Book One of The White Sails Series
As the first full-length novel in The White Sails Series, DISCERNING GRACE captures the spirit of an independent woman whose feminine lens blows the ordered patriarchal decks of a 19th century tall ship to smithereens.
Wilful Grace Baxter, will not marry old Lord Silverton with his salivary incontinence and dead-mouse stink. Discovering she is a pawn in an arrangement between slobbery Silverton and her calculating father, Grace is devastated when Silverton reveals his true callous nature.
Refusing this fate, Grace resolves to stow away. Heading to the docks, disguised as a lad to ease her escape, she encounters smooth-talking naval recruiter, Gilly, who lures her aboard HMS Discerning with promises of freedom and exploration in South America.
When Grace’s big mouth lands her bare-bottomed over a cannon for insubordination, her identity is exposed. The captain wants her back in London but his orders, to chart the icy archipelago of Tierra del Fuego, forbid it. Lieutenant Seamus Fitzwilliam gallantly offers to take Grace off the fretting captain’s hands by placing her under his protection.
Grace must now win over the crew she betrayed with her secret, while managing her feelings towards her taciturn protector, whose obstinate chivalry stifles her new-found independence. But when Grace disregards Lieutenant Fitzwilliam’s warnings about the dangers of the unexplored archipelago, it costs a friend his life and she realises she is not as free as she believes.
When and where do you prefer to write?
I try to write a bit every week day, but best of all is when the mood strikes! Then I can end up so immersed in my character’s lives and not even realise I’m still sitting in the dark because it’s night outside. Those are the best kind of writing days!
After having my home office commandeered by a teenager as a bedroom, I have been making do with writing at my dining room table. But with my lads growing up and moving out of home soon, I’m about to get my office back. As an indulgent treat to myself, I’m redecorating it. I’ve bought an antique captain’s desk (how could I not buy it with a name like that!?!) It will have all the trimmings too, like oil lamps that are actually electric and have flickering ‘flame’ light bulbs; a working, wind-up antique clock; a custom-made tissue box that looks like a pile of old books; a desk-planner printed with an old-world chart of the Discerning’s journey; and the piece-de-resistance: a real ink and quill set beside my leather-bound journal. I’m not sure how successful my inking calligraphy skills will be, but I sure am going to have fun playing around with it.
Here’s a photo of the desk just before the restorers collected it and took it to their workshop.
Do you need peace and quiet when you are writing?
Absolute peace and quiet. Silence is golden. I can work with a bit of activity and white noise around me, but it takes much more concentration. Which is why I prefer my solitude—just my characters and I inside my head, playing on the pages of my manuscript.
If you had the chance to co-write a book. Whom would it be with?
Ooo, this is the first time I’ve been asked this question, but I’ve already given it some thought. Without hesitation, it would have to be Wilbur Smith—adventure author extraordinaire. He is my inspiration for writing my romantic historical adventure series. In recent years, Mr Smith has actually collaborated and co-written books with other authors. I think I would faint with happiness if that opportunity arose.
Say someone asks if they can use your name in a book. Would you rather be the ‘good one’ or the ‘bad one’?
Either. I know what a slog it can be to come up with names for characters, so if using my name helps another author have one less thing to worry about, then so be it. My friends and family have all learned that me using their names in my books is not necessarily a good thing because I seem to have ended up killing them all off. Lol!
My youngest teen was not too happy about this, so he asked if I could write him in as a dog.
When I asked, “Why a dog?”
He replied, “Because you can’t be that heartless that you’d kill the dog!”
Who would you like/have liked to interview?
If I was guaranteed that I wouldn’t become all tongue-tied and fall over my own words, then I’d love to have a chat with either Wilbur Smith or the late Bryce Courtenay—both master storytellers. Bryce Courtenay’s, The Power of One, was the first book that made me sob my heart out as a young teenager. I didn’t even realise that books had this power up until then. And Wilbur Smith’s Courtney Series sustained me through my teens. I spent more time in his historic worlds, trekking across desserts or flying across France in a bi-plane in WWI, than I did in the real world. Bliss for this little word-nerd!
Where can I find you when you are reading?
The good ol’ couch. These days my old bones can’t handle sprawling on the floor, or reclining on sun lounges. I need the padding and support of my trusty settee to sustain any lengthy time of reading. I used to love reading in bed when I was younger, but these days it’s just too easy to fall asleep.
Where can I find you when you are not writing/reading?
Playing Mum’s Taxi. Though, as my four lads are growing up and gradually getting their licences, my responsibility in this department is diminishing. I also love combining a fabulous night out with friends over a delicious meal. Life’s too short not to enjoy good food. And if this can be shared with my soul sisters, then even better. We’re always that table having a riotous time in the corner (you know the one), and we’re nearly always the last table left after the staff have packed up around us. We can’t help it if there aren’t enough hours in an evening to say everything we have to say. J
What goes through your mind when you hold your new book in your hands for the first time?
Considering that this moment officially occurred for the first time only a week ago, I can speak with authority on the matter.
It. Is. Marvellous.
My very first thought when I picked it up was, “Ooo, it’s so smooth. Great quality cover.” Then I remembered that I ticked the boxes for the quality of cover that I wanted. I made the right choice!
Flicking through the interior, it was a little surreal seeing familiar quotes and passages jump out at me. Those were my words—on a real page—in a real book.
And then I did what every good bookworm does: I smelled it! I breathed in its lovely papery newness and it was a rush like no other.
I still haven’t had the heart to fully open it—I don’t want to harm that pretty spine. So right now, my book is just sitting in front of me looking magnificent.
How do you come up with a title for your book?
I flipped and flopped on this like a fish on a jetty. As a rookie author it was soooo hard to decide. Then, I read a gem of advice that suggested one way to name a series was to incorporate the main character’s name in the book titles, to provide cohesion. I loved this idea so much, but my main character’s name at the time didn’t lend itself very well to this idea. So, much to the shock and confusion of my poor early readers, I changed my main character’s name from Catherine to Grace. And then it was easy to tie her name into my series titles.
How do you pick a cover for your book?
I always had the image of my first book cover in my head, from before I even started writing my first draft. When it finally came time to need one, I commissioned the wonderful Vera Adxer and gave her a super-detailed brief about what I wanted the illustration to look like. And boy, did she deliver! Her work is magnificent—as attested by some very happy reviewers who were drawn to my book because of the cover art.
I then used the super-skilled Jenny Quinlan to arrange the cover art into a real-life book cover. Working with such consummate professionals is not only a pleasure but it also provides my readers with a product of exceptional quality. Makes my little author heart sing (though not out aloud, because I can’t hold a tune and you’d all run away screaming).
Thank you, Emma Lombard and The Coffee Pot Book Club
About the Author
Emma Lombard was born in Pontefract in the UK. She grew up in Africa—calling Zimbabwe and South Africa home for a few years—before finally settling in Brisbane Australia, and raising four boys. Before she started writing historical fiction, she was a freelance editor in the corporate world, which was definitely not half as exciting as writing rollicking romantic adventures. Her characters are fearless seafarers, even though in real life Emma gets disastrously sea sick. Discerning Grace, is the first book in The White Sails Series
Universal Link: https://books2read.com/discerning-grace