AUSSIE MONTH with Beverley Eikli
Describe yourself in one word:
What is your background with regard to writing?
I was a journalist before I started writing romance seriously while working in the male-dominated safari and airborne survey industries. You could say I took my love of rogusih heroes and worthy heroines to new heights as I plotted my novels at 250ft above the French Guianese jungle or Greenland ice cap.
However, in contrast to the adventure and independence I’ve enjoyed, I write stories of women whose struggle for happiness and fulfilment during a time in history when they were completely dependent on their closest male relative often came at great cost. For example, Adelaide, the heroine of my latest novel THE MAID OF MILAN, is in a vulnerable position due to the moral strictures of her times. She’d sinned but she’d got away with it – at the cost of her happiness – but now each day is a struggle to ensure she’s not discovered.
Tell us about The Maid of Milan:
I enjoyed exploring the emotional nuances of both Adelaide, and her husband – my hero! – Tristan, in THE MAID OF MILAN. Adelaide has buried her passion and vibrancy beneath a mask of genteel passivity in order to conform to her worthy husband’s image of her. He’s been lied to by Adelaide’s mother in order to conceal Adelaide’s turbulent and scandalous past, but now that Adelaide is falling in love with the man she so reluctantly married three years before, she’s rattling the bars of the figurative prison her mother has constructed for her and confronting her addiction to laudanum which has provided the necessary dulling of her emotions since the disastrous end to her affair with the married poet she ran away with when she was a schoolgirl.
When Tristan persuades Adelaide to accompany him to London for his first speech in the House of Lords, Adelaide agrees, eager to prove herself a valuable political hostess and a far more mentally stable and responsive wife.
Their arrival in London coincides with that of Adelaide’s former lover, returned from abroad and an overnight celebrity due to his scandalous memoir, The Maid of Milan. Suddenly Adelaide must take drastic action to preserve her reputation and her happiness – and the twists and turns that follow are not what you’d expect.
What inspired this novel?
Redemption is my favourite theme. I love writing about flawed heroines who must battle not only their personal demons but find fulfilment and happiness in a judgemental world where they were allowed so little personal freedom.
What are you reading right now?
Yesterday I read Ian McEwan’s The Children Act in one sitting during our car journey from Sydney to Melbourne and today I’m halfway through Rachael Treasure’s Jillaroo. (Loving them both!) I read widely in very different genres.
Number one thing to do on your bucket list?
Rent a cottage in Scotland with my daughter – an aspiring writer – and just write, in between long walks. It was something my mother and I had always promised we’d do together before she died, but never did.
Best thing about being an Aussie?
Being able to enjoy our beautiful Clare Valley property, Wuthering Heights, which we built, and the local wine.
What you want readers to know about the romance genre?
That regardless of the historical times or the setting, you can throw yourself into the joys and hopes of the characters, and explore with them their struggles to resolve their own conflicts; for one can always learn from the way other people tackle problems, even fictional characters. And then when everything’s been satisfactorily sorted out, I can close the book, often wiping away the tears, and just savour that ‘aaaah’ moment.
What have you got in store for your readers in 2015?
Under my Beverley Oakley name I’ve just put up a pre-order for the sequel to my ARRA-nominated novella Rake’s Honour. This one is called ROGUE’S KISS and overnight it’s already had two pre-orders, so I’m delighted about that. Then, for my publisher Totally Bound, I’ve got 3 books coming out in my Salon of Sin Series.
Under my Beverley Eikli name, I’ve got a ‘Dangerous Liaisons-esque’ Georgian romance with a sting in the tail that I’m waiting to hear back on from a new publisher. I’m also polishing up a romantic suspense which is set in 1960s Lesotho, the African mountain kingdom where I spent my early years in the in the lead-up to Independence. My story features a bush pilot (I married one I met in Botswana) and the theme is illegal diamond buying and medicine murder, which my dad regularly investigated and prosecuted during our time there.
What were your big achievements of 2014?
It was a fun and fabulous year, despite only having two releases – The Maid of Milan, and also (under my Beverley Oakley name) Dangerous Gentlemen with Ellora’s Cave. I also really enjoyed the wine and cheese book launches I organised at Paramoor Winery in the Macedon Ranges, and in South Australia, with lovely fellow authors Alison Brideson and Elizabeth Rolls.
The Maid of Milan
After three years of marriage, Adelaide has fallen in love with the handsome, honourable husband who nurtured her through her darkest hours.
Now Adelaide’s former lover, the passionate poet from whose arms she was torn by her family during their illicit liaison in Milan four years previously has returned, a celebrity due to the success of his sensational ‘tell-all’ memoir, The Maid of Milan.
High society is as desperate to uncover the identity of his mystery ‘muse’ as Adelaide is to protect her newfound love and her husband’s political career.