Thoughts on the wild, the weird, and the romantic from author Joy Nash

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Joy Nash is a USA Today Bestselling Author and RITA Award Finalist applauded by Booklist for her "tart wit, superbly crafted characters, and sexy, magic-steeped plots."

» Saturday, December 01, 2007

Author Interview - Diana Groe

This week's interview is with historical author Diana Groe. I met Diana for the first time last April at RT in Pittsburgh, and was very intrigued hearing about her Dark Ages and Medieval romances, especially Silk Dreams, set in 11th century Byzantium.

I finally got to read Silk Dreams last month, and was not disappointed! I absolutely loved it. It's gone right to my keeper shelf. Diana's characters are so real, and so wonderfully flawed. There is not a cliché to be found in Diana's books. I really got into the romance between Valdis and Erik. Valdis and Erik are both from the northlands, outcasts from their homeland who end up in Byzantium for different reasons. Their romance unfolds so beautifully. There are several very compelling secondary characters as well. The wealthy eunuch who buys Valdis in the slave markets, seeing her as a cog in the wheel of his political plotting, was one of my favorites.

JC: Diana! Welcome! Tell us a bit more about Silk Dreams.

Diana Groe: SILK DREAMS is the story of Valdis, a young epileptic Northwoman, whose family has sold her into slavery because they believe her “witched.” Her new master, a late-made eunuch who has his own demons to slay, wants to use her seizures to fool his political enemies into thinking she is in contact with the spirit world and can foretell the future. In truth, Valdis has no such power, but she is plagued by a prescient dream that warns of the death of the exiled Northman who would dare anything to love her and see her free. My hero is a convicted murderer who has earned a place for himself as one of the Emperor’s elite Varangian Guard. Set in 11th century Byzantium, SILK DREAMS is cast against the backdrop of the most glittering, sophisticated and dangerous court of its time. It’s a story about redemption and love overcoming loss. The Chicago Tribune called SILK DREAMS “lushly sensual, sumptuously written.” You can read an excerpt on my website

JC: You have a March 2008 release coming up, Distracting the Duchess, writing as Emily Bryan. What's it about, and why the name change?

Diana Groe: Even though DISTRACTING THE DUCHESS is set in the more familiar Victorian era, the characters are not the usual suspects. My heroine, Artemisia (sounds like amnesia) is a widowed duchess who wants to make her mark as a serious artist. My hero Trevelyn is the 2nd son, the “spare,” of the Earl of Warre. His father believes he’s a lay-about, but Trev is actually an intelligence operative for the young Queen Victoria. Both the spy and the duchess are blind-sided by the passion that distracts them from their goals. Mistaken identities, an accidental betrothal, a little well-meant larceny and of course, love ruins all their plans.

DISTRACTING THE DUCHESS is my first foray into lighter fare. After writing 3 epic, dramatic historicals, I was ready for some sexy fun. So when I pitched the idea of an artistic duchess who mistakes Her Majesty’s spy for her next nude figure model, my editor jumped at the idea. The story is pure fun, the tone light-hearted and frankly much sexier than my previous work, so my editor thought a new pen name was required. Emily Bryan was born. I hope readers who enjoyed my Diana Groe books will give Emily a try and vice-versa. Don’t we all need light and dark, joy and sadness to stay balanced? Check out the first chapter at

JC: You've written books set in the 9th century Ireland and 11th century Byzantium. (sp?) Your upcoming Emily Bryan books are set in eighteenth and nineteenth century in (locations??). How do you go about researching so many different places and time periods?

Diana Groe: I adore history. The research is playtime for me. Librarians hide when they see me coming. But not all my research is done in the library. I visited Ireland to prepare for my Irish love story, ERINSONG. And when I was writing SILK DREAMS, since my heroine was going to be in a harem, I figured I needed to learn how an odalisque seduces her master. I took belly-dancing classes with one of my sisters. Wow, did I discover muscles I didn’t know I had!

JC: Whew. You would not catch me in a belly dancing costume - that's for sure! You've written in so many time periods - which is your favorite so far?

Diana Groe: I’ve lived in 9 different states, 4 time zones, and I always like where I am at the moment best! So I try to make what I’m currently working on my favorite. Right now, it’s a Georgian-set prodigal pirate tale. PLEASURING THE PIRATE, my 2nd Emily Bryan romance will be an August 2008 Leisure Book. The first chapter is waiting for you at

JC: The holidays are upon us! What's your favorite holiday tradition?

Diana Groe: I used to sing professional opera and one of my favorite roles is the Mother in Menotti’s AMAHL & THE NIGHT VISITORS. The three kings stop to rest at the cottage of a poor woman and her crippled son on their way to see the Christ Child. It’s a little jewel of an opera with a little bit of everything—comedy, drama, a little ballet and a miracle. I don’t sing it professionally any more, but I try to see it every year.

JC: Do you have a fast and fabulous holiday recipe to share?

Diana Groe: My dear grandmother had the best cinnamon roll recipe on the planet, which she shared with all of us. It is an intricate, complicated labor of love and requires several hours of hard work, but darn well worth it. One of my favorite childhood memories is waking up in her house on Christmas morning to the aroma of her fabulous baking. However, Grandma also had a few secrets. If she was pressed for time, she’d just get a canister of store-bought biscuit dough (Ballard’s, for choice), stretch out the biscuits, dip them in melted butter and roll them in cinnamon and sugar. After tying them in a knot, she’d bake them according to the package directions. We never knew the difference. My younger sister was the early riser of the clan and she caught Grandma at it. Grandma swore her to secrecy and my sister kept it until Grandma’s 80th birthday when she was totally “outed.” Anyway, I have adopted Grandma’s “Express Cinnamon Rolls” recipe as my favorite. As long as you throw away the incriminating evidence (i.e. the biscuit canister), you can get away with passing them off as home-made for decades!

JC: Thanks, Diana!

Happy Holidays & Happy Reading, everyone!


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Blogger Diana Groe said...

Ok, Joy. Now you've embarrassed me. You say I have no cliches in my writing and what do I claim my eunuch is battling--demons, what else? Actually, Damian is struggling to come to terms with losing his manhood. A late-made eunuch, Damian's emotions and desires are still those of natural man, but his body won't cooperate. I know sexual dysfunction is not a usual theme for romance, but it's a fact of life and Damian's journey to find a sense of wholeness was fascinating to explore.

8:07 PM  

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