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.
Today, Edale Lane – Edale Lane is the author of an award winning 2019 debut novel, Heart of Sherwood. She is the alter-ego of author Melodie Romeo, (Vlad a Novel, Terror in Time, and others) who founded Past and Prologue Press.
Thanks so much, Edale, for joining me!
J. Scott Coatsworth: What was your first published work? Tell me a little about it.
Edale Lane: Hum, that would depend on which “me” we are referring to. Edale Lane’s first published novel was Heart of Sherwood, which won the Rainbow Award for best historical lesbian romance. It places the Robin Hood story directly in the center of actual English history but with the twist of Robyn being a woman who disguises herself as a boy to hide from the Sheriff of Nottingham. If you mean the “other me,” that would be Vlad, a Novel, by Melodie Romeo, 2002. It is a historical thriller about Vlad the Impaler and the unlikely couple who end his bloody reign. It is a graphic, fast-paced thriller featuring a mf romance.
JSC: Do you use a pseudonym? If so, why? If not, why not?
EL: Speaking of pseudonyms… Edale Lane is the pen name I chose to write my lesbian romances under. I did this primarily so my audiences would know what kind of book they are buying. Since I was already established with several titles under Melodie Romeo in the historical thriller/horror genre, I decided writing my LGBTQ works under a new identity would help the readers to not be confused. Someone wanting a “two women live happily ever after story” may not be thrilled with corpses hanging on wooden stakes… but if you are, check out Vlad or Terror in Time.
JSC: Do you read your book reviews? How do you deal with bad or good ones?
EL: Yes, I do. I want to know how my books are received and I can learn from constructive criticism. I can give readers more of what they liked and less of what they didn’t next time. Good ones, naturally, boost my confidence and self-esteem, but I have had a few scorchers. It’s easy to feel personally wounded because a novel is like an author’s child and we don’t like anyone to attack it; but if it’s from someone I don’t know, I just shrug it off. You can’t please everyone all the time, and that person could have had a bad day and decided to take it out on me. Enough people have written great reviews that I can weather a few horrid ones.
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: How did you choose the topic for this book?
EL: My thesis professor said that almost everything that can be written already has, so in choosing my topic I need to either search deep for something new or explore a familiar subject in an entirely innovative way. Heart of Sherwood is a completely different way of telling the Robin Hood story, so for my new novel I decided to go for a story-type that to my knowledge has never been used, a kind of “Batwoman meets Leonardo da Vinci.” I chose Italy and the Renaissance because I was able to locate few novels with that setting as opposed to volumes in Victorian England or Medieval northern Europe. My master’s coursework prepared me for this period and my mother loved da Vinci so I was brought up marveling at his genius.
JSC: Let’s talk to your characters for a minute–what’s it like to work for such a demanding writer?
EL: Florentina: She never lets me sleep! I work all day then have to go flying around dishing out vengeance and justice all night. And she imagines me to be proficient at everything.
Madelena: She expects me to be beautiful all the time–do you have any idea how much work is involved in that? And I’d like to be a bit more decisive, but she writes me changing my mind more often than I do my socks!
Alessandro: Why can’t I have more range of emotion? No, I am the calm, cool, never-gets-rattled patriarch, steady as a stone. Just once I’d like to let loose and punch someone!
Benetto: She always writes stories where the boring, self-righteous do-gooders win and more interesting characters like me lose. Why can’t the villain ever prevail? I should be able to swash that up-start Night Flyer!
JSC: Were you a voracious reader as a child?
EL: Goodness no! I was a slow reader–no problem with comprehension, could always answer the questions, but reading was a very difficult endeavor. I was never diagnosed but later discovered that I have dyslexia. However, my mother was an avid reader and our house was filled with books from classics to Agatha Christie. I spent many afternoons or nights–even into my teens–lying in bed listening to Mama read to me. Now I listen to audio books.
JSC: What are some day jobs that you have held? If any of them impacted your writing, share an example.
EL: I have held jobs as: a private music teacher, a choir director, an instrumentalist, a private school teacher, a public school teacher, an after-school tutor, a Graduate Assistant, a Home Depot associate, a Kaplan Test Prep teacher/director, and an over-the-road truck driver. From this plethora of employment, the one that has impacted my writing most is the over-the-road truck driver. It is the only job on this list that has allowed me to make money. (All the others were jobs I held in conjunction with teaching school because it didn’t pay enough to support my family by itself.) And since I was always working two or three jobs and raising children, there was little time for anything else. My current job not only allows me more time to write, it supplies me with money to promote my books and stories and to start my own small press. Additionally, driving across such a large country with so many different climates and landscapes gives me great images for painting scenes in my works. At this juncture in my life, I do not think of myself as a truck driver who writes; I am an author who also drives a truck.
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: That would be Secrets of Milan, book two of the Night Flyer Trilogy. And while I don’t wish to keep my fans waiting too long, I do have a “day job.” Additionally, I am meticulous with research, rewrites, and editing, so I hope to have it finished by this summer. Want a teaser?
The Night Flyer had brought Florentina and Madelena together but now threatens to drive them apart. While Florentina searches for a mysterious underworld organization that has attempted to murder the woman she loves, Maddie struggles to deal with the danger Florentina is courting. Her brother, Alessandro, has become the most prominent merchant of Milan, but the Night Flyer uncovers a secret so shocking it could destroy them all.
And now for Edale’s latest book: Merchants of Milan:
Three powerful merchants, two independent women in love, one masked vigilante.
Florentina, set on revenge for her father’s murder, creates an alter-ego known as the Night Flyer. Madelena, whose husband was also murdered, hires Florentina as a tutor for her children and love blossoms between them. However, Florentina’s vendetta is fraught with danger, and surprising developments threaten both women’s lives.
Merchants of Milan is the first book in Edale Lane’s Night Flyer Trilogy, a tale of power, passion, and payback in Renaissance Italy. If you like gadgets and gismos, rich historical background, three-dimensional characters, and fast-paced action with a slow-boil lesbian romance, then you are sure to love this series. Buy this one of a kind novel today and let the adventure begin!
In the next instant Maddie placed a caressing hand to her face, leaned in, and kissed her. Although she had been anticipating this very possibility for hours, it came on her as swift and unforeseen as a summer storm. The sensual heat of those urgent lips melded to hers ignited something deep within Florentina’s core that sprung to life for the very first time and exploded throughout her being, a sensation so phenomenal, so novel that she had no context in which to place it. Breathless, her mind went totally blank, and she simply savored the moment.
When Madelena withdrew she whispered, “I’m sorry, I didn’t mean to overstep.”
“Sorry?” Florentina’s heart sank and her head spun. How could she be sorry? “Why? I’m not.”
“You’re not?” Maybe Maddie was as uncertain as she, as overcome with raw emotion and not knowing how to express it. “It’s just that–and I have contemplated this–with me being your employer and all, I don’t want you to expect you must do something you aren’t comfortable with. I would never pressure you-”
It was Florentina’s turn to be impulsive. She silenced Maddie by repeating the gesture, tasting again those full, cherry lips that flooded her mind, body, and soul with sensations. When it broke, they gazed into each other’s eyes looking for confirmation. “I understand I am only a servant in your household.”
“Don’t say that!” Maddie replied firmly. “That is not how I view you. Please, Fiore. How can I explain?”
The earlier butterflies began to settle in Florentina’s stomach and the fog of trepidation evaporate. She could perceive that the beautiful wealthy widow did regard her with esteem, did have feelings for her. This was not a mere dalliance she realized. “I care for you also,” she spoke softly and stroked Maddie’s luxurious strands. “Do not think you press me to do something I have not wanted to do since the moment I first saw you.”
Relief engulfed Madelena’s expression, and she brushed her cheek to Florentina’s then nuzzled her neck with moist, eager lips. A euphoric sigh escaped Fiore’s mouth at the intimate touch and she pulled Maddie closer. When their lips found each other’s again she opened to the honey-sweet tongue that was impatient to delve into it. Without willing them to do so, she realized her fingers were wound in those silky red strands while her other hand slid down Madelena’s back as far as the bench would allow. She could perceive her heartbeat against her own heated breast. This is what she had dreamt of and it surpassed her expectations. All she wanted to do was touch, caress, explore, and please this singular woman. Even as she was rendered breathless from the physical passion, her heart was telling her head that what she felt was far more, endlessly deeper. It was a very dangerous cavern, a bottomless pit that could spell her doom; she was falling in love.
Madelena realized she was making a mistake. She had acquired a good tutor for her children and a new friend to share meaningful experiences with, but a romantic affair? Where could that possibly lead? What would her brother think or do when he found out, and she knew he would, eventually. Hadn’t she lived a well-disciplined life? Could she not control her desires for more than a few weeks?
As her mind was blaring at her all the reasons to say no, her heart had been pleading an opposing case. Yes, she had found a teacher and a friend, but in Florentina she had discovered abundantly more. She was interesting, witty, talented, intuitive, and compassionate. She opened whole new worlds to the widow whose entire education was meant only to prepare her to be a merchant’s wife. For the past six months she had felt lost, as if she had no place and no purpose. She had helped Alessandro with the bookkeeping and personal relations with customers, but she had also spent her nights alone speculating on what the future may hold for her. She still could not answer that question, but she had spoken honestly when she said that Fiore made her feel real and alive. Since growing closer to the dark-haired inventor’s daughter she had begun to experience so many things. And today–today had likely been the best day of her twenty-eight years on this earth! Then the emotion of sharing her story, it was just all too much to expect her to maintain self-control. But now that she had initiated this passionate encounter, what would she do next?
Presently, she drew back from those sultry lips trying to regain some restraint. “Have you ever been with a woman before?” she asked to fill the silence.
Florentina shook her head. “If you mean sexually, I am quite inexperienced with anyone, male or female. Years ago when Cesare told me he was attracted to men, I mentioned that I was more drawn to women. I didn’t think he’d ever say anything; it’s not like we talked about it much, but now,” she paused casting starry eyes at Maddie, “I’m glad he did.”
She smiled and stroked Florentina’s cheek. “So am I.”
“I know you have experience,” she noted. “So, what do we do next?”
What indeed! Madelena considered. “Take one step at a time. May I suggest we try to get some sleep and take a night to process it all? I’m feeling a bit overwhelmed at the moment.”
“You’re overwhelmed?” Fiore laughed. “I’m not certain my legs will carry me upstairs!”
Maddie hesitated to move, as the tug of an invisible cord was drawing her back to her newfound treasure. Neither was Florentina was moving away. One more kiss and you must move. Give both of us time to think. She touched her lips to Fiore’s and closed her eyes. What makes one kiss a sloppy flop and another a driving, sensuous pleasure? Is it one’s mental perception or a physical current that connects two individuals who are similarly charged? I can feel the energy pass between her and I unlike any other before.
“I shall see you in the morning.” She released Florentina and pushed herself to her feet with a sheer force of will. Florentina followed saying her good-nights and Madelena closed the bedroom door behind her as she left. Alone once more, she glanced around her empty chamber and wished her lover could have stayed all night.
Edale Lane is the author of an award winning 2019 debut novel, Heart of Sherwood. She is the alter-ego of author Melodie Romeo, (Vlad a Novel, 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 in regard to research. She is a successful author who also currently drives a tractor-trailer across the United States. A native of Vicksburg, MS, Edale (or Melodie as the case may be) is also a musician who loves animals, gardening, and nature. Please visit her website at: https://pastandprologuepress.lpages.co/