7 September 2018

Novel Conversations... with Julia Brannan and Sir Anthony Peters

 In conjunction with Indie BRAG
a new series - posted every Friday

To be a little different from the usual 'meet the author' 
let's meet a character...

Sir Anthony Peters
Image result for Image Georgian Gentleman
Portrait of a Georgian Gentleman

Q: Hello, I’m Helen the host of Novel Conversations, welcome. Would you like a drink? Tea, coffee, wine – something stronger? On the side table there are chocolates and a bowl of fruit, please do help yourself. I believe you are a character in Julia Brannan’s novel Mask of Duplicity. Would you like to introduce yourself? Are you a lead character or a supporting role?  
A: Good evening. I must say I am most honoured to be invited to converse with you. You look absolutely delightful this evening, might I say? [He takes Helen's hand and kisses it. Helen, with a slight blush: Why, thank you sir] And this room! Oh, I can see you are a lady of great taste, which I do so admire! A sense of taste and fashion are so important in today’s world, do you not agree? But forgive me, in my enchantment at being invited here, I have quite forgotten my manners! [bows] I am, my dear lady, Sir Anthony Peters, and I believe my role to be quite central to the novel, as I do impart a little je ne said quoi to it, I must say.

Q: [gestures to the chair] Please, do sit. What genre is the novel and what is it about? 
A: The novel is historical fiction. This is the 'blurb' - what a peculiar little word that is? "Following the death of their father, Beth’s brother Richard returns from the army to claim his share of the family estate. However, Beth’s hopes of a quiet life are dashed when Richard, dissatisfied with his meagre inheritance and desperate for promotion, decides to force her into a marriage for his military gain. And he will stop at nothing to get his way.
Beth is coerced into a reconciliation with her noble cousins in order to marry well and escape her brutal brother. She is then thrown into the glittering social whirl of Georgian high society and struggles to conform. The effeminate but witty socialite Sir Anthony Peters (moi!) offers to ease her passage into society and she is soon besieged by suitors eager to get their hands on her considerable dowry. Beth, however, wants love and passion for herself, and to break free from the artificial life she is growing to hate. She finds herself plunged into a world where nothing is as it seems and everyone hides behind a mask. Can she trust the people professing to care for her?
The first in the series about the fascinating lives of beautiful Beth Cunningham, her family and friends during the tempestuous days leading up to the Jacobite Rebellion of 1745, which attempted to overthrow the Hanoverian King George II and restore the Stuarts to the British throne."

Q: No spoilers, but are you a ‘goody’ or a ‘baddie’? (Or maybe you are both!)
A: Oh, I would say that absolutely no one is completely good or bad. We all have a little of the angel and the devil about us. I would prefer to think of myself as, shall we say, interesting. I am most interested in people and like to learn as much as possible about everybody, in order to entertain guests at any party! And I do have friends in all echelons of life, I might add. In fact, my dear, if you would care for a length of silk for a new gown, please allow me not only to procure it for you (although you must not tell any customs men where it came from) but also to advise you on the latest in fashion, to ensure you will look your very best in the finished garment! Although judging from the bouquet of this excellent claret, I think you may yourself be acquainted with some men who regard the law as a mere nuisance, if I may be so bold?

Q: [Helen smiles at his reference to her pirate character] Indeed sir, I am not at liberty to divulge an answer. Tell me about another character in the novel – maybe your best friend, lover or partner … or maybe your arch enemy!
A: Oh, my dear, I assure you I have no enemies, although there are a number of people who are frequently away from home when I pay them a visit, but I’m sure that is mere coincidence. I am quite renowned for my witty conversation, and only the most staid do not approve. Why, King George himself is a close acquaintance of mine! Really, though, of late I have been most intrigued with a newcomer to London society, a young lady by the name of Elizabeth Cunningham. A most delightful woman, in looks and figure at least, and refreshingly honest and down-to-earth, not a trait one would expect from her family in general. Elizabeth is causing a good many ripples with her stuffy cousins, I must say. She really is quite entrancing! Although she appears not to view me with the same favour, but I always behave impeccably in her company, and if I were interested in acquiring a wife…but I am not.

Q: Is this the only novel you have appeared in, or are there others in a series?
A:  There are six novels in total in the series, I believe, and some of them take place in the most appalling places! The Highlands of Scotland, for example! I mean the people there are fascinating, and many are very well educated, if somewhat fierce, but really, their sense of fashion is deplorable. They wear clothing merely for its practical use! Can you imagine anything so appalling? One cannot wear a silk frockcoat in the mountains – it would be ruined in a moment! And then of course, there is a good deal of fighting I believe, with I am sure a large amount of bloodshed. Even the thought of it makes me feel quite faint! Do you have a smelling bottle to hand, madam?

Q: What is one of your least favourite scenes you appear in?
A: Oh, any scene in which I am not fully in fashionable dress, of course. I believe the most distasteful scene was one in which I was compelled to ride some considerable distance in a state of undress – without my coat, you understand, and then threaten the life of a most disreputable rake in order to rescue a very close…ah…friend, from an appalling situation! I am sure everyone commented on my fashion faux pas. It was most embarrassing to me.

Q: And your favourite scene?
A: That surely must be a dinner party I attended at the Cunningham household, in which Elizabeth, of whom I have spoken already, you will remember, behaved in her customary courageous, direct manner and caused utter uproar in the house. It was most amusing! I really thought Lord Edward – her cousin – would have an apoplexy! I do worry about Elizabeth, though. I believe her to be most unhappy. I must see if there is anything I can do to assist her in achieving a happier state.

Q: Tell me a little about your author. Has she written any other books?

A: The author, Julia Brannan, is a delightful person, extremely knowledgeable on the period about which she writes and really not afraid to become heavily involved in the most unsavoury events! She mixes equally well with society and the criminal echelons of England, Scotland and indeed Europe, as you will discover if you read her novels. After finishing the series in which I make an extended appearance, she’s now engaged in writing about some of the more minor characters. Her first subject is Sarah, who was ladies’ maid to Elizabeth for a time, and who, it seems, had a quite remarkable life before Elizabeth became acquainted with her. I like Sarah very much, and am looking forward to reading about her early life, later this year.

Q: Is your author working on anything else at the moment?
A:  Yes. As well as writing the book I’ve just mentioned, and plotting more minor characters’ stories, she’s also researching for a new series! I am sure she will not mind me stating she confided in me that this series will deal with the start of the Jacobite risings, and will feature the MacDonalds of Glencoe, who fought in everything, in some detail. (Elizabeth’s mother was a Glencoe MacDonald, you know, and I believe her grandmother, Ealasaid – that’s Gaelic for Elizabeth – will be in the series).

Q: How do you think indie authors, such as your author, can be helped or supported by readers or groups? What does your author think is the most useful for him/her personally?
A: Julia would undoubtedly say that the best way a reader can support her is to recommend her books to others; to their friends, but also on social media (with a link to the books!) and in groups whose members the reader thinks might enjoy her novels. She’s told me that many Outlander fans like her books, because they are written about the same time period, and yet are very different, so recommending them in such groups is always helpful. Also, writing reviews for Amazon and Goodreads or Bookbub is extremely important, as it encourages others who love books to try hers out. And, of course her first book, Mask of Duplicity, is free to download, so new readers lose nothing by trying it to see if they like her style!

Q: Finally, before we must bid adieu, the novel you appear in has been awarded a prestigious IndieBRAG Medallion, does your author find this helpful, and is there anything else he/she would like IndieBRAG to do to help indie authors receive the recognition they deserve?
A: Julia was extremely delighted to hear that she had won an IndieBRAG Medallion, and is very proud of it. It is helpful, as it tells readers that her book stands out among the very many indie novels published, as a novel of quality. I think that IndieBRAG must keep their standards high, and should endeavour to ensure their name is known by as many readers as possible as a recommender of excellent indie novels.

Helen: Thank you Sir Anthony, it was a pleasure talking to you. Would your author like to add a short excerpt? 
Sir Anthony: Indeed, Madam, I suspect she would,.
Helen: While she is adding it... more wine I think? Salute! Here’s to being a successful Brag Medallion Honouree!

Reviewed by Discovering Diamonds
The shadowed man now turned his head towards her. She was aware of his close scrutiny, although she couldn’t see his eyes, and she ran her tongue around her lips nervously.
    “Welcome to our gathering, lassie,” he said mockingly. “Would you care for some refreshment?”
    She shook her head quickly, once, and remained silent. Her breathing was fast and shallow and her hands were trembling violently. She pressed them into her sides in an attempt to stop him observing how frightened she was, and forced herself to stand erect. However terrified she felt, she was determined not to give these men the satisfaction of seeing it.
    “Now then, it seems to me that ye owe us an explanation for coming upon us in so unexpected a manner,” the man said conversationally. As he spoke, he casually produced an object from the folds of his cloak and placed it on the table. Beth regarded the twelve-inch-long, razor-sharp tapering blade with something close to mindless terror. His hand rested lightly on the wooden hilt, which was intricately carved with an interlacing knotwork pattern.
    “First of all, are ye alone? I’ll have the truth, mind.” His voice was deep, with a soft Scottish accent. In more favourable circumstances she would have found it seductive rather than menacing.
    Normally when faced with extreme danger, there is a choice between fight and flight. Inability to decide between the two leads to paralysis of the mind and body. Beth had no such problem. Flight was impossible; she had no choice but to fight. Relieved of the necessity of making a decision, her mind cleared. She decided to opt for honesty, instinctively feeling it to be the safest option.
    “Yes, I am alone,” she admitted.
   “Good,” he replied, and she wondered if he meant that it was good that she had told the truth and he was now going to release her unharmed, or good because he could now kill her without having to deal with her companions as well. She glanced around the room again. All attention was fixed on her. None of the other men had spoken yet, and she found their silence unnerving.
    “Now it seems to me a wee bit strange that a young lady should be strolling about this part of the town at night armed with a blade,” the man with the knife continued amiably. “Are ye a whore?”
    “No, I am not a whore!” she retorted in outrage.
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  1. Excellent choice! I met Sir Anthony a while ago and he certainly was an interesting and flamboyant character!

    1. I quite enjoyed talking to him!

    2. It was an absolute delight to make your acquaintance, my dear lady! I was quite overwhelmed by your courtesy.

  2. I sense this affable dandy of a Sir quite often spreads Machiavellian whispers, thereby wreaking certain social havoc around him (which he undoubtedly enjoys). You've left us with a very enticing excerpt, Julia. Well done.

    1. That excerpt is certainly tantalising! Thanks for dropping by Inge

    2. Oh, my dear lady Inge, I cannot think who would have slandered my good name so wickedly! Why, I am sure I intend merely to brighten any event I attend, not only with my delightful taste in fashion, but with my deep knowledge of those in whose society I find myself. I assure you that havoc is the very last thing I intend to wreak. Really...

    3. Methinks thou dost protest too much ...

    4. Moi, protest too much! Never, I do assure you! ;-)

  3. Replies
    1. He certainly is! Thanks for visiting Florence!

    2. Oh, Lady Florence, you are clearly a lady of the most discerning nature! I applaud you on your superlative judgement of personality. I am certain you are a most delightful character as well, my dear!

  4. An absolutely appealing character. I see him in my mind's eye flipping a lacy wrist and snorting snuff while name dropping for all he's worth.

    1. I am most gratified that you find me appealing, my dear lady! I do make an enormous effort to dress in a way which I am proud to say has been described as 'memorable', 'unique' and 'vibrant'. I am, of course, acquainted with the highest in society, so have little need to name drop, although of course at times it is impossible to resist inserting a little bon mot regarding His Majesty (although there are sadly too few of those, as he is a most serious monarch). Snuff, however, I avoid at all costs, as it spills, or sprays if one sneezes abominably, and stains pale satins most appalingly, rendering a gentleman of fashion such as I am to appear unforgivably uncouth.

    2. Thank you, Sir Anthony for the lesson in snuffology. I always thought when it went up, it stayed up.

  5. I enjoyed meeting Sir Anthony Peters, a charming and dashing character.

    1. My dearest Barbara, I am overwhelmed by your kindness, and to be described as both charming AND dashing - well - what can I say? Such a wonderful compliment from such a delightful and discerning lady! Thank you.

  6. I like this character very much - and thought the extract tantalising! Thanks for an entertaining read.

    1. Thank you, my dear Lucienne. What a delightful name! I think it French, n'est ce pas? Really, the French are such refined people, and their sense of fashion is utterly delightful! My own outfits, of which I am so proud, are all the height of Parisian fashion, you know. Why, even King Louis himself has remarked on how outstanding my appearance is, even at the Palace of Versailles, which I was most gratified to hear! I do believe he meant it in a complimentary way...

  7. Sir Anthony deffo adds som "je ne said quoi" Most enjoyable!


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