Welcome to my weekly Author Spotlight. I’ve asked a bunch of my author friends to answer a set of interview questions, and to share their latest work.
Edale Lane is an award-winning author (Rainbow Awards, Imaginarium Awards, Lesfic Bard Awards) who also drives a truck. She is the alter-ego of author Melodie Romeo, (Tribute in Blood, Terror in Time, and others) who founded Past and Prologue Press. Both identities are qualified to write historical fiction by virtue of an MA in History and 24 years spent as a teacher, along with skill and dedication regarding research. A native of Vicksburg, MS, Edale (or Melodie) is also a musician who loves animals, gardening, and nature. When not driving around North America, she resides with her partner in beautiful Chilliwack, B.C. Canada.
Thanks so much, Edale, for joining me!
J. Scott Coatsworth: Have you ever taken a trip to research a story? Tell me about it.
Edale Lane: Actually, I did. Many years ago, I was working on a historical lesbian fiction story centered on six women living in Antebellum Charleston. Since it was not that far away from Mississippi, my partner, her mother, and I drove to Charleston and engaged in a fair bit of sight-seeing. I am very familiar with Antebellum homes, but we toured a few there, along with historic churches and a rice museum. We met Gulla people and admired their crafts. I wanted my story to differ from all the other “Old South” tales, so it features a rice plantation instead of a cotton plantation. I learned all about how rice was grown to include in the book with the working title, Behind the Door. Unfortunately, I have never finished writing it; perhaps one day.
JSC: Are there underrepresented groups or ideas featured if your book? If so, discuss them.
EL: I admit I am not the most well-read author around, but many of the books I read feature characters that are sexually active, sleeping around, and others that employ vocabularies filled with swear words. I read about rebels and high-school dropouts, and young women trying to cope with the realization they are lesbians. These reflect genuine people and their lives, but they don’t represent me. I write about characters who believe sex should only be engaged in as an expression of love, who are true to their partners, who believe in God, and who have no self-condemnation regarding their own sexuality. I have had my characters criticized as being “Mary Sue’s” (whatever that means). Well, if Robyn of Loxley and Florentina de Bossi are Mary Sue’s, then so am I, and we need to be represented along with everyone else.
JSC: Where do you like to write?
EL: I LIKE to write in beautiful settings, such as a lake or park… where I actually write is in my truck. As an over-the-road-truck-driver, that is where I live 95% of the time.
JSC: What inspired you to write this particular story? What were the challenges in bringing it to life?
EL: My original intent was to write the Night Flyer Trilogy, but when I concluded the third book, I left an opening for more to come. Something lurking in the back of my mind said that Florentina and Maddie were not done yet. I then received requests from readers to further their story. Two more installments materialized in my imagination, two more mysteries to solve. There was also one big plot-point that had not been fully satisfied—Benetto and Florentina had not met face to face for a final resolution. He has changed, and she has forgiven him, but the two of them never talked after the climax in book one when Florentina spared Benetto’s life. That resolution, along with the ultimate fate of the Night Flyer, are slated for book 5.
JSC: What secondary character would you like to explore more? Tell me about them.
EL: Pietro Sacchi, the handsome, play-boy Calcio star, inherited half of his father’s business and fortune with the other half going to his responsible older brother, Ambroso. He was only mentioned in passing in the first 3 books of the series, but takes on a larger role in Missing in Milan, as he is one of the men taken captive. We get to know him in this installment and we watch him mature through his ordeal. At the end of this book, we glimpse what lies ahead for Pietro in book 5.
JSC: As a child, what did you want to be when you grew up?
EL: When I was a child, I wanted to be everything when I grew up! I have been writing stories since I was six years old, but I was also a musician. As a teenager, I wanted to be a band director, and gained a bachelor’s degree in Music Education. But alas, I never realized my dream of being a band director, and instead became a history teacher… which led to a MA in history and finally to writing historical fiction.
JSC: What’s your writing process?
EL: Ideas come to me and I sift and sort, mull them over, think through characters and plots, play scenes in my mind, all as I make money driving a truck. When I get parked, the physical work begins—research! Once my idea is formalized, I start a notes page with character sketches, plot outline points, and research notes. When I start writing the story, it flows really fast, although I do have to stop and look up some detail on almost every page. I edit each chapter a first time as I finish it, then go back through the complete manuscript at the end. If I am still not satisfied, I seek help from an outside editor.
JSC: We know what you like to write, but what do you like to read in your free time, and why?
EL: I enjoy fantasy novels, crime dramas, and historical fiction. I read both lesbian and straight lead characters and still love to go to the classics.
JSC: What fantasy realm would you choose to live in and why?
EL: Tolkien’s Middle Earth. Why? Do you need to ask? It is totally awesome!
JSC: What’s your drink of choice?
EL: If we’re talking every-day beverage, then unsweetened ice tea with lemon. For that special occasion, a frozen lime margarita. Can today be a special occasion?
JSC: what are you currently working on?
EL: I am at this moment one third of the way through Shadows over Milan, book 5 of the Night Flyer Series. Will a serious injury force Florentina to choose between being the Night Flyer and being with Maddie? How does a winner cope with failure, or an optimist deal with a crisis of faith? And will the Shadow Guild succeed in thrusting Milan into a war with one of its neighbors? Find out in the exciting conclusion (really, this time) to the series.
And now for Edale’s new book: Missing in Milan:
When all credible avenues have been exhausted, then one must consider the incredible.
Vanishing thieves, disappearing athletes, and an inventor who is nowhere to be found; can the Night Flyer solve a mystery that seems impossible? While Florentina puzzles over the missing people, Maddie’s ex-lover turns up in Milan, claiming she is not there to cause trouble while doing little else.
The Night Flyer must use every resource available, including a memory from her childhood to discover how the thieves escape, who abducted the Calcio players, and whatever happened to the inventor. Could they all be connected? Death awaits as Florentina descends into the depths of an ingenious plot; can she thwart a mysterious criminal, or will he deal her the final blow?
Missing in Milan is the fourth book in Edale Lane’s Night Flyer Series, a tale of power, passion, and payback in Renaissance Italy. If you like action and suspense, rich historical background, three-dimensional characters, and a ff sweet romance, then you’ll want to continue your adventure in a world where anything is possible.
Dawn’s fingers stretched through Maddie’s window the next morning, touching her face and luring her to awaken. A smile crossed her lips as she felt the warm and welcome presence of Florentina’s body pressed against hers. She reached an arm across her sleeping lover and nestled her head onto her dusky bare shoulder. Opening her eyes, Maddie’s heart filled with appreciation as she drank in Fiore’s features—long brunette hair, olive complexion, lean, toned body. While they had become comfortable in their relationship, Madelena never ceased to be amazed by the sensations Florentina ignited in her with just the slightest touch or the whisper of her voice or even an amorous glance across a crowded room. Not a drop of doubt lingered in Maddie’s mind; she was completely in love with this singular woman, even if she must share her with all of Milan. Deep contentment swelled in her heart, and Maddie hugged Fiore tighter.
Florentina stirred in her arms and opened an eye. “Good morning,” she uttered in a sleepy tone.
“I didn’t mean to wake you,” Maddie whispered. “I just wanted to snuggle.”
Florentina lifted her arm and drew Maddie in, placing a kiss on her forehead. “I love waking up with you, feeling you in my arms, the first thing I see being your beautiful face,” she offered as she closed her eyes again.
“Me too,” Maddie confirmed, and slipped her hand under the sheets to caress Florentina’s silky bare skin. When her fingers passed over the scar on her side, it made Maddie frown, as it always did. She got it fighting off assassins to save her life.
“I had a flying dream last night,” Maddie said with a twinkle in her forest green eyes. “I know you actually do fly, but do you ever have the dreams—you know, where you fly without the wings?”
Florentina’s tawny eyes danced at hers. “Indeed.”
“What do you think they mean?” Madelena wondered. “I think they have something to do with the way you make me feel when we are intimate together. You can certainly send me flying!” Maddie flashed her a dazzling smile, which made Fiore giggle.
“You send me to the moon, mi amore,” she voiced, followed by a sweet good morning kiss. “I have actually given this some thoughtful consideration for years.”
“Of course you have!” She continues to amaze me every day! “Is there any subject you have not contemplated?”
Fiore pulled Maddie on top of her for a longer, deeper kiss before continuing. “I think we aren’t so much dreaming we can fly, but remembering. It is likely when our spirits were in Heaven before we were born into these bodies, that we could fly—that we did, in fact, fly most of the time. So, sometimes our unconscious mind remembers flying. That may be why mankind has always been fascinated with flight and for centuries has tried to achieve that goal.”
“Huh,” Maddie mused, as she pondered Florentina’s theory. “A distinct possibility. Do you remember flying when you are actually up there doing it?”
“No. I’m too busy enjoying myself—and trying not to crash!”
Maddie laughed, tickled Florentina, then plunged in for another kiss before rolling back to her spot on the bed. “You better not crash.”
“Don’t worry,” Fiore assured her. “Guess who I saw last night?”
Maddie’s attention shifted. “Who?”
“He wasn’t causing trouble, was he?”
“Quite the opposite,” Florentina explained. “He’s chief of security at the docks now, and they have been beset with a band of thieves of late. Last night a couple of his employees were killed, and he asked the Night Flyer to help him catch them.”
Maddie’s eyes shot wide, and she pushed up on her elbow, burnished red-gold strands cascading to her pillow. “He asked the Night Flyer for help?” A stunning revelation, to say the least. “Well, that took swallowing a lot of pride. Did he say why he wanted you to help?”
Fiore flashed a winning grin. “Because I’m smart.” They both fell into laughter, at which Fiore put a finger to her mouth. “Shhhhh! No waking the children to have them find us unclothed.”
Maddie clamped a hand to her mouth, admiration beaming through her expression. She whispered, “Brains are not Stefano’s strong suit, but at least he is smart enough to ask a genius for assistance.” She placed another kiss to Fiore’s lips.
Madelena sighed with honest regret when Florentina slid out of bed and scooped up her black costume from the floor, even though it had become their designated routine. When her brother Alessandro created an honorary position of leadership in Torelli Silk, it carried with it a tremendous increase in rank, affording an excuse for Florentina to have the room next to hers on the family floor of the estate, rather than upstairs with the servants. Their rooms adjoined through a closet, so every night Florentina could slip into her room and go back each morning. Even though Alessandro and his family knew about their relationship, they desired to avoid scandal by exercising discretion and hopefully giving the staff nothing to talk about. It wasn’t perfect, but so much better than when Florentina still stayed upstairs sharing a room with Angela.
“I’ll see you at breakfast,” Fiore said, and she scooted through the passageway.
Maddie lay in her pastel sheets, her head propped on soft, down pillows, for a few minutes longer before she stirred to dress, just lingering in the feel and smell and presence of the woman she adored. Nothing bothers Fiore, she thought. Not before, when she shared a cell with a teenaged girl, not sneaking around, not pretending to be a mere employee of the household, not risking her life on a regular basis… I am so filled with joy to have her as my lover, my partner, and my very best friend! I just wish… It does bother me she has to go back to her room, that no one can know how happy I am. Well, Ally, Portia, and Pollonia know, and I suppose on some level my children do too. She sighed and resigned herself to the fact that a secret relationship would just have to be good enough.