Wednesday, July 18, 2012

Author Interview: Pamela Clare on her novel "Defiant"

Read Defiant's review

 Pamela Clare will answer reader questions in the comment section below!

Q:        Defiant was released four years after Untamed because of publisher issues.  Fans take the end of an unfinished series hard.  How did you take the possibility?  Once you received the wonderful news how long did it take you to write Defiant?

I was heartbroken. I’d spent so long researching this period and put my heart into both Surrender and Untamed. The idea of not being able to complete the series, or worse, of not even being able to give Connor his story and at least finish with the three MacKinnon brothers, was extremely upsetting. I had no control over the situation, and it was only thanks to my agent, who got my rights back, and to my editor at Berkley, who bought the series that I was finally to write Connor’s story.

Q:        In one of your interviews you mentioned that once you use a term for “orgasm” you don’t use it anymore.  Exactly how many terms for an orgasm are there??  I found 28 synonyms, but surely “reach the zenith” cannot reasonably be used.

Sadly, “orgasm” and the word “climax” used to mean orgasm didn’t exist during the 18th century. The latter as a verb dates to the 20th century, while “climax” for orgasm dates to about 1880. It’s really frustrating because you end up using something that sounds a bit purple, looking for ways to describe it without really saying it. I have no idea how many terms exist. I have a dictionary of sexual terminology and there are undoubtedly pages, but most of the words are modern. So that’s always a challenge. Interestingly, the word “come” to mean “orgasm” is very old, dating to the 17th century.

Q:        In Defiant there’s a scene where villagers say some rather crude things.  How did you come up with “fill her sweet hive with your honey?”

That was pure imagination. Trying to imagine what people might say in another language (it was Shawnee villagers shouting to Connor in Shawnee) led me to play with some of our terms. “Honey pot” is one that some people use for a woman’s vagina. I just played with that — the metaphor, that is.

Q:        Many historicals include the possibility of women being raped and bearing “bastards” outside of wedlock, but Defiant takes the scenario much further and involves torture and abortion.  Was it hard or embarrassing to write these situations and are they historically accurate?

I should make it clear that no abortion takes place in the story.  I’m not opposed to including that in a story, but it wouldn’t have worked in this novel.

Rape is a sad global reality from date rape to stranger rape to marital rape in countries where wives don’t have the right to say “no.” In societies where men (fathers, husbands, etc.) control women, they often don’t see forced marriage as a form of rape. I see any sex that is not consensual as rape, whether it’s because a young girl has just been forced to marry someone or because someone jumped out of the bushes with a knife.

It wasn’t difficult or embarrassing at all to write about these things. I’ve been an investigative journalist for about 20 years, so there’s pretty much nothing that embarrasses me. I’ve never shied away from including gritty content in my novels. For me, a romance novel isn’t an antiseptic version of the world free of tough issues; it’s a book with a happy romantic ending. For me as a writer, the grit makes the story feel more real. And then it also makes the happy ending seem happier by contrast.

Both are very historical and accurate from the kind of contraception that was used (and which failed in the story and, I’m sure, in real life) to the use of pennyroyal, which really can induce a miscarriage, but can also very easily kill the mother. Girls and women have made themselves sick and died here in the U.S. trying to use pennyroyal to abort in secret.

Abortion dates back to the beginnings of human history. That’s just a fact. My college degree and master’s work is in archaeology, and I focused on the study of the ancient Aegean cultures, Rome and Egypt. And all of these cultures had their methods for abortion from inserting thistles into the cervix (ancient Greece) to pennyroyal (medieval Europe). Often women died.

The Roman poet Ovid wrote about abortion. Greek pottery displays women with staffs tipped with thistles, which many archaeologists have interpreted as a reference to abortion. Spartan women were expected to abort fetuses conceived with unsuitable mates. Plato wrote about the need for children of incest never to see the light, i.e., to be aborted. Aristotle felt that abortions were necessary in some cases and wrong in others.

And all of these societies practiced infanticide when an unwanted child was born, even if that child was the product of a marriage. Greeks and Romans alike were known to kill deformed newborns. In ancient Greece, where a man’s holdings would be divided between his sons and daughters were expensive to marry off, it was not uncommon for unwanted infants to be abandoned in the hills or put in large clay vessels, such as large win jugs, and left on the streets. If someone took them (often brothels did), they lived. If not, they were detritus on the streets.

As for torture, punishment during this period often took the form of torture. A woman found guilty of fornication or bastardy in the 18th century could be dragged through the streets in a cart while being whipped on the bare breasts — and that was here in Colonial America.

Men seemed to suffer a lot less all around.

The torture to which I think you are referring is also accurate. I didn’t make that up.

Q:        You’ve said you will write Joseph’s story.  Will you write one for Captain Cooke?

That’s a possibility that wouldn’t have occurred to me until after I wrote Defiant. He was an endearing sort of naïve, very stuffy character, but in Defiant, he really came into his own and became a man, so to speak. The idea of writing a story for him is intriguing to me.

Q:        Tell us about the Defiant trailer.  What did you use to draw “Connor’s” tattoo?  Does the model Karl Biermann wax his chest?  The questions are endless, just give us your best details. 

Oh, gosh, well, we had an absolute blast making the trailer. My son, the director and film editor, recently graduated from Ithaca College with a film degree. Jenn LeBlanc of Illustrated Romance contributed models. I drew the tattoos on his arms with an eyeliner pencil that Jenn brought to the set. I’m not sure if Karl shaves or waxes — I did not ask him. He was very professional, and he and Benjamin worked through each scene, while I found myself trying not to ogle Karl. Jenn says I blushed; I guess I’ll believe her. Watching some of the action made me think so much of Connor and the story. As Jenn said at one point, it was like spending a day in the mountains with my muse, as we kept getting “glimpses” of Connor in what Karl was doing. We did some pickup shots with model Derek Hutchins as Wentworth and Cora Kemp, whom I dragged around a mountainside for an hour. Thanks to Twitter, I was able to locate two wonderful Shakespearean actors — Kate McDermott and Mike Gamache, who recorded the voice tracks. I think once we got all the pieces — the footage, the voice tracks, the soundtrack — Benjamin did a great job editing it together. Jenn and I have been enjoying it a bit too much, it seems. We shared it with an audience at a reading I did on July 10, and the women cheered at the end.

It’s really amazing how many hours of work went into making a two-minute video, but I think you’ll agree it was well worth it!

For more insider information about the trailer, read Clare’s article on USA Today
Watch Defiant's trailer here.

Q:        Romance Writers of America 32nd Annual Conference – are you going?  Where can readers find you?

I will be there. I registered too late to be part of the literacy signing, but I will be at the signing. I’ll have Defiant romance novel trading cards that I can sign for readers, and if readers have books, I’ll sign those, too. I’m excited to be there and hope to meet a lot of you!

Meet Pamela Clare, an award winning journalist who writes contemporary romantic suspense and historical romance. She’s ridiculously savvy about history and has enough life experience to fuel her contemporary I-Team series. She has a degree in archaeology, a passion for music, 20 years of investigative reporting under her belt and somehow ended up writing romance for all of us. Luckily, I’ve never encountered someone who thinks romance authors are uneducated, but if I ever do I will present to them...

Click here to contact Pamela and comment below to talk with her here.


  1. Love it love it!! What a great interview! I'll ask Karl the burning questions when I see him on Sunday and report back. Until then, I say he plucks with clamshells ;)


  2. Haha!

    Jenn, you crack me up! I want you to say that to Karl. I can imagine the expression on his face. Clam shells!

  3. *sigh*. Karl. Rawr. I could interview him. Of course I'd need to feel him, I mean *meet him*, to do a thorough job. For research.

  4. Great interview! I've read all of Pamela's contemporaries but no historicals yet. That information about torture and stuff got serious fast, but I definitely appreciate a book that looks at the harsh realities of the time. I remember reading about infanticide and the issue of younger wives in Moran's Cleopatra's Daughter and thought it was really heartbreaking and well done.

    1. Amber! I hope "Giving It Up" is topping book charts everywhere. Yea, Pamela kinda rocks. There's no way around it.

      And the information? It's all in her head. The interview was finished within 10 minutes.



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