An Interview and Giveaway with Leslie Hachtel. One morning, years ago, I was about to clean house when an idea struck. I could change those sheets or I could write a novel. I don’t know where the notion came from, but I sat down and wrote a book. It was not good, but it sparked the passion…
Hi Leslie. Thanks so much for being here. We’d love to know more about you. To start, will you please tell us a little about your current projects?
I am so glad to be here. The Dream Dancer was released in February and it’s the first in the Dance series. Each one is historical and has elements of the paranormal.
When was the moment that you knew you had to be a writer?
One morning, years ago, I was about to clean house when an idea struck. I could change those sheets or I could write a novel. I don’t know where the notion came from, but I sat down and wrote a book. It was not good, but it sparked the passion.
Who gave you the one piece of writing advice that sticks with you to this day?
Actually, there were two. First, my husband told me to never give up. I could only truly fail if I quit. And the amazing Nora Roberts, in a speech, told us writing is a job, just like any other, and we need to treat it as such. There is no muse waiting to strike. There is only hard work. Those words of wisdom have kept me going.
What has been your biggest adventure to date?
In my younger days, I traveled around Europe by myself. It was amazing. I stayed in youth hostels and ate local and learned languages. Someday, I’d like to go back, but I know it will be a totally different experience.
What is your favorite comfort food?
Popcorn. Because that means movies. And I LOVE movies.
When it comes to food, are you the adventurous type who will try anything once, or do you prefer to stick to tried and true foods and recipes?
Unfortunately, I am allergic to everything, so I can’t be too adventurous. I have to stick to tried and true. But I make all kinds of interesting things for my family. I take vicarious pleasure from watching them eat exciting food.
What project are you working on next? I am very excited to announce my newest book, Emma’s Dance which will be available any minute. Here is the cover:
After that, there will be the third, Jester’s Dance coming before the end of the year. Also, I am working on two romantic suspense novels.
A little about The Dream Dancer…
The Lady Bryce has a gift. She can enter dreams and persuade. It has served her well, especially in eliminating unsatisfactory suitors of her father’s choosing.
When she encounters Lord Rowland, she knows he is a man who likes women. Bryce decides to visit him in his sleep and make him desire her above all others. A virgin, she has discovered a diary from a leman who describes seduction in detail.
When she has driven Rowland to the edge of longing, she extracts a promise that he will marry her. She goes to Court to ensure he keeps his word.
Former suitors discover Bryce has influenced their decisions and take revenge. Bryce is accused of witchcraft and arrested. In 1616 England, under James I, this is a heinous crime punishable by death. Rowland discovers Bryce’s secret and now must decide if he truly loves her or if he has been bewitched.
Leslie is giving away 5 copies of The Dream Dancer: Enter the Giveaway!
More About Leslie:
Leslie Hachtel was born in Ohio, raised in New York and has been a gypsy most of her adult life. Her various jobs, including licensed veterinary technician, caterer, horseback riding instructor for the disabled and advertising media buyer have given her a wealth of experiences.
However, it has been writing that has consistently been her passion. She sold an episode of a TV show, had a screenplay optioned and has so far produced six novels, including five historicals.
“Texas Summer”, “The Defiant Bride”, “The Dream Dancer” and “Captain’s Captive” are all available at major sites and “Hannah’s War” is soon to be released.
Leslie lives in Cordova, Tennessee with a fabulously supportive engineer husband, a wonderful stepson, Matt and her writing buddy, Jakita, a terrier.
Read An Excerpt from The Dream Dancer
The English countryside outside London, 1616
Rowland of Ashford leaned against the rough stone wall at the edge of the marketplace as if he hadn’t a care in the world. Stretching out his long legs, he watched the passing of the crowd. He unconsciously ran his fingers through his thick black hair, boredom threatening, until she caught his eye. He leaned forward, his breath caught in his throat. Blood thrummed hot through his veins, turning south to his manhood. The way the sunlight played hide and go seek in the red-gold strands of her hair — he was captivated by her. He took several steps closer and saw her eyes were a brilliant green, like the meadows dressed with morning dew. Her tiny waist and creamy breasts peeking above her bodice begged for his attention. She was obviously well-bred and came from wealth. That would probably mean she was accustomed to getting her own way. Rowland straightened and smiled. Well, so was he. The thought of a bit more challenge than bedding the willing women at court was enticing. There was a thrill in the pursuit. So, perhaps doing good deeds did have rewards, and this one would yield more than favors from the king. And who was he to turn his back on a personal recompense? He pushed himself off the support and blocked her path.
“Forgive me, my lady, but I must beg a favor.” He realized he was sweating. Of course, that was ridiculous. He was hardly an untried lad.
Startled, she looked up at him. He saw from her expression she found him appealing. She smiled, appearing unnerved. Her two companions, also well-dressed ladies, stared at him, their mouths dropping open. He cleared his throat, trying to draw his thoughts from his swelling manhood. It would not do to embarrass himself in public.
“My lord? We have not been introduced. What favor dare you ask?” Her voice suited her — lovely and lyrical.
“My name is Rowland, and I but plead for a few moments of your gracious company before I must go off on my quest.” He flashed his winning smile.
“Your quest, my lord?” Her emerald eyes sparkled with amusement, and a very becoming pink blush rose to her cheeks. She looked to her friends, who both grinned, obviously enjoying this interlude.
“I must slay a dragon.” He raised his chin and was pleased with the authority in his tone.
She giggled and again turned to the ladies who flanked her left and right. They could not contain their mirth either, and both laughed aloud. Then, she directed her gaze back to him. Those green orbs took him to another place. “My lord, there are no such things as dragons.” She spoke as if sharing some great truth with a child.
“Really, my lady. Please do not tell the dragon that, for I fear you will offend him. And his wrath might be terrible.”
She shook her head. Her heavy velvet skirts rustled as she stepped away. “Good luck to you,” she called back over her shoulder, as her brightly dressed ladies closed ranks about her. They put their heads together. He had no doubt he was the object of their discussion.
Had she brushed him away like a bit of lint or dust? Well, he would not just walk away like a wounded pup. The gauntlet was thrown. Now he truly did have a quest. It should be an easy matter to discover her identity.
Rowland sidled over to the booth nearest him. A grizzled man was selling ribbons, and Rowland hoped he had knowledge of the maiden.
“My good man, who is the lady?” Rowland asked the merchant, pointing to the woman’s retreating back.
The old man gave him a toothless grin, his wrinkles drawing patterns into his skin. “The one in between? Are you not acquainted with the Lady Bryce, my lord?”
“I fear not. But then I am newly arrived. Who is she?”
“She is the daughter of the Viscount Halstead.”
Daughter of the viscount. That might present a complication. “And is she unmarried?”
The merchant grinned as if he was about to divulge a great secret. He leaned in, conspiratorially. “The suitable men are afraid of her.” The ancient cackled, clearly enjoying the gossip he spread.
Rowland’s eyebrow went up. This was becoming even more interesting. “Afraid?”
The old man lowered his voice even more. “It is whispered she has… powers.”
“What kind of powers?”
The merchant shrugged. “Far be it from me to say. Lucky for her the viscount is a favorite of the King.”
Rowland moved away and looked around the marketplace. He spied his friend, Alan, a few feet away. The other man’s mouth was agape as he watched the same departing women.
“A lord should not drool,” Rowland teased him as he came alongside.
“But they look delicious.”
Rowland could not suppress his laugh. Alan had a lusty sense of humor and a true appreciation for woman flesh. A man after Rowland’s own heart.
Rowland lifted his chin, indicating Bryce. “See her? The daughter of Halstead.”
“The viscount we have come to see?”
“The very one. I have just been told she has powers.”
“What kind of powers?”
Rowland laughed. “The sort that drive men wild, no doubt. You know what they say. The crazier the woman, the better the bedding.”
“You wouldn’t dare,” Alan returned.
“Is that a challenge?”
“My friend, one day your robust desires are going to get us killed.”
“Ah, my friend, but what a way to die.” Rowland rolled his eyes for emphasis. “So, how fares your horse?”
“The farrier is replacing his shoe. He should be finished soon and we can continue on.”
“Happily it gave me a chance to see our hostess and plan my next skirmish.”
They retrieved Alan’s bay and mounted their horses, kicking up clods of dirt as they cantered up the hill toward the manor house.
“Still thinking of the woman?” Alan prodded.
“What else? Did you see the color of her hair? It was like spun gold and copper woven together. And her breasts. They were pleading.”
“And when you encountered her in the marketplace, I suppose you told her about your quest.”
“Mayhap I did. It usually works well.”
Alan smiled. “Only true because the women are unaware the monster you seek to assuage is the one between your legs. But do remember we are here on a knight’s errand. Try to control the dragon in your trunks. She is, after all, the daughter of the man we have come to warn.”
“Then the man will owe me a favor,” Rowland responded.
“Let me see. Information in exchange for a virgin?” Alan pursed his lips. “Methinks the price is a bit high. That is, if we suppose she is untouched.”
“If she is, she has certainly been waiting for me.”
“You, dear Rowland, are an arrogant sot.”
Together, they approached the manor. They threw their reins to the waiting groom, and a servant swung the portal open. They stepped inside and took in their surroundings. Floor-to-ceiling tapestries covered the walls in the main hall, and roaring flames danced in the fireplace in the back of the vast room. A fire this large before the frigid bite of winter’s breath bespoke wealth. Light filtered in through the leaded glass windows that dominated one side, making intricate patterns on the stone floor. Wooden tables inlaid with mother-of-pearl sat next to cushioned chairs. The symmetrical placing of the furniture might have suggested formality, but the brightly colored pillows softened the effect. There was a sense of welcoming comfort here. There was clearly a woman in residence. Hunting dogs lolled in front of the warmth of the hearth, chewing bones and stretching their limbs in anticipation of a coming exercise. A monster to the right of the entrance caught Rowland’s eye.
“What do you suppose that is?”
“It looks like a dog.”
“Does it? I wonder if it eats unsuspecting visitors.”
The beastie looked up at the two with seeming disinterest and went back to sleep.
“As luck would have it, I think not. Or maybe it’s just saving us for later. If it tries to lick us, I think we should draw swords.” Alan was clearly enjoying his humor. “By the by, I think you are right about Halstead. A man like the viscount will not want to lose a house like this. Could be it is worth the chastity of his child.”
“My lords.” Viscount Halstead lumbered into the room and tipped his head to his visitors. His corpulence reflected a life of leisure and good food in abundance. Jewels sparkled from his fingers, and his clothing was of the finest velvet, stylish in design. If not for his girth, he would have cut a handsome figure. “You have come to visit from Court, no doubt.”
“Yes, my lord. Is it so apparent?” Rowland asked.
“Why your clothing is rich, and your horses are too well bred for you to have come from anywhere else.”
“You are a discerning fellow. And, you are correct in your assumption. I am Rowland of Ashford, and this is Lord Fallsworth. We have been sent by one of your compatriots to tell you of some current politics at court. There is concern for your well-being.”
“Please sit,” Halstead invited, indicating several large, padded chairs arranged in front of the hearth.
Before Halstead settled in his seat, Lady Bryce strolled into the room. All eyes turned to her. She acknowledged the visitors with a quick curtsy, but spoke directly to her sire.
“Father, perhaps your guests would care to sup with us and stay the night.” Smiling, she turned to Rowland. “I see you survived your quest. Or perhaps, you consider my father the dragon?”
Rowland grinned at her. “I suppose I have been hoisted on my own petard, my lady. Will you forgive a man for his meager attempt to gain your attention?”
Bryce shook her head in answer, as if to comment on all men and their pathetic attempts to gain a lady’s notice. But he could not help but appreciate the blush rising again. It appeared she was attempting to be worldly, but her coloring gave away her lack of experience.
“What’s this?” her father boomed. “You two are acquainted?”
“We encountered each other in the marketplace earlier, Father,” Bryce replied soothingly. “Sir Rowland made a simple jest. Naught more transpired. Now, if you gentlemen will excuse me.”
Rowland was again struck by her beauty. She radiated femininity, her aura competing with the flames from the fire. He would love to have her warm his bed this night. “We would be delighted to accept your hospitality. Thank you, my lady,” he called after her.And I would be happy to accept another kind of hospitality later.
Bryce seemed to float from the room, and Rowland had difficulty returning his attention to the matter at hand. Without her presence, the light seemed dimmer.
“You were saying, before my daughter interrupted,” Halstead prompted.
“She is lovely,” Rowland whispered.
“She is untouched and shall stay that way.” Halstead sat up straight, his spine stiff.
“Forgive me, my lord, I meant no offense. Merely appreciation,” Rowland responded.
Halstead smiled. “She has been blessed with her mother’s looks. Lucky for her. Now, as you were saying…”
“Is it true you are a friend of Sir Thomas Monson?”
Halstead narrowed his eyes. “Why do you ask?”
“That is why we have come,” Alan spoke up. “It has come to our attention that Lord Monson is patron to Sir Gervase Elwes.”
“I believe that is so,” responded Halstead, a note of suspicion creeping into his tone.
“Then you haven’t heard?”
Halstead waited, saying nothing. His anticipation was palpable.
“We thought not,” Alan affirmed with a nod of his head. “You tell him, Rowland.”
“There is word that Elwes is associated with a shocking royal scandal. A man named Overbury has been poisoned, and one of Elwes’ friends stands accused. A poisoning involving witchcraft.”
“Oh, heavens above. Witchcraft? Poison? You know how King James feels about the black arts. He considers himself an expert, and there are no lengths to which he would not go to blot it out. He has seen so many tortured or killed. I must definitely separate myself from all that. Gentlemen, I cannot thank you enough. You have saved my reputation and the goodwill of my King. How can I ever repay you?”
“We did not come on our own. A certain Court favorite wishes to curry approval from the nobles. Perhaps he will call in the debt one day. It is always good to have allies, though, and the man is one of ours.”
“It is obvious Villiers is more than a pretty face,” replied Halstead.
Rowland and Alan smiled at each other. “So you are not entirely ignorant of the politics. His rise has been nothing less than — brilliant,” Rowland agreed. “It does no harm to ally oneself with the influential.” Rowland lowered his voice. “It is said the king thinks of Villiers as akin to a wife.”
Halstead’s mouth opened into a shocked ‘O’, but he did not have the chance to respond before his daughter’s footsteps neared, tapping a staccato on the stone floor. It was clear it would not be seemly to comment on such a thing, especially in front of his virgin offspring.
Bryce swept back into the room with a flash of sapphire blue velvet and bestowed a brilliant smile on both Alan and her father, virtually ignoring Rowland. He wondered as to her game, for surely that was what it was. Women loved him and fought for his attention. This one intrigued him. It appeared she was using her own rules. Well, two could play, and indeed, that was what he planned for her when the opportunity presented.
“Gentlemen, the table awaits your pleasure,” Bryce announced. “The cook has gone out of her way tonight since we have such special guests.” Again, she smiled directly at Alan, avoiding Rowland. A twinge of jealousy twisted.
As she turned away from him, a breath of air caught wisps of her hair that escaped from the thick braid caressing her spine. A brief scent reached across the room to tantalize Rowland. He inhaled deeply, as if to catch and hold it. Honeysuckle? No, jasmine. Food of the fairies. He was mesmerized.
Why, he was even waxing poetic. Ridiculous. He shook his head to clear it. Women fell under his spell, and then, when he was sated, he moved on. He would bed this wench, like the others, and go. The thrill was in the chase. And she was making for lively prey, so far.
The smell of food worked its way into his consciousness and brought him back. He and Alan had been riding most of the day, and he was starving. As they moved to the table, Rowland was impressed with the bounty. Succulent meats squatted next to fresh vegetables and roasted potatoes. Cakes, piled high on a platter, were covered in fruits and cream. Wine was poured, and the rich red liquid sparkled in the reflected glow of silver cups. No wonder Halstead was so grateful. He had much to lose if he lost the favor of King James.
He looked across the table at Bryce and wished she were sitting nearer so he might inhale that scent again. His groin actually ached with want of her. He must settle this soon so he could concentrate on more important matters.
Thanks so much for hosting me today.
It was our pleasure!