Wall Street Attorney Taylor Collins, has something Nicholas Carey, the 18th Duke of Burnham, has been searching for since the death of the Princess of Wales: the videotape Diana made in January 1997 before her death in August, naming her assassins.
Determined to avenge Diana’s death by exposing her killers, Nicholas lures Taylor to England with his promise to sell his ancestral home, Burnham Abbey, to one of her clients, a boarding school for American girls. But Nicholas, who has dated American actresses since the death of his beloved wife, ten years earlier and who has vowed never to fall in love again, is immediately overwhelmed with feelings for Taylor at their first meeting.
Taylor, unaware that Diana’s tape is in the estate of Mari, her long-time friend and client, and nursing her hurt over her broken engagement to a fellow attorney in her firm, brands Nicholas supremely spoiled and selfish and is in a hurry to finish the sale of the Abbey and return to New York. But while working in the Abbey’s library, Taylor uncovers the Tudor-era love story of Thomas, the first duke and founder of the Carey family. As she reads Thomas’s agonizing struggle to save the love of his life and the mother of his child, she begins to see Nicholas in a new light as he battles to save his sixteen-year-old ward Lucy, who is desperately unhappy and addicted to cocaine. But just as Taylor’s own feelings for Nicholas become clear and at the moment she realizes she is in possession of Diana’s voice from the grave, she is confronted with evidence Nicholas may be responsible for a double murder. When Nicholas is arrested and taken to Wandsworth Prison, Taylor sets out to learn the truth once and for all about Nicholas Carey and the death of the Princess of Wales.
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Q. Thank you for this interview, Deborah Hawkins. Can you tell us what Dance For A Dead Princess is all about?
Dance For A Dead Princess is based on a couple of historical facts. Diana, Princess of Wales received a death threat by phone in January 1997 before she was killed on August 31 in Paris. She left a videotape naming the person who threatened to kill her.
Dance is the story of a fictional friend of Diana’s, Nicholas Carey, a rich and powerful duke with a title dating back to Henry VIII’s time. Nicholas learns Diana’s tape is in the hands of a Wall Street Attorney named Taylor Collins, who turns out to be a beautiful woman with no interest in being a duchess. Nicholas is determined to get the tape and reveal the name of Diana’s killer to the world. As Nicholas pursues Taylor and the tape, she finds dark secrets about Nicholas and the origins of the Carey family in the library at Burnham Abbey, the family’s ancestral home in Kent. When he is arrested for murder, she becomes the only person who can save him.
Q. Can you tell us a little about your main and supporting characters?
Nicholas Carey, the hero of Dance For A Dead Princess, is a different kind of romance hero. One Amazon reviewer described him as “complex, brooding, romantic.”
Heros of romance novels are always described as “alpha males,” and Nicholas appears to be one. He’s rich. He’s a duke. He holds one of the oldest titles in the peerage. He served the in army. He races cars. His late wife was the most beautiful woman in England, and now models and actress fall over themselves to date him. He can crisscross the world in his LearJet at a snap of his fingers.
But Nicholas knows he is not the alpha male he appears to be. As he describes himself in Chapter One, “. . . the female segment of the populace would have refused to believe his real persona if he had posted it on a billboard in Times Square because, as a widowed duke, every woman he encountered believed he was swinging Prince Charming. And he was anything but that.”
He may be a duke, but he didn’t want to be one. Every woman he meets swoons at his feet except the two he genuinely loves. He is wracked with guilt over his wife’s death, and he feels powerless in the face of his ward’s drug and behavior problems. And he knows exactly how to be the comforting friend. “I’ve had a lot of practice with The Morning After. The women in my life, particularly Diana, had a knack for getting their hearts broken. I’m the steady shoulder to cry on.”
Taylor Collins isn’t attracted to Nicholas until she sees the man behind the alpha male facade. She doesn’t fall in love with him because he is powerful. She falls in love with him because he is all too human, flawed, and vulnerable.
Taylor herself has suffered her own disappointments, including the loss of her fiancé on the eve of her their wedding. She has struggled to make a life for herself that she feels is safe, and then her safety is threatened when Diana’s tape comes into her hands. Nicholas admires Taylor for her independence and achievements. Unlike the other women he meets, Taylor can buy her own jewelry and isn’t dependant on any man. Nicholas admires these qualities in her but realizes it will be difficult for him to win her heart because of his reputation with women.
Q. Do you base your characters on real people or are they totally from your imagination?
Obviously they are a mixture. Everyone in the book is fictional except for Diana and Henry VIII, Princess Mary, Queen Catherine of Aragon, and Charles Brandon, the Duke of Suffolk. I have stuck with the facts of Diana’s life, but I have been creative with Henry’s time for the benefit of Thomas, First Duke of Burnham.
Q. Are you consciously aware of the plot before you begin a novel or do you discover it as you write?
Both. I know the main outline before I begin, but a lot of events along the way come to me as I write.
Q. Your book is set in London and in Kent. Can you tell us why you chose these locations?
Well, obviously a wealthy duke like Nicholas would have a home in London and the country. And London is clearly important in Diana’s life. Kent is home to many stately homes and is close enough to London to be convenient for the Dukes of Burnham over the centuries to keep their hands in at court and still enjoy country life. Taylor works for a global law firm, so of course Craig, Lewis, and Weller has a London office. She thinks Kent will be boring until she falls in love with Thomas Carey, the First Duke of Burnham and with Burnham Abbey.
Q. Does the setting play a major part in the development of your story?
Yes. Nicholas lures Taylor to England with the promise that he will sell the Abbey to her client, Miss Reilly’s Female Finishing Academy. But after Taylor discovers the peace of the house and the story of Thomas Carey’s great love for Elizabeth Howell that founded the Carey family, she is devastated by the thought that Careys will no longer inhabit their ancestral grounds. The process of falling in love with Nicholas for Taylor is first the process of falling in love with Thomas Carey and his house.
Q. Open the book at page 69. What is happening?
[Nicholas’ ward, Lucy, has just tried to kill him at dinner; and Taylor, upset by being a witness to these events, has returned to the cottage on the estate where she is staying. Nicholas is disappointed not to find her in his sitting room for after-dinner drinks. He discovers his only company is Ellen Scott, his housekeeper]
Fifteen minutes later, to his disappointment, he found only Ellen in his sitting room. She had poured brandy for them both.
“Pete’s on a call about the new livestock you wanted for the North Farm. And Taylor said she had some e-mails from New York she had to answer.”
He nodded as he sipped, trying not to show his disappointment.
Ellen studied him for so long he grew uncomfortable.
“Stop blaming yourself for the past, Nicholas.”
Dear Ellen. Always on his side.
“It’s hard not to blame myself.”
“No, it isn’t. You just have to decide it’s time to stop looking back and give yourself a chance to start fresh. Taylor might be the person to do that with.”
His stomach tightened. He didn’t want anyone to know his interest. Even Ellen. “How’d you know?”
“By watching you watch her.”
“I hope I’m not that transparent.”
“The average person wouldn’t guess your secret. But I’ve known you too long.” She smiled and put her hand over his, co-conspirators in the drama of his life.
He sighed. “She doesn’t like me.”
“She doesn’t know you.”
Q. Can you give us one of your best excerpts?
“So I gather my presence here is not by accident?”
“Correct. But I had always wanted to sell the Abbey. So offering it to Hollis and stipulating you were to be involved in the sale worked perfectly for me.”
“How did you know I hadn’t already found Diana’s tape and turned it over to the British Government?
“Because if you had, you’d be very dead by now. MI-6 would have seen to that. Anyone who knows the tape exists is a danger to them.”
“You’re implying MI-6 was responsible for her death.”
“The less we say about who killed her the better. But she had enemies around the world, and MI-6 was not the only security service concerned about Diana and her activities.”
“Did Diana know her international work put her life in danger?”
“Of course. But she felt her life meant nothing if she couldn’t exercise her influence to help others.”
“And that’s why you loved her?”
He smiled. “Like everyone else.”
The enormity of his knowledge settled over her. “And you are certain she was murdered?”
“I am. But enough said. You are already in danger from your association with Mari’s estate.”
“And aren’t you in danger, too?”
“Of course. But so far MI-6 only suspects I know the truth. And my position protects me–to a certain extent. As I said, the medieval dukes were not the only ones with friends in high places. The government assumes that because I am, in a sense, part of the establishment, I will play its game.”
“And will you?”
“I intend to find Diana’s tape and broadcast it for everyone to see. I want the public to hear her name her murderers in her own voice. I owe it to her and to Deborah, who also loved her very much. It’s the only justice she will ever receive.”
“And why have you told me now?”
“Because asking you straight out is the only way I’m going to get the information I need. And despite attorney-client privilege, Mari would have wanted me to have the tape for Diana’s sake. And then, too, the longer this goes on, the more worried I become about your safety. If you find it or someone thinks you’ve found it–”
Deborah grew up in the South, wrote her first novel at the of age thirteen, and has been writing ever since. In graduate school, she studied Irish Literature and came to believe all Irishmen and Southerners are born storytellers. In addition to writing, she loves music and plays the clarinet. Now that her children are grown, she devotes her time to law, music, writing, and her two Golden Retrievers, Melody and Rhythm.
Deborah taught college English and worked as a technical editor before going to law school. She worked for several large East Cost firms before coming to California in the mid-1980’s where she developed a solo practice as an appellate attorney while raising her three children as a single parent. She is admitted to the bar in two states and the District of Columbia, is a certified appellate specialist, and has a Master of Laws in addition to a Masters in English. She believes that even a legal case always begins with a story.
Visit her blog at:
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Dance for a Dead Princess Virtual Book Publicity Tour Schedule
Monday, July 1 – Book reviewed at The Phantom Paragrapher
Tuesday, July 2 – Book featured at Cindy’s Love of Books
Wednesday, July 3 – Book featured at Laurie’s Thoughts and Reviews
Thursday, July 4 – Interviewed at Read 2 Review
Friday, July 5 – First chapter reveal and review at Mom in Love with Fiction
Monday, July 8 – Up Close and Personal at Between the Covers
Tuesday, July 9 – Guest blogging at The Story Behind the Book
Wednesday, July 10 – Interviewed at Review From Here
Friday, July 12 – Book trailer reveal at Pump Up Your Book
Tuesday, July 16 – Guest blogging at The Writer’s Life
Thursday, July 18 – Interviewed at Literal Exposure
Friday, July 19 – 5 Things post at Literarily Speaking
Tuesday, July 23 – Book reviewed at Miki’s Hope
Wednesday, July 24 – Interviewed at Beyond the Books
Thursday, July 25 – Interviewed at Broowaha
Monday, August 5 – Book featured at Naturally Kim B
Tuesday, August 6 – Book featured at Maureen’s Musings
Thursday, August 8 – Interviewed and Guest blogging at Janna Shay
Monday, August 12 – Book featured at Literary Winner
Tuesday, August 13 – Interviewed at Beyond the Books
Thursday, August 15 – Book reviewed at Naturally Kim B
Friday, August 16 – Book reviewed at Bless Their Heart Moms
Tuesday, August 20 – Guest blogging at Allvoices
Wednesday, August 21 – Interviewed at Pump Up Your Book
Monday, August 26 – 1st chapter reveal at Literary Winner
Wednesday, August 28 – Interviewed at The Writer’s Life
Thursday, August 29 – Book featured at Plug Your Book
Friday, August 30 – Book reviewed at A Room Without Books is Empty
Tuesday, September 3 – Book featured at The Dark Phantom
Wednesday, September 4 – Book featured at Authors and Readers Book Corner
Thursday, September 5 – Interviewed at As the Pages Turn
Friday, September 6 – Guest blogging at My Devotional Thoughts
Monday, September 9 – Book reviewed at My Devotional Thoughts
Tuesday, September 10 – Guest blogging at She Writes
Wednesday, September 11 – Guest blogging at Review From Here
Thursday, September 12 – Guest blogging at Newsvine
Friday, September 13 – Interviewed at Examiner
Monday, September 16 – Guest blogging at Straight From the Author’s Mouth
Tuesday, September 17 – Interviewed at Book Marketing Buzz
Wednesday, September 18 – Guest blogging at Literal Exposure
Thursday, September 19 – Interviewed at I’m Shelf-ish
Friday, September 20 – Book reviewed at My Cozie Corner
Monday, September 23 – Book reviewed at Broken Teepee
Tuesday, September 24 – Book featured at Between the Covers
Wednesday, September 25 – Guest blogging at Redroom
Thursday, September 26 – Book reviewed at Emeraldfire’s Bookmark
Friday, September 27 – Book reviewed at Mary’s Cup of Tea