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Some of the story behind The Veil Between Worlds

Many years ago, I was getting a divorce far from where I grew up, and feeling completely unmoored. I’d left my full-time career working as a developmental and acquisitions editor for some of New York’s large book publishing houses when I had my first child. Then I started up an indie editor/ghostwriter part-time business. But I needed to expand my business to full-time when I saw a piece on CBS Sunday Morning about the Romance Writers’ America annual conference, and heard that the romance book industry was, at the time, a $3 billion/year business.

Well, I could get in on that, right? Surely writing romances wasn’t that hard.

A background on where I got this bias. I started out my publishing career at Atheneum Publishers, founded by Alfred A. Knopf, Jr., which concentrated on publishing literary fiction, narrative non-fiction, and for a time, poetry. Authors we published were very literary, winning awards, but not generally selling a lot of copies. It was at this point in reading and rejecting hundreds of agented books, that were wonderful but not wonderful enough for us to publish, that I put my dreams of being a novelist myself in a box. My reasoning was that if these fine, agented authors could not get book deals, than I certainly could not.

A year and a half later, thanks to the acquisition of our publisher by Simon & Schuster, our imprint would be folded into Scribner’s and our positions eliminated. I then went to HarperCollins, where my boss was the editor to the amazing Barbara Kingsolver.

But it was not literary fiction that I had an interest in writing. When that RWA story popped up on TV that day, I realized, watching those women at the conference have all kinds of fun learning about sword fighting, suits of armor, swashbuckling and more, that people like me, who were heartbroken, exhausted, angry, disappointed, and so much more, just wanted to lose

themselves in an adventure. We want to get far away from our ordinary lives, meet interesting people and go places where we couldn’t normally go, and fall in love all over again.

I knew enough about writing to know that there are no guarantees you’ll ever get published by a Big Five publisher, and even if you do, sales are generally not enough to survive on. So I would write this fun book at night, after my full-time work as an editor, and after I got my kids to bed.

The perfect escape for me was to write a time travel romance. I wanted to take a woman with today’s sensibilities and send her back to the Middle Ages and see how she’d survive. Would she love it, would she hate it, would she be in danger? What difference in mannerisms would she survey? And could she find love, especially if she was already keenly disappointed in love?

I have a Master’s in Middle English Literature from King’s College London. I had gone there for my junior year abroad, and returned when I met my future ex-husband, who was English, so that I could live and study in the country legally before we got married. I loved my course, which was divided up into reading and interpreting the literature from 1066-1525, paleography (the study of the original manuscripts), and translation. I thought I could use this knowledge of Middle English for my character to survive as she would be a professor of Middle English back in the U.S.

The two characters of Ellie and Jane in my book are actually based on two professors I had at King’s, Janet Bately, the chair of the English department, and Jane Roberts, my advisor and tutor, the one who encouraged me to study Middle English and wanted me to get my Ph D. I loved how these two women called each other by their last names, and I gathered they were friends, although this may be supposition. In my book, I made t hem young mothers, and best friends.

You’ll notice in so many public places the coat of arms for The Order of the Garter. This was founded by Edward III, and the origins of its founding was a riddle I wanted an answer to.

Because nobody knows when this happened exactly, but Edward III once declared “Honi Soi Qui Mal Y Pense,” which translated from French means Dishonor to those who think dishonorably. That is the phrase that surrounds the badge, but you’ll have to read more why it’s called The Order of the Garter (yes, the garter does r efer to what holds up tights/stockings). The knighthood is the oldest in the world and the annual ceremony of the order happens every spring at Windsor Castle,

where part of the book takes place.

So, I set to writing the book. I did entirely too much unnecessary research, about which I’ll write another time. As I started the book fourteen years after I’d completed my Master’s, I’m afraid I hadn’t retained as much of the knowledge of the language as I’d hoped. A few years passed of me poking at it by myself, and I was lucky enough to meet with author Judy Goldman, who suggested that she and I and my co-author of a book called 365 Nights Charla Muller get together to form a writers’ group. She wanted help with a memoir, Charla was writing a

nonfiction book of essays, and I had this poor old novel kicking around.

During our meetings, Ellie’s character went from being a shy, insecure girl, to a much more confident woman. With my group’s encouragement and regular deadlines, I had a finished manuscript and submitted it to agents. Three agents who were interested, but one, Carrie Pestritto, was first, and I was impressed by her. She was a very young agent at the time and working for the Prospect Agency, smart as a whip, and loved my book more than I did. Her enthusiasm was palpable, and I signed with her. I did three revisions of the book for Carrie, the

first for her, the second based on initial editor feedback, and the third based on more feedback, which completely upended John Stafford’s character.

It is the third version of the book that’s being published now by Dragonblade. Alas, Carrie didn’t find a traditional publisher that was interested in the book, as they all said the book “fell between genres” – not quite romantic enough for the romance publishers, not quite women’s fiction-y for the women’s fiction publishers. I got that, and felt like, as a person in the industry, I should have known that makes for a harder sale.

So I “stuck the book in a drawer” as the saying goes for books that don’t sell, (based on a time when people had a physical typed book as their only way to save a manuscript). But I concentrated on my next novel, a contemporary women’s fiction book with my new writers’ group (hello Emily and Lisa!). But then Covid happened, and when I was ready to submit The Writer’s Cottage, agents had retreated, were overwhelmed, and many had stopped taking new


When I was searching Publishers’ Marketplace for new deals was when I found

Dragonblade, an indie boutique publishing house. The publisher wanted not just my first book, but a series, and that’s where I am today writing “The Ladies of the Labyrinth” series. The first book comes out January 20th , 2023, the second book in April, and the third book I’m finishing up now, and it comes out in July.

I hope you like the book, that it gives you a sense of escape from the sometimes too hard realities of our everyday world, and some joy and laughter too.

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I love the way your real-life professors became characters in the book! I bet they will enjoy that.

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