Interview with Author Rebecca L. Frencl

My guest today is Rebecca Frencl.  Hello, Rebecca!  Welcome to Writing in the Modern Age!  It’s such a pleasure to have you.

Can you tell us a little bit about your latest book? When did it come out? Where can we get it?

RIBBONS OF MOONLIGHT was released by Solstice on February 13, 2011. I thought it was pretty appropriate that a romance novel came out the day before Valentine's Day.   

Ribbons of Moonlight won the Best Romance 2012 contest after the first of the year! It's a time travel romance--Emma goes back in time to 1773 while on holiday in England for her friend's period wedding. Her coach is robbed by the highwayman who turns out to be much more than she ever expected. Connor drags her out of the coach and into his world turning her heart upside down. The red coats are on his tail and while he has a secret ally, there is also a traitor in their midst. This all seems so familiar to Emma. Can she figure it out and help save Connor while keeping her heart intact? 

RIBBONS OF MOONLIGHT is available in both ebook and print versions at the Solstice website, Amazon, Barnes and Noble and Smashwords.
Is there anything that prompted your latest book? Something that inspired you?

This book was actually inspired by one of my favorite narrative poems "The Highwayman" by Alfred Noyes. It was a challenge to write a book based on a tragic poem while keeping true to the heart of the poem, but not having the book have such a dismal ending! 

Great!  So, when did you know you wanted to write? Or has it always been a pastime of yours?

I think I've always written. I remember my favorite toy as a kid was a typewriter my mom and dad gave me for Christmas. I used to write plays for my cousins. I think I wrote my first "book" in 7th grade and I haven't looked back since then. Though, I have expanded my horizons. While, fantasy is still my first love, I've also really learned to love romance, mystery and paranormal as well. 

Do you have any favorite authors? 

Wow. Too many. It also depends on the genre. In fantasy, I love David Eddings and Mercedes Lackey. Though in young adult, I am a sucker for Rick Riordan and Veronica Rossi. I adore Elizabeth Peters' Amelia Peabody mysteries and Lynn Kurland's time travel romances. Diana Gabaldon and Robin McKinley will always have a special place in my heart for their inspiration. 

Do you write in a specific place?  Time of day?

I write wherever and whenever I get the chance. On the couch, at my desk, on a park bench--between meetings, during a test the kids are taking, while my little girl is swinging from the monkey bars. My life is a little crazed so I snatch the time when I can. 

Are there any words you'd like to impart to fellow writers. Any advice?

Don't write what you know--write what you love and keep writing. Perseverance is the secret in this business. There's a quote I recently found that really speaks to me, "If it's important you'll find a way. If it's not--you'll find an excuse." Don't find an excuse. Find a way.  

Here is the blurb for Ribbons of Moonlight.

Emma Sanders:

She’s a damsel in distress—a 20th century miss dragged back to the 18th with no way home and no idea how she got there in the first place.

Connor MacAllister Kane:

He’s the reason she’s in distress--a British highwayman, and a minor noble with not much more to his name than a title and a Robin Hood-like charm who robs the wrong coach. 

Now, Captain Nelson Rawlins of His Majesty’s Royal Dragoons, a former childhood friend of Connor’s who sacrificed friendship for duty is on the hunt for the Highwayman and traitors to the crown. The longer Emma stays in Connor’s time, the more she’s drawn to him and drawn into his troubles. She and Connor find themselves struggling to stay one step ahead of the Captain and his corrupt Commander and keep Connor and his roguish cousins from the hangman’s noose. As the Commander’s grip on the countryside tightens, the people need Connor even more, but Rawlins is hot on his trail and there’s a traitor in their midst. Can Emma use her twentieth century wits to keep both Connor and her heart safe?
Here is an excerpt from Ribbons of Moonlight.

                                                                       Chapter One

She looks so beautiful. 

That’s all Emma could think as she watched her oldest friend in the whole world dance in the arms of the man who loved her. 

With a sigh, Emma touched her champagne glass to her lips. The bubbles burst across her tongue and burned down her throat.  

“Well, Chelle,” she whispered, “we’ve come a long way since our days in the ‘burbs. It’s everything you’ve ever wanted and more.” She raised her glass to her friend then turned out of the terrace doors leaving William’s strains of the love theme from The Highwayman behind her.

            A cool breeze caressed her skin shifting the ruffles at her neckline and elbows. Emma took a deep breath. The perfume of the Old English roses and night-blooming jasmine smelled as sweet as the wine in her glass. She paced the weathered granite walk, heels catching a little on the weather roughened stones, and braced her arms on the balcony rail to look over the amazing Kircaldy Manor gardens. She leaned over the glass-smooth balustrade and brushed her fingers against the climbing red roses. Petals cascaded and their perfume rose. The guidebook in her guest room back at the inn told her that Kircaldy was one of oldest gardens in this area, dating back to the 1600’s. The tangled roses and curved white stone walks glimmered in the bright starlight. Emma leaned back and tipped her face to the sky. You couldn’t see this many stars in Chicago. The moon looked closer too; huge and swollen with only a thread of cloud across its face. 

Clematis vines crawled up the railings. Delicately closed candy-striped blooms brushed her knuckles. A gentle breeze ruffled the blossoming cherry tree to her right, stirring the stems of the strawflowers. 

            The music behind her changed, shifted from the love theme into a pulsing dance beat that made her rib cage thrum. Glancing over her shoulder back into the ballroom, she watched her friend reach out a hand to Tom Cruise, accepting his congratulations on her wedding. Emma shook her head in amazement with a smile. Yes, Michaela Evers, star of the sleepy summer hit The Highwayman, had definitely come a long way from the small Chicago suburb she’d shared with school librarian Emma Sanders. I don’t think I’ll ever really get used to rubbing elbows with the stars, Emma mused. 

            The bride’s dress whispered silk over silk as she stepped through the terrace doors. “Emma, dear, what in heaven’s name are you doing out here?”

             A seed pearl crown glinted amid the elaborate twists of Michaela’s long blond tresses. The filmy veil was pushed away from her face to pour in a shimmering wave to her hips. Moonlight danced on the diamonds around Michaela’s throat.

            Emma smiled and traced a finger over the tanzanite star hanging from a white gold chain around her throat. Michaela had given it to her as a bridesmaid’s gift just the day before. Emma had tried to tell Michaela that the suite of necklace and earrings had been far too expensive, but she should have learned long ago that when Michaela set her mind to something, she always won.

            “Good lord, Em, you’re missing all the dancing.” 

Michaela latched onto Emma’s arm and pulled her back into the twinkling lights of the Kircaldy Grand Ballroom. Michaela linked an arm through Emma’s and smiled at Megan Daly, star from TV’s Through the Sands of Time, as they passed. 

“Lovely lady,” Michaela muttered. “Too bad she’s stuck on that trashy soap.” 

            “If I recall, a certain star started on a trashy soap. Night Heart wasn’t exactly classic cinema,” Emma replied and set her empty champagne glass on a tray borne by a butler in gleaming black tie and tux.

            Michaela laughed, snagging two canapés from another tray. She handed one to Emma and nibbled on the other. “Oh, Em, you’re the one thing I really miss since I moved to California.”

Emma sniffed at the fancy swirl of pink and white cream on what she thought was a cracker. It smelled fishy. “Well, Chelle, I miss you too.” She stuffed the concoction in her mouth and rolled her eyes in bliss. Whatever it was, it was really good. She looked around for that tray-wielding waiter. 

“Then move to California, Emma.” Michaela’s hand tightened on Emma’s arm. “I worry about you all alone in Chicago.”

Emma swallowed and patted her friend’s hand. Her gaze followed Lester Brym and Alan Saddler as the two muscle men made their way to the bar. “I’m not moving to California, Chelle, and I’m hardly alone.” She pulled her gaze from the action stars to smile at her oldest friend. “I have Alfred.”

Michaela snorted. “That stupid parrot is older than you are.”

“Yes, but he keeps me company and besides, I like living in Chicago.” 

Kim Pierce, the fashion editor of Delirious swooped in to step between the two women. She looked over both Emma’s and Michaela’s period gowns.

“Lovely, just lovely,” Kim murmured. She smoothed her short ebony swing of hair back behind her ears. “A word with you, Miss Evers, or should I be calling you Mrs. Kalver now?” She chuckled and dug into her palm-sized bag pulling out a small notebook. “I’d like to have a word with you about scheduling an interview with you and the designer?” 

“Oh, Em, will you excuse me?” With an apologetic glance, Michaela walked away, smoothing down her embroidered silk gown. 

Emma watched her friend wander off, chattering excitedly to Pierce about the young designer who’d designed all her gowns. Emma brushed a hand over the pale blue silk skirt of the gown Michaela had especially designed for her as maid of honor. It was lovely. A pale blue bodice laced up the front, embroidery and touches of lace at elbow and neckline—just enough to give it a delicate feminine look. The skirt was full and heavy, the type she’d have loved at ten, perfect for spinning around and around.

Emma laughed at herself and leaned against one of the huge marble pillars that supported the carved vaulted ceiling of the great hall. With the cool marble at her back, she watched the revelers whirl by. Candlelight glowed from the wall sconces, bathing everything in a shimmering, shifting light. Shadows wove around the columns and the dancers in the uncertain illumination.

Many of the guests had loved Michaela’s idea of a period wedding and dressed for the occasion. Some wore silks and satins, others muslin, and tartan. 

Emma turned away from the dance floor. She didn’t belong here. She knew that. This glittering world wasn’t hers. It was Michaela’s and she’d never be comfortable there. 

The first time she’d visited Michaela in L.A., Michaela had dragged her to every Hollywood hotspot she could find. 

“I think she was hoping I’d snag a star,” Emma murmured to herself and then shook her head. No Hollywood heartthrob would look twice at a librarian from Chicago.

She pushed away from the column, making her way toward the main doors. Now free of Kim Pierce, Michaela was fully engaged in talking to Luke and Kyle Tredari. Michaela wouldn’t notice if Emma slipped away a little early.

As she approached the doors, the Kircaldy hostess slid out of the office near the doorway. The small woman wore a trim tailored suit in cherry red. Emma looked at it with a little bit of envy wishing she had the courage to buy something bold like that.

 “May I help you, madam?” the hostess asked.

“I’d like a ride back to the inn, if you wouldn’t mind calling one of the carriages?” 

Emma rubbed her temples.  It was only ten or so and she was already exhausted. A bath and book in her charming and comfy room sounded so good right now. 

“Of course, Ms. Sanders.” The hostess ducked out the door and very shortly one of the carriages rumbled up to the marble steps. 

Emma felt like a queen, letting the coachman help her into the leather cab of the carriage. Another one of Michaela’s brainstorms was to have all the bridesmaids and guests taken from the church to the hall in coaches—the exact type the highwaymen would rob. 

Emma settled back in the seat. The carriage took off with a jolt, but soon settled into a rocking motion. The clip-clop of the horses’ hooves and the squeak of the carriage rigging were very soothing. The tight knots of tension at her temples began to unravel. She pushed aside the leather curtain and looked out the narrow window. 

The moon bathed the private country road in sliver moonlight. The road stretched like a white ribbon winding through the trees that, according to her guidebook, were over four hundred years old. The night was still and quiet, the only sounds the jingle and clop of the carriage rigging and the horses’ hooves. Not even a breeze whispered through the trees at the road side. 

Emma let the curtain fall back into place. It would be about a half hour or more before they reached the little period inn. She slipped off her shoes and snuggled on the seat, her head pillowed on her hands. The gentle swaying of the cab lulled her. Quiet, alone, safe, she felt her eyes drift shut. With a sleepy little sigh she gave in. 

The carriage jolted to a halt. Emma slid neatly from the leather seat and onto the hard floor of the carriage. Silk and leather obviously weren’t good bed fellows. Her skirt pooled around her. 

“What in heaven’s name?” she muttered. 

With less grace than a baby giraffe she scrambled from the floor and smoothed her skirts back into place Carefully, she dropped to the seat again. 

With a frown, she reached for the door handle intending to ask the driver what in God’s name was going on. It disappeared under her hand, whipped open from the outside. 

“Just lovely,” The man towering in the doorway muttered. He was a dark shadow highlighted only by slashes of moonlight. When he smiled a beam of moonlight showed missing teeth. Emma’s eyes widened, her heart leaping painfully in her chest. With her hands fisted in her skirt, heart pounding she first heard the voices murmuring outside the cab. Good lord, she thought a shiver skating up her spine, how many of them are there? 

Chapter Two

Emma pressed her back against the leather seat of the carriage and stared at the man, her mouth slightly ajar. She didn’t recognize him as a guest from the wedding. He was tall with dark messy hair and a toothless grin she didn’t like at all. 

She swallowed hard and pressed a hand to her throat. Should she scream? What if Michaela had organized the entire scenario and she spoiled the fun by trying to kill the poor actor in front of her? 

“Who are you?” Her voice trembled far more than she anticipated.

“Good idea, luv, why don’t we get to know each other a little better?” he asked levering himself into the carriage. His hair was matted and the stench of horse and sour sweat filled the cab. He licked his lips as he reached for her neckline. A beam of moonlight showed her his grime encrusted nails and hairy knuckles. “Pretty little bauble, that.” She could feel her skin crawl at the thought of that filthy hand touching her. She clutched the necklace he was admiring and shrank back further. 

Emma brought both feet up to chest level, startling the man with a look under her skirt, and kicked. Both feet punched him hard in the chest. Words Emma could barely understand pierced the night as he lurched backward from the carriage to land on the road, arms and legs sprawled.

Quickly, Emma repositioned herself on the seat, back pressed against the opposite door, ready for another attack. Whoever these people were, she wouldn’t let them take her easily. Ugly laughter, both sadistic and frightening, increased the tremble in her hands.

“She’s a lively ‘un. I’m gunna enjoy this.”

Male laughter poured through the door, followed by insults she would rather not hear. 

Good lord there must be at least five of them. Emma scrambled for her shoes and slipped the two-inch heels on. If she’d had them on when she’d kicked, the man would be gone for good. She wedged herself in the corner of the carriage and drew up her feet, ready to kick out again. She gripped the seat leather with clammy hands, her gaze intent on the swinging door.

Where was the driver? Where the hell were the cops? 

The door at her back whipped open. Emma tumbled out of the carriage in a froth of pale blue skirts. Startled, she screamed and braced herself for her collision with the road. Hands hooked under her arms, stopping her from a painful crash. 

Well and truly over her fright, she kicked and punched, trying to remember every dirty trick she’d been taught about self-defense. The man stumbled. Triumphant, she leaned into him. If he fell he’d let her go. 

“Spirited little dabchick, eh?” 

I’ll show you spirited! Emma skinned her heel down her assailant’s shin.The arms around her tightened. 

“Bloody hell!” he yelled and lifted her right off her feet.

“Let me go!” Emma twisted against the arms that held hers pinned to her sides. “Just wait until the cops get here! I’m filing every charge in the book!”

“Just a bit bats is she?” A voice off the side asked. “Need a hand there, boy?”

Emma looked over to see the dark-haired man she’d forcibly ejected from the carriage. The man started forward to take hold of Emma. A desperate plan formed in her mind and she settled within the powerful embrace. She watched the dark-haired man approach her as though she’d turned into a wild animal. Her heart thumped in her chest. She blew annoying twists of hair from her face.

When he got within kicking range, she used her captor’s strong hold to lever herself up and kick at the man again, with her shoes on this time. The man howled. His hand whipped up to cover a gash that ran from his forehead to his chin. Blood trickled from beneath his hand.

Emma’s eyes widened. She’d done it! Maybe they would leave her alone, now.

“That’ll be enough of that, Miss.” Her captor’s low, liquid voice slid down her spine. “Stop trying to take a piece of us. Your virtue is safe enough for the moment,” a brief pause, “and your life as well.”

Emma stilled, shaking with rage in the man’s arms. She’d seen enough episodes of The New Detectives to know that a kidnapper’s word was worth spit, but she needed to get him to let her go. If he let her go, she might be able to find a chance to escape. She took a deep breath that turned into a gasp when she realized that her captor’s hands were fully over her breasts. 

“Get your hands off of me,” she ordered, her voice low.

“Will you accept our word, miss?” The arms tightened one last time. “Or do we continue this invigorating and rather entertaining romp?” 

He pressed his groin into her lower back.  A gasp slipped past her lips. All the wrestling around had aroused him. She felt it clearly even through her layers of petticoats and skirts.

Her stomach jumped with nerves. “I’ll accept your word for exactly what it’s worth,” she whispered.

The arms stayed locked for a moment as her captor seemed to weigh her words. Then, he released her abruptly. Her stomach lurched. She let out an alarmed cry, but the man caught her by the elbow until she regained her balance. With a deep breath, she gathered her skirts in her hands, and turned to look at her captor. 

He was tall. She had to tip her head back to look at him. She saw dark hair, longer than she was used to, pulled back into a tail. A small breeze tugged at some loose strands. His eyes were shadowed, but one dark brow rose at her study. She dropped her eyes from his face. He was dressed in a long coat, brass buttons gleamed in the moonlight.  She couldn’t quite tell the color of the coat, the light was too uncertain, but the white shirt beneath shone in the moonlight.  

With a wary glance she looked around. The coach still sat in the road, the horses stamping in their traces. One man stood with the horses, the reins in his hands, another popped out of the carriage cab shaking his head. Two more secured the unconscious driver to a tree. Emma saw a trickle of blood slipping down his face from under the powered wig. 

They were all dressed like her captor in long coats and boots and they were all staring at her. She swallowed, a lump in her throat. She wondered if they could see the pulse jumping in her throat? She clasped her hands together and looked back at her captor.

“What do you want from me?” she asked making herself look up at him. 

He must be one of Michaela’s more eccentric movie friends. She also noticed for the first time that there were horses tethered to the nearby trees. This looked like something out of a movie set. In fact, it looked like a scene directly out of The Highwayman.

With a scowl, she tore her eyes away from his extraordinary face and looked around the clearing. She fisted her hands on her hips.

“This is absolutely ridiculous. Did Chelle put you up to this?” she demanded glaring up at him. “I can see it now.” She threw her hands up, “Chelle thought I’d need a little excitement in my life so she put you all up to waylaying me from the reception.” 

Emma looked around at the four actors loosely ringing her, their mouths hanging open. She looked back at her captor. 

“I must admit it’s awfully authentic. And she does have amazing taste in men, but I told her before that I’m not interested.” She brushed invisible dirt from her skirts and turned away from the man. “Well, it’s been exciting, but I’m exhausted. Tell Chelle you tried to get me to go along with it all, but that I just wasn’t in the mood.” She started back toward the carriage. “Someone nudge the driver and tell him the jig is up.”

“She’s not a little bats, Connor,” the man who’d originally grabbed for her said, “she’s absolutely stark staring.” 

“Something’s not quite right here, Adam,” Emma heard the man murmur as he reached out and grabbed her as she passed. Emma tried to shrug his hand off her arm. 

“I told you I’m not interested. I want to get back to the hotel.”

The fingers tightened around her arm. Her intended retort died on her lips. His eyes were not amused. He wasn’t laughing. Boy, he’s good

Her gaze darted around the clearing. He was correct, something wasn’t quite right here. The men were not dressed in quite the same style of clothes as she’d seen at the wedding. They were also dirtier than the average party-goer. The man who’d said she was bats was the worst—matted hair and missing teeth. One of the other had dirt smeared down the side of his face. The sleeves of the coats were raggedly and the boots mud encrusted. And if she wasn’t mistaken, that man over in the corner just pulled a musket out of a saddle holster. Weaponry had not been included in any of the costumes she’d seen and that one looked way too authentic to be a prop. 

She turned back to Connor’s unsmiling face. She felt her breath hitching and forced herself to take deep slow breath. She wiped sweaty palms on her skirt.   

“You’re not an actor, are you?” she asked quietly. 

He shook his head. 

She looked at the other men. They moved closer and the smell of horse and fire smoke wafted over. Moonlight gleamed on a pistol barrel in one hand.  “They’re not actors either, are they,” she whispered making him bend down to hear her.

He shook his head again.

They stood nearly nose to nose for a silent moment, her eyes intent on his. “If you’re not actors and you’re not here because Chelle sent you, who are you and what do you want?” Her breath hitched again coming faster. Her heart hammered in her chest and her knees felt weak. Emma didn’t think she’d be able to run now if she wanted to. 

A satanic smile lifted the corners of his full lips. He leaned forward until Emma smelled campfire smoke on his jacket. She wanted to step back, but couldn’t. She needed to hear his words, to know why they’d stopped her carriage and fairly accosted her. Connor raised his eyebrows and beckoned her to come closer. Against her better judgment, she tipped her head and moved another inch.

 “We’re highwaymen, milady,” he whispered in her ear, “and what we want is…you.”

Author Bio  
When I was a kid growing up in the near Chicago suburbs I knew what I wanted to do. I wanted to teach and I wanted to write. I’d spend hours over the little typewriter Mom and Dad bought for me when I was little clattering away at stories and plays I’d wheedle my cousins and brother

into performing. I think I wrote my first “book” in 6th grade and had a friend illustrate it for me. I never really looked back from there.

Now, I can say that I’ve achieved both of my goals. I’ve been teaching 8th graders for more than 15 years, sharing my love of words with hundreds. I always tell my kids that it’s not that they don’t like to read they just haven’t met the right book yet. I make it one of my missions in life to put those books into their hands.

My love of literature lead to my debut Solstice novel, Ribbons of Moonlight. I’ve always loved poetry and “The Highwayman” has always been a personal favorite. I always thought there was more to that story
and now there is.

So, here am I living—still living in the Chicago suburbs, a little further out than where I first started, but I can still see the skyline on my drive in to work. I married my high school prom date and we share a beautiful little girl, two spoiled hound dogs and a love of reading and all things Disney. Overall, I’m happy where I am, but I’m also looking forward to seeing what the next several years bring. Hopefully, it will bring me several more books on this author page!

The Shattered Prism was just released in June 2013 through Solstice Publishing.



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