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Tuesday, June 8, 2010

Tuesday Spotlight: Jennifer Mueller

History Lessons

Ayda Rogers can't believe her luck she's been invited to a Scottish castle for the summer to research her Doctoral thesis. When she gets there she finds with 800 years of history to contend with, the past is always present. Steamy tales of previous castle owners meld within the modern story as she learns all she needs for her paper. And sometimes its not the past but the present which makes you change your whole way of thinking, especially when it comes in the form of the future Duke named Hunter.

History Lessons isn't the story of one woman; it's the story of the castle Am Binnean, sitting on an island in the North Sea. Despite its sleepy appearance in the modern day there are more than enough stories to keep Ayda's research from being anything but boring especially with the cooks over the centuries embellishing them. From 1328 to WW2 everyone has a story to tell. Its the stories they can't tell her though that catch her imagination the most, and Hunter just keeps flirting.

Distractions are everywhere. These two books started out as me wanting to write a WW2 spy story and Once Upon a Spy was the result. Jokingly it's in the book as a romance that the descendants have to endure tours coming to town to see the sights in it. Another was originally supposed to be part of a trio of stories by different authors that never came to be, but they are all private family stories. Since then other ideas came to mind, after writing a regency and having all that research in my head, another Duke in the castle just had to have his story told.

They were just little things that filled in between other projects and then Ayda came knocking on the door and it all fell together. Some had been published separately, but only Ayda gathering them together truly told the whole story and brought some new mysteries to light. Art that no one knows where it came from, ghosts haunting the halls, vague lines in books all have a bearing in her thesis besides it keeps her from having to think too hard on the fact Hunter is the biggest distraction of all.

As a Peace Corps volunteer in Kenya a few years back I traveled quite a bit and now I just wish I was. A lot of the places I've written about I've been to, a lot of them I haven't. Rafting on the Nile in Uganda, living in a Montana ghost town, Puerto Rican beaches, African safaris, Mayan ruins, European youth hostels, the Black Hills of South Dakota all fill my scrapbooks. Now a daughter takes up most of those pages, but I still travel in my head every time I write.

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