I’m delighted to welcome Historical Romance author CECILIA GRANT to Rakes and Rascals today for an exclusive interview.
I’m delighted to be here. I love answering miscellaneous questions, so ask away, and get ready for some rambling replies!
Could you tell us where you were born and what it was like growing up there?
I grew up in Seattle, Washington—perhaps you’ve wondered whether we do in fact have the bluest skies you’ve ever seen? I’d say probably not. The sky does get quite blue, during the two or three months it stops being a dismal gray, and if you haven’t seen many different skies then it might, technically, be the bluest you’ve ever seen. But I don’t know any Seattle natives who think of the blue skies as one of our city’s distinguishing features. Certainly not to the point where you’d write a song about it.
More distinctive is our geography and topography. We’re bounded by Puget Sound on the west and a big lake on the east, with a ship canal cutting west-to-east through the city and another lake thrown in halfway along it. (If you have a day job, there’s a good chance you cross water in your commute.)
We have mountains, too; the Olympics on one side and the Cascades on the other, part of your view in pretty much any direction you look. And hills. There are buildings downtown where you enter the first floor on one side and have to go up to the fourth floor to get out the other side.
I took all this for granted growing up, and only when I went to college in the Midwest, in a city with no hills and nothing to see on the horizon, did I realize how much it mattered. I’ve lived in other places and I like to travel, but this is the geography that will always feel like home.
How would you describe yourself – temperamental or easy-going?
I appear easy-going, but it’s really just the facade of a world-class conflict-avoider. I’m temperamental on the inside.
When it comes to food do you like sweet or savoury or both:
Both, though I’d probably give a slight edge to sweet. I’m eating ice cream for dinner as I write this.
What is your most treasured possession?
It’s a tie between two things that used to belong to my maternal grandmother.
First, this curious china pig knick-knack, which I suspect has been in the family since before Grandma was born.
It mystifies me on every level. Why does the pig have a four-leaf clover in its mouth? Why is it posing with this oversized broken egg? What on earth is it supposed to be used for?—obviously something’s meant to go in that hole in the egg, but what? And how did something so fancy and non-utilitarian wind up in the possession of my grandmother’s working-class family?
I’ve tried to research it online, but I’ve never found the right set of terms to google. If any of you has any idea what it might be for, please let me know! Otherwise I’ll have to keep waiting for someone to bring one onto the Antiques Roadshow someday.
I also have Grandma’s original 1917 edition of The Lost Princess of Oz, which I reread countless times growing up.
I love thinking of my grandmother and later my mother reading this same book, and I also just plain love the book. Frank Baum had such a fantastical imagination—the movie really doesn’t do his world justice (just to give you some idea, Dorothy in the books is about ten years old, with bottomless reserves of aplomb, and you’d never catch her singing wistfully by a wagon wheel).
Lost Princess has it all: a mystery, an urgent quest, a six-foot-tall bipedal talking frog who somehow got mistaken for a genius and can’t bring himself to correct the mistake, a wind-up pink bear who can answer any question (yes, they do ask him what happened to Princess Ozma, and you’ll have to read the book to find out why that doesn’t work), and sundry sorts of magic, from a super-strength potion to a flying dishpan to a belt that grants its wearer one wish a day. Recommended!
If you were able to afford a second home anywhere in the world where would you choose and why?
Dublin. Imagine being able to just swing by Trinity College and see what page they have the Book of Kells open to, any time you want. And imagine breathing the same air and walking the same streets as so many great English-language writers. You know those lambic beers they brew in a certain region of Belgium, where they don’t have to add brewer’s yeast because the beer just sort of absorbs ambient yeast from the air? When I visited Dublin I felt like the air must be suffused with some kind of writerly yeast, and anyone lucky enough to live there must eventually absorb enough to be able to write something really good.
Finally, what has been your most embarrassing moment?
I have so many embarrassing moments! One of my specialties is embarrassing myself with my clumsy attempts to make friends.
I have a particular memory of when this one friend of mine got engaged: his fiancée was smart, funny, well-read, and just tailor-made to be my new bosom friend, I thought. My own then-fiance and I went over to dinner at their house, and I looked for every opportunity to make a good impression. They were giving us a tour, explaining how they were having to repaint all the rooms because of the unfortunate colors the previous homeowners had chosen, and I said, “Oh, I see what you mean; this green has got to go!” It was one of the rooms they’d already repainted.
Then over dinner, we were talking about our upcoming weddings and I doubled down with an impassioned, red-wine-fueled rant about the wedding-industrial complex and how aggravating it was that women got snowed into thinking they needed to get married in a big expensive elaborate dress that they’d never wear again in their lives—never pausing to consider that maybe my friend’s fiancée was looking forward to wearing a traditional gown and would not appreciate the implication that she was a hapless manipulated consumer. (She did wear a traditional wedding gown, and I’m pretty sure she did not appreciate my rant.)
We never did get to be friends. I don’t blame her. Reading this over, I think it’s kind of a wonder I have any friends at all.
Thank you for taking time out to be here today and sharing these interesting facts about yourself, Cecilia
It was so nice of you to invite me. I’m crossing my fingers you or one of your readers will have some idea of what my grandmother’s china pig was meant to be used for. (If there’s anyone you can count on for arcane knowledge, it’s a historical-romance reader, right?)
If you would like to find out more about Cecilia and her books, here are the links: