Friday Feature: Jessica Cale
She sees Death in the streets. She can taste it in her gin. She can feel it in the very walls of the ramshackle brothel where she is kept to satisfy the perversions of the wealthy. She had come to London as a runaway in search of her Cavalier father. Instead, she found Wrath, a sadistic nobleman determined to use her to fulfill a sinister ambition. As the last of her friends are murdered one by one, survival hinges on escape.
Nick Virtue is a tutor with a secret. By night he operates as a highwayman, relieving nobles of their riches to further his brother’s criminal enterprise. It’s a difficult balance at the best of times, and any day that doesn’t end in a noose is a good one. Saving Sally means risking his reputation, and may end up costing him his life.
As a brutal attack throws them together, Sally finds she has been given a second chance. She is torn between the tutor and the highwayman, but she knows she can have neither. Love is an unwanted complication while Wrath haunts the streets. Nick holds the key to Wrath’s identity, and Sally will risk everything to bring him to justice.
Unless the gallows take her first.
1. Please share a brief recap of your writer’s journey to publication.
Tyburn was my first book, and it began with a writing exercise in college. I worked on it on and off for years before it resembled anything like a book — I’d write a scene here and there as they came to me, thinking of them like scenes to the kind of movie I wanted to exist. It wasn’t until I was almost 70,000 words in that I worked out how all the subplots would feed into each other or how it would end. Once I had a draft, I printed it out and edited it by hand, then I asked my husband to read it. He’s a 17th century historian, so he was a great help with the history. After that, I fact-checked everything from the distances to the exact cost of food and where to get it, and then I changed and added some things. I sent it to a handful of agents and got vaguely positive commentary but no bites, and then my big break came through Twitter’s #PitMad contest. I pitched the book in 140 characters and several publishers asked me to submit the full MS to them. I decided to go with Liquid Silver Books out of the group because they were very enthusiastic about it, and we shared a similar vision for how we wanted it to turn out. It is definitely not a traditional romance, but they didn’t want to change a thing and I have always appreciated that. It was published in December of 2014, about four months after I got “the call.” Since then I have had three published altogether, with a Christmas novella coming out this winter.
When I can’t concentrate, I like to write in total darkness. I sit in bed with my laptop and really try to lose myself in whatever scene I’m writing. I think of it like dreaming with a keyboard, telling your laptop secrets in the dark. I wrote most of Tyburn like that. You might be able to feel that in places!
3. Who would play your hero/heroine in the TV or film version of your book?
That’s a hard question! Sally is tall with dramatic coloring and a very distinctive nose, so prosthetics would probably have to be involved! I’d love to see someone like Krysten Ritter or Katrina Kaif as Sally. For Nick I’d probably cast Henry Cavill or Jake Gyllenhaal.
Darkness had fully settled over the forest and he was in no danger of being seen as they headed for the city. There were no new street lamps so far out of town, and as often as she glanced at his face, all she could see was the outline of his profile by the light of the moon. He moved soundlessly through the night as criminals must, the warmth of his hand in hers the only reassurance she had that he was still beside her.
They reached the edge of Hyde Park and Sally felt Tyburn looming near before she saw it, the residual tragedy of the gallows rippling along the field in a mournful, near perceptible howl. Because she could not look away, she turned toward the evil and saw the fearful silhouette of the triple tree dark against the violet sky.
This is your future, they seemed to whisper.
In her heart, she answered, I know.
She heard the brutal crack of Claude’s strong, young neck reverberate through the darkest corners of her memory, felt his cold lips against hers once more in a terrible promise, and in her bones she felt the stillness of one who is certain they are about to die. She was immediately aware of the unique texture of every breath she drew, the sweet sigh of the breeze whispering through her hair, and the dirt, the calluses, the very fingerprints of the hand in hers.
So little of Sally’s life had been left up to her.
She might have days, hours, mere moments left, but she would be damned if she wasted them.
Connect with Jessica Cale and Her Books
Giveaway: Tyburn will be free from October 1st – 20th. Share the love!
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