A Sparkling Vintage Interview with historical fiction author J’nell Ciesielski!
A bit about this engaging novella: After the failed Jacobite Rebellion of 1715, war-weary Deven McLendon returns home to discover a thief creating chaos on his lands. But this thief isn’t like any other. When Rooney Corsen sets out to steal jewels to repay her family’s debts and keep a roof over her little sisters’ beads, never does she imagine snagging the laird’s heart instead. If you love Scottish heroes and suspenseful stories, you’ll love “Night Fox!”
And now to our conversation!
Jennifer Lamont Leo: First the basics. Where are you from, who’s in your family, and all that good stuff?
J’nell Ciesielski: I was born in Florida, lived in Texas and Germany for a while, but have called Virginia home now for ten years with my husband, little girl, and a lazy beagle named Daisy.
JLL: Tell us briefly about your writing journey and how you got started as an author.
JC: About fifteen years ago when I was a junior in college was the first time I sat down to write a serious story. I threw everything in including the kitchen sink so I highly doubt that story will ever see the light of day. Once I got all those beginner mistakes out of my system, I wrote another and then another all the while studying the craft of writing, taking classes, and entering contests. 2013 I started submitting to agents and finally one saw promise in me. It was another four years before I landed my first contract.
JLL: What inspired you to write “Night Fox”?
JC: I had just finished writing an emotionally draining story and wanted to do something a little more fun set in my beloved Scotland. I’d had the idea of writing about a lady thief for a while, but could never figure out a full length novel so when the opportunity came up to write a novella I thought this idea would be perfect. A little twist on the classic Robin Hood story.
JLL: Why did you choose to set your story in 1717?
JC: My second favorite place on earth is Scotland (my first being right here in the good ol’ US of A) and I try to set as many stories there as possible with a heavy emphasis on the Jacobite era in 1745. It’s a time period that fascinates me, perhaps as hauntingly beautiful as the Highland way of life drew its dying breaths on the battlefield of Culloden. For Night Fox I wanted to focus on another less written about Jacobite era around the 1715 rebellion.
JLL: Tell us about your research process for your story.
JC: The Jacobite era is one of my favorites to write about and I’ve spent years researching it for various stories. So without trying to sound like a clever cogs, I already had a collection of head knowledge of this time period though I did have to research a bit about the 1715 rebellion and how that would fit into the hero’s backstory, where he fought, when he would have returned home, etc.
JLL: What reading material is next to your favorite reading spot?
JC: I can have anywhere from one to three books going at the same time. Not something I like doing because it’s difficult to keep them straight, but necessity often dictates. A research book on whatever I’m writing, a bookclub book, and one I’m ready for me. I just finished American Duchess by Karen Harper which is about Consuelo Vanderbilt.
JLL: Oh, I loved American Duchess! What’s on your music playlist?
JC: All kinds of stuff! Classical, rock, Scottish folk, big band, country, movie soundtracks. It just depends on my mood. I will never turn off a song by Led Zepplin or Rod Stewart 🙂
JLL: Any can’t-miss movies, TV series, blogs, vlogs, podcasts, etc., that you’d recommend?
JC: Period dramas are my jam! Some of my recent favorites are: Turn, Outlander, Gran Hotel, Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society, The Last Kingdom. I could go on and on, but I’ll cut myself off here. Basically if you need series or movie recommendations, I’m your girl.
JLL: What do you do for fun?
JC: Read, travel as much as possible, and watch movies.
JLL: What’s the next project coming up from J’nell Ciesielski?
JC: The Socialite, a story of two sisters climbing the social ladder in Nazi-occupied Paris, comes out in April 2020! Spies and romance galore!
JLL: Sounds great! We’ll watch for it.
Thanks so much, J’nell!
Believing she was born in the wrong era, J’nell Ciesielski spends her days writing heart-stopping heroes, brave heroines, and adventurous exploits in times gone by. Winner of the Romance Through the Ages contest and Maggie Award, J’nell can often be found dreaming of a second home in Scotland, indulging in chocolate of any kind, or watching old black-and-white movies. Born a Florida girl, she now calls Virginia home, along with her very understanding husband, young daughter, and one lazy beagle. Find out more at her website and on Facebook and Twitter.