Please welcome author Mariana Gabrielle to the blog. Her latest book, La Déesse Noire: The Black Goddess, is being released on June 10th. Here is the blurb:
Sired by a British peer, born of a paramour to Indian royalty, Kali Matai has been destined from birth to enthrall England’s most powerful noblemen—though she hadn’t counted on becoming their pawn. Finding herself under the control of ruthless men, who will not be moved by her legendary allure, she has no choice but to use her beauty toward their malicious and clandestine ends.
When those she holds most dear are placed in peril by backroom political dealings, she enlists some of the most formidable lords in England to thwart her enemies. But even with the help of the prominent gentlemen she has captivated, securing Kali’s freedom, her family, and the man she loves, will require her protectors stop at nothing to fulfill her desires.
One of the things I love about Mariana is her passion for diverse and/or multi-cultural stories. Her new book reflects this. Mariana, this new book sounds really intriguing, I love that Kali is a different kind of heroine. What inspired you to write her?
Honestly, the idea of a heroine acting as an industrial spy came first, after an off-the-cuff discussion with a friend about Mata Hari, but that concept went in a completely unexpected direction ultimately. When I took a class with Angie Hodapp at Rocky Mountain Fiction Writers about creating a character-driven plot from scratch, the characters in this book emerged, and from there, the loose outline of a plot (which was almost all thrown out by the end of the first draft). To be fair, it scared me nearly to death to write this book, because it is so far outside the mold, but other writers encouraged me to break the romance tropes and get over the idea that I couldn’t write a non-white character. It shouldn’t have been a wrench, since I have written characters of color in all of my mainstream historicals, but only as sidekicks, not heroes and heroines, and never in the historical romance genre.
What do you love best about the lead characters in this book? The cultural differences during this time period were challenging at best. How did you weave those differences and mores into this book?
What I love best about Kali is that she is inherently pragmatic without losing her sense of ethics and fair play. She has a very hard life, even with an enormous amount of resources at her disposal—extensive education, enough money to get her start, an exceptional talent for dancing, a father in the peerage, and, of course, physical beauty. None of that, though, entirely erases the struggle of being an Indian woman in London in the 1800s. To also be a renowned one, constantly in the public eye, at the mercy of the men who support her, and known mostly for her place atop the demimonde? In some ways, it might have been easier for her to be poverty-stricken and unknown. She is constantly put into situations requiring she save herself, and she consistently proves she can, but eventually, the pressure from all sides becomes more than she can bear. In the end, when she is finally forced to ask for help, her vulnerability almost makes her another person (whom I love even more).
Aside from Kali’s complexion and illicit occupation, a secondary plot revolves around her best friend, a gay man who is also kept by a nobleman, so cultural differences and social tensions abound. I loved playing with the societal constraints, the uncertain consequence of every action. There is inherent tension in writing about taboos. Nothing in this book would be considered out of bounds today (in most circles), but in 1814, in England, engaging with the ton put any commoner at some level of risk. When the commoner is a courtesan, a procuress, a gay man, a person with dark skin… the ante is raised with every word.
What’s next? Can we look forward to more of these fabulously unique stories from you?
I hope I continue to write stories readers think are unique. My next three Regencies, novella prequels to my last book, Royal Regard, are continuations in the same mold as Bella and Nick’s story, but with trope-busting HEAs. I never planned to perpetuate the Royal Regard cast, but readers were really interested in learning how Charlotte and Alexander met, why Bella and Myron ended up together, and what had happened to turn John from abusive card sharp to upstanding citizen. So, in the next six months or so, they will find out.
The most exceptional project on the horizon, though, is a mainstream historical about a Civil War journalist with divided loyalties, Blind Tribute, which was just contracted and will likely be out in early 2016. It is, by far, the best book I have ever written, and I think readers who can make the leap from HistRom to HistFic with me will be very excited by the tribulations of Harry Wentworth.
LAUNCH PARTY! Join Mariana and friends on June 10, Noon until 8 PM EDT on Facebook as they celebrate the book birthday of Mariana’s book.
Here’s a taste of La Déesse Noire: The Black Goddess
Showing not the slightest displeasure, and without disturbing him in the least, Kali quietly and efficiently arranged her life to best suit him. She changed the height of her heels, the length of her fingernails, the depth of her décolletage. Hors d’oeuvres, hats, horses, hand cream, all subject to his explicit or implicit approval, and he barely needed to say a word.
She kept his pipe tobacco, port, and claret, subscriptions to his preferred papers, and when he declined an asparagus salad, he never again saw that particular vegetable on her table. Kali arranged three full sets of clothes by Weston, measured to his last order, to be kept at her residence—a morning coat with trousers, breeches and a dinner jacket, and riding attire with buckskins and boots, all perfectly cut and of better quality than anything in his armoire at home.
When he found himself vexed by an off-the-cuff, but accurate, analysis of a potential investment he knew he shouldn’t make, he was forced to apologize and explain his annoyance did not justify her swallowing opinions. As the weeks wore on, she became comfortable enough to express her thoughts more freely, and when he grumbled, only teased, “Are you not the man who prefers I not please him in all things?”
Mariana is giving away a free copy of La Déesse Noire: The Black Goddess, .epub or .mobi, to one lucky commenter, so leave a question for Mariana. Mariana’s book is available for pre-order at these retailers: Amazon, Amazon UK, Barnes and Noble, iTunes, Kobo, All Romance eBooks, and Smashwords.
Mariana Gabrielle is a pseudonym of Mari Christie, a professional writer, editor, and designer with almost twenty-five years’ experience. Published in dozens of nonfiction and poetry periodicals since 1989, she began writing mainstream historical fiction in 2009 and Regency romance in 2013. In all genres, she creates deeply scarred characters in uncommon circumstances who overcome self-imposed barriers to reach their full potential. She is a member of the Bluestocking Belles, the Writing Wenches, and the Rocky Mountain Fiction Writers. Her first Regency romance, Royal Regard, was released in November 2014.