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.
November 2-23, 100 copies of Merchants of Milan, book one of the Night Flyer Series, will be given away on Goodreads. Please follow this link to enter the contest:
Today, Edale Lane – is an award-winning author (Rainbow Awards, Imaginarium Awards, Lesfic Bard Awards) who is realizing her dream of being a full-time writer. 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. After driving an 18-wheeler cross-country for eight years, she now lives with her partner in beautiful Chilliwack, B.C. Canada.
Thanks so much, Edale, for joining me!
J. Scott Coatsworth: When did you know you wanted to write, and when did you discover that you were good at it?
Edale Lane: I have been composing stories since I learned to scratch words on paper with a pencil. My first “book” was completed when I was in grade two (Mama was so proud!) It was about dinosaurs, featuring my favorite ones, completely plagiarized but I did do the artwork. In high school my friends all wanted to read my stories and swore they were wonderful, but they just said that because they were my friends. I discovered I was good at academic writing while completing my master’s degree in history which I embarked on to raise my teacher’s salary but also because by then I truly wanted to write historical fiction. I was in my thirties when I completed my first full-length, well written, fully fleshed out novel and I recognized it was good because my mother, the perfectionist English and literature teacher, was overwhelmed that her little girl could produce something as complex, imaginative, and exciting as Viking Quest. Over twenty years later, it has been revived and published under my own label, Past and Prologue Press!
JSC: If you could sit down with one other writer, living or dead, who would you choose, and what would you ask them?
EL: So many! I would love to sit down with Mark Twain (Samuel Clemmons) and just listen to him tell stories from his fascinating life. I would love discussing Joan of Arc with him as he wrote such a masterful work about her – and of course his adventures on the river I grew up next to.
JSC: Why did you choose to write in your particular field or genre? If you write more than one, how do you balance them?
EL: My mother spent most of her life as an English and Literature teacher, but she earned her degree in history. Art, music, and history filled our home when I was growing up and my favorite movies were Ben Hur, Robin Hood (the Errol Flynn version), The Three Musketeers, and pretty much anything that included riding horses or sword fighting. History remained my favorite subject in school and later I earned a Master’s Degree in the field. When I first started writing, I was not daring enough to make my heroes women and give them female lovers; I simply chose to live vicariously through my leading men. I keep my similar yet divergent genres in balance by writing under two different names: Melodie Romeo for historical thrillers, horror, and heterosexual romances, and Edale Lane for exciting tales of historical or fantasy lesbian romance.
JSC: What inspired you to write this particular story? What were the challenges in bringing it to life?
EL: At first, the Night Flyer was going to be one book, but it got to be too long so I decided on a trilogy. There was an ending in Chaos in Milan, but I also left it open to more adventures. After a number of fans (and my two leading ladies) asked me for more, two more plotlines dropped into my head. Missing in Milan furthers the Night Flyer’s adventures, develops some secondary characters, features another of Leonardo da Vinci’s inventions, and sets the stage between Florentina and Maddie for the last installment. Shadows over Milan definitely concludes the saga, hopefully in a satisfactory way. One thing I believe the series lacked without this novel was a final closure between Florentina and Don Benetto, who killed her father in book one. This face-to-face meeting has been a long time coming. Also, we had yet to see Florentina have to deal with failure, and I think that, too, was overdue.
JSC: Tell us something we don’t know about your heroes. What makes them tick?
EL: Florentina is very confident in her intellect and physical prowess, but feels oafish and inept in social settings. (You may glean that from the novels) What I don’t include, is that she didn’t tell her father that she was attracted to women instead of men, but merely made up excuses why she did not wish to wed. Madelena worries often. (That is pretty noticeable.) But the reasons behind it may not be. When Maddie was a tot, two of her siblings died of whooping cough. Her mother died when she was a child; then her husband was killed. She may not even realize the fact she possesses a fear of loss and being left by those she loves, but having had so many people close to her pass away while she was still young drives her worries of losing Florentina.
JSC: What were your goals and intentions in this book, and how well do you feel you achieved them?
EL: My goal was to satisfactorily conclude a series that I have loved writing. A subtle goal throughout has been to impress upon the reader certain ideas that I espouse to, such as “nothing is impossible,” “whatever can be imagined, can be realized,” and “you are the master of your own thoughts.” I took this philosophy a bit farther in Shadows over Milan when Florentina reveals her “secret of the universe” near the end. We each have the opportunity and the power to create our own lives the way we choose (even if at times laws, governments, and society at large have made our paths difficult.) My goal in all my writing is to entertain, educate, and inspire the reader; I hope I have achieved that goal with the Night Flyer Series.
JSC: What was the most valuable piece of advice you’ve had from an editor?
“Less is more.” The fewer words you can use to say something, the better. It is a lesson I constantly struggle to master.
JSC: What other artistic pursuits (if any) do you indulge in apart from writing?
EL: I was first, and am still, a musician. Starting with the piano, I moved to French horn and sang in my church choir. In high school, band was my life, and it was my dream to become a band director. I graduated with a degree in music education from the University of Southern Mississippi in 1982 never to stand on the podium lifting my baton to give the downbeat. Life got in the way, but I did spend many enjoyable years as a church choir director and playing my French horn in the Mississippi Wind Symphony.
JSC: Star Trek or Star Wars? Why?
EL: My whole life has coexisted with these two worlds, Star Trek from my young childhood and Star Wars since my adolescence. While I love and cherish both worlds, the character I most identify with is Luke Skywalker, therefore I must choose Star Wars. Also, I am really drawn to the spiritual aspect of that universe that is lacking in Star Trek.
JSC: What are you working on now?
EL: I have begun research for a totally fresh project that could take me much longer to complete than my more recent works. Other authors recognize that a series, after book one, gets pretty quick to turn out additional volumes because the world has been created, the characters, the style, and all they need is new plotlines. My current WIP is set in pre-colonial British Columbia and features the Chilliwack, a sub-group of the Sto:lo Nation. Walks with Spirits is a two-spirit woman who hunts and dresses as a man; her love interest, Laughing Brook, does not feel a second spirit and enjoys her role as a woman – she just loves Walks with Spirits instead of the man her parents want her to marry. Another main character, Two Rivers Running, is a two-spirit man who orders his life as a woman. It is still in the early stages of development, but for the time being the working title is Walks with Spirits. I have no projected date when it will be finished, only that it will be done right!
And now for Edale’s new book: Shadows Over Milan:
What happens when heroes fall?
Murder strikes Milan, threatening the city’s future under an ominous shadow of war. Was it the Spanish, the Germans, the Milanese, or were darker forces at play? The city is thrust into a frenzy only the Night Flyer can quell, but can she halt the wheels of war?
Maddie’s greatest fears are realized when the Night Flyer suffers a serious injury that leaves her just short of dead. Florentina suffers more than physical pain as she grapples with a crisis of faith. Will she be forced to choose between continuing as the Night Flyer and staying with the woman she loves?
The final installment of the Night Flyer Series is riddled with mystery, political intrigue, danger, and heart-felt moments as the various storylines from throughout the saga come together in an exciting conclusion you don’t want to miss!
That night Florentina stood on Madelena’s balcony in her nightgown and robe, gazing up at the stars. The rain had passed, leaving a fresh scent in the air. As she contemplated a myriad of subjects, she felt Maddie’s arms wrap around her from behind, and was comforted by her nearness.
“What are you doing out here?” Maddie asked as she pressed her body to Florentina’s back.
Fiore exhaled in blissful satisfaction, bringing her hands to cover Maddie’s at her waist. “Contemplating the mysteries of the Universe.”
Florentina caught Maddie’s chuckle as she squeezed her tight. “Of course you are,” she cooed with delight. “And what enigma have you discerned?”
Florentina sighed and turned in Maddie’s arms to face her. “That I have limitations,” she uttered in dismay, “and I would rather I did not.”
Over a year ago when Shadow Guild assassins in the employ of a chaos lord threw bombs through the church windows onto the very row she, Maddie, and the children occupied, her Night Flyer reflexes got them safely out of harm’s way. She still bore a few light scars from the glass and large splinters that were blasted into her back. But today….
“I would say that is a drawback common to all humans,” Madelena responded.
“I was so terrified, Maddie,” Fiore admitted. “I heard the thunderous hooves, then saw, and I ran. I tried to get to her, but I realized I wouldn’t make it. I knew the horses were faster and I could not save Betta. It felt like a sword slicing me from throat to gut,” she bemoaned.
“Sweetling, I heard, saw, and experienced the same panic, the same hopeless fear,” Maddie said. She kissed Florentina’s lips tenderly, keeping her in a tight embrace. “You were swifter than I was.”
“But I wasn’t fast enough,” she lamented. “It makes me feel like, if I can’t protect the ones I love, then what good am I?”
“Come to bed with me now, Fiore,” Maddie instructed, and she led her by the hand.
They snuggled in Maddie’s oversized bed, complete with pastel satin sheets and an array of goose-down pillows. Despite the lover nestled on her shoulder and being drowned in luxurious comfort, Florentina was troubled.
Maddie placed a kiss to her cheek and slid fingers across the smooth fabric of her gown, tantalizing the flesh beneath.
“We weren’t alone,” she explained as she lay facing Florentina propped on pillows. “Betta and Matteo would not have been so far ahead of us, and you would have had time to reach them. Benetto was closest; thank God he was able to protect her.”
Florentina locked eyes with Maddie, a bewildered expression on her face. “I kissed him; I was so grateful and relieved that I kissed him.” She breathed in and out and shook her head. “I am so conflicted now.”
Maddie pushed loose brunette hair behind Fiore’s ear and kissed her tenderly. “I can only imagine.”
“It was one thing to forgive him, to not think about him at all, to be indifferent to the man,” she continued. Florentina sensed the churning of too many raw emotions. “He killed my father, and yes, he is working to better himself and he has been grandfatherly with the children, but now I have all this thankfulness and appreciation for him. It just doesn’t feel right.”
“To be honest,” Maddie said, stroking Florentina’s cheek. “I am having some of the same mixed emotions, though not with the intensity of yours. People can change. They usually don’t, but it is possible, and I believe he has.”
Florentina nodded. “Would it be a betrayal of my papa if I were to develop any measure of affection for the man who murdered him? Forgiving and forgetting is one thing, but I see him all the time now; he is part of the family. I just don’t know how I should feel.”
Madelena kissed her again and asserted, “What you need to settle in your mind and heart is the answer to one question: is the Benetto who protected Betta the same man who killed your papa two years ago?”
“That is indeed what I must determine,” Fiore agreed. “Oh, Maddie, if he had not been there… I couldn’t…” Tears streamed from her eyes in a most unfamiliar way.
“You can do amazing things, mi amore; but no one can do everything or save everyone. Betta is safe, and you did everything humanly possible. Speaking of which, you haven’t said what happened when you and Antonio caught up with the coach.”
“Oh.” The tears dried up. Florentina propped herself on an elbow and turned her body toward Madelena. “We discovered Marquis Jaquet de Lozere’s dead body. He had been stabbed.”
Concern arrested Maddie’s features. “That is indeed an unfortunate turn of events.” They gazed at each other for a long moment. “I suppose the Night Flyer will wish to investigate.”
“You are quite correct. But there is nothing I can do about it tonight.”
Another pause hung in the air, then Maddie spoke. “Let me hold you. It has been a dark day and much weighs on your mind. It is my turn to be strong for you.”
Fiore caught her lips, kissing them with life-affirming fervor. When she released them, she breathed, “I love you so much. You always know exactly what I need and are happy to give it to me.”
“You are my life, my very breath,” Maddie uttered in a husky tone. “Now, come to me.”
Maddie pulled her in and Florentina snuggled close with her head resting on one full breast and a hand cupping the other in the sweetest embrace she had or would ever know, and prayed for sleep to capture them both.