The Debutante Ball Welcomes Joanna Bourne

[BREAKING NEWS: The Black Hawk has been nominated for Best Historical Romance by Romantic Times. Congratulations, Jo!]

This week we are to have RITA winner Joanna Bourne with us. You may have read some of her earlier books: The Spymaster’s Lady, My Lord and Spymaster, or The Forbidden Rose.

Jo has lived in a half-dozen dozen countries around the world, working for the US Government, including France and England, where her books are set.  Now she lives and works in the foothills of the Appalachians with her family, her dog, and her cat.

Her  next book is The Black Hawk, on the shelves November 1, from Berkley Sensation.

Here’s what Publishers Weekly has to say about  The Black Hawk in a starred review:

Bourne mixes heart-pounding mystery and romance in her spellbinding fourth Spymaster historical romantic thriller (after 2010’s The Forbidden Rose). From childhood, Adrian Hawker spied on France for England while Justine DeCabrillac gathered intelligence for the Police Sècrete. They were teens when they met in Paris in 1794, and as they grew up, their paths crossed often in a changing world. Sometimes they were on the same side, and sometimes they were opposed, but it was inevitable that they fall bittersweetly in love, knowing that any minute duty could take precedence over passion. Their tempestuous love affair unfolds in flashbacks, alternating with scenes from 1818 London, where somebody tries to kill Justine and frame Hawker, now head of the British Intelligence Service with as many enemies in England as in France. Just the right amount of intrigue makes this vivid romance a gripping page-turner.

Nice, huh?

Here’s what Jo has to say about her latest:

This is Adrian’s story. And Justine’s story. It kinda wraps things up between them. The two of them have been friends and lovers and enemies. Now they have to work together to find out who wants to kill Justine and frame Adrian for the murder.

Oh … and I go back to talk about the day she shot him, which is one of those things that could happen to anybody, really.

And lots of interesting stuff like that there.

Jo responds to Deb nosiness the Deb interview:

Talk about one book that made an impact on you.

Back in the dark dawn of history, when pterodactyls still roamed the sky, carrying off the occasional unwary toddler — I guess I was about twelve then — I read Margaret Mead’s Coming Age in Samoa. Margaret Mead was an anthropologist who studied the peoples of the Pacific. She wrote a clear, vivid picture of life in a world wildly different from the one in which I’d been raised.

This Samoa book said the world was a larger and more interesting place than I’d imagined. There were people out there believing and dreaming in ways utterly different from what I’d taken for granted.

In a way, that realization led directly to me writing Historical Romance.  History is another country. People think and act differently there.


Talk about one thing that’s making you happy right now.

D’ya know. I’m a simple person. Very simple things make me happy.

Today, I went out and bought heritage tomatoes from a man who grows a couple rows of them every year. They are just really ugly tomatoes, but they taste good. I got a big bag of them and a mess a green beans and some onions and summersquash.

I did not buy zucchini. This time of year, if you stand still on a street corner in this town and you get buried in zucchini.

Downtown, on Main Street, there’s a bakery with the most amazing pastries and really good bread.

Tomorrow, on my way home I’m going to stop and buy a fruit tart. Or a nut tart. Then I’m going to come home and settle into the kitchen and start chopping up the vegetables I bought today to make minestrone soup.



 Where do you love to be?

Paris.  The 8ieme.  A sidewalk café.

Just about any sidewalk cafe.

Me and the pigeons, watching people walk by.


Which talent do you wish you had?

I sure do wish I could learn languages more easily. The old brain just doesn’t sop up the language stuff.

What I need is an app for that.


Which animal would you like to be, and why?

Assuming we could get over the habitat destruction and being hunted to the edge of extinction, both of which are depressing in the extreme … I think I’d like to be a sea otter.

They do not delve and spin. They do not plan for the future or save or make wise investments. Not one is dissatisfied — not one is demented with the mania of owning things; Not one kneels to another, nor to his kind that lived thousands of years ago; Not one is respectable or industrious —

Oh, sorry about that. I was channelling Walt Whitman.

As near as I can tell, sea otters float around all day eating abalone and playing tag.

They play, even the adults. They make love. They cuddle. They hug their babies.

If you could just add a laptop and wifi, it would be perfect.


Thank you so much for being with us today, Jo!

So, if you want to cyber-stalk the very talented Ms. Bourne, here are some good places to start:



Twitter:  Do you tweet?  Follow @jobourne on Twitter:!/JoBourne


To win your own free copy of The Black Hawk (trust me, you want to do this!), just leave a comment. If you like, tell us what animal you’d like to be. Or where you’d like to be. Or what is making you happy right now.

44 Replies to “The Debutante Ball Welcomes Joanna Bourne”

  1. Hi Jo! So excited to have you here at the Ball with us today! You already know how thrilled I am to finally have Adrian’s book in my hands — I’ve been enamored of him since THE SPYMASTER’S LADY. 😀

    You know, an otter would be my choice of animal to be, too. They strike me as the perfect blend of cuddliness and ferociousness, and they really do seem to enjoy life.

    Oh, and they do make pretty amazing language apps for smart phones now. Not quite the same learning it yourself, but handy in a pinch, I hear. Sadly, I still have a dumb phone, so I wouldn’t know for certain.

    Thanks again for joining us! I already can’t wait for your next book.

    1. Glad to be here, hanging out with the Debutantes. I’m glad the Adrian book finally came to fruition. I couldn’t have written it any sooner than I did — it wouldn’t have been the same book if I’d tried — so I’m glad I waited.

      Sea otters seem to eat a lot of abalone. Great life.

  2. Hi Jo! Love your books and what a great interview.

    I share your love for Margaret Mead, heritage tomatoes, otters and Paris.

    That last sentence looks so wrong, but is oh so right.

    Wishing you much success!

  3. Hey,

    that was a great interview. Jo can put things so nice :). Like, that small things make her happy. Or being a sea otter.

    I would love to be a cat . I love my two cats and they can lie in the sun or sleep in beds or things like that whenever they want :).


    1. Hi Sarah! Jo really is the Word Master, isn’t she?

      I wouldn’t mind being a cat, either — they do seem to have a great lifestyle.

      Thanks for stopping by! 🙂

    2. I would be a cat, but I’m not sure they would accept me into the club. I can see the other cats surrounding me and looking down their noses (you can just see cat’s doing it) and I’d be saying, “I’m not fat. I’m fluffy.”

  4. Hi Pam —

    >>I share your love for Margaret Mead, heritage tomatoes, otters and Paris. That last sentence looks so wrong, but is oh so right.<<

    The favored items of a small but select group. Taken together, they sound like one of those mnemonics tricks. Like remembering the name of Mead Vyne-Otterseine.

  5. Good morning, all! And welcome, Jo! We’re so grateful and thrilled for your visit–and congratulations on your nomination! That’s such wonderful news!!

    The Black Hawk sounds (and looks!) fabulous–and I’m with you on the simple things. I am always saying good food, good drink, good friends is the recipe for good times in my book.

  6. I read THE SPYMASTER’S LADY after it was so well reviewed over on SBTB
    and agreed with Sarah’s review wholeheartedly – the language, the voices, and the interaction between the characters made for a great book.

    Thanks for being with us here today, Joanna and a huge congrats on your RT nom!

    As for what animal I’d like to be? Any one of my spoiled, pampered pets would do nicely.

    1. Hi Joanne L —

      Being a pampered pet sounds nice, especially after a hard day’s work.

      Funny thing is — we have a mutt dog. Seems to be mostly sheltie with a big of husky in the mix. That dog really wants to work. If I let her protect me back and forth to the mailbox.

  7. Congratulations on the RT nomination. It must feel nice to be recognized.

    As for the question, I’d like to be vacationing near an ocean, with the wind blowing and the waves crashing. I’m not much for sun bathing, but I enjoy walking right before a storm. There’s something enegizing about it.

    I haven’t read The Black Hawk yet, but I understand you take a situation from The Forbidden Rose and write it from Adrian’s POV. I wish more authors would use this technique. I think it gives the reader a chance to see that the same situation can be viewed differently depending on the person. Lisa Kleypas did this (in an online blog) to great effect with her character Hardy. It was quite interesting.

  8. Hi Jo,

    Congratulations on the Rita nomination!

    I really loved this interview. Simple pleasures like good bread and homemade soup are the best.

    You are just as entertaining on the page as you were in person when you graciously attended our dinner at St. Andrews back in June.

    I haven’t bought the new book yet because I still have to read My Lord and Spymaster and I want to make sure I don’t miss anything.

  9. Huge congratulations to Joanna for having The Black Hawk nominated for Best Historical by RT!!
    Right now I would love to be in Scotland visiting the old castles and imagining myself there in the past. Hopefully to visit there one day!

  10. Hi Joanna

    Another great post. Congrats on the RT nomination. I’d probably like to be a pet cat, they seem to spend all day lazing around in warm places and getting pampered, I could definitely live with that. As for what makes me happy, I’m at home with my son and a fire, it’s warm and cosy and yeah, I’m happy.

  11. Hi Joanna,

    I have to agree with you, I love the simple things as well. Congrats on the RT nomination. Looking forward to reading Adrian and Justine’s story!

  12. Congratulations on the nomination!

    I’m thinking the last three lines of this interview would make a great inspirational poster. Or t-shirt.

    What is currently adding to the happy in my life? Making use of an old over-grown trail once again and walking on the dead leaves. Ahhh.

    I’m not sure what kind of animal I’d like to be. I’d make a great cat. Eat, sleep, purr.

    1. Hi Bridget —

      The three last lines about the otters. Yes. It’s the lack of wifi that makes it less than perfect. Odd how I pick an animal that so characteristically does no work at all and builds nothing permanent, and in real life I am utterly consumed with my craft. Maybe I should pick a beaver instead of an otter . . .?

  13. Hi Kim —
    I think writers would probably enjoy doing this more, but readers don’t always like it. It can feel like you’re going over old ground.

    You kinda roll the dice as to whether the readers will be pleased or annoyed.

  14. Hi Sheila —

    I was delighted to meet you in New York. I had the haggis at St. Andrews. Did you know. I can’t say it was something I’d seek out, but it was perfectly edible and fine. I’d recommend it and the restaurant to anyone who has a heroine she’s taking to Scotland.

    . . . or any Scots gentleman who’s brought his cook with him from home.

  15. Hi Tawna —

    I have given this matter of what animal I’d want to be some thought. You can see sea otters playin in the weeds along the shoreline all up and down the northwest coast of the States. I remember one long walk along the shoreline in particular. Port Townsend. The otters were close enough that when I stopped to watch the mamas herded the babies away and everybody headed further out in the water.

    Not urging you to buy the books, exactly — though I suppose I am — but both Barnes & Noble and Amazon have Black Hawk on sale right now. About 20% or 25%, I suppose.

  16. Hi Na —

    I have been to Scotland and it is entirely beautiful and breathtaking. What impressed me most was the clarity of the light and how twilight lingered on almost to midnight.

  17. Hi Beebs —

    Whenever I’m sort of sleep — and I am right now because The Toddlers get up well before dawn . . .

    Me: It’s the middle of the night
    Toddler 1: Not it’s not. No it’s not. No it’s not.
    Toddler 2: It’s almost light.
    Me: You need to sleep some more.
    Toddler 1: No I don’t No I don’t No I dont
    Toddler 2: I’m hungry.

    . . . as I say, whenever I’m short of sleep I envy cats who seem to do it 23/24 hours a day. I ask myself what genetic advantabge this would convey. Then I ask myself how they do it. Then I ask myself if their kittens wake up before dawn asking for crayons and paper.

    1. I have been there Jo, thankfully my youngest is 13 now, so he doesn’t wake me at the crack of dawn anymore. But there were times, when he was younger, that I wondered if there’d ever come a time when I wouldn’t be tired.

      1. Thing about kids is … when they’re two the WON’T sleep more than six hours out of the day. And when they’re teenagers you have to drag ’em out of bed by one foot, bumping down the stairs, to get ’em to school.

  18. Hi Carol —

    The RT nomination came to me as a complete and utter surprise. Black Hawk came out so late in the year I wasn’t expecting to be on the RT radar.

  19. LOL! Love the sea otter commentary. Life would be perfect with a laptop and wifi just about anywhere, but I’d love to be somewhere tropical at the moment. Maybe a south seas island… Looking forward to reading The Black Hawk. Congratulations on the RT nomination.

  20. What is making me happy is having recently discovered the AAR website, which has pointed me to a bunch of terrific authors! Just read the glowing Black Hawk review there, and I’m now adding your name to my “must read” list.

  21. Hi Susan O —

    South Seas Island — I’d love that because of the flowers. Maybe a waterfall coming down from the huge mountain in the center . . .

  22. Hi Deniz —

    In an age of Kindle and nook and i-Pad, I see no reason why a sea otter would not be able to have an extensive library.

    There’s the small matter of making the reader waterproof . . .

  23. Hi Lori —

    I do love AAR. Their reviews (and I don’t say this because they give me nice reviews) are exactly what I need to pick up new-to-me authors. It’s a great group over there, both the reviewers and the folks who appear on the Boards.

  24. Dear Jo,
    Well, danged if I’m not late to the party again! Well no matter. I will seek out The Black Hawk and buy poste haste! It will complete my collection of Joanna Bourne romances. 🙂
    And of course, congratulations on the RT nomination! Well-deserved, no doubt!
    Donna, tossing confetti and soy lattes your way. Eh, not the lattes. Too messy for the computer, methinks.

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