Passionately Pursuing Peter Strauss.

 

 

 

Passionately Pursuing Peter Strauss.

 

I have a T-shirt. It’s silver-grey, with short sleeves It’s 15 years old and I will never throw away. I mean never throw it away. Why? Because this is the T-shirt I wore on the day I interviewed the actor Peter Strauss.

Peter Strauss is my one great love and has been since he played Rudi Jordache in Rich Man, Poor Man. I’ve been completely faithful (apart from a slight wavering in my affections when Colin Firth strode across the screen in tight breeches. His Mr Darcy  is the template when I write. He is my Regency hero – when I created Lord Brickdale in A Passionate Pursuit, Lord Brickdale WAS  Colin Firth’s Darcy ).

 

But I digress. Right now we can forget Colin Firth, because it’s  Peter Strauss for me which is why, when I went to Los Angeles to interview the cast of The Bold &The Beautiful, I optimistically decided I would interview him as well.

Firm in the belief that anything is possible if you really want it, I began my pursuit. First contacting his agent, then his publicist – the very wonderful Howard Brandy who sadly, has since died.

 

I was in Los Angeles for a week, interviewing the B& B (they really are so beautiful in real life) while intermittently phoning Howard Brandy’s office. The calls varied from the regular  answering service ‘Please leave you message…’ to speaking with Howard who told me that Peter was busy filming in Phoenix but he’d try to fit in an interview if there was time. So I waited, and waited, until finally phoning Howard to say I’d be returning to London soon and I really needed to know if this interview was going to take place.

Well!! The next day the phone rang and, YES,  it was HIMSELF, OMG!! “Hello.”

Hello, Gloria?”

“Yes, this is Gloria Burland.”

“This is Peter Strauss. I’m sorry not to have got back to you sooner –“  He  went on talking but I couldn’t tell you what he said. Remember. This is the man I love.

Then he said, “We can either do the interview now, on the phone. Or you can come to the studio tomorrow when I’m filming. Or you could come to my home on Tuesday.

Mmmm … that’s a difficult one – let me think… phone/impersonal studio/ his real life, actual home, the place where he lives, breathes and sleeps. No contest! Blimey!

“Your home will be fine,” I said. He gave me directions and his phone number should I get lost (more Blimey! Was I dreaming?) And that was that.

 

Home is a wonderful Spanish style house set in the lush vegetation of the Ojai hills where Peter Strauss farms citrus fruit.

He made coffee, talked about his life and loves – Italy and Art  - and then it was time to go.  We shook hands and that was that.

Sadly he did not fall in love with me.

And the T-shirt? I’d like to say he touched it but that would be untrue. All I can say is that  Peter Strauss has gazed upon me wearing that T-shirt and that’s enough for me. I will never throw it away.

And why am I sharing this with you? To let you know that anything is possible if you really, really want it enough. Be it writing your first novel,  or passionately pursuing your idol. Go for it. Dreams really do come true. That’s what I believe and that’s why I write romantic fiction.

My first novel, A Passionate Pursuit (which I think of as a ‘bodice-ripping Regency romp -Jane Austen meets Jackie Collins!) is available now. It’s part of a five book series, The Clifton Chronicles and takes place in Clifton, an actual Regency village in England, where all the series will be set.

My second novel in the series,   A Widow’s Gamble is out in time for Halloween.

Both novels are available from:

MUSAPUBLISHING.COM

Good luck everyone, and remember to follow that dream.

 

Thank you for Touring my Blog your Next stop is the V Mark Covington Whose Sense of Humor will keep you laughing long after you read the book..
Happy Touring
For the next Stop on the tour
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Unexpected praise from my editor

Gloria Burland’s first book, A Passionate Pursuit, impressed readers and fans alike with its lovely prose and unforgettable characters. Her second Regency romance, A Widow’s Gamble, will be released by Aurora Regency on Halloween of this year! You can find Gloria’s books at the Aurora Regency website, and be sure you check out her personal website at www.gloriaburland.com

Gloria’s hawk-eyed editor

 
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A Right Royal Connection

Well! Who’d have thought it! When Lady Diana Spencer married Prince Charles it was like a dream come true for her step-grandmother, Barbara Cartland, doyenne of the Historical romance genre (HOW many did she write?) She must have thought all her birthdays had come at once. And now we have another Royal connection, this time it’s Jane Austen and the lovely Catherine, Duchess of Cornwall no less! What? No! Really? Yep, it’s true and who would have guessed such a thing. Not I, that’s for sure. But as a writer of romantic fiction I danced around my kitchen, whooping with glee (as Mrs Middleton probably did many months ago. But that’s another story …) And how marvellous it is, this truly delicious morsel, which has been handed to us, by Ancestry.com. They, in case you haven’t yet heard, have done some digging and revealed that the newest member of the royal family, Catherine Middleton, the Duchess of Cambridge, and the legendary author, Jane Austen, are related. Well I never! And their common ancestor? That would be a certain Henry Percy, who was the 2nd Earl of Northumberland in the first half of the 15th century. Percy is Kate’s 16th great-grandfather and Austen’s 10th great-grandfather, making them 11th cousins, six times removed.

This set me thinking. Perhaps I too could lay claim to kinship with an illustrious literary personage from yesteryear? To my certain knowledge my great – great grandmother was in service at the then, very grand, Ashton Court, nr Bristol. Could she have had a romp in the hay with a guest at the house? After all, it’s well documented that Charles Dickens was a regular visitor to Bristol. Mmm … Maybe not.

But how about my paternal great-great grandma? A tough cookie that one. She set forth across the Atlantic to America: hitched a ride in a covered wagon and rode the Oregon Trail in search of something better than she’d left behind. Sadly there’s no record of weather worn Granny Alice catching the eye of a passing wordsmith. No luck there then.

But, let me tell you, I DO have a connection, albeit tenuous (through marriage) to the English-American novelist, Christopher Isherwood – though in the world of Historical romantic fiction this is hardly enough to cut the mustard. So now I’m off to do a spot of digging – with the help of Ancestry.com – and who knows what I’ll find? Shelley? Byron? Did they ever visit Bristol I wonder …?

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The Role of the Editor

The role of the editor.

The question I ask you is this, what exactly is the role of the editor? A rhetorical question, perhaps, for surely the answer is clear?
‘I know, I know,’ I hear you reply. ‘An editor’s role is to spot mistakes and edit.’
Correct, and in a perfect writing world, this is what they would do, poring over your manuscript, examining each word, combing the archives, a.k.a, Google, to verify facts in their quest to make your manuscript just as perfect as it could possibly be – a manuscript which will stand the scrutiny of the most nit-picking of readers and emerge as a shining example of all that is good in writing.
If only this were so. Like most writers I read an enormous number of books, mostly fiction and in diverse genres, and, because my editor has the eyes of a hawk and questions everything she feels is not ‘quite right,’ I now read a novel with an editor’s eyes, and how dispiriting I find it. For instance, in recent months I have read the first in a series for which a VERY well known author was paid £18 million pounds (yes, that’s right, eighteen million!) In the first of the series he places the village of Chew Magna, in Gloucestershire, whereas I, and every other west country reader knows that Chew Magna is slap bang in the north of Somerset. Another well-known writer of Regency romances had her heroine gazing down to the river from her drawing room window in Richmond Terrace, Bristol. Oh dear! Richmond Terrace is at least a mile from the river with a whole load of Georgian houses between, so there is absolutely no way the river could be seen. Do I sound pedantic? Well, there is more. A few years ago and having just returned from a trip to Egypt, I read a Dominick Dunn novel in which he talks about the pyramids at Luxor. Excuse me? As I walked through the Valley of the Kings, marvelled at the temples of Luxor and Karnak, sat beside the lake and gazed across the Nile to the mountains and desert beyond, not one pyramid did I see. There are no pyramids at Luxor. So I wrote to Mr Dunn acquainting him of the fact. Needless to say I received no reply – and in case you are wondering, this was years before his death. Most recently I’ve read, a novel by a wonderful author who writes so descriptively that you feel she has examined every word before committing it to paper, I love her work, except in her most recent tome she mentions Perry Como’s And I love you so being a favourite in 1947. Actually he recorded it in 1973 and it was a hit in 1974.
I know, I do sound nit-picking and most readers would not have noticed any of the mistakes I mention, but I did. They leapt from the page and slapped me.
So where were the editors of these books? Where was the editor of the £18 million pound author? We owe it to ourselves, and our readers to get every detail absolutely right.
I thank the gods for my hawk-eyed editor.

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Jane Austen – Fashion icon?

Miss Jane Austen – fashion icon?

We writers of Regency novels are conscious of how important it is to get every detail and the minutia of daily life correct. I know when writing A Passionate Pursuit I perused many costume books to guide me. I wanted to be absolutely sure that all my ladies were dressed just as they should be (it’s a pity that some Hollywood film makers are not so exacting!). It was during my research I discovered what to me was a surprising and exciting revelation: Had Jane Austen lived today she would without a doubt be a fashion slave; a Prada handbag girl, fashion editor of a glossy magazine. For what our Jane didn’t know about the latest fashion definitely wasn’t worth knowing. So who better to guide us in our writing than someone who was without a doubt a sure authority on what the Regency miss, or mister would be wearing. But where did she gain her knowledge? Although news of fashion and style was being spread by the publication of newspapers, periodicals and fashion plates from the end of the eighteenth century, most women still depended on hearing news about clothes from the written or verbal descriptions of friends and relatives visiting or living in London, the large provincial towns, or fashionable resorts such as Bath or Clifton in Bristol. And this is where Jane Austen was such an invaluable source. It’s through Jane’s letters we learn about her knowledge and interest in fashion and in her writing she shared this knowledge and interest with the reader – In Pride and Prejudice the first part of Mrs Gardiner’s business on her arrival to stay with the Bennets ‘was to distribute her presents and describe the newest fashions’ and when Jane Bennet returns from a visit with friends she has the same task: her mother ‘Mrs Bennet was doubly engaged, on one hand collecting an account of the present fashion from Jane, who sat someway below her, and on the other, retailing them all to the younger Miss Lucases’. Jane herself frequently exchanged news about the fashions with her sister, especially when visiting London or Bath. She wrote to a friend from London in September 1848: ‘I am amused by the present style of female dress; Bonnets upon the full stretch are quite entertaining. It seems to me to be a more marked change than one has seen lately.’ In the last years of the 1790’s a particular fashion for trimming hats with flowers and fruit became widespread and Jane Austen finds herself involved, while staying in Bath, in shopping around for those decorations, though she describes the fashion with some irony. In June 1799 she told Cassandra: ‘Flowers are very much worn, and fruit are even more the thing. – a plum or greengage will cost three shillings – cherry or grapes five shilling a pound I believe. But this is at some of the dearest shops. My aunt has told me of a very cheap shop near Walcott Church to which I shall go in quest of something for you.’ In her next letter she says, ‘I cannot decide about the fruit. Besides, I cannot help thinking it’s more natural to have flowers growing out of the head than fruit.’
On close examination it is soon apparent that Jane has at some time had something to say about every piece of apparel worn by women (and men too). Through her we can learn that the spencer was a short jacket, cut like the bodice, usually with long sleeves and a high neck. In June 1808 Jane Austen was to write that ‘my kerseymere spencer is quite the comfort of our evening walks.’ Spencers could be made of silk as well as woollen cloth. Then there was the pelisse, an over-garment or coat, cut on the same lines as the dress, usually with long sleeves and fastened at the front. It was an important garment at this time and often mentioned in Jane Austen’s novels and letters, it is interesting to see how she uses it as a simile in Persuasion. Captain Wentworth is describing his ship, which was an old one before he came to command it: I knew pretty well what she was, before that day,’ he said, ‘ I had no more discoveries to make, than you would have as to the fashion and strength of any old pelisse, which you would have seen lent about amongst half your acquaintances, ever since you could remember, and which at last, on some wet day, is let to yourself.’ In Mansfield Park when Fanny Price visited Portsmouth she was not considered knowing by the young ladies therefore ‘she neither played on the pianoforte nor wore a fine pelisse.
During the eighteenth and early nineteenth century women’s gowns should be either open or closed at the front. The gown was usually worn over a petticoat (that is an underskirt) and in the 1790’s might even have been worn with a closed robe. Jane Austen’s references to petticoats concern underskirts (or underdresses) as main garments, rather than articles of underclothing. In Pride and Prejudice when Elizabeth Bennet walked three miles to visit her sister her appearance was criticised by her friends. ‘I hope you saw her petticoat, six inches deep in mud, I am absolutely certain, and the gown which had been let down to hide it, not doing it’s office.’ In December 1798 Jane mentions turning one of her old gowns into a petticoat.
Concern about sleeves appears in both her letters and novels. Although long sleeves were worn during the day, it was usual in the evening to wear short sleeves with a low-cut neckline. By 1814 long sleeves were beginning to be worn in the evening and Jane Austen seems to have been determined to wear them herself (she was now in her late thirties, and only three years before her death, not in the best of health) ‘I shall wear my gauze today’ she wrote in late March1814, ‘long sleeves and all; I shall see how they succeed, but as yet I have no reason to suppose long sleeves are allowable. She goes on to say, ‘ Mrs Tilson has long sleeves too, and she assured me that long sleeves are worn in the evening by many. I was glad to hear this.’ Mrs Bennet in Pride and Prejudice was evidently concerned with the same subject when her sister visited her from London she confided, ‘ I am very glad to hear what you tell us, of long sleeves.’
Several of Jane’s letters refer to the making a gowns with trains. Evening gowns were usually cut with a fullness at the back to form a small train and we can imagine in The Watsons (a novel that was not finished), how ‘Mrs Edwards’ satin gown swept along the clean floor of the ballroom.’ In Northanger Abbey Isabella Thorpe and Catherine Morland ‘pinned up each others trains for the dance.’
The loose, simpler style of women’s dress during the latter years of the eighteenth century brought with them brought more lightly boned stays or corsets and they began to shrink in size and as the bodice of the dress got shortened. By the beginning of the nineteenth century the ‘Grecian’ figure had become fashionable so that clothes were styled to reveal the natural, and well-rounded contours of the female figure. In September 1813 Jane Austen noted: ‘I learned from Mrs Tucker’s young lady, to my high amusement, that the stays are not now made to force the bosom up at all; that was a very unbecoming, unnatural fashion. I’m very to hear that they are not so much off the shoulder as they were.’ (Stays were worn with shoulder straps at this date). As a fashion garment they were an important item for any woman to buy and the following month she writes that her nieces went in to Canterbury to try on new stays. The new short-waisted style of women’s dresses, so deceptively simple in appearance, could, in fact, be very restricting and the tight constraint around the ribcage extremely uncomfortable.
Jane Austen seems to have a weakness for stockings and she told Cassandra that she preferred to have only two pairs of a fine quality to three of an inferior sort. The best were made of silk; in April 1811 she bought three pairs ‘for a little less than 2 shillings a pair,’ and in September her niece, Fanny, was ‘very much pleased with the stockings she bought of Remington silk at 12 shillings and cotton at 4 shillings and 3 pence – She thinks them a great bargain but I have not seen them yet.’ Apart from silk and cotton, stockings could also be made of wool but the worsted ones she mentions buying were given away to people in need and were doubtless warm and practical rather than elegant. Garters were worn around the knee to hold the stockings up. Jane Fairfax in Emma knitted a pair for her grandmother.

Footwear: shoes of the plain slipper type were worn indoors and for the evening. Jane Austen mentions them of a number of different colours: blue, green, pink, white and black. These colored shoes were not necessarily be made of leather; fabrics such as silk and satin were also used. Shoes were either bought at a shoemaker ready-made or made to measure. In Mansfield Park Mary Crawford told Fanny Price that her friend ‘will be at me for ever about your eyes and your teeth, and how you do your hair, and who makes your shoes.’
Half boots were fashionable for walking or riding. In Emma Emma Woodhouse tries tactfully to fall behind her two companions when out walking by fiddling with the lacing of her half-boots.
Reading Jane’s letters has given me a greater understanding of what she was really like, and these letters have been an invaluable source of information to me. However, it seems that there was one garment was deemed to be unmentionable by Jane – that oh so intimate garment; the knicker, or panty as it’s known. It was Catherine de Medici who introduced women to wearing this garment (called the calecon), and for very practical reasons – horse riding, thus avoiding any embarrassment if the wind blew raising their skirts. Oh My!!

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All Grist for the Literary Mill, I guess.

The questioning continued until almost five o’clock when a phone rang. The girl answered, wrote something down and handed a piece of paper to the interrogator. He read it then handed it to the interpreter who in turn read it then turned to me. ‘It’s all right,’ he said.
‘What’s all right?’ I asked.
‘While we have been talking someone took it the note to Bank of France in Niort. They said it was slightly damaged but perfectly legal. The police are very embarrassed. They wish to apologise.’
‘I have no problem with them. They are country policemen. How could they recognise counterfeit currency?’ Relief made me magnanimous. ‘But I do have a problem with the supermarket. Such a large concern should have the machine technology to recognise and differentiate between a damaged and a counterfeit note. If I were in my own country I would write a very strong letter of complaint to their head office.’
‘You should do that anyway, because what they did to you was very wrong,’ he replied. We shook hands. They gave me the 100euro note, and that was that. Except I did write to the supermarket, but there was no hamper of goodies as recompense, or even an apology. In fact, they never replied to my letter. I can only hope my trolley of food languished, forgotten until the frozen stuff thawed all over their floor.

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C’est authentique/C’est contrefaire? HELP!

‘My husband will be wondering where I am,’ I said at the police station, taking my mobile from my bag (at least I still had my bag). Clive said he would come to the station straight away, and that I need not worry. ‘What a laugh,’ was his parting shot. Yeah. What a laugh. Two policemen at the desk spoke rapidly to each other; casting looks in my direction and nodding sagely. I concentrated on what they were saying, wishing I could understand more. A book was produced showing pictures of currency. ‘C’est authentique cent euro,’ they pointed at a page, and then held up my note. ‘C’est contrefaire.’ Well, I understood that all right. Counterfeit. They thought I was an international counterfeiter. It was probably the most exciting thing that had happened to them in years, and they were jolly well going to make the most of it. What a scoop! What a load of bull…! Eventually an interpreter arrived and I was taken into a small room, along with the interpreter, the interrogating policeman and a girl taking notes. Where did I get the euro note? What was the name of the person who gave it to me? Where did he live in England? Did I know that the note was not good when I tried to spend it? (Duh! What sort of ridiculous question was that?) I began to laugh at the absurdity of it all. ‘This is not a joke,’ said the interpreter. ‘This is a very serious matter.’ Crikey! The penny (cent) began to drop. I could well end up in clink. Visions of sharing a cell with Charles Manson’s former squeeze came readily to mind.

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Franglais. Tch, she muttered.

I CONTINUE  WITH YESTERDAYS CHAT  – As I found to my peril when, only last week I discovered the dangers that lurk in that hitherto innocent pastime of supermarket shopping. Listen to what I say and be warned. If you don’t know the cut of your euros you may well get arrested when doing the weekly shop. I say this by way of an amuse-bouche, a scene setter.   We have a gite, which we let to British holidaymakers in the summer. The procedure is simple. They pay by cheque when they book: normally about 3 months before their intended stay. But if it’s a late booking payment is made in cash on arrival, which is why last week I was able to present a 100euro note in the supermarket. The till assistant took the money, examined it, passed it through a machine, and declared it to be ‘faux.’

‘What do you mean, it’s faux?’ I said.

‘C’est faux,’ she repeated, as if just by saying so I would believe her. Plainly, I wanted to argue with this, but as I drew breath to speak, I realized how futile it would be, ‘Je suis confusais,’ would not cut the Dijon, somehow. ‘Let me have it back then and I will pay by card,’ I said. But that wasn’t an option. With a shrug she summoned her supervisor. The supervisor arrived. I smiled, saying ‘Pardon, Is there a problem? I…’ she ignored me and looking at the note declared, ‘Ne pas authentique.’ I stared at her.

‘Don’t you speak French?’ Her lips were thinning with each syllable. Things were not looking good. The pas authentique had sounded ominous, and any hopes of a bit of entente cordial were fading faster than last months hair colour. I trotted out a vaguely remembered phrase from Michel Thomass disc one, while she gave me a look one normally reserves for dog deposits on the sole of ones shoe. ‘Anglais. Franglais. Tch,’ she muttered, and quick as neuvepence she summoned the store’s security guards, who straightaway summoned the police, and, to strains of Susan Boyle’s, I had a dream (music to shop by), I was bundled into a police car, leaving behind a trolley load, which included stuff for the freezer.

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A writer’s Life in France

How many of us have fantasised about owning a property in France? The notion of lazing in glorious sunshine beside a pool sipping a chilled glass of the local vin de pays appeals to anyone with a sense of the good life, and compared to life in Britain’s polluted, frantic-paced cities and towns, the romantic image of rural France has seldom held more appeal. But before you pack the kids, pets and worldly goods into the 4×4 and head for the nearest Channel port, a word of warning. The Poitou Charante is choc a-block with intrepid, naive English people going slowly broke. These days ex-pat no longer sit on sun-lit terraces smugly expounding the joys of life in France. The pound has dipped and with it something akin to panic has set in. But don’t be too discouraged. Certainly the dream of living the French idyll has soured for some but there are still many good things about living in rural France, and I must stress the rural bit because, unlike Paris in recent years, the Poitou-Charante has not become more dirty, down-at-heel, nor it’s people more excruciatingly rude. Compared to Britain the weather is better, the wine is cheap, the roads have surfaces like computer screens and are free of traffic, and a visit to the supermarket is still light years away from any Tesco store on a Saturday afternoon. Here supermarket aisles are wide and the girls on the tills make eye contact, smiling as they say bonjour. You hand over your plastic card to pay, say merci boucoup, they say bon journee, and off you go. No conversation is required. Which is just as well as it’s such an impossible language with everything having a sex. Tables. Cars. Trees. Soap. And even when we try, they pretend they don’t understand us.
So why learn French? Because by failing to do so is to court disaster.

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