Tuesday, August 9, 2011

Miranda Neville

Get Lost in This Story…

The Amorous Education of Celia Seaton tells the story of London's most feared dandy and a governess whose life he ruined with one careless quip. Escaping from a kidnapper on the desolate Yorkshire moors, Celia comes across Tarquin Compton, who has been attacked by the same villain. When she finds he’s lost his memory, she decides to get a little revenge by telling him he’s her fiancé, a clergyman called Terence Fish. But as they flee their pursuers “Terence” turns out to be a far better man than the arrogant Tarquin. They fall in love, but the real trouble starts when he regains his memory. Can the arbiter of the ton and the lowly governess ever find happiness together?

Welcome to Get Lost in a Story today, where I am excited to host fellow historical author Miranda Neville, who is not only a completely lovely person, but who looks stunning in a fascinator (which I saw for myself in New York at RWA’s conference). Sadly, I couldn’t not find a picture of her in her fantabulous little hat, but I can give you something better ~ Miranda herself, here for one day only ;-).

Miranda tells us a little about herself:

I grew up in Wiltshire in southwest England. During my misspent youth I devoured the works of Georgette Heyer, Jean Plaidy and any other historical novels I could lay hands on. I now live in beautiful rural Vermont with my daughter Becca, a college student and confirmed drama queen. I am always happy to be distracted from gainful employment by cooking (30 minute recipes only), gardening (don't look at the weeds), cross-country skiiing, arguing about unimportant topics, and general procrastinating. The Amorous Education of Celia Seaton is my fourth historical romance for Avon.

So, let’s get to the Get Lost Interview and learn more about this fabulously talented author!

Heather: What’s your favorite kind of story to get lost in?

Miranda: Apart from romances, I enjoy mysteries and general fiction. I love classics like Jane Austen, Charlotte Brontë and Anthony Trollope. I’m not big on very gloomy tales and I enjoy a quick pace. I’m quite particular about prose: nothing pulls me out of a story faster than sloppy writing and poor grammar. But in the end what matters is compelling characters I can root for.

Heather: What’s the first book you remember reading?

Miranda: The earliest books I remember were probably read to me by my parents. Winnie the Pooh certainly. Piglet and Tigger were my favorites. Makes me laugh just to think about Tigger bouncing. Here he is – the original illustration, not the Disney one.

When I could read myself I loved the Paddington Bear books.

Heather: What’s your favorite “love” word?

Miranda: Amour. It sounds so much better in French.

Heather: What’s your favorite fairy tale?

Miranda: Cinderella. The poor girl who wins a handsome prince never gets old.

Heather: Do you write while listening to music? If so what kind?

Miranda: Never. When I write it’s all going on in my head.

Heather: What was the first story you remember writing?

Miranda: I took up fiction writing quite late (I do have a daughter in her 20s!) but I guess I must have had earlier ambitions. When I was helping my father move out of my childhood home I found a box of manuscripts, the beginnings of romances I wrote in my teens. I’d forgotten all about them! They aren’t very good.

Heather: What’s the first thing you do when you finish writing a book?

Miranda: I sit with glazed eyes, unable to believe that the loathsome thing that’s been torturing me for months is actually on its way to my editor. I look around my house and notice the mess and the dirt I’ve been ignoring. Then I celebrate with a special dinner.

Heather: What question are you never asked in interviews, but wish you were?

Miranda: Do you watch football? To which the answer is a vehement NO. I do quite like baseball.

Heather: Which era would you least like to have lived in, fashion-wise and why? Most?

Miranda: Those corsets of the high-Victorian era must have been agony to wear. And crinolines, though gorgeous, must have made going to the bathroom quite the business. I love the fashions of the 1930s. Very elegant and simple, like this photo of Coco Chanel (better without the cigarette!)

Plus women were wearing pants by then, at least the more dashing ones. (I like to think I would have been dashing.)

Heather: Have you ever written a character who wasn’t meant to be a hero/heroine but he/she wouldn’t go away?

Miranda: Goodness yes! In fact you could say I make a specialty of unpromising heroes. When I was writing The Wild Marquis, I introduced a couple of young book collectors as secondary characters. Sebastian Iverley, a bespectacled nerd who dressed like a scarecrow and despised all womankind, existed to annoy the heroine. Tarquin Compton, the dandy, performed the same office for the hero. But then I got thinking, what if (writers spend a lot of time thinking “what if”) I gave them each their own book? Thus were conceived The Dangerous Viscount and The Amorous Education of Celia Seaton.

It all comes down to the power of point of view. In most romances we see the story through the eyes of the hero and heroine. We know and perceive only what they tell us about secondary characters. But when we start to see inside those people, they may turn out to be very different. Both the woman hater and the dandy have reasons for being the way they are and when we learn them we empathize, even if we don’t always approve. Then of course the right woman comes along.

Heather: What is your favorite cheese?

Miranda: Brie

Heather: Dog person or cat person?

Miranda: Cats. I like dogs but they need too much attention. Cats are so deliciouly self-reliant. They also know what they want. My cat is trying to sit on my laptop now. Probably wants to go out.

Heather: How much money does it take to be happy?

Miranda: Enough to pay your bills without worrying, take an occasional fun vacation, and save for a rainy day. That’s not a very exact answer and mileage may vary. I don’t understand billionaires who want more and more money. After the first few million what’s the difference?

Heather’s GOTTA ASK – Miranda’s GOTTA ANSWER J

Heather: So, I noticed in your fascinating bio on your website that you used to write catalogues of rare books, original letters and manuscripts for Sotheby's auction house in London and New York and spent much of your time reading the personal correspondence of the famous. Any memorable stories from that time you can share? Feel free to change the names to protect the innocent…or not!

Miranda: Once I handled the sale of some letters and musical scores of a very famous 20th century composer, which had been found in a closet of a Paris apartment where he’d lived in the 1920s. The letters contained a lot of very revealing information about the break up of his first marriage. Then the ex-wife, now an incredible old battle ax, stormed into the auction house, claiming the stuff all belonged to HER and threatening law suits. I’ve never met a more terrifying woman in my life. Come to think of it, those wives of famous men were often difficult. One time I was called to look at some books belonging to a woman who was the daughter of one famous man and the widow of another. She had quite the high opinion of herself. I knocked at the door of her New York townhouse and was told to go to the servants’ entrance!

But the thrill of holding first editions and handwritten manuscripts by people like Mozart, Austen, and Dickens never palled.


Miranda: If you could own a letter written by a famous person, past or present, who would you choose?


Miranda: One commenter will win a copy of The Amorous Education of Celia Seaton.

Thanks so much for being with us today, Miranda! Where can your fans find out more about you on the web?


Facebook: http://www.facebook.com/MirandaNevilleAuthor

Twitter: @Miranda_Neville

**Note: Offer void where prohibited. Prizes will be mailed to North American addresses only. If an Advanced Reading Copy (ARC) is available, the author may utilize that option for International participants. Odds of winning vary due to the number of entrants.


  1. Hi Miranda! Welcome to GLIAS. It was such fun interviewing you and I am looking forward to your latest release very much! It's on the TBR pile, just as soon as I meet this deadline! :)

    My son is a huge Tigger fan...his nursery was decorated in Winnie the Pooh, along with giant stuffed characters. Mostly the Disney ones, as they are easiest to get, but we do have the occassional homage to the original illustrations.

    As for letters from a famous person, there are oh so many that it would be fascinating to peek inside their lives, from political figures to key leaders during times of war and strife to celebrities. I'm going to go with a light choice, though, as I've always been a huge fan of Cary Grant...how a teenage acrobat from Bristol comes over to America and transforms himself into the quintessential gentleman...and he always seemed to be so positive and uplifting. It would be interesting to see the Archibald Leach behind Cary Grant.

  2. Congrats on the new release, Miranda. I would probably want the letter to be written by FDR. I would love to know what was going through mind about WWII.

  3. Hello Miranda!
    Your book is on my wishlist. I am looking forward to meeting Celia and Tarquin. The heroine seems like one gutsy lady.

    Regarding whose letter I would want is a tough choice because there are so many people I would love to have a letter from. I would like a letter from Laura Ingalls Wilder. She seemed gutsy herself. I grew up reading her Little House On the Prairies stories and really enjoyed the adventures of the Wilder family as pioneers of their time. Those stories really gave me an appreciation of settlers and the hardships and rewards of taming a piece of land.

  4. Welcome to GLIAS Miranda!

    Absolutely thrilled to see an amnesia historical ! LOVE IT !! Can't wait to read it.

    As for a historical letter? There are absolutely too many to name. But forced to choose, I think I'd go with someone from the Alamo. The love and tough explanation of why they chose to stay and fight for what they beleived in... I've seen some of the more famous ones and they're fantastic.


  5. Hi Miranda,

    Thank you for such another enlightening interview. I'm really looking forward to reading "The Amorous Education of Celia Seaton".

    If I could have a letter written by anybody, then I would have to choose Princess Diana. She was, to me, the true epitome of an English Princess, albeit a tortured soul. I would love her to have confided her thoughts to me, and have been able to give her lots of support and love through the tough periods in her life.

    Thank you for another opportunity to win your book.

    dpd333 (AT) aol (DOT) com

  6. Welcome Miranda! Your story sounds amazing. Cannot wait to read it!
    Loved the 1930s clothes too. Coco did some wonderful things during that era. It is so hard to believe she changed so much all by herself.

    If I can get someone to write me a letter, it would have to be Queen Elizabeth I. I know she was not the first Queen of England but she is the most prominent. And to do all she did without heirs, without a husband, during those times, is truly remarkable.

  7. I'd love to have a letter written by John Donne - his poetry is so beautiful and letter writing was an art form then!


  8. It's so a treat to be here, Heather. Thanks for the great interview.

    Cary Grant is a wonderful choice! I love him, especially Bringing Up Baby with Katharine Hepburn. He was such a fabulous absent-minded professor. Makes me laugh to think of it (just like Tigger!)

  9. Jane: I'm an FDR fan, too. Presidential letters, as you can imagine, are much in demand. Alas, presidents don't have much time these days for in depth personal letter writing. The early ones - Jefferson, John Adams, etc. - wrote incredible letters.

  10. I loved the Little House books, Na. I don't remember if I ever saw a Laura Ingalls Wilder letter. I suspect they are quite rare. I do agree with you that the pioneers were amazing. Takes my breath away what they managed to do with hard work and hardly any resources.

  11. Angi: thanks for your welcome. I'd love to see those Alamo letters. Are they in San Antonio? I believe RWA is going to be there in a few years so I'll get a chance to see them myself. (I've never been to Texas and I can't wait!)

  12. Hi Diane. Poor Diana, such a tragic life. I wish she could have received the support she needed. I've never seen a letter from her.

  13. Sherie: Queen Elizabeth is one of history's great women, IMO. She also had the most beautiful handwriting. I've seen many of her letters and they are true works of art, as well as historical documents.

  14. What a wonderful choice, Rebe. Are you by any chance a fan of Dorothy L. Sayers? Harriet Vane gives Lord Peter Wimsey a Donne letter as a wedding present. Can you imagine anything more romantic?

  15. Welcome, Miranda!

    What a fantastic question! Um, I'm going to select a letter from Charles Dickens, who I adore. I suspect there are lots of those, and all of them brilliantly entertaining!

  16. Hi Miranda!
    Your book sounds very intriguing! I love the title already. :)
    As for the letter, I think I would like one from Lord Horatio Nelson. I love reading about his adventures and the wars he was fighting. Very interesting! And maybe it would even be one to Lady Hamilton. ;)

  17. Miranda and Heather, what a lovely interview, which such wisdom and fun attached. I love that your cat is sitting on your laptop, and I'll say what I always say to authors at this point -- he/she probably wants to write a book!

    How fascinating to have access to old letters and the history behind them. Gosh, I think if I had a chance to read an old letter, I would choose Taylor Caldwell. I would love to know what was in her head when she wrote all her incredible books.

  18. Hi Miranda, Can't wait to read "The amorous education of Celia Seaton" The letter from whom I would love to read would be from Marilyn Monroe, not too far in the past but her life had ups and downs, with a very tragic outcome, would be intrigued to know what really was going through her head, x x

  19. From William Wallace, I adore Scotland and Wallace.And of course I Love your books Miranda!
    I always wait for your next one to come out, keep them coming.

  20. Great interview. I've have read your books and enjoyed them very much and what a great cover. That is a very hard question. I keep bouncing from person to person. I enjoy all historicals so I'm thinking Cleopatra would have some fascinating tidbits to tell!


  21. Sounds like a great book, can't wait to read it! As far as a historical letter my choice would be Margaret Mitchell. I have enjoyed researching family history back in the days of the civil war and to read her thoughts would be awesome!

    debr97 at yahoo dot com

  22. Very interesting interview, ladies! Thank you. I would love to have a letter of Jane Austen--one of the ones that didn't survive Cassandra's purge. Jane was so wonderfully ascerbic; her comments on fashion and people would be wonderful to possess.

    I'd love to read your new book, Miranda!

    lesleyannemcleod (at) gmail dot com

  23. Hi, Miranda! Great interview. I really enjoyed it. I love your books and am looking forward to reading The Amorous Education of Celia Seaton. I think I would like to get a letter from George Custer right before the battle of The Little Big Horn. I would really like to know what happened there.

  24. Simone: You are quite right that Dickens letters are relatively common. People wrote letters then the way we make phone calls and send emails. Anyone who lived a long time and had a wide acquaintance produced a huge volume of correspondence. But they included (and Dickens was no exception) lots of trivial "I can't come to dinner" type notes. But you are also correct that Dickens was a terrific letter writer when he wanted to be.

  25. Claudia: letters from Nelson to Lady Hamilton have survived, and they have been published. An interesting thing about Nelson's letters is that he taught himself to write with his left hand after he lost his right arm. As you may imagine, his handwriting was very different in the later years!

  26. Donnell: Writer's letters have always been among my favorites. There's nothing like getting a first hand glimpse at the creative process.

  27. Julie: poor Marilyn! What a tragic woman, and much more intelligent than she was ever given credit for.

  28. Debra: Thanks for praising my books. I'm pretty darn sure there are no Wallace letters in existence. Very few remain from that far back in history.

  29. Catslady: Definitely no Cleopatra letters around. There was a French 19th century forger called Vrain-Lucas who created some very unlikely documents, including letters between Caesar and Cleopatra. Since all the letters were written in French, people weren't fooled for long! Glad you enjoy my books.

  30. Deborah: I'd love to read those Margaret Mitchell letters!

  31. Lesley-Anne:There's nothing like the chill you get thinking of a great writer putting pen to the paper you hold in your hand. I'm happy to say I have done that with Jane Austen. And wouldn't we just love to see the ones Cassandra burned?

  32. Cathy P: A historical letter like that would be an incredible find. Perhaps it'll turn up one day!

  33. Gosh, a letter from the past and so many famous people I would love to know more about. But upon reflection I've decided I would love a letter from one of my ancestors. Someone who could give me more insight on where my family came from and what kind of people they were. They may not be famous in the general sense, but my Great great Grandfather was known as "Hellfire Jack" the Engine Driver of a steam locomotive. I would love to know so much more! Why the name, what was he truly like.. I guess I'll never know;)

  34. Great interview! Your book sounds fabulous and I would love to read it. Love the cover. I guess if I could have a letter written by anyone it would have to bo JFK or Abe Lincond or someone like that.


  35. Congratulations on the new release. I've read some very nice reviews about your novel. If I could choose any letter writer, I would like a letter written by Abraham Lincoln.

  36. I think I would like to own a letter written by Oscar Wilde. He had an amazing way with words, and his life was fascinating, if rather depressing.

    abbydillon16 AT yahoo DOT com

  37. I like old movies so a letter from John Wayne or Maureen OHara would be neat to own. Or one of the former Presidents Lincoln, Roosevelt (FDR but Teddy would work too) or Kennedy. Hmmm, all presidents who died in office -- hope that doesn't say anything bad about me ;)

  38. Hey Miranda, great interview. So informative. I also love the clothes from the 30's. So beautiful.

    I would love to have a letter from Jane Austen.

    Danielle @Ramblings From This Chick

  39. Emma: some of the most fascinating historical documents are those of ordinary people, not the rich and powerful. And if you can find one with family connections they mean even more.

  40. Virginia and Kim: Lincoln wrote some wonderful letters. I don't know how he ever found the time!

  41. Rosie: Oscar Wilde is one of my favorite writers. As you say, his use of language was brilliant. He also had very distinctive handwriting. I'd love to own one of his letters.

  42. Gamistress: Speaking of the presidents who died in office, the rarest presidential autograph is William Henry Harrison. If you recall, he caught a cold during the Inauguration ceremony and died three weeks later.

  43. I'm torn between Jane Austen & Mark Twain. I love the time period of Jane Austen (they were fabulous letter writers), but I suspect Sam's letters would be vastly entertaining.

  44. Wow, what a tough question!! I'd probably say Austen as well, I'd love to know a real woman's thoughts from back then. Thank you for the contest, the book looks amazing!

    inthehammockblog at gmail dot com

  45. Danielle: Isn't that Chanel photo great. So chic!

    Di: it's late and I'm feeling generous:) You may have both Austen and Mark Twain - both great letter writers.

    Carrie: Another Austen vote! I'm not surprised she's so popular.

  46. I was thinking of William Shakespeare but I think Jane Austen would be more interesting. Didn't she have a beau? What happened?

    By the way, I love the cover! It's so beautiful!

  47. EXCELLENT interview! I'd have loved to have your job at Sothbys! OMG how interesting that must have been, servant's entrance and all!! I guess if I could own a letter written by ANYONE I'd have to say Queen Elizabeth the First. She's always intrigued me, and so that would really be wonderful. And while I don't "own' them, our town has many letters written by Abraham Lincoln (he grew up about 5 miles from my house) and I feel pretty proud everytime I read one of them.

  48. Hi Sheree: you'd be clean out of luck with Shakespeare because none of his letters survive. If there was anyone's letter I would love to find it would be his.

    Amy: I can understand that pride in Lincoln. Any local celebrity is interesting, but Lincoln is one of the all time great men.

  49. I would want to find either the only surviving letter of Shakespeare or a letter by Washington or Lincoln.

  50. Congratulations Debra...you are our winner! Please send your name/address to GetLostInAStory@gmail.com

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