A research librarian and associate professor, Elizabeth Camden has a master's in history from the University of Virginia and a master's in library science from Indiana University. She has published several articles for academic publications and is the author of four nonfiction history books. Her ongoing fascination with history and love of literature have led her to write inspirational fiction. Elizabeth lives with her husband in Orlando, Florida.
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Elizabeth Camden's debut novel, THE LADY OF BOLTON HILL, boasts a brisk pace, plenty of intrigue, romance, and fiercely intelligent characters who live in worlds of high drama and splendid, emotional challenges. In this interview, Camden shares her writing goals, style and struggles. She discusses the distinction between justice and vengeance --- which serves as the biggest theme of her book --- as well as her efforts to celebrate the sheer joy of life through her literature.
Question: Can you give us a brief description of THE LADY OF BOLTON HILL?
Elizabeth Camden: The novel is set in Baltimore during the 1870's. Daniel and Clara once shared an intense adolescent fascination with each other, but were separated by Clara's disapproving father. When they meet again after more than a decade apart, they are still wildly attracted, but Daniel has become a powerful corporate titan. He is an inventor who has secured domination over the railroad industry and has been using his power to advance a personal vendetta. Although Daniel has always idolized Clara, her deeply held beliefs about God's grace force him to confront his painful past.
Q: Since you are a new author on the scene, can you describe your writing style and what sort of reader THE LADY OF BOLTON HILL will appeal to?
EC: I write with a brisk pace about highly intelligent characters who are plunged into profound emotional conflicts. Although I love imbuing my stories with interesting historical detail and plot twists, the romance will always be front and center in my books. I want to challenge my characters to grow toward becoming more confident, honorable people before they earn their happy ending. So, I think my writing would appeal to people who love a good stormy romance, but also want glimpses of wit, delight, and joy sprinkled in amongst the drama.
Q: What is the underlying message of the book? Is this what you set out to write?
EC: A big theme in the book is the distinction between justice and vengeance. The hero's family suffers a terrible blow at the beginning of the book, and Daniel's anger drives him to seek vengeance against the perpetrators. Although Daniel is a commendable man, his quest for revenge threatens to drive away the only woman he has ever loved. Clara cannot bear to see Daniel's spirit wither under the soul-destroying effects of bitterness, and she must help him find redemption through faith. I think most of us have had to wrestle with justifiable anger at some point in our lives. Perhaps it stemmed from a bitter divorce, career disappointments, being victimized by crime, or any of the thousands of misfortunes that come from leading a fully engaged life. The world is not always fair, and a mark of integrity is how we cope with these tragedies. I hope THE LADY OF BOLTON HILL helps shed some light on the nuances involved in justice, forgiveness, and healing.
Q: Do you have a favorite character in THE LADY OF BOLTON HILL? Why?
EC: The hero, Daniel Tremain, is a man of the Victorian era, but is chomping at the bit to push forward into the 20th century. He is an inventor who has thrown off the shackles of his impoverished childhood and is on a relentless quest for all things that are "new." He likes modern art, forward-thinking women, and inventions that make the world better. Daniel is a wildly passionate man. When he loves a woman, he will plow through any obstacle to get to her, but the flipside is that he can also freeze people out just as quickly. Daniel is an ardent and hugely imperfect character, but was tremendously fun to write.
Q: Did you encounter any challenges while writing THE LADY OF BOLTON HILL?
EC: When the book opens, Daniel and Clara have already forged an intense bond that dates back to their early teenage years. I didn't want to short-change the reader from the fun of seeing how they met and why the chemistry between them flared to life so quickly, so it was a challenge to weave the backstory into the novel. Throughout the book I inserted brief flashbacks that allow the reader to witness those idyllic memories that formed the basis for a profound love story.
Q: What is the take-away message you want readers to receive after reading your book?
EC: Although I did my best to weave some pretty weighty themes of forgiveness and redemption into the book, what I really hope is that people simply enjoy reading it. The characters in this book have huge dreams and are willing to risk everything in order to make them happen. When they fail, they do so in a spectacular fashion. When they love, it is with both hands stretched out and no-holds barred. Whenever the drama gets a little heavy, I try to inject some passages that celebrate the sheer joy of life. I want this book to be a delight to read, despite the emotional rollercoaster I make my characters ride.
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