So tell us, how did you come up with the idea for a modern day, time-traveling heroine who infiltrates Victorian England?
I love reading about historical England, but the vast majority of these books feature brooding lords and daring, titled heroines. I was always interested in how the other half lived, and so I explore the working class in my book. And I knew all the men couldn't be titled and brooding, and so we have William. I wanted it to be a time-travel book because we all share her preconceptions about life in that time and it was a lot of fun to have Eliza explore their view of women and sexuality.
I know you provided references for your research at the end of the book, but some of the details provide a harsh look at life during that era. So let's be honest, have you been to Victorian England? Are you, in fact, a time-traveling author? And if not (although I'm not sure I believe you), would you travel there, given the chance?
I'm an ex-history teacher and I've been an Anglophile since I was little. I had a big Union Jack on my wall all through high school and about a dozen UK pen-pals. When I was nineteen I took a life-changing trip to England with a friend. We stayed in her Uncle's posh Hampstead flat, which eventually became William's house in this story. (Spoiler alert: They have electricity now!) I would absolutely time-travel if given the chance, but I'd want to make sure it was a round-trip ticket. I'm a big fan of modern medicine.
Most readers go in for that alpha hero who always has to be in control and would probably be driven insane by Eliza Pepper (but for the record, I like her). What made you decide to pair her with a hero who's a little more beta (in a super cute way)?
For me, the most interesting person at any given gathering isn't the jock or the popular girl, but the oddballs. The quiet guy lurking in the corner. The girl who is the Socially Awkward Penguin. I also feel way more comfortable around that sort. And I wanted the story to be about William's journey as much as it was Eliza's.
Eliza is 'delivered' to the Victorian era by a magic mirror given to her by Misters York and Lancaster so she can repair some damages in the past that will have great effect on, well, what's our past, but the future for 1873. So...what is the deal with those two? How did they get into the business of managing the past? Or is that a secret I'm going to have to wait for?
York and Lancaster were named for the two sides in the English War of the Roses and they will always be at odds. The question of why will be revealed throughout the series, but I can tell you this – that they are working off a kind of debt. And they aren't the only 'time managers' in the world. We'll meet more of them and they won't all share the same agenda.
I really have to ask, where did you come up with the idea for the scene about the “inappropriate use of a pair of pantaloons”? Because, damn, that scene was pretty hot.
I worked backwards. I needed a reason for William to be so ashamed that he would be inspired to take extreme measures to keep himself from fantasizing about Eliza. Writers often hear the advice of “do the worst thing to your characters so that you can redeem them.” So I thought “what's the worst thing that could happen to William at this point in his life?” The pantaloon scene is the answer.
I always feel bad when I kill a character, even though in some cases, it really needs doing. Did you have a hard time writing the death scene of one of the characters in this book?
One of the reasons I wrote this book was for therapy after someone I loved died. When I wrote that scene I felt pretty raw and I'm not gonna front - I cried. It was the hardest part of the book to write. I didn't want to cheat and gloss over it, though - so I tried to remain true to the experience and take my characters there as well.
Eliza's recital of Nirvana's "About a Girl" was pretty funny. Did you consider any other artists or song titles before settling on Kurt Cobain?
In this case, Eliza just sort of blurted it out and I stuck with it. I do wish she'd have been able to teach William to dance. There's something about a Victorian gentleman doing the 'stanky leg' that gives me shivers. In an earlier rendition, she didn't dance to My Chemical Romance, but The Ramones, however. In the end, I researched the use of the term “okay” and decided to go with “I'm Not Okay”
because it was one more thing to confuse William with. The term "okay" wasn't really used outside of America in the 1870s.
Honestly, I love history, but who ever thought about researching Victorian chastity devices? Is someone going to have to go through and delete your Internet browsing history after your death, because you have other Victorian (and perhaps devices from other eras) that might suggest you might have some interesting fetishes?
I was researching Victorian oddities when preparing for the book and came across those. Eureka! For a while there I was fascinated by them and had a difficult time shutting up about them, which gave my husband some concerned moments at large gatherings. I have to tell you, while we're on the subject that another favorite bit from that time is that once electricity started to be a thing, there was a huge rush for patents. Ahem. The electric vibrator was given the 6th of the vacuum cleaner (by about a decade). So ... yeah! Those Victorians had surprising priorities.
And finally, I know you're working on another time-travel novel (matter of fact, I hope this series never ends, because I want more, dang it!). You better cough up some details about it!
The next one is nearly finished and is about Billy the Kid. His real character was a long walk from Hollywood and even from how Emilio Estevez played him in “Young Guns.” I think the real guy is endlessly compelling. I've read piles of books about him and just returned from a trip to his stomping grounds in New Mexico. In his story Lancaster and York send a college professor back in time to repair a problem with Geronimo's surrender. She ends up going off script and tries to make a name for herself by interviewing Billy the Kid, who is shackled in the Lincoln County jail and awaiting the hangman's noose. She's clever and has smuggled a few modern items in her purse, however and events take a hard left turn. And that's all I should say about that.
About the Book:
How to woo a gentleman—and weaponize dessert.
Romance novel junkie Eliza Pepper always thought she was born too late, but now she really is stuck in the wrong time. Tasked with mending a tear in the timeline, she’s trying desperately to fit into 1873 London. But dang it, mucking out a fireplace while looking like the lunch lady from hell is hard.
If she can just keep from setting the floor on fire and somehow resist her growing attraction to the master of the house, she’ll be fine. All she has to do is repeat her mantra: “He’s nothing like Darcy. He’s nothing like Darcy.”
William Brown has always taken pride in his mastery of English decorum, but his new maid is a complete disaster, has thrown his household into chaos…and he finds her utterly captivating.
Though he’s willing to endure extreme physical discomfort to keep their relationship in proper perspective, her arrival has brought out a side of him he never knew existed. And Eliza has an innocently erotic knack for coaxing that decidedly ungentlemanly facet of himself out to play…
Warning: A modern girl who knows bupkis about nursing and maiding in the 19th century, a gentleman poet with a repressed wild side, and inappropriate use of a pair of pantaloons.
Get it at: Samhain || Amazon || B&N
Terri Meeker's debut novel is the kind of book that keeps your interest with an out-of-place modern-day heroine who breaks many of the stuffy Victorian rules meant to hold women and second class citizens down. I laughed, I got misty, and I rooted for the hero and heroine when things looked dire.
Eliza Pepper accepts a deal to go back in time and prevent some catastrophic event from ruining the past that would effect our future. What she doesn't get are all the details--she's thrust into Victorian England as a nurse for a woman who has consumption. She has no nursing skills and doesn't make a very good servant. On the upside, the master of the house is a good-looking, albeit shy man, who's charmed by her foibles and her modern attitude. Fortunately for William Brown, Eliza is just the woman to broaden his world and soothe his aching heart when things take a turn for the worse.
Despite the fact that William is no Darcy, he's a richly drawn, human character you can't help but hope for. Eliza uplifts the story with her quirky personality. I'm dying for another time-travel book by Terri Meeker!