Welcome to my blog, Joyce! What is your newest book about?
Courting Cassandry is part of what I call my Hearts in Autumn historical romance series. This series is based on heroes and heroines finding love in their 40s and 50s. I know those aren’t anywhere near considered the “autumn years” today, but they would have been during the Middle Ages when my stories are set. Here’s a short description of Courting Cassandry.
Is it too late for second chances when the girl you loved in your youth comes back into your life?
Gerolt de Warenne became guardian to a child-heiress named Cassandry when he was only nineteen-years old. As he watched her grow into a lovely young woman, he found himself falling in love with her, but Cassandry viewed him as an older brother. So, burying his feelings, he gave permission for her to marry another.
Twenty-four years later Gerolt and Cassandry meet again. With the loss of their respective spouses, Gerolt hopes to finally court Cassandry, but she desires to remain a widow. Instead, they agree to a betrothal of their children. Matters become complicated as their friendship begins to evolve into the romance Gerolt has always wanted. But by the law of the medieval Church, Cassandry and Gerolt can’t marry if their children do. Can they find a way to be together? Or must they sacrifice their future for the love of their children?
"Courting Cassandry" is a “Hearts in Autumn” romance, medieval romances revolving around heroes and heroines “in the autumn of their years.” Because love isn’t only for the young!
Where did you get your inspiration for this novel?
Several years ago, I received a challenge in a writing group to write an “autumn romance.” The idea came to me to interpret “autumn” as a more mature season of life, rather a season of the year, and that, in return, inspired me to begin my Hearts in Autumn series. The first title in the series is Loving Lucianna. Courting Cassandry is
the second, but since these titles are theme, rather than character, related stories, they are all stand alone novels and can be read in any order. (I haven’t written a third book in the series yet, but I’m planning to!)
What kind of research did you do for this book?
I’ve been writing medieval-based stories for a very long time, so I’m familiar with much of the basic research elements by now. For this particular story, though, some of the subjects I researched were the Battle of Hattin during the Crusades, medieval treatments for headaches, and color blindness.
Did you put real experiences from your research in this story?
I usually don’t include real experiences in my stories, perhaps an occasional exception being my love for music. But for Courting Cassandry, I drew on an experience I was familiar with of emotional abuse in marriage, both on a spouse who is suffering from it and on the children who are aware of it, even when both parents try to conceal it from the children. I didn’t intend that to be a theme when I first started writing the story, but that’s where my characters ultimately determined to take it. Maybe they knew I would understand.
What intrigues you most about writing these stories?
I think at this point it’s a matter of age. (As in, I’m getting older, folks!) Most of my romances still center on young love, which is fun because it’s always “new and exciting” for the characters. But I’m finding it refreshing to occasionally approach the subject through the eyes of characters who have lived more of life, who have a greater degree of experience over a longer arc of time, and have different kinds of relationships with familymembers. Instead of writing about a daughter or a mother with young children, I get to write about parents with teenagers from the parents’ point of view. That was an entirely different kind of experience to explore and was tremendous fun for me in Courting Cassandry. I’m looking forward to doing more of that type of thing with future Hearts in Autumn romances.
Tell us a bit about your other books.
In addition to my Hearts in Autumn romance series, I have a series called Poitevin Hearts. These are romances set in an area of France known as Poitou, which was ruled by the kings of England in the 12th century. Although this series (so far only 3 volumes but I hope to write more) is connected by recurring characters, each of the stories can be read as a stand alone novel and therefore, they can be read and enjoyed in any order, even if the reader hasn’t read the previous books. I also have a few completely stand alone titles, although one (The Lady and the Minstrel) is actually connected to my first Poitevin Hearts romance, Loyalty’s Web. But since it takes place in England rather than Poitou, it doesn’t actually “fit” in the series title.
All my romances are clean medieval romances, spiced up with lots of mystery and adventure! You can read more about all of my books by visiting my website at www.joyce-dipastena.com.
Which of all your characters is your favorite?
I’d have to say Robert Marcel, from The Lady and the Minstrel. Born the son of a villein (the unfree peasant class of medieval England), he’s hot tempered and impulsive and can be somewhat insolent when he thinks he’s being condescended to by people who consider themselves “his betters.” But when someone of any class treats him fairly, they for that loyalty, for the way he never gives up, and the way he demanded that his world
for that loyalty, for the way he never gives up, and the way he demanded that his world allow him to become more than it said he could be. And hey, plus, he sings!
How did you get started in this genre?
When I first started writing clear back in high school, I dabbled with several historical time periods: the American Revolution, the American West, the Stuart kings of England, even a little Regency. Those were all stories I started and never finished. The first story that captured my interest to write it all the way to the words “the end” was set in the Middle Ages, and I’ve stayed with that time period ever since. I guess it was just meant to be.
When you have time to read, who are some of your favorite authors?
The Regency romances by Georgette Heyer are among my very favorite books. I nevergrow tired of reading and re-reading them! I’m also a huge fan of The Three Musketeers and it’s sequel, Twenty Years Later, by Alexandre Dumas. No one does not only adventure, but also suspense, dialogue, and pathos better than Dumas in those books. I especially love Twenty Years Later for the historical angle it covers. Without giving anything away to those who haven’t read it, no matter how many times I re-read this title, Dumas always keeps me on the edge of my seat believing that “this time, the Musketeers are going to change that tragic bit of history.” That’s how deeply I get caught up in the story every single time.
Let’s get personal for a moment: Please share with us the most daring thing you’ve ever done.
I went to Italy with my sister. That wasn’t the daring part, because I was with my sister—but I also wasn’t with her much of the time, because she was on a work trip and I was just there to keep her company. So she was gone on work projects for most of the day and I was left to fend for myself in the city of Torino. I tried to teach myself Italian before I went (I do havwere kind as I wandered in and out of bakeries and stores and eventually discovered a museum (a replica of a late medieval castle) where thankfully,were kind as I wandered in and out of bakeries and stores and eventually discovered a museum (a replica of a late medieval castle) where thankfully, they did a tour for me in English. I’m generally a very introverted person, so pushing myself to explore a city on my own where I didn’t speak the language was extremely daring for me! But as I said, the local people were kind and I will always be grateful to them.
Favorite meal? Depends on the season of the year. Probably pasta in the winter. And a good rib-eye steak with a baked potato slathered in butter is always a treat.
City you would love to visit and why? I’d love to visit Venice, because one of my works-in-progress is set in medieval Venice and the more research I do, the more I know what I don’t know that I need to know. Haha! Yeah, I’m as confused about some of the research as that confusing sentence implies. A trip to Venice is obviously required, don’t you think? (Now, if I can just convince my bank account.)
To learn more about Joyce, visit her website at http://www.joyce-dipastena.com You’ll find all her books at this site. And if you sign up for her newsletter, you will receive a FREE ebook copy of the first volume in her Poitevin Hearts romance series, Loyalty’s Web. Join her newsletter here. http://joycedipastenaauthor.blogspot.com