

Shelley Munro said...

What a fascinating time period to write about. It sounds as if you did quite a bit of research. We always think of the past as romantic but there were lots of negatives too. All the best with your new releaes.

phawkenson said...

I would love to win either book! All my fingers and toes crossed. XXXXX XXXXX XXXXX XXXXX

Maureen Fisher said...

I'm a sucker for time travel, and your characters are intriguing. I would love to win a copy of either.

Penny Lockwood Ehrenkranz said...

Hi all thanks so much for stopping by and commenting. Everyone will be entered and the drawing will be coming up by the end of next week.

Shelly, if I were doing a full-length novel, I would have needed to do more research. For a novelette like mine, I was able to get away with doing a lot less. Still the time period intrigues me,

Anonymous said...

Hi Penny! Mirror, Mirror sounds very intriguing. I think it's a brilliant idea to send someone with romantic illusions about the Renaissance era back in time. That should provide some chuckles. I read your excerpt and it hooked me. I felt with Lindsay, but also smiled at her demise when the witch appeared. Great job with the language too.

I'd love to win a copy of Mirror, Mirror!


Anonymous said...

Great interview. Lots of interesting questions. Enjoyed the excerpts for both books.

Penny Lockwood Ehrenkranz said...

Hi Edith, glad you liked the story idea. I'll be picking my winners very soon.

Susanne, as always, a pleasure to "see" you. Thanks for following along.

Michele said...

Aha! A poet! Now I must read this book. Perhaps your Bard would like to do a guest post with us . . . .?

Creative blog, Marsha; great interview.

Interesting journey, Penny. Please enter my name in your contest. Thanks -- Michele (