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Chatting to Joanna Bourne


What inspired you to create your enthralling Spymaster series?

I wanted to write about people who do something interesting and useful. I wanted folks living in exciting times. And I particularly wanted folks doing a job where they’d be faced with ethical choices. Spies in the French Revolution and Napoleonic France gave me this opportunity.


Have any of the relationships between your heroes and heroines in the series surprised you, or have you always known who’s meant to be together?

I have absolutely always known at the beginning of a book – and maybe some books ahead – who the male and female leads are. Couldn’t go into the story without that basic knowledge. It shapes everything.


Have you always wanted to be a writer? What do you love most about your job?

Yep. Always wanted to tell stories. It’s a blast. What I like about the day-to-day work of writing more than anything else – well, two things. It lets me use all my imagination and all the word-spinning ability I can scrape together. And I get to do it in comfortable clothes.


Do you have the most fun creating your heroes or your heroines?

I think on the whole I enjoy the heroes more. Maybe I feel freer creating them. I identify with the heroines so much that I can’t give them really unattractive traits. My heroes can have interesting faults. Fun, writing about faults.


Do you have a favourite hero or heroine from your books or by any other author?

Right now I’m reading Dorothy Dunnett’s Game of Kings. I’m rather fond of Francis Crawford of Lymond.  Oh my. Yes.


Who are the authors you read for pleasure?

Grace Burrowes, Loretta Chase, Mary Jo Putney, Anne Gracie,  Jo Beverley, Deanna Raybourn, Kristin Callihan, Susanna Kearsley, J. D. Robb, Patricia Rice, Nita Abrams, C. S. Harris who writes Sebastian St. Cyr, Jennie Crusie, Susan Elizabeth Phillips, Diana Gabaldon… I could go on and on.


If you could take only three essentials with you to a desert island what would they be?

I find myself wanting to say ‘Chocolate, prime rib, and good wine.’ Then I was going to come up with three practical ones instead. I worked on that for a while but could build up no enthusiasm at all, so I decided to go with the first three.


Who would be on your dream dinner party guest list, dead or alive?

I want Oscar Wilde on my left and Dorothy Parker on my right. Across from me, Lord Byron and Jim Henson. That’s about the right number, I think. I’d just sit there listening to them be clever and stay quiet myself.


What are your guilty pleasures?

I’m working on new and guilty pleasures at the moment since I am not so well supplied with them. I expect to come up with an interesting list for the New Year. You know how most folks promise to give up their guilty pleasures? I’m promising to try some new ones.


Can you give us a hint of what we have to look forward to next from you?

I’m working on another Historical Romance set in the same fictional world. This will be Severine’s story. She’s the sister of Justine, the heroine of The Black Hawk. I’m headed back to Paris for this one.


Look out for the third and fourth novels in the Spymaster series, MY LORD AND SPYMASTER and THE BLACK HAWK, out on 8th January 2015!