Saturday, February 19, 2011

Black Hawk -- the Excerpt

In celebration of February 19th, (why should one not celebrate February 19th, eh?) and because the excellent Annie asked -- here is a short excerpt from Black Hawk.

Black Hawk won't be published till November.  We will hope this excerpt does not make that seem too soon.


Justine had told the boy to meet her at the guillotine.  It was not because she was blood-thirsty--indeed, she was not--but because they would be inconspicuous here.

She was dressed as a housemaid today, in honest blue serge, white apron, and a plain fichu.  She became indistinguishable as the tenth ant in a line of ants.  She held her basket to her chest and leaned on the wall that marked the boundary between La Place de la Révolution and the Tuileries Garden. 

She was too young to pretend to the august status of lady's maid.  A thirteen-year-old must be a housemaid, no more than that.  But a housemaid was exactly what a respectable woman would take with her when she went to an assignation in the Tuileries Garden.  A housemaid could be left in a corner of La Place de la Révolution, bored and resigned, while her mistress played fast and loose with her marriage vows. 

To play this part realistically, she assumed her appropriate expression of bored and resigned.  She waited.  Hawker would find her easily.  She was still when everyone else was in motion.  Nothing is more apparent to the eye.

This was a good spot for enemy spies to meet.  From a hundred yards away Hawker could look across the Place de la Révolution and assure himself she was quite alone.  The chattering stream of humanity that flowed through the square would allow him concealment as he approached.  Beyond, to her right, the tight, milling confusion of the arcade and shops of the Rue de Rivoli offered a dozen paths of escape.  Her good intentions would be clear, even to an English spy of limited experience.

Or perhaps not.  She would not trust herself if she were an English spy. 


  1. Thank you!!
    Thank you!!
    Thank you!!

    My appetite is surely whetted!

  2. Thanks :) but to be honest this makes November seem sooo far away not soon ;) Appreciate the excerpt as it is wonderfully written & pulling me in.

  3. Yay! Thanks, Jo!!!

  4. Criminy. I'm glad I posted this. There's a bit of awkwardness in there I have to file away at.

    I had one moment of panic. You know how it is when you've thought everything is right . . . and then you say, "Hey. Wait a minute!"

    But I AM correct. If she has her back to the Tuileries, (Do you know? That is a word I cannot seem to learn how to spell.) then the Rue de Rivoli is indeed on her right.

    For a minute there I was seeing the scene from Hawker's POV and everything was turned round. As I say -- panic.

  5. Ooooh! What a treat. Thank you so much.

    I cannot tell you how excited I am about this book. (Great title!) November is too far away. *sighs*

  6. Anonymous12:51 PM

    Oohhh. Novemnber is way too far away.
    I have wondered how you handle their romance, given that we've seen them meet at age 13, we know that they are still meeting at age 20 or so, and then this book presumably happens when they are 3oish? (not sure I'm remembering how much time passes between TSL and MLAS.) Can you talk a little about those choices--how much you wrote the book in different periods and why?

    I can't really think of another hero and heroine whe see at such different junctures in their lives....let alone in such a complex situation.

  7. Christine1:40 PM


  8. Jo, I am gobsmacked that you posted this. Thank you, thank you! And I consider February 19 special, as it's my younger son's birthday.

    Part of me can't wait until Black Hawk is released, but the little kid in me loves the anticipation. Not to mention that November is the ideal month to cozy up for a good read--at least for those of us in the Northeast.

  9. Carol7:38 PM

    Thank you thank you! though i was trying to forget about this book so as to foster patience (Nov is a long time from now, the other side of this year). looks wonderful.

  10. Christine11:24 AM

    Congratulations! You won the AAR award for best non-UK romance and received "honorable mention" in a few other categories including best romance and best heroine!

  11. Congratulations on the AAR award! I'm not sure how you missed out on "biggest tearjerker." I've been touched by a number of romance novels, but I don't think I've ever actually cried (I don't cry easily) before I read Forbidden Rose. I was a puddle at the end.

  12. Jo, I am a HUGE fan of your spellbinding books and have become deeply involved with your characters and the world they inhabit. I can't wait to read more about Hawker, as he just stands out as such a compelling dude. I write children's books and am trying my hand at a Regency as we speak (man, this is hard!), and take your books as models and inspiration. Annie Turner

  13. >>>meet at age 13, we know that they are still meeting at age 20 or so, and then this book presumably happens when they are 3oish?<<<

    I started out Adrian's story with a couple horrible dire dreadful problems.

    First off, folks seemed to be building up expectations that this will be, like, superbook.

    No. It won't. It's just a book.

    Anyhow, this kinda scared me to death so I spent a lot of time curled up in fetal position. Now I am just not thinking about it.

    But I did write this Adrian book next so it would be out of the way, for better or worse, and I could stop being crazy.

    The other problem I faced was WHEN this story had to take place. My hero and heroine are not in their heedless teens. They are not even in their impetuous twenties. They're grown ups.

    My daughter, who has her finger on the pulse of America and can make a cell phone work, being a teenager and all, put it in a nutshell.

    "Nobody wants to read about old people making love," says she.

    "They're in their mid thirties," says I, faintly.

    "Like I said. Old People."


    So I have patterned the book as a 'second chance at love' story, which is a common Romance genre trope. And we have flashbacks that I hope are long enough to carry their own emotional weight, but no so long they drain all the interest out of the real story.

    This is kinda like juggling ferrets
    on rollerskates.

    With me on the rollerskates, I mean, though I suppose the ferrets could also have little bitty skates on.

  14. Delightful. Thank you!

  15. Anonymous6:01 PM

    Not believing it. It will be superbook. Not to put the pressure on or anything, but since you've met that standard in the past...

    That makes sense about how to handle it. Does one flashback cover how Adrian got shot? Assuming it was Justine....

  16. I'm guessing you have a handful of readers who don't consider a couple in their mid-thirties old! ;)

  17. Anonymous10:14 PM

    Thank you for the tidbit. Will be delighted to buy the book whenever it comes out. Still sooner is better :). Not looking for a super book, just a good tale of the characters, even if Justine and Adrian are "older".Were they ever young? The award was surely deserved, congratulations! Sharon Campbell

  18. Oh. Thank you so much. I am just so proud of the AAR Award. So proud.

    Yes. I do cover how Adrian got shot.

    I am trying to make all this work together somehow.

  19. Dear Jo, but surely the reality is that your audience is composed of "old people" (please, thirty?) who love to read about your characters getting it on in a romantic fashion. Or not. As the mother of a 20 year-old writer, I think your daughter's advice is perfect for a teen novel, but not for adult novels. You are the best.

  20. Anonymous5:14 PM

    Thirty = old???? I hope not. My kids are just almost thirty and neither are in a relationship. :) And, while I admit to feeling old some days, I think my hubby and I are still "feeling the love".

  21. I surely do agree with you about 30 being prime lovemaking territory. Let's hope I can convey this. *g*

    I'm feeling good about showing Adrian at different ages. I 'see' him in these different ways. It's an interesting challenge.

  22. I think you've prepared your readers to see and hear Adrian at different ages. I've been impressed that he sounds different as he matures, but there's a continuity so that you can hear Adrian at ages 12 and 20 and believe he's the same character. Same but different, as the saying goes. There's even a continuity in how he presents himself clothing-wise. For me, it's one of the pleasures of re-reading your books. There are seemingly endless opportunities for "aha" moments once you're not focused exclusively on the plot.

  23. I am working very hard on the language at different ages.

    I want the thirty-year-old man to sound like a thirty-year-old man, not like some aging Peter Pan. I want the thirteen-year-old to sound like a thirteen-year-old genius.
    And they have to both sound like Adrian.

    I'm trying to write a child's POV right now.

    (You may imagine me tearing my hair out.)