Monday, October 28, 2013

Aloha to Eileen Dreyer and ONCE A RAKE

Back in August, I wrote that I would be attending Barbara Vey's Readers Appreciation Luncheon on April 26, 2014 (link). Readers have a chance to sign up to sit at the table with their favorite author ... and I asked readers to guess which author I chose.    I signed up to sit with .... Eileen Dreyer!  She is a dynamo in persona and a virtuoso in writing.   From her bio (link),

Eileen is an addicted traveler, having sung in some of the best Irish pubs in the world, and admits she sees research as a handy way to salve her insatiable curiosity. She counts film producers, police detectives and Olympic athletes as some of her sources and friends. She's also trained in forensic nursing and death investigation, although she doesn't see herself actively working in the field, unless this writing thing doesn't pan out.

Eileen laughs with Patricia Rice and Cathy Maxwell

Eileen is celebrating the release of ONCE A RAKE, Book Five in the Drake's Rakes series.   Eileen joins us today to talk about research through travel, "It's a filthy job, but somebody has to do it."  

When Research Is Really Tough

By the way, if you don't know me, you won't know that the title is tongue-in-cheek, because I'm about to talk of the traveling I do for my work. I know. It's a filthy job, but somebody has to do it. And every time the opportunity comes up, my hand is raised first.

I love to travel. Let's get that one out of the way quickly. I am fascinated by people, by places, by anything that is different from the rather predictable life I've led in St. Louis. Not that I don't love home. I do. But there's so much out there to see and hear and taste and smell.

And there is the secret to traveling for research(or researching so you can travel. The differences have long since blurred). When I was first learning to write, one of the most important lessons I learned was from Nora Roberts, and that was the use of senses. In every scene(but especially love scenes). For every character. I mean, even if all you're describing is a rainy day, each character sees it differently. One might look out and be depressed and cold and lonely. Another might see only relief from hard work, or harder sun.

But also, when you tell a story, especially one set in a different place or time, what sets your audience firmly in place and time? Senses. Taste, touch, smell, feel, sight. And the quickest, most thorough way for me to learn that, is to go there.

For instance, in my Drake's Rakes series, I have walked Mayfair in London. Literally. Every street. I know how Curzon Street sweeps downhill and then uphill. I know what Grosvenor Square looks like when the central garden is in bloom. I know how the floor of Berry Brothers squeaks when you walk in the door, and how the famous scales look like an iron chair.

For ONCE A RAKE, I also traveled to the Lyme Regis area on the south coast. Not only is it an area rich in fossils, but the flora and fauna are lush and lovely. The Undercliff, where Lady Clarke paints, is a jumble of ferns and elephant ears and bluebells tucked under oak and beech and fir trees. The cliffs are still uncertain, looking as if they will crumble away at any moment. The Undercliff itself was created when the land slipped in a previous century.

I traipsed across the ground and saw my Sarah and her family following the same paths. I wandered through Lyme with its impossibly steep streets and mismatched shops and stood before the old Post Office where not only Sarah, but Jane Austen posted mail. I smelled the sea and felt the damp air brushing against my face. I heard the chuckle of the waves as they slipped in over the shingle beach. And I saw that wonderful hot spring green carpet the fields, highlighted by iridescent yellow rapeseed fields. I felt the slow, steady pace of the region, where the ocean sets the clocks. And I knew how to walk in my heroine's shoes. (okay, the 600 pound pig she named Willoughby was just an added bonus. I had to look the Large Black breed up).

So, if I've done my job, I will have taken those steps and transferred each and every one into ONCE A RAKE so you can walk along. Let me know if you do. 

File:People collecting fossil in Lyme Regis at the fossil festival.jpg
Lyme Regis by John Cummings (link)
Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 3.0 Unported license

Mahalo, Eileen, for joining us at SOS Aloha! I enjoy reading your travels on Facebook. I am looking forward to reading ONCE A RAKE as it teeters atop my TBR pile (the pile is looking like the Leaning Tower of Pisa).   I am giving away a print copy of ONCE A RAKE to one randomly selected commenter.  To enter the giveaway,

1.  Lyme Regis inspired Jane Austen's Persuasion, Henry Fielding's Tom Jones, and John Fowles' The French Lieutenant’s Woman.   Have you read any of these books or seen the film adaptations?

2.  This giveaway is open to all readers.

3.  Comments are open through Saturday, November 2, 10 pm in Baltimore.  I'll post the winner on Sunday, November 3.


Kim in Baltimore
Aloha Spirit in Charm City

To learn more about Eileen, her books, and her travels, check out her social media:



  1. Wow, I've really enjoyed all of the previous "Drakes Rakes" books. Yes Kim, I've seen Persuasion and Tom Jones, and thoroughly enjoyed them. Congrats to Eileen on her latest release of "Once a Rake".

  2. I enjoy her books! I read The French Lieutenant's Daughter and enjoyed it.

  3. I've seen the filmed versions of Persuasion & Tom Jones, but haven't read them - I much prefer the style of more recently written books.

  4. I've seen Persuasion and a TV adaptation of Tom Jones.

  5. I've read TOM JONES and PERSUASION and have seen all of the movies. It's been a while though.

  6. I think I have seen Persuasion but I am not sure.

  7. No, I have not read those or seen the movie versions. However.... I LOVE to travel and can readily relate to that!

  8. Awhile ago I saw them. I was actually pulled into the post by Eileen. It's the same with her books. I'm always and happy to do so, pulled into the pages as if I'm really there. The research comes out loud and clear when you read Eileen's books and I'm most grateful for it.Of course I'd be even more grateful f I could travel everywhere with her. lol lol
    Carol L
    Lucky4750 (at) aol (dot) com

  9. Hi Kim and Eileen (and yes I've read all your books and can't wait to read Once A Rake!) -

    I can still remember seeing the movie Tom Jones when it was first released back in 1963 as a teenager and have read Jane Austen's Persuasion but I'll have to look into getting a copy of The French Lieutenant's Woman for my Kindle!

    I really think that someone should come up with a song "For all the books I've missed before" to remind us all of those books we meant to pick up but never got the chance to - and now thanks to Barnes and Noble and Amazon we can once again get those stories for our E-readers!

  10. I saw the film adaptations for both Henry Fielding's Tom Jones and John Fowles' The French Lieutenant’s Woman. I did not read the books for any of the three you mentioned. I prefer to read the books and then see the movies, not the other way around. I would love to see the Lyme Regis coast. From the ferry from England my hubby and I traveled the southern route through County Cork and all the way up to the Dingle Peninsula...and obviously missed some beautiful sites. Maybe we'll visit again someday ...

  11. I have read and see Persuasion. I enjoyed both. I have not seen any of the others.
    christinebails at yahoo dot com

  12. I like Eileen Dryer books but have missed the last few book. They are on TRL

  13. I've only read Jane Austin. Love her! I've also read Eileen's series and I can't wait to get this newest! Thanks for the fun post. Now I know why the scenes/setting seem so real :)

  14. Thank you, everybody! I'm delighted. Janice--you got to travel to my actual favorite place in the world, which is the Dingle Peninsula. I'm still trying to figure out how to put that in a book.
    It was so fun walking the Cobb. All I kept seeing in my head was that silly Louisa Musgrove toppling off those steps in Persuasion, and, of course, one of the most iconic shots in film history, Meryl Streep standing out at the end of theCob in that full hooded cape, the wind whipping at her. Sadly, I couldn't figure a way for Sarah Clarke to walk out there. She does get to spend time in town, though(and her calves hurt as badly as mine when I walked it. REALLY steep.

  15. I have not read any of these. I live a deprived life.

  16. No, I have not read any of those books or seen the films. Not yet anyway.

  17. I adore Jane Austen & have read the book, seen the movies multiple times :D The movie in which Rupert Penry Jones plays the hero & Sally Hawkins the Heroine is my fav. Because you see so many beautiful/raw images of Lyme :)

  18. Haven't seen them or read them

  19. I haven't read them or seen the movies (hanging head!).

  20. I own all the versions of Jane Austen's Persuasion on DVD and I've read it many times. Love it!

  21. I'm embarrassed to say that I have not read that Jane Austen book or seen any of the adaptations. An odd thing. Must rectify.

    Would it help that I've read Emma, Sense and Sensibility and Pride and Prejudice? And watched various adaptations of those ;-)

    Congratulations on the new book, Eileen!

  22. I loved reading Persuasion, Jane Austen is my favorite author. I haven't seen any of the films mentioned.