An Exclusive Interview with Julie Klassen, Author of The Sisters of Sea View

From the desk of Laurel Ann Nattress:

Hello Dear Readers,

I love it when a favorite author begins a new series. It means that I get to meet new characters, discover new stories, and read multiple books. It is even more exciting when the new series is by a bestselling historical romance author such as Julie Klassen!

Austenprose has been a big fan of Klassen and her Regency-era novels reviewing many and interviewing her in the past. Today I am thrilled to welcome her back to discuss her first novel in her On Devonshire Shores series, The Sisters of Sea View.


AUTHOR INTERVIEW

Welcome Julie! The Sisters of Sea View is the first novel in your new Regency-era series, On Devonshire Shores. Can you share your inspiration for the series?

With pleasure! In one of my many research books, I read that “Women with a spare room or two—especially on the seafront—saw an opportunity to make money. Offering accommodation was considered an ideal business for women because it was socially acceptable and made use of their domestic knowledge.” That inspired an idea. I thought it would be interesting to put gentlewomen (who have never had to “work”) into a situation where they have to clean rooms and make beds and help serve meals in their own home.

What is The Sisters of Sea View about?

The Sisters of Sea View is about four genteel sisters who find themselves impoverished after their father’s death and decide to open their seaside home to guests to make ends meet. They expect to host elderly invalids who historically flocked to the shore for their health, but instead find themselves hosting eligible gentlemen including one Scotsman with a secret agenda.

It is interesting that you have sisters as your heroines of the story. What were the challenges of writing the family dynamics? Can you share a few of the sister’s unique personality characteristics?

Sarah is the responsible, hardworking sister; Georgiana is the athletic, adventurous youngest; and Viola and Emily are twins who look nothing alike: one is the “pretty one” and the other hides a scar under a veil. I don’t have sisters of my own, so I enjoyed creating the sisters I never had! I think there is something interesting about the tensions between sisters—they can be rivals or even antagonistic toward each other, but loyal and protective at the same time.

Does romance fit into the storyline of any of your heroines?

Yes! Romance sparks for three of the sisters in the first book, and one finds her happily ever after. The sisters’ lives will continue to weave together throughout the series, and in each novel one sister (at least!) will find the love of her life.

A modern view of Sidmouth, a sea side resort featured in The Sisters of Sea View, taken by Julie Klassen during her recent trip to England

The Sisters of Sea View is set at the seaside of Sidmouth in Devonshire where Jane Austen spent a holiday with her family in 1801. What was your research process for the novel? Did you uncover anything surprising?

I am not surprised you know that bit of Austen history! To research this novel, I read many books about Sidmouth and about English seaside resorts in the 19th century. I enjoyed learning about “bathing machines,” the practice of year-round sea bathing, and the supposed health benefits of drinking sea water! I was helped in my research by generous volunteers from the Sidmouth Museum who sent me resources, answered my questions through email, and even read an early draft to help me get the details right.

Think back to before the publication of your debut novel, Lady of Milkweed Manor in 2008. What fueled your passion to write, and in retrospect, what advice can you offer fledgling writers?

I have always wanted to be a writer, and becoming a published author is my lifelong dream come true. My advice to aspiring writers is to keep writing until you complete a first draft—even if it’s very rough. Many people dream of writing, but few persevere that far. Thankfully there are many online classes and organizations to help new writers learn and improve their skills.

What’s up next in your writing career?  

On the horizon are two more novels in the On Devonshire Shores series and a Christmas novella. Thank you for asking!


AUTHOR BIO

Julie Klassen loves all things Jane—Jane Eyre and Jane Austen. Her books have sold over a million copies, and she is a three-time recipient of the Christy Award for Historical Romance. The Secret of Pembrooke Park was honored with the Minnesota Book Award for Genre Fiction. Julie has also won the Midwest Book Award and Christian Retailing’s BEST Award and has been a finalist in the RITA and Carol Awards. A graduate of the University of Illinois, Julie worked in publishing for sixteen years and now writes full time. She and her husband have two sons and live in a suburb of St. Paul, Minnesota.

WEBSITE | TWITTER | FACEBOOK | PINTEREST | INSTAGRAM GOODREADS


BOOK DESCRIPTION

Some guests have come for a holiday, others for hidden reasons of their own . . .

When their father’s death leaves them impoverished, Sarah Summers and her genteel sisters fear they will be forced to sell the house and separate to earn livelihoods as governesses or companions. Determined to stay together, Sarah convinces them to open their seaside home to guests to make ends meet and provide for their ailing mother. Instead of the elderly invalids they expect to receive, however, they find themselves hosting eligible gentlemen. Sarah is soon torn between a growing attraction to a mysterious Scottish widower and duty to her family.

Viola Summers wears a veil to cover her scar. When forced to choose between helping in her family’s new guest house and earning money to hire a maid to do her share, she chooses the latter. She reluctantly agrees to read to some of Sidmouth’s many invalids, preferring the company of a few elders with failing eyesight to the fashionable guests staying in their home. But when her first client turns out to be a wounded officer in his thirties, Viola soon wishes she had chosen differently. Her new situation exposes her scars–both visible and those hidden deep within–and her cloistered heart will never be the same.

Join the Summers sisters on the Devonshire coast, where they discover the power of friendship, loyalty, love, and new beginnings.


ADVANCE PRAISE

  • “Jane Austen fans will delight in this nimble series launch…Klassen excels at weaving her various story lines, each emphasizing the colorful qualities of her characters and allowing them the space to shine. Readers will be eager for the next installment.” —Publisher’s Weekly (starred review)

PRAISE FOR THE NOVELS OF JULIE KLASSEN 

  • “Julie Klassen delights with a winsome love story…” —Publisher’s Weekly, on A Castaway in Cornwall
  • “I couldn’t put it down! It you are a historical fiction fan you need this one on your radar! It was a spooky delight full of heart. ”—Anne Mendez, The Lit Bitch, on Shadows of Swanford Abbey
  • “…a wonderfully engaging novel full of intriguing characters and storylines. I highly recommend it and can’t wait for more in the series.” —Laura Gerold, Laura’s Reviews, on The Innkeeper of Ivy Hill

BOOK INFORMATION

  • The Sisters of Sea View: On Devonshire Shores (Book 1), by Julie Klassen
  • Bethany House Publishers (December 6, 2022)
  • Hardcover, trade paperback, & eBook (448) pages
  • ISBN: 978-0764234262
  • Genre: Regency Romance, Historical Romance, Inspirational Fiction

AMAZON | BETHANY HOUSE PUBLISHERS | ADD TO GOODREADS

Cover image, book description, and author bio courtesy of Bethany House Publishers © 2022; text Laurel Ann Nattress & Julie Klassen © 2022, austenprose.com, an Amazon affiliate.

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