First of all welcome Rachel and thanks for being my guest at FLY HIGH!
Thank you so much for having me come and chat.
Just out of curiosity, you know I’m Italian and your surname is Rossano. Are you of Italian origins?
Unfortunately I don’t come by the Italian name by blood. I married into it, but I love Italians and their culture.
Honor: Second Novel of Rhynan is part of a series set in the Middle Ages and featuring intriguing love stories and gripping adventures. What is your fascination with medieval history? When did it start?
It started when I was young. I loved fairy tales, queens, kings, princes, and princesses. The romance of the Arthurian legends and the fascination with England started almost as soon as I was reading books on my own. I spent hours researching the Tudor dynasty of English history when I was a teen, but when I started writing I settled more in the Middle Ages because of the simpler and wilder setting.
You planned the Novels of Rhynan as a 5-book series + an anthology. Are the books stand-alone volumes or a connected saga following the same characters?
Each book stands alone. Each book is about a different couple, but they are linked by friendship and family. The heroes of the first and second books are best friends. The third book is about the man that the heroine in the second book rejects. The fourth and fifth books are going to be about the second generation of these couples. Reading the books in order will enrich the experience, but each can be enjoyed completely alone.
You define your own genre as Sweet Medieval Romance. Isn’t that a contradiction in terms? A sort of oximoron? Can the wild, barbaric medieval era become somehow sweet?
Sweet refers to the method of writing rather than the period that I write about. I don’t write bodice rippers or gore fests. However, I do try to realistically depict the life of my characters and their situations. There are wars and battles. In Honor, my hero battles a man to the death to settle a matter of justice and doesn’t walk away unscathed. The women are basically at the mercy of the men in their lives. My heroine is betrothed to a monster and there is nothing she can do about it. She is constrainted by the society in which she lives. The medieval era is definitely not sweet.
Thinking of your heroine, Lady Elsa Reeve , what can you tell us about how hard life was for a woman in that period?
Elsa begins the story as the only unmarried woman in her family. Her father’s affection for her is the only thing restraining her mother from marrying Elsa off for prestige or her brother marrying her off for money. She has no choice in where she lives or where she goes. Still, Elsa is a bit of a rebel. She frequently doesn’t do exactly as her mother commands, and she flat out refuses her brother’s choice for her husband. But then her father dies and she is left at her mercenary relatives’ non-existant mercy.
What was the worst issue a woman in love had to face at that time?
If her choice didn’t meet the appoval of the ruling members of her family, she could be forced unwillingly into another marriage. Elsa faces that in Honor. Her mother doesn’t approve of Lord Dentin and forbids her from speaking to him. Obeying the order seems impossible since he keeps seeking her out and demanding she tell him things. Besides, as she tells her mother, she can’t ignore the second most powerful man in the nation when he wishes to speak to her.
What about the male hero in your novel, Dentin? Can you tell us more about him?
Lord Dentin is a complex man. Too blunt and direct for most social circles, he frequently comes across as rude, dismissive, or cold despite being none of those things. As Securer of the Realm and the second most powerful man in Rhynan, he is avoided by the disreputable, respected by the law-abiding, and feared by all. Thanks to this reputation, Dentin can only call one man friend and he treasures that friendship highly.
How important are historical research and historical accuracy for you?
Since I am writing fantasy, historical accuracy isn’t absolutely vital. That said, I do a lot of research and work hard to give my books an authentic historical feel.
What authors you read and admire most influenced your writing?
I admire Orson Scott Card’s characters and world building, especially in his Ender series. Diana Wynne Jones has been a favorite of mine since childhood. I still pull out her books when my inspiration is slacking and reread my favorites. Sarah M. Eden, Patricia C. Wrede...in my basement there is a stack of three clear plastic bins filled to the brim with favorite authors that I return to again and again.
Which character did you like to write the most? Which was instead the most difficult to characterize?
Both Elsa and Dentin were wonderful to write. Elsa was fun because she is stubborn and honest, but still very much aware of social conventions and careful to not push the boundaries too far. She refuses to be the victim, but she also is very aware of the vulnerablness of her situation. Best of all, she doesn’t let Dentin get away with anything, calls him on his failings, and isn’t really afraid of him.
Complex characters make great main characters because as you peel back the layers, there are always more surprises. Dentin has become one of those characters. I have loved every minute writing Honor and missed spending time with him so much that immediately started working on anthology centered around him. I am sure he is going to show up other places too.
The most difficult character was probably the villian. I read somewhere that the villain has to be just as horrible as the hero is wonderful. Dentin was apparently so great I had to give him three (four if you count the king) as foils. Though to be honest, two of them were equal parts Elsa’s villains.
What’s your secret dream as a writer? Would you like to share it with us?
Someday I would like to have the time to write all day long. Right now it fits in the cracks of time between other responsibilities, like my children, whom I wouldn’t trade for anything. I would love to write out all the many stories in my head, follow each to its fulfillment, and publish them all so you could enjoy them too.
Are you working on a new project?
My current WIP is the last book in an Inspirational epic fantasy trilogy that has been sitting on my to-be-finished shelf since before my oldest was born. While I am writing that, I am plotting and researching for the next novel of Rhynan.
Now, a bit of promotion. How would you advertise your Honor: Second Novel of Rhynan in about 50 words
Simon Cordale, Securer of the Realm and Earl of Dentin, meets his match in the strong-willed Elsa Reeve. He can’t forget her dark-eyes and lack of fear. He must find a way to win her heart and save her from her brother’s plans. All while investigating a murder and treachery against the thone.
Thanks and good luck with your writing, Rachel!
The Earl of Dentin excels in his position as Securer of the Realm. But the king’s order to pluck an orphaned child from a loving home unsettles Dentin. When a dark-eyed woman challenges his honor regarding the mission, Dentin finds himself unable to justify his actions or get her out of his mind. Something about her lack of fear intrigues him.
Lady Elsa Reeve attempts to avoid the marriage of convenience her brother and mother demand of her. She understands the need to pay off her brother's massive debt. She only wants her family to consider her wishes in the process.
As Elsa becomes further entangled in a snare of her brother’s creating, only one man defends her. But can she trust Dentin, her unlikely champion, and his motives? With a murderer on the loose, Elsa’s fate in jeopardy, and a traitor plotting against the king, Dentin finds his priorities shifting in an unexpected direction.
About the author
Rachel Rossano is a happily married mother of three children. She spends her days teaching, mothering, and keeping the chaos at bay. After the little ones are in bed, she immerses herself in the fantasy worlds of her books. Tales of romance, adventure, and virtue set in a medieval fantasy world are her preference, but she also writes speculative fantasy and a bit of science fiction.