The Interviews
New Faces 7:
Gaelen Foley
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by Cathy Sova

Welcome to New Faces, where we are pleased to introduce the newest authors on the romance scene! In this issue, we welcome new author Gaelen Foley, whose historical The Pirate Prince is on bookshelves now. We know you'll enjoy meeting her!

Gaelen, welcome! Tell us about yourself.

Hi everybody. My name is Gaelen Foley and I'm glad to meet you! THE PIRATE PRINCE is my first book, a September release (historical romance) from Ballantine/Fawcett Gold Medal. This book has been a labor of love, and I'm just thrilled that, at last, I get to share it with you.

I'm from Pittsburgh, PA, but I've spent 7 years--a quarter of my life--in Dixie. Atlanta and Charleston, to be exact. When I got tired of dodging hurricanes and homesick for my crazy Irish family, I came back north. I'm getting married (8 days from now!!!) to a truly wonderful hero named Eric. We've been together for 10 years, so we figured it was about time to make it official. We'll be honeymooning in England and Paris--my first trip abroad! I simply am going out of my mind with anticipation!

(BTW, I'll continue to write under my maiden name, Gaelen Foley, after I'm married. Since many people ask me about it, Gaelen is my real name. You better believe I heard a lot of teasing about it as a kid! It's Irish.)

I have 2 writing assistants: extremely spoiled Bichon Frises named Gulliver and Barnum. They're little white mop things kind of like poodles, for those of you who have never heard of the breed. Gulliver usually sleeps on my desk while I'm writing--which is pretty much constantly, except when I'm sleeping. I'm a workaholic because I love, love, love to write.

I have a B.A. in Literature with an unofficial minor in Philosophy, so if my books have a lot of angst and my heroes are tortured, you see why. Maybe it's my Catholic background, I don't know!

Tell us about getting this first book published.

I suppose you could say I was one of the last of the starving artists! I always knew I wanted to be a writer. I made up my mind in my 11th grade English class that I wanted to be an author after reading James Joyce's Portrait of the Artist. That book was formative for me because it showed me WHY writing is important and reinforced my sense that stories are not just for fun, they are necessary, a kind of soul medicine. Anyway, after graduating from college, mostly I waited tables at night for 5 years so I would have my days free to write. Crazy? You sacrifice for what you love. You pay your dues. Everyone I knew (except Eric and few of my closest friends) thought I was nuts. Heck, sometimes I thought I was nuts! While the friends I knew were getting advanced degrees, buying houses and cars, and having babies, I just kept taking drink orders and collecting rejection letters! At long last, the brilliant Shauna Summers of Ballantine pulled me out of the slush pile and saw promise in my work.

I joined RWA in 1995 and I learned a lot about the business end of writing from the organization. I never was in a critique group. Eric is my main reader. I am very, very big on outlining as well as revising.

What drew you to romance?

Coming out of an academic, so-called literary background, I didn't discover romance until the end of college. Then I got totally sucked in from the first one I read. It was by Penelope Neri.

Though I missed out on the fun for years, in a way I'm glad I didn't discover romance until I had completed my study of Western literature's core classics--you know--Homer, Dante, Chaucer, Milton, Shakespeare "and the boys"--because I feel I soaked in that language and the fullness of intention behind those works, which helped form my voice and helped shape my focus on big, intense, dramatic stories with universal themes.

Whose writing has helped you shape your own work?

To me, Laura Kinsale is at the absolute pinnacle of the historical romance genre. She's really the only one who has influenced me, per se, but there are so many other talented people whose work I just devour, too! I think Susan Wiggs is great, and Jane Feather, and Teresa Medeiros. Haywood Smith is another amazing newer writer. (frown) I know I'm missing others...

What does your family think of having a romance author in their midst?

Ah, funny you should ask! My book, you see, has been rated "very sensual." As I said, I have a Catholic family, so, ahem, I'm just waiting for someone to ask me about my sex scenes so I can give a sly grin and kind of give a Mae West drawl: "Well, you know what they always say...write what you know." LOL !!

Seriously, they're all very proud of me and that feels wonderful.

Tell us about plans for future books.

The sequel to THE PIRATE PRINCE is called PRINCESS. It will be available in June '99. There's talk about making the Ascencion chronicles a trilogy, in which case book three will be called PRINCE CHARMING.

PRINCESS features Darius Santiago as the hero. He's the wild child who crosses Lazar and Allegra's path midway through THE PIRATE PRINCE. In the first book, Darius is fourteen, a Spanish, half-gypsy pickpocket, an extremely beautiful youth who is all but feral from living on the streets and fending for himself. When Lazar and Allegra show the boy some kindness, he becomes instantly devoted to them, hungry to better himself. Darius is a tough, streetwise kid who survives on pride; he swears that he will become Lazar's first knight when Lazar regains his kingdom.

Twenty years later, in PRINCESS, that's exactly what you find. As Napoleon schemes to take Lazar's kingdom from him (and to get control of Ascencion's navy), Darius is King Lazar's top secret agent, a spy and assassin. He is a mystery man in the shadows, known for his savage loyalty to the royal family.

The smart, rather world-weary heroine is Lazar's stunningly beautiful, 20-year-old daughter, Princess Serafina. Serafina is a Helen of Troy figure for whom men will fight wars, and she is hopelessly in love with Darius. She is the only living thing he has ever really trusted...but she's the only woman he can't have.

I hope you'll pick up THE PIRATE PRINCE, in stores now. The first chapter of PRINCESS appears in the back of the book to give you a taste of what that will be like, too. I'm really excited about both of these stories, and I love to hear from readers via e-mail at gaelenf@aol.com. Thank you!

Galen, best of luck with your next books! Readers, check out our review of The Pirate Prince.

August 31, 1998


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