MY DEAREST FRIEND is my second release with Wings ePress and is a Regency Romance. Here is a brief blurb:
Robert Blake, Duke of Lear, is a man of intense emotions who loves deeply and protects fiercely. Devastated and wracked with guilt by the death of his younger brother, Stefan, in the Peninsular War, he readily agrees to aid Jane Chandler to bring her seriously wounded brother back from Portugal.
Much against Jane’s wishes, he decides to accompany her and together they embark on the hazardous mission to retrieve the young soldier. However, the journey holds many revelations, not least of all the abiding friendship and growing love between the two travelers.
That special love is put severely to the test by the treachery that awaits them upon their return to England, when a tenant of Jane’s former home invades their lives, maliciously creating jealousy and misunderstandings for his own nefarious reasons.
Can their friendship and love conquer the emotions that threaten to tear them asunder?
The Duke of Lear is a proud, erudite man. Unable to share his grief with others he retreats into aloofness to hide his emotions. However, he has a very strong sense of honor and desire to protect and when Jane Chandler seeks his aid, determined that no other young man should share his brother’s fate, he determines to take a hand in the young soldier’s deliverance In doing so, not realizing that he will find his own.
As a young man, he had found his first love to be duplicitous and from then trusted no woman with his heart. It is Jane with her caring and devoted nature that breaches the fortress of his emotions.
What qualities make the heroine, Jane Chandler, unique?
Her genuine care for others. Robert immediately perceives that she is no pampered society beauty and recognizes her compassionate nature. Her courage and determination to set out alone on the hazardous journey to save her brother proves her devotion to those she loves. At first, he doesn’t recognize his attraction to her, only the desire to assist her in her quest.
Can you explain to us how friendship plays a role in this love story?
A deep and abiding friendship develops between Robert and Jane before they recognize their love. It’s not only a physical attraction but the meeting of two souls. Each fulfilling every need of the other.
The plot of the story is about overcoming adversities such as grief and misunderstandings to find love. Why do you feel these types of events can bring two people closer?
It’s such times as these that the senses are heightened and the comfort and care of a loved one is paramount. When adversity threatens, reprieve brings its own compensations and generates the desire for one to cleave to the other. The all-consuming guilt and grief that Robert feels for the death of his brother is hard to overcome, but Jane’s gentle ways ease his torment. In turn, his strength and support guide Jane through the difficulties of retrieving her brother from Portugal. How could they not love each other?
When did you first consider yourself a writer?
That’s a difficult one. When people asked me if I had any hobbies, I would say, ‘Yes, I write’, but the title of, writer, and even more so, author, felt so pretentious. I guess it really hit me that I was a writer when the city library contacted me asking where they could purchase my books. It hit me even harder when they told me that they would be putting a copy of each book into the archives, for posterity, under the title of ‘Local Author’. I never dreamt that my work would generate such interest.
What inspired you to write your first book?
I started writing many, many moons ago when I was fifteen and I have written on and off ever since. When I was fifteen, I devoured the works of the likes of the Bronte sisters, Jane Austen, Sabatini etc. and it generated a desire in me to create my own historical world. At seventeen, I found Georgette Heyer and my writing world expanded to include the wonderful Regency era. I wrote three books between the ages of fifteen and eighteen – I just wish I had those books now so that I could compare them with the work I am currently producing. Unfortunately, when we moved home, my earlier novels were lost.
Who or what has influenced your writing?
All of the wonderful authors I have mentioned above, plus many more that I have read over the years. I love to read and absorb all the rich details of these eras and am particularly motivated by the Peninsular Wars. There’s something very emotive about young men who were literally taken from the streets and without little or no training expected to fight toe-to-toe on the battlefield. Unlike today’s’ wars that are mainly fought from a distance, wars in history were fought on a more personal level.
How has your environment/upbringing colored your writing?
England is rich in history and like all countries, we are taught about our ancestors from an early age. We had a wonderful teacher who brought history to life. She obviously loved her subject and imparted her enthusiasm to her students.
What genre are you most comfortable writing?
It has to be Historical Romance. I wouldn’t even contemplate attempting a modern day romance. The nearest I have come to present day is a short WW2 story I wrote some years ago.
How did you come up with the title?
My dearest friend, is what Jane first calls Robert and states that no matter whatever else they become to each other, he will always remain her friend. It just seemed the most natural title.
What book are you reading now?
‘Flowers From The Storm’ by Laura Kinsale (for the third time!) I love this book and it’s in my top three comfort reads. My other two are ‘Jane Eyre’, Charlotte Bronte and ‘These Old Shades’, Georgette Heyer.
Do you see writing as a career?
Not a career, but a compulsion. I would write even if my work was never published. I love sharing the lives and times of my characters.
If you had to do it all over again, would you change anything in your latest book?
No. Robert and Jane are two of my favorite characters and their emotional struggles were very real to me.
Your books have rich historical detail. Can you tell us how you research your books?
We go back to the teacher here. She taught us just how rewarding research can be. I have several reference books and the internet is a wonderful research tool, plus the books I have read over the years have given me a ‘feel’ for the eras in which I write.
What was the hardest part of writing your book?
Originally, the book was written for my own amusement with no thought of submitting to a publisher, but the lecturer who headed a writers’ group I joined, badgered me into sending my work out. Taking that final decision to submit was the hardest part.
What book are you working on next?
I am currently working on another Regency romance with a working title of ‘Sarah’ (which will probably change). However, it has been suggested that I give Major Harry Chandler from ‘My Dearest Friend’ a book of his own and I am slowly putting his story together.
Please tell readers how they can stay informed on your latest books and author news.
I have a website www.hazel-statham.co.uk where they can read excerpts and reviews of my current and upcoming work. Also, I have a newsletter to which readers can subscribe by sending an email to firstname.lastname@example.org with Subscribe in the subject line. I promise not to inundate anyone’s inbox with mail as I only send my newsletter out when I have something important to impart.
I love to hear from my readers and promise to answer all my mail.