by Mary Jo
Anyone who has been reading historical romance for a while will surely recognize the name of Laura Kinsale, one of the most innovative and influential writers in the genre.
Laura’s sweeping plots, dark, complex heroes, and marvelously rich and supple prose made the release of a new Kinsale An Event to readers of historicals. She was also one of the first genre romance writers to make the New York Times list.
These days, Laura prefers to write at her own pace, so Lessons in French is her first new book in several years. Definitely An Event. <G> Her new publisher is Sourcebooks, and they are happily reissuing a number of her backlist titles as well.
Lessons in French is written in Laura’s lighter “hedgehog humor” vein, because she isn’t known just for wonderful writing, but for the variety of animals that wander into her stories. The range of critters goes from the memorable hedgehog of Midsummer Moon to Napoleon the rockhopper penguin in Seize the Fire, with lots of stops in between..
Today. Laura Kinsale is going to write about Hubert, the mottled short horned bull that plays such a prominent part in Lessons in French.
Plus, Sourcebooks is providing five copies of the book to commenters on the blog, so feel free to chat away!
And now, meet Laura Kinsale and Hubert!
The Legend Speaks!
It was probably along about my third book that I realized that an animal played a significant role in each one. From that point on, I began deliberately to create a different animal character for each book. If you browse the book pages on my new website, you'll see that I have a "mascot" for every title. Some play a large role in the plot, some are more symbolic.
A Cattle Tale
I'll admit that I come by my acquaintance with cattle honestly. My mother's family has raised Herefords in Texas for over 150 years. Though I didn't live there, I used to spend every summer on the farm when I was a kid. Whenever I got the chance, I went to the Fort Worth Stock Show and Rodeo. (My grandmother attended every single year. For her 90th birthday, they spotlighted her while they sang the national anthem. We were so proud!)
I loved strolling through the stock barns, where there were hundreds of bulls and steers raised by 4-H members, lovingly brushed and polished and hair-sprayed from nose to pom-pom tail in readiness for their turn in the arena. Those kids love their animals, so it was easy for me to create a heroine in Callie with an equal passion for her prize bull.
The shampooed and pampered critters of the stock barns are usually quite well-behaved, but it never pays to forget how a large animal can cause destruction even if it doesn't mean to. And when one is frightened, or angry, they are truly dangerous. (Next time you fall in love with a cowboy hero--count his fingers.) Hubert may seem tame, but there's more to him than meets the eye...and there's a lot of him to meet the eye!
The white-faced cattle my family has always raised got their name from the English county of Hereford--the setting for Lessons in French. (In Texas, you say, "Her-ferd." In England, it's "Hair-eh-ferd.") As with many domestic animals, the official breeds of cattle we know today got their start in the agricultural societies of the early 19th century, when the gentry and the farmers--and even a few aristocrats--began systematic efforts to improve their livestock.
A Lady's Passion
This is the vocation that Callie, an earl's daughter, has inherited from her father. She's a lot more comfortable in muck boots than ball gowns. After being jilted three times, she finds her cattle far more appealing than gentlemen. That is, until her old flame, the elegant French aristocrat Trevelyan returns. He's not as big as Hubert, but he can cause just as much trouble.
Laura Kinsale links:
http://www.fwssr.com/?page_id=212 (stock show)
Laura will be away from her computer most of the day, but she’ll be back later to respond to comments. Remember, Sourcebooks will give five copies of Lessons in French will be given to lucky commenters!
Mary Jo, whose fictional animals tend to be more mundane, not to mention more feline. <G>