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.
In this interview, Julie talks about her love of Regency Romance and the inspiration behind her new book, The Sisters of Sea View.
FF: Your new novel, The Sisters of Sea View, is the first book in your new On Devonshire Shores Series. Please provide a brief summary of your new release, The Sisters of Sea View.
The novel is about four genteel sisters who open their seaside home to guests to make ends meet. They expect elderly invalids, who frequent Devon’s south coast to improve their health, and are surprised instead to host eligible gentlemen and a mysterious Sottish widower. As they begin their new venture, they soon encounter mystery, romance, heartache, and healing.
FF: This book, as well as the whole series, is set on the scenic Devonshire seaside. Can you share what led you to choose this as the setting for your new series and why readers may recognize it?
I chose the south coast of Devon because Jane Austen visited the region more than once and enjoyed the seaside there. I chose Sidmouth in particular because many people believe she based her unfinished novel Sanditon (the inspiration for the PBS television drama of the same name) on the town. Devonshire is also a setting in Austen’s novels Sense and Sensibility and Persuasion.
FF: What research was required to write this book? Did you learn anything interesting along the way?
I read many books about English seaside resorts and customs of the early 1800s. I enjoyed learning about bathing machines and beliefs about the medicinal value of sea bathing—and even the drinking of sea water! And, since I am using a real town versus a fictional setting, I learned all I could about Sidmouth. Volunteers from the museum there have been extremely helpful in my research.
FF: Can you tell us a little more about the inspiration behind this book and what ties each novel in the series together?
The inspiration for this novel came from several sources: past visits to the beautiful Devonshire coast, old advertisements I read from women who were letting out rooms in their seaside homes, and even an elderly man from church who told me his mother Viola’s story, which ended up inspiring one of the characters in the book. The series will be tied together by its seaside setting and by the sisters.
FF: Each of the four Summers sisters, Sarah, Emily, Viola, and Georgiana, is unique. What is most important to know about each sister?
Sarah, the eldest at home, feels duty-bound to try to keep her family together. Viola and Emily are twins but look nothing alike. Emily is pretty and confident, while Viola was born with a defect that left her with a small scar—and big emotional wounds. The youngest, Georgiana, loves the outdoors and tends to adopt strays.
FF: Readers may not know this about you, but you were an editor for many years before writing fiction books of your own. How do you think that experience has made you a better author?
Yes, I am very thankful for that experience and learned a lot from the authors and fellow editors I worked with over the years. During that time, I learned a lot about the essence of story, the importance of maintaining an author’s voice, and the fact that every writer needs skilled editors to produce the best possible novel. I am very grateful for my editors and would never want to try to do this without them!
FF: For those that know you, it’s no secret that you love all things Jane—Jane Austen and Jane Eyre, that is. How have those interests influenced this book and your writing over the years?
I credit the novels Jane Eyre (and The Secret Garden) with inspiring my early love of British literature. By reading Jane Austen’s novels (and attending workshops and talks through the Jane Austen Society of North America) I continue to learn more about the customs of the time period.
FF: What themes or lessons do you hope readers pick up on while reading The Sisters of Sea View?
Some of the themes include family loyalty, acceptance of old wounds, and finding joy even amid difficult life circumstances.
The Sisters of Sea View
On Devonshire Shores Series #1
Genres: Historical Romance, Regency Romance
Release Date: December 6, 2022
When their father’s death leaves the Summers sisters impoverished, Sarah Summers hatches a plan to open their seaside home to guests to provide for their ailing mother. Younger sisters Emily and Georgiana are on board, but Viola, physically and emotionally scarred, is distressed at the idea.
Left with no other choice, the four sisters begin their new venture with the help of family and friends. But instead of hosting elderly invalids in need of fresh sea air, the sisters find themselves in the company of eligible gentlemen and a mysterious Scottish widower. Some guests have come for a holiday, others for hidden reasons of their own…
As Sarah is torn between a growing attraction to the mysterious stranger staying at Sea View and duty to her family, their new situation also threatens to expose Viola’s scars—both the visible and those hidden deep within.
The Sisters of Sea View is a story full of faith, intrigue, and the unbreakable bonds between sisters. Readers will be eager to escape into this new series set on the charming Devonshire coastline.
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Buy The Sisters of Sea View from Amazon HERE!