Lorri Dudley - Uplifting Historical Romance
Lorri started writing romance novels as a “girlie” outlet from her testosterone-filled household. She has a wonderfully supportive husband and three very active boys who love to wrestle, catch bugs, and play in the mud. Writing romance is her way of escaping back into the softer, feminine side of life. Lorri is also a devoted follower of Jesus, and whose goal is to glorify Him and further His kingdom through her writing. She enjoys creating suspenseful tension and vibrant characters and desires for readers to live through her heroines, experience their devastating lows and euphoric joys, and grow in the process. Her objective is to write books where readers tell their kids, “Mommy’s going to take a bath” and then end up staying in the tub until the water is freezing because they can’t put the book down. As our Author of the Day, she tells us all about her book, The Sugar Baron's Ring.
Please give us a short introduction to what The Sugar Baron's Ring is about.
Hannah Rose Barrington is the island misfit. Orphaned at a young age, Hannah struggles to provide for her future, while her guardian, a weak-hearted island drunk, bleeds Hannah of her father's inheritance. Caught between the classes of elite planters and white beggars, Hannah yearns to find a place to belong. When Hannah rescues passengers from a ship breaking apart in the bay, she's unexpectedly drawn to the witty charm of one of the marooned Englishmen, Bradlee Granville. He's a tie to her distant homeland and a chance to locate her English relatives. However, as creditors, like sharks, begin to circle and her guardian's desperation becomes life-threatening, Hannah finds herself in need of saving. She holds into the hope that Bradlee will look past her pitiful situation to see who she truly is—the sugar baron's daughter.
What inspired you to write about an island misfit who has been orphaned at a young age?
I believe there is something in all of us that desires for approval and acceptance. Having moved my senior year of high school and being a naturally shy person, I've always held a special empathy for those who feel like outsiders. Hannah's loved ones cannot be with her, but God is. And although not everyone is for her, God is. This is something I've had to learn within my own life.
Tell us more about Hannah Rose Barrington. What makes her tick?
Hannah's a survivor. She has every reason to succumb to a victim mentality, but she refuses to let circumstances control her life. Even after bearing the brunt of her guardian's drunken mishaps, she doesn't let him pull her down into a pit of shame. Hannah is aware of being called names by the locals and the disgrace her guardian has brought upon her, but she still walks into town with her head high. She's resourceful and will barter, fix things, and peddles goods to purchase passage to London, while her guardian sells her remaining sentimental heirlooms to pay down his debts. Although she has been stretched beyond what even a courageous person could handle, she remains positive and clings to the hope that a rainbow follows a storm.
Who is Bradlee Granville? What makes him so special?
My boys' sarcastic humor inspired the personalities of Bradlee and his companion, Colin. Their witty banter and teasing is the way they express their deep bonds of friendship. Bradlee's adventuresome spirit is forever getting Colin into one life-threatening scrape on another, but they have each other's backs. However, a line is drawn when it comes to the love of a woman.
Why did you pick the Leeward Island as the backdrop for your story?
Researching the rich history of the island of Nevis revealed a land full of turmoil. While in the 1700s, many Englishmen planters created their fortunes on the white gold of sugar. However, by the early to mid-1800s, the land grew tired and didn't produce as it once had. Many sugar barons returned to England and left their properties to be managed by overseers. Many of these managers skimmed off the top without oversight from the absentee planters. In addition, tensions ran high with the threat of slave revolts that occurred on the nearby Caribbean islands of Jamaica, Grenada, and Barbados due to slaves significantly outnumbering their white counterparts. All this conflict added suspense to whether Hannah could pull herself out of a worsening situation.
Besides writing, what other secret skills do you have?
I love to paint, and I'm dying to add an artist to one of my next books. I'd enjoy showing how a painter sees the world as a combination of shades, lines, and colors, especially in the Caribbean. I used to teach art for a Christian elementary school but gave it up to follow my dream of writing. My favorite thing was watching the children's expressions as they realized they had artistic talent. One of my rules from art class can be applied to writing: There are no mistakes in art, only creative fixes. For me, this pertains to the editing phase of writing.
This is the third book in the Leeward Island series. Can it be read as a standalone? How does it tie in with the other books in the series?
All of my books can stand on their own. The settings overlap, and a few of the side characters intermingle within books. In The Sugar Baron's Ring, there's a guest appearance of the hero and heroine from book one, the Duke and Duchess of Linton. Still, it's not necessary to have read the series to follow along. It only enhances the reader's sense of knowing something the heroine doesn't.
Please tell us more about the cover and how it came about.
My dad loves to harass me about decapitating the heroines' faces, but it's a conscious choice on my part not to show the heroine's full face. I want to leave something up to the reader's imagination, and the eyes tell a lot about a person. When reading other books, if the cover doesn't line up with how I picture the main character in my mind's eye, I will flip the book over and not look at it. The team at Wild Heart Books has done an amazing job creating an intriguing, romantic background and displaying the subtle qualities of the heroine. The Sugar Baron's Ring's cover even has Hannah's hand reaching up as if to fiddle with her father's ring, which she often does in the story.
Is there something that compels you to write? And do you find that writing helps you achieve clarity about yourself or ideas you've been struggling with?
I first started writing romance as a girlie outlet. With three boys, my days are filled with sports, ravenous stomachs, funky smells, and testosterone. What I didn't realize was how much God was going to use my books and blogs to reach people. I enjoy tying in the heroine's realization that she can love and receive love because God first loved her. Writing strengthens my faith because I have to put words to what I believe in my heart.
Which of your characters has been the most challenging to write for?
I've been struggling with the fact that the mothers in my recent stories have been stern women. In The Sugar Baron's Ring, Hannah is orphaned, but formidable characteristics are portrayed through Bradlee's mother. My mom is the sweetest woman on the planet, so I cannot relate to having a dour mother, and I certainly don't want to give my mom a complex or instill an impression to readers that I've grown up under an austere parent.
Do any of your characters take off on their own tangent and refuse to do what you had planned for them?
All the time. I knew Hannah's guardian was going to make her miserable, but I had no idea he'd go to the extreme of boarding up her window. The funniest instance, however, is from the main character of a work still in progress. I laughed out loud when the hero of the story cut himself on a nail and then passed out from the sight of blood. Even strong heroes have weaknesses.
Talk to us about your writing routine; what's a typical writing day for you?
Covid-19 has wreaked havoc on my writing time. Mon. - Thurs. I work for my husband, and Fridays are reserved as my writing days. I will sit down and in front of my computer and write the second my boys hop on the bus until the second they arrive back home. I try to keep a strict word count schedule, and if I've fallen behind, I'll carry my computer in the car and write during sports practices or orthodontic appointments, whenever I can. However, with the kids now being home all day, it's gotten complicated. I love my boys, but they come into my office and interrupt me when I'm in the middle of a thought an incredible line, and then it's gone. It's been challenging to find focused-time, but I also realize it's the case for a lot of people.
What are you working on right now?
Currently, I'm reaching the finish line on the first draft of book four, The Captain's Quest. In this book, we get to explore a small deserted isle in the British Virgin Islands. Priscilla Middleton attends a party to keep her friend out of trouble but winds up needing to avoid becoming a gossip column headline. She boards her brother's ship to feign being in his company for the evening instead of taking part in the debacle. Before she can speak to her brother, he's put on leave, the ship sets sail, and the man in charge is not at all who she expects.
Where can our readers discover more of your work or interact with you?
Barnes & Nobles: https://www.barnesandnoble.com/w/the-sugar-barons-ring-lorri-dudley/113…
Apple Store: https://books.apple.com/us/book/id1491200041