Wednesday, July 10, 2013

Steampunking Barbara Samuel

When I wrote my dream list of authors to interview here at Disenchanted & Co., Barbara Samuel was the first name I wrote down. A multi-genre writer who has earned six RITAs, two Colorado Center for the Book awards, RWA's Favorite Book of the Year and a place on Library Journal's Best Genre Fiction of the Year list, Barbara has published dozens of much cherished historical and contemporary romance novels for her vast readership. I actually discovered her work via her amazing women's fiction books (which she currently writes as Barbara O’Neal), and now my collection of her novels takes up two shelves in my book room.

Honesty and empathy are an integral part of every story Barbara writes; she always reaches for your heart with her own. That she's also an incredibly talented storyteller and world-builder enhances the reading experience to the point that it almost stops being fiction; that's how real it feels to read one of her books and get to know her characters and walk the path with them. She's my soul-medicine author; when I know someone is troubled or struggling with life or for whatever other reason simply needs a great read, I bring them one of Barbara's books. This because I know what they've done for me over the years.

Now let's steampunk the lady with a little Toriana-style Q&A:

If you were whisked off to a parallel universe that is just like ours except that it has no authors or books, what would you do for a living there?

Aside from the fact that I could not bear to live in a world without books, right? I would be a chef and a gardener. I love gardening with a sort of insane passion -- and you have to be insane to garden in Colorado Springs, where either the hail, the altitude, or the short growing season will kill something every year. And I love cooking, which is the most grounding, calming thing I do--and I love to feed people. I might also be a photographer. I love photography, mainly of plants and people's faces, both very close-up. A little girl's eyelashes. The stamens of a poppy. Light coming through the petals of the first spring tulips.

The Timeline Fairy has granted you the power to change one event in American history. Which event would you change, how would you change it, and why?

Wow. That's a tough one. I don't see any positive in the Vietnam War. It tore the country into pieces and a lot of soldiers died needlessly, for a cause that ended not being worth much. The worst was the legacy of those soldiers who were hated and lost and didn't have the support they deserved for the wounds of war. Far too many of them ended up lost and broken -- alcoholics and homeless and violent. Really sad stuff. My heart aches for those lost soldiers.

If you could bring something back from the Victorian era and make it fashionable or trendy or popular today, what would it be?

Ocean voyages on elegant liners. Not the cruise ships of today -- I want the elegantly appointed, fern-adorned voyages of yore. I want it to be cool to take a week to get to England, or a few months to sail to India. I want dinner with the captain and dressing for dinner.

Who is your favorite 18th or 19th century author, and which one of their books is your favorite?

Hmm. Probably HG Wells or Jules Verne. They both had such amazing imaginations and I teethed on them before moving to modern SFF as a teen. That expectation of the miraculous possibilities in science sticks with me still.

Let's pretend I've been living on Mars my entire life and I've never read any of your work. When I get back to Earth, which one of your novels should I read first?

The Lost Recipe for Happiness. It's one of my favorites, and has the themes of love (in so many forms!) and food and redemption that I love.

Thank you, Barbara, for so kindly answering all my impertinent questions.

To celebrate our first guest here at the blog, I've also put together a giveaway of my favorites of her books and some fun things themed to her world-building, presented here by my lovely daughter:



If you'd like a chance to win the lot, in comments to this post name something you'd bring back from the Victorian era to become fashionable/trendy/popular today by midnight EST on Friday, July 12th, 2013. I'll draw one name at random from everyone who participates and send the winner the prize package, which includes unsigned copies of Barbara's novels The Lost Recipe for Happiness, A Piece of Heaven and The Secret of Everything, along with Morning Food  and The Neely's Celebration cookbooks, a Euro cookbook stand, a bread basket with an Italian linen liner, a package of pink Himalayan salt (as per the story in The Secret of Everything), a gorgeous woven straw and watercolor-fabric market bag, and the pretty violet and green print apron my girl is wearing (the kid, however, stays with me.)  This giveaway is open to everyone on the planet, so please join in.

33 comments:

  1. My choice would be Peter Carl Fabergé, - love his designs.

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  2. I would bring back dressing for dinner. (Okay, maybe not every night.)

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  3. I'd like courting again. I might love my husband, but swear actual courting and trying to convince someone you are worth marrying would be fun. But then, I would NOT want to bring back only a half day off a month. I like my weekends very much, thank you.

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  4. I'd like courting again. I might love my husband, but swear actual courting and trying to convince someone you are worth marrying would be fun. But then, I would NOT want to bring back only a half day off a month. I like my weekends very much, thank you.

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  5. I would bring back the ritual of afternoon tea.

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  6. I would want to bring back the gorgeous jewelry.

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  7. I'd bring back the elegant dancing at dinner and parties and balls :)

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  8. I would bring back the concept of dressing appropriately to go out. Went to the theatre in London, wore a jacket and tie (nothing super fancy), saw people in tank tops and shorts. Seriously? Not a curmudgeon, but seems to me it's fun to dress up a bit and go to an event. Maybe that's because I wear a uniform all day.

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  9. I would bring back the elegant clothes. (It would be nice to be able to go to the store and not see some teen or older running around with their pants hanging off their butt! Oh...now I feel OLD! )

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  10. Manners, and respect...and maybe carriages. ;D

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  11. I would bring back letter writing which I miss greatly. Such a wonderful and special method of communication which I dearly love.

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  12. Definitely high tea, which sadly has never caught on in the Midwestern USA.

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  13. I'd bring back pocket watches or watches on pins/chains. They seem more like jewelry than the wrist watches we wear today.

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  14. Like others I'd bring back respect and also mourning. Love seems so disposable and we don't seem to take the time to mourn the passing of people, relationships or even time any more. It just seems more respectful to mourn properly and not rush to be 'ok' although we definitely don't need the Victorian era's rigidity

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  15. I'd be inclined to bring back the horse and buggy, if we could get rid of cars at the same time. We rush about so mindlessly now, always late and always worried. I suppose what I really want is a slower pace for life.

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  16. Victorian houses. Can you imagine a housing development filled with "painted ladies," as they're known in Cape May, NJ? Gorgeous!

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  17. Dauguerrotypes (which I probably misspelled horribly). And mourning.

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  18. I would bring back the balls and house parties. They sound like they would be great (at least now that we have air conditioning, lol).

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  19. I'd like to think of respect back. This is a fabulous giveaway. You're really going to send that lot abroad even. Wow!!!! Please please count me in.

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  20. Gosh, I love the Victorian era & there are so many things I would like to see again. Some of the fashion, the pretty hats. The gorgeous jewelry and fine china teacups. The poetry, not too many people admit to loving poetry these days. And the needle craft, many ladies had skills to be envious of :) It's hard to choose just one if these things as I personally love them all. Perhaps a love for homemade crafted items. I like to sew and embroider and do lots of creative things, so I do greatly admire the details and hours that went into their works of art.

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  21. I am going to echo someone else and say the letter-writing. I love writing letters and wish sometimes that email hadn't been invented. (Okay, not really. But I do wish I would get more letters.)

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  22. The letterwriting is something I'm all for. Just last week I made a letter holder with my mom. To contain all those precious handwritten letters that are so rare these days. Even blogged about it...

    What I would like to see make a comeback is the food! No ready meals, everything made from scratch. All the dishes not only looking pretty and tasting great, but made with love. I imaging a table full of food like you see in the beautiful pictures of Mrs Beeton's cookbook. You know those big puddings and cakes in the middle, decorated to look like special edible gifts. I made a few dishes from her recipe book but non of them looked like the drawings she had made. Would love to see those kinds of things, or better yet learn how to make them all myself. Fantastic dinner parties would be held once again, I'm sure.

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  23. a Victorian-style umbrella

    bn100candg at hotmail dot com

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  24. I'm actually wouldn't like to live most places in the past but there was (and may still be) a victorian carnival that traveled around Ontario and surrounding areas, with rides and (politically correct) freakshow exhibits. I really liked the merry go round, which was much more lively than the current ones that are only meant for toddlers.--liv

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  25. I'd bring back mourning jewelry.
    It's a little creepy, but I like the fact that it lets everyone know you're in mourning.
    Sometimes you need to express that at all times, and it can prevent some pretty bad faux-pas.

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  26. OOhh What a great giveaway!!!
    Hmm... definitely NOT corsets.
    (for me comfort trumps fashion no matter what it would do for my figure LOL)
    I think I would bring back the old seaside music halls.

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  27. Dance cards. The whole idea of a ball is really elegant, and makes you nostalgic whenever you wind up in a modern dance club. But dance cards make the whole thing that much more elegant. I recently looked up some vintage lady's dance cards and it was wonderful to see them either full, or somewhat empty, filled with many different names, or in one such case--with one name more than five times (how indecorous!).

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  28. I agree with Shizuka's comment about Mourning jewelry. It was lovely to look at, admire, and left the person breathing space when they had a loss in their life.

    Hair jewelry, in particular, fascinates me. Though it wasn't always used for mourning, it was a fitting tribute.

    Strange, I know, but it's true.

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  29. I'd like to see parasols make a comeback. I'm fair-skinned and sun-sensitive and given to wearing flowing skirts anyway, so this would be practical and aesthetically pleasing.

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  30. I would bring back letter writing and conversation. Too often when I visit people, conversation is interrupted by media: cell phones, computers, TV, music, etc. Now, I'm not anti-music or computer, but I would love to live in a world with a good, old-fashioned exchange of ideas through conversation. I would bring back the corner tavern -- only they would allow women, too -- and the political discussion that were held. Nowadays, you compete with the TV and the music.

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  31. The art of conversation -- without having to fight with media (TV, smart phones, music, etc.). The corner bar, where politics were discussed (but they'd have to allow women, now). Nowadays, if you go to your neighborhood tavern, you compete with music or the TV to converse.

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  32. The accessories - silk handkerchiefs edged with lace, kidskin gloves, lace parasols, and awesome hats!

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