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Posts tagged with: The Art of the Scandal

Meet 2018 Golden Heart Finalist Suzanne Turner

Today we’re welcoming another Persister, 2018 Golden Heart Finalist Suzanne Turner, whose manuscript THE ART OF THE SCANDAL is nominated for Best Historical Romance.

Suzanne grew up in Oregon (Go Ducks!) but has found herself living in Jacksonville with three too-energetic boys, an equally too-energetic husband, and a lot of mosquitoes. She’s a lawyer by training (Dad’s fault), a lover of books by raising (thanks, Dad!), and will argue to the death that a Bloody Mary is a legitimate vegetable (sorry, Mom). 

This is Suzanne’s second Golden Heart final. Her previous historical romance, THE LOST CHORD, finaled in 2017. 

Here’s a blurb for THE ART OF THE SCANDAL:

The art is fake. The love is real. The risk is ruin.

Jilted by her fiancé, abandoned by her father, and scorned by her friends, Lady Lydia Pierrepoint and her pregnant, 15 year-old sister will be homeless by midnight unless she can charm the deed of her family’s home out of the mysterious South African who won the estate in a poker game. 

Grieving over the death of his Jewish father and English mother, Simon has no time for gallantry. He’s out to reclaim his mother’s name from the aristocracy who humiliated her. With an art collection worth millions and the National Gallery begging for a donation, revenge is within reach. 

But when Lydia points out that Simon’s treasure trove includes at least one forgery, they strike a deal. She’ll ferret out the fakes, and if the debut of his collection goes smoothly, she’ll win back her home. If she fails, she will take the blame and go to jail.  

Together, Lydia and Simon will feign an engagement, delve into the world of art forgery, and navigate the narrow-minded prejudices of London society to discover that love is forged, never faked.

Wow! That sounds rich and complex! And a half-Jewish South African art collector—a fresh take on a historical hero. Very exciting!

Okay, folks, come grab a lounge chair under our gazebo (no mosquitos here on the virtual lawn!) and enjoy a tropical drink with Suzanne and I as we chat about what drives her stories and why places matter so much.

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Welcome back to the Rubies, Suzanne!! Thanks for being with us today, and congrats on finaling in historical for the second year in a row!!

Hi, Elisa! I want to say hello and thank you the Ruby Slipper Sisterhood for inviting me onto this blog. The Golden Heart creates such a strong community of writers in what is oftentimes a lonely world. Real truth, I used to write in my youngest son’s closet (mostly b/c he wouldn’t fall asleep unless someone was in the room). With the Golden Heart sisterhood there is leadership and mentorship and camaraderie and wisdom galore and in those moments when the rejection emails pile in, I find myself wandering over to your blog and finding courage and inspiration. Also, Elisa, you always make me sound like I’m actually an interesting person. Appreciate that!

You started writing IN A CLOSET. You are already an interesting person. (And I wish I’d thought of that technique with my own little guy who wouldn’t fall asleep alone….I just sat there in the dark wishing I was writing.) So, to do that, you must have felt a powerful need to write. Why romance? Do you have a core story that drives you?

My novels tend to start with a break-up. My heroine loses her sense of place. She’s betrayed or jilted by someone she loves and she sets out to reclaim her old self. She doesn’t want to change, she wants to be the person she was before she was betrayed. In comes the hero, a fellow who straddles identities, who shrugs off labels and fights not to belong to any place or anyone. 

The heroine and hero push each other further and further out of each other’s comfort zones—the heroine is going to learn, through a lot of trial and error, humiliation, pain and vulnerability, that her true self cannot fit in the tight boundaries she’s let society, family, and obligation draw for her. The hero is going to learn that boundaries are not a prison, that even if he picks a side or a person, he is who he is—he is strong, he is true. 

The true sense of place for both is not defined by geography or family, or social standing, but by the love the hero and heroine build together. Their place in the world is side-by-side.  

Ah—reclaiming the essential self, which can mean reclaiming a place. Liberation by coming (or creating a) home. What about you personally? What is your sense of place? Or experience of dislocation, as the case may be?

I grew up in Portland, Oregon, a world full of hippies and centuries-old pine trees. My high school history teacher lived on a pot farm. My favorite English teacher was a former spy. Another teacher camped out in Canada for a few years because he was dodging the draft. Our postman had a Ph.D. in Philosophy. I spent summers in the mountains, wearing sweaters and mittens.  

Okay, wow! I can see you come by rich and complex narratives naturally. What a point of origin!! But you don’t live there now. What happened?

I “adulted” in the San Francisco Bay Area, which has its own distinct culture, but to me, it was always like Portland’s snotty, stock-grant rich sister. There are still mountains and cold rain. I was still close to home.

And then one day my husband said, “Let’s have an adventure.” And we took our three boys and moved to Jacksonville, Florida, which is geographically, atmospherically (is that the word for the weather?) and culturally the total opposite of Portland. The pine trees are so skinny, they’re like toothpicks. The ocean is warm. The sun is…out.

The other day, someone said, “Rainy season has started. Summer’s here.” And I experienced that weird jolt of realizing I am in a strange place. It’s culture shock. It’s being in one’s own skin, but the skin is experiencing a sensory world it is not in tune with. 

I hear you on that! I grew on the East Coast and live near San Francisco now. I love the area, but I’m still baffled by the bone dry summers, since summer is “meant” to be deep lush Pennsylvania green. (My husband, who grew up in L.A. and who lived with me for awhile in Ohio, freaked out when it rained there in July…he’d wonder why winter was starting.) And I spent years feeling like I was flipping upside down whenever I tried to navigate along the California coast, since the ocean was on the “wrong” side. It’s definitely a visceral thing. A sensory world problem, as you say.

I’m starting to think my sense of place is simultaneously liking and disliking the place I currently am. So much so, that I recently joined the world of Instagram! Where I tell the story of my own sense of displacement. I try to be generous with Jacksonville because it has been great for my family, but no picture can capture the humidity. 

Oy…I will never miss humidity! And I’ll have to check out your Instagram!! It does sound like an adventure you’re having! But back to the question of your inspirations for writing. What’s your all-time favorite romance?

I am going to be a total nerd and say my parents. My parents met during the Vietnam War. My mother, who is Vietnamese, was a translator for the U.S. Army. My Irish-American father was an officer. At heart (and later by profession) my mother is an accountant, no nonsense, all logic. Her favorite love story, I kid you not, is Moneyball! At heart my father was (he passed a few years ago) Irish—you know, romantic, sentimental, a lover of poetry and rhyme. My mother is a vegetarian, my father smoked and ate red meat. To relax, my mother plays with a calculator. My father would fish. I cannot for the life of me figure out how they managed to get along so well and be so in love, when they were so different. But to the day my father died, my parents held hands.  

Aww!! I love it!!! That’s a fabulous inspiration for so many stories! And I can see why Portland, with all its contradictions, would appeal to the two of them. (And adds another interesting layer to the fact that you wrote a hero who’s Jewish/English/South African. So much more interesting than yet another “to the manor born” lord!) So, any other creative outlets in your life besides writing?

I stress bake. Which seems to have backfired on me since anytime my kids want a fresh batch of chocolate chip cookies, they do their best to drive me insane. With three boys who refuse to wear shoes even when the alligators are out, I promise you, something’s always in the oven.

LOL! (Though I’ve got to tell you—the phrase “when the alligators are out” guarantees I will never, never be moving to Florida.) I admire your adventurous spirit! So, what question would you like to ask our readers to get the conversation going today?

Where do you go or where do you feel most in your skin?

 

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Connect with Suzanne Turner on social media:

twitter @suziluvvturner

instagram @notajaxgirl

website www.suzannemturner.com 

 

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