Hello, my friends. You all know I like fresh, new talent, and you also know I am a chatty, friendly kind of person. And friends like to ask questions, right? Well, that is exactly what I’m doing here. I have invited another unsuspecting victim for a virtual cuppa, a chat and a question.
Amy Croall, the lovely author of A Cure for the Condition, is my guest today.
You can find A Cure for the Condition in both paperback and Kindle format – the link is at the bottom of the post.
Ahh, but that’s not all. Amy has been busy writing sequels. The second in the series, A Cure for the Past, is due out in October, and the third is with an agent as we speak.
I asked Amy about her debut novel, and she told me a few interesting things. A Cure For The Condition is a historical romance, and the description is, to say the least, intriguing.
Catherine, the Queen of Cannary is forced to punish the man she loves, but then she develops a serious heart disease, the only cure for which is the truth.
Now, I don’t know about you, but I already want to read more, so I’ve asked Amy for an excerpt and she has graciously agreed to share it with us.
Here it is:
“The true man wants two things: danger and play. For that reason he wants woman, as the most dangerous plaything.”
A forlorn, soft piano melody enveloped her as the book lay at an awkward angle in her lap. As her eyes remained closed, absorbing the musician’s brilliant performance, she had no idea her step-brother was watching her.
“Ah, Princess Catherine—there you are!” he said, barging into the room as he had many times over the previous two years.
Princess Catherine inhaled before his gravelly voice could release her daydreams. Sitting straight on the stiff sofa in the parlor, she placed the book next to her.
“Yes, good afternoon, Malcolm,” she replied.
Malcolm supplied her with a half-smirk and proceeded to lean against the sofa on which she sat. Princess Catherine couldn’t help but experience an ever-so-slight tingle when she peered into his crystal-blue eyes.
Although her step-brother’s nose was somewhat too large, his lips thin, and his face angular, Malcolm had a strong jaw, well-groomed silver hair, and a smile that could draw women from countries away. At times, his boyish half-smirk made it difficult for Princess Catherine to recall he was seven years her senior.
“I heard about your meeting with the suitor this afternoon, and I must say I am intrigued,” he said.
Catherine donned an immediate scowl. “Malcolm, is this going to be another instance such as when you barged into this room as I was learning that piano and tell me I am causing a ruckus, or will it be reminiscent of when I returned home wearing rouge and you mocked me endlessly?” she demanded.
Malcolm feigned ignorance, putting a hand to his heart. “Why, dear step-sister, I am saddened by your accusations! I merely wished to extend my…condolences that the meeting did not go as hoped.” He suppressed a half-hearted chuckle.
“Of course,” Catherine replied, clearing her throat. “I’ll have you know our feelings were requited. I did not much care for the man.”
“Oh? That’s not what was told to me. I was told he stifled a laugh at first sight of you, and then appeared bored and lazy the remainder of his stay,” Malcolm said, pulling on a lock of Catherine’s brown hair.
She pulled away and supplied him with a sharp stare.
“My, my, you certainly are a harbinger of rejection, aren’t you? Inquiring minds are dying to know, Princess—what’s that like?” he asked.
“I suppose you should ask the multitude of women at your feet, Malcolm; perhaps they would be a more fitting choice. Tell me, how many with whom have you been?” she demanded, attempting to quell the sting of emotion forcing its way through her middle.
Malcolm stopped for a moment and furrowed his brow. “I don’t know; I don’t count,” he replied smugly, turning his attention back to her.
“Of course not.”
“Oh, poor Catherine,” he continued. “No man will ever desire to be the Prince of a woman as plain as you. Why, your ridiculous freckles and mousy brown hair will never draw in a man of merit.”
Catherine inhaled a sharp breath and straightened her back. “How dare you! I am an educated woman, I speak three languages fluently, and I am heir to the Cannary throne!”
“Oh come now, you’re seventeen and still have yet to find a husband. How many suitors does that man make, anyway?”
At his words, Catherine stood and clenched her fists at her sides. “I will not stoop to your level of…affectionate teasing, Malcolm!”
For a moment, her step-brother said nothing, seeming to be surprised by her sudden outburst. However, after regaining his composure, he was hit with a fit of laughter so powerful he was forced to double over and clutch his belly.
“Affectionate! Oh, you are much too entertaining!” he said between chuckles.
Wanting no more of his belligerent behavior, Catherine stormed from the parlor and down the hall to the Queen’s study, the familiar twinge of despondency trying to force tears from the well behind her eyes.
“Princesses do not cry!” she told herself before knocking on her mother’s door.
Once she heard the unmistakable soft voice of her mother granting her entrance, she pushed the door open and barged into the room.
“Oh, Catherine, dear!” her mother said, a warm smile on her face. She pushed aside a pile of papers and supplied her daughter with her full attention. “I apologize about that abysmal meeting between you and Mr. Elgar this afternoon.”
“It is fine, Mother,” Catherine replied, seating herself in a plush chair across from the large maple desk at which the Queen worked. She straightened her back and folded her hands in her lap.
“You must understand that I feel you are at an age where you must find a husband.” The Queen smiled again, gentle wrinkles creasing into the skin around her eyes and mouth.
“It is no bother, Mother. However…”
Queen Victoria leaned forward, awaiting her daughter’s next words. “What is it, dear?”
“Well…there is this…man…” she stumbled with unease.
“Ah ha!” her mother cried, standing from her desk. “I knew it! I would recognize that look anywhere!”
“Nonsense! Why did you not tell me of this man sooner?” Queen Victoria demanded, rounding the corner and embracing her daughter.
“He does not share my feelings,” Catherine replied with a sigh. With purpose, she omitted the fact that this man was also her step-brother.
Her mother pulled away and looked deep into her daughter’s emerald eyes. “Any man who does not find you perfect is utterly mad,” she said with a smile.
Catherine returned her mother’s gesture with a strained smile of her own. “But, I am convinced he is the only man I desire, Mother.”
The Queen took a seat in the other plush chair adjacent to her large desk and sighed.
“Catherine, I’d like to tell you a story,” she began.
The Princess nodded and allowed her mother to continue.
“When I was not much younger than you, I married your father. I believed he was the handsomest man in the world. I doubted I would ever find another love such as he gave me. But…” she paused, a frown creasing into her long face, “when he died…well…I was torn, you know this.”
“Yes, but I would rather not speak of Father,” Catherine replied, her voice tight with decade-old anger.
“Of course, I understand. At any rate, when I met Malcolm’s father two years ago, my belief in love was renewed; Callum is a wonderful man. Catherine, I am sure one day you will find a man who will return all the affection and love you hold in your heart.”
* * * *
After a late supper that night, Catherine was studying her books in a small den across from the castle’s dungeon. Many of the words and phrases in the books were familiar to the Princess, and she found herself submitting to a brief chuckle at the Cannary License Act of 1872, which prohibited civilians to operate bovine while intoxicated.
Soon, as often happened on late nights when studying, she found herself intimidated by a particular clause in one of Cannary’s oldest policies. Placing a piece of parchment between the pages to mark her place, she stood from the plush sofa and made her way down the hall toward the bedroom of the Queen and Prince.
“Mother?” she called, knocking on the door.
Silence followed, so the Princess rapped again.
“Mother?” she said with more force.
When no one answered, she turned the brass door handle and peeked into the room. What she saw was unimaginable.
Blood was spattered on the painting of her great grandfather and the pink striped wall above the four-poster bed. The sheets were soaked with the sticky red substance as it dripped off of the bed skirt into a puddle on the floor. The Queen and Prince of Cannary lay motionless, bathed in the crimson fluid. Catherine stared unmoving at the scene before her in utter terror.
Her lungs froze as she tried to call for help. All her prior schooling and instincts left her as she stared at her mother and step-father’s lifeless bodies before her. She was unable to remember whom she was to call in a situation such as this. At last, when her head began to swim, she pulled in a labored breath and opened her mouth.
Her step-brother was the first person who had come to mind, and she shouted his name with all the strength left in her body.
By chance, his room was just across the hall and he emerged a moment later, raking a hand through his tousled silver hair.
“For what reason are you shouting, Catherine?” he demanded, yawning wide.
“Moth…mother…” she stuttered.
Malcolm let out a sigh and trudged across the hallway to Catherine’s side. She was vaguely aware of his presence, but couldn’t tear her gaze away from her poor mother.
After what seemed like an eternity of silence, Malcolm pushed Catherine away and pointed down the hallway.
“Go, Catherine! Go to your room! Whoever’s done this may still be here!” he shouted at her.
Startled by the force of his voice, Catherine’s composure returned, and she scampered toward the end of the long hall, followed by her step-brother’s shouts for the guards.
And now, the interview. Amy Croall in 10 questions
1. What is your writing style? Do you write daily, following a strict routine, or when the muse calls?
It’s a little of both. I try to write every day, but sometimes I can’t find the focus and my descriptions become muddy. I find that if I don’t step away, I overthink things. But at the same time, if I do step away, it’s all I think about!
2. How did you start A Cure for the Condition – did you have a scenario in mind, or were there some characters that you needed to bring to life?
The idea for A Cure for the Condition came to me in a dream. I dreamt of a gallant party with a poor Princess whose mother had been murdered. When I felt her emotions in the dream, I knew I wanted to write it down. So, I did. Catherine is very dear to me and she has taken on a life of her own. I don’t know what I’d do without her.
3. Are there any authors that have particularly influenced your writing style or genre?
Many authors have influenced me. On the back of my book cover, I have a quote by Leigh Bridger. Her novel, Soul Catcher, was a great source of interest. But I also was reading Dianna Wynne Jones (Howl’s Moving Castle) as well. Ultimately, it’s a hodgepodge of authors that truly strike me. Currently, Rachel Vincent’s Soul Screamers are helping me along on my Young Adult path.
4. Any childhood memory, thought or lasting relationship that you can turn to when you need that extra bit of motivation?
Absolutely. My father is the reason I became a writer because he has so many stories to tell. He has a degree in history, so any time I need advice on what goes into a historical fiction novel, I ask him.
5. In your ideal world, how do you see yourself? A queen? A servant? An angel? A fly on the wall?
I know it’s strange, but I’d love to see myself as a Siren. I have a passion for singing, but it’s not as big as my passion for writing. I often wonder what would happen if people could hear what I sing in the car!
6. What do you like doing in your spare time?
My spare time is usually taken up by writing as I have an 8 to 5 day job. However, in those rare husband-wife moments I do get, I enjoy watching films and reading.
7. Do you prefer to be alone, or would you rather surround yourself with people? Is there a reason for the way you feel?
I don’t like crowds of people. I despise traffic, but I adore peace and quiet. I prefer to be alone, but everyone needs people around them. I suppose I’ve always been that way.
8. Are there any less-known, new authors that have impressed you lately and why?
I’m not sure if Rachel Vincent counts as less-known, but I would have to say that she is a brilliant novelist.
9. If you were to be stranded on a deserted island with one person that you don’t already have in your life, who would it be and why?
Malcolm McDowell (Oh, my God, I hope he doesn’t see this!). I absolutely adore him and hope to one day meet him face to face. He is also a great source of my inspiration.
10. Could you tell us about your future projects, and also where could your readers buy your books and follow you?
A Cure for the Past (a direct sequel) is releasing in October 2012 under Whiskey Creek Press. The third in the series, A Cure for the Family, is in “waiting game limbo” right now, however.
I’m also currently working with an editor on a Young Adult series I started about a young girl who dies before she finishes high school. She struggles with how to live her life in the short time she has left. I’m hoping to start submitting The Death of Me to agents soon.
Some links to my pages are: