Twelfth Sun by Mae Clair
I’m thrilled to host one of my Lyrical sisters today. Mae Clair has been a good friend and critique partner, and she is one of the most active and interesting bloggers out there. If you haven’t checked out her blog, click on her name above, and see what tantalizing, chill-inducing mythical phenomenon she’s talking about this week. (Harry Potter fans will particularly love this Monday’s post on the basilisk.)
Jessi: Let’s start with an easy question. What’s your tagline for Twelfth Sun? Mae:
Thanks for having me here, Jessi, and thanks for that lovely intro! My tag line for Twelfth Sun is “The hunky young PhD knows all about seduction, but what does he know about love?”
Jessi: Love it. It fits your story perfectly! Let’s talk about the “hunky PhD’s” love interest. Your heroine, Reagan Cassidy, is an interior designer and a business owner. They say write what you know, and I suspect from the amazing setting details you wrote from Reagan’s point of view, you have a background knowledge of interior design.
Twelfth Sun excerpt: Reagan set her suitcase on the floor, pausing to study the decor. Interior design was her business so it was easy for her to appreciate the contrasting shades of blue, cream and brown that supported the inn’s nautical theme. The bedside lamp had a brass ship’s wheel mounted at the base, and the walls were paneled with planks of walnut-stained barnboard. A closed door on the adjacent wall led to what she guessed was the bathroom. Heaven!–Kindle Locations 50-53.
This wonderfully-written and highly visual paragraph is just one of many examples that put me right into the setting. How did you come into your deep knowledge of interior design?
Mae: It’s probably a carry-over from my day job. I’ve spent over twenty years in real estate and have visited a lot of properties –historic, contemporary, cottages, B&B’s, multi-million dollar homes, farms and even an equine surgery center (that was an amazing estate!). My job focuses on marketing through avenues such as writing ad copy, brochure copy, and graphic design. As a result I tend to focus on details, especially visual ones, like what makes a room or home appealing. What kind of ambiance does the decor conjure, etc.? When I write fiction and think of setting, that switch is just naturally stuck in the “on” position.
Jessi: Your hero, Elijah Cross, is a scientific-minded PhD with a specialty in marine archeology, whereas Reagan has a more artistic personality. They have to work as a team to solve a treasure hunt. What challenges did you face balancing the scientist and the decorator and getting them to work together on the clues?
Mae: I’ve always been of the opinion opposites attract. My husband and I are perfect examples. I’m the idealistic dreamer, he’s the levelheaded realist. Over the years he’s helped me to realize there are times I need to be more practical and I’ve helped him be less pragmatic. It’s a yin and yang balance that creates harmony, the same with Elijah and Reagan. They each need something from the other to complete them. I just had to make them look past the surface. It was a lot of fun getting them there.
Jessi: And it was a lot of fun reading their journey! My favorite aspect of the romance between Reagan and Elijah is the age difference between them. Elijah is ten years younger than Reagan. This causes all kinds of insecurities on both ends. This was a nice source of tension throughout Twelfth Sun. What inspired you to write a story with a younger-man-older-woman dynamic?
Mae: Star-crossed love has always appealed to me, as does complicated romance. Remember, I’m an idealistic dreamer, believing love conquers all. :-) Creating a sizeable age gap, especially with the woman as the older party created immediate, built-in conflict I couldn’t resist.
Jessi: Your secondary characters are very important to the plot of Twelfth Sun. They also help create an almost Clue-like mystery component (strong, quirky characters; everyone is after the same goal; they are all staying in a mansion, and the host is mysteriously absent…or is he?). My affinity for the movie and board game Clue had me seeing parallels all over the place and was part of the reason I couldn’t put Twelfth Sun down. But the New England coast, summer-on-the-beach setting felt fresh and new. Tell me about blending romance and mystery. Was it difficult keeping both aspects of the plot in mind as you wrote the novel?
Mae: Not especially. I’ve always held the belief that romance and mystery are a perfect fit, although I know many readers prefer their genres pure. I loved Clue as a kid, (it’s still my favorite board game) and spent a good portion of my childhood dreaming up mysteries for my imaginary characters to solve. I love the danger and the unknown elements of a mystery…trying to fit all of the pieces together. But I’m also hopelessly romantic, which is why I love to blend the two. BTW, I’m glad you enjoyed the setting. The eastern seaboard has long been my second home
Jessi: If you had to participate in a treasure hunt at a wealthy eccentric’s estate, where would you want to go? If it were me, I’d choose a Scottish Castle. Maybe Skibo Castle, the place where Madonna and Guy Ritchie got married.
Mae: Actually, I think I’d go with the setting I conjured for Twelfth Sun. I love the coast and as lavish as I made the mansion, I could definitely pass a day or two there. Plus it had a quaint little sea town just down the road. My idea of beach bliss!
Jessi: That mansion was definitely way cool. I mean, it had a planetarium and everything! Did you actively research to nail the maritime details and mysterious clues of Twelfth Sun? Or did you simply draw from your passion for maritime history?
Mae: I did research the maritime history details. Everything related to ship building, lightships (a passion of mine), nautical superstitions and some of the stories Elijah tells related to nautical history are all true. For the clues, that was me, letting my mind run rampant.
Jessi: Thank you for visiting A Time to Love Mae! My final questions: Where can readers buy Twelfth Sun and where can they go to learn more about you and your works?
Mae: Thanks so much for having me Jessi. It was a pleasure to be here! All of my contact and purchase links are below.