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Interview with Victoria Walklate, author of Hellion Pride

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Hellion Pride is the story of young aristocrat Tamar McKinnon, whose life is ripped apart when she is accused of murdering her father. She flees to London with her best friend and is rescued by a thief-taker, a 19th century forerunner of a bounty hunter. Life on the streets is merciless yet somehow Tamar manages to survive and even thrive, gaining more colourful friends along the way.

So far, so Oliver Twist. But that’s a false comparison, isn’t it? Tell us what happens next.
Five years later, a desperate man asks for help in finding a missing prostitute. Life takes a sinister turn when Tamar and her friends discover that others are missing too. Someone is using a vicious gang of bodysnatchers to hunt the weak and the helpless. That is unacceptable. But Tamar is still a wanted woman, and her determination to defeat her enemies may lead her to the gallows.

What genre is it?
Historical adventure with a touch of mystery and a little bit of Regency romance mixed in.

Tell us about Tamar.
She may be the daughter of an Earl, but Tamar is no meek little debutante. She’s dealt with the suicide of her mother, the cruelty of her father, one brother dying and the other one accusing her of murder and that was all before she fled to the dangerous London streets. Strong-willed and passionate, she knows right from wrong and isn’t afraid to say so. She’s not perfect – arrogance, a hot temper and frustration at hiding behind an alias are her shortfalls – but she does her best to keep the moral high ground.

You mentioned her colourful friends.
Her closest friend Zahra doesn’t believe in morals. Raped at sixteen at the hands of Tamar’s father and brother, Zahra is a broken and bitter young woman. Her loyalty is unshakeable, her courage undeniable, but her sadistic streak is worrying, to say the least. Add to this a wicked skill with a blade and it’s no wonder Tamar keeps her on a tight leash.

Then there are her other friends: gruff thief-taker Jonah and his flighty niece Thalia, mysterious orphan Cassidy and cantankerous cook Rumpa, not to mention an annoyingly tenacious Duke, but you’ll need to read the book to learn more about them…

Tamar isn’t your everyday historical romance heroine, is she? What kind of readers will this book appeal to?
Mystery and historical fiction lovers, people seeking a new heroine to cheer for and any romance readers who have ever wished that the damsel in distress would brush off the dashing hero and rescue herself.

Have you written any other books that we should read next?
This is my very first novel, but hopefully not my last.

Tell us a bit about yourself.
I’m just over the wrong side of thirty, short, hardworking and usually cheerful. I live in the beautiful county of Norfolk with my husband, two children and two cats.  I know I should say that I write all the time, but I don’t. I write whenever I can, but that’s not the same is it! I write once the kids are in bed, once my husband is watching the football, once the cats are fed, once the housework is done… you get the idea.

Other than writing, my favourite things in the world are giggling with my son, reading with my daughter and drinking wine with my husband.

Hellion Pride has taken me almost ten years to write, but I’m very proud of it and am determined that the next book will not take that long.

Do you have a website where we can keep up with your work?
I do indeed. It is www.victoriawalklate.com and I’d love it if you visited.

How can we follow you on Twitter and/or Facebook?
@vwalklate and www.facebook.com/victoriawalklate.

What’s next?
I am currently writing Book 2 in The Hellion Series, which continues Tamar’s story. I’m hoping this will be out in summer 2014.

We’re curious about the word Hellion.
A hellion is an old term of a troublemaker or wild woman, used quite a bit in Regency novels. Its origin is the Scottish word ‘hallion’ which means rogue. I felt it summed Tamar up perfectly, in the eyes of the ton, anyway.

The ton?
The ton is another term for the high society that Tamar was born into. The gulf between the classes in the Regency era was vast, and Tamar’s unconventional life would have been a scandal of epic proportions among the upper class elite.

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