Sunday, January 19, 2014

#Author Deborah Hawkins Interviews Ellen from Dance for a Dead Princess #Romance @DeborahHawk3

Our guest post for today comes from author Deborah Hawkins, author of Dance for A Dead Princess, who is interviewing Ellen Scott, housekeeper at Burnham Abbey and close friend of Nicholas Carey, the Eighteenth Duke of Burnham.
Deborah: “Thank you for stepping out of the pages of Dance For A Dead Princess to talk to us.   What is it like to be a modern-day housekeeper at an English stately home that dates back to Henry VIII’s time?”
Ellen:  “Well, obviously I love my job.  I oversee the household staff and ensure  the kitchen is running properly.  Above all, I’m responsible for the happiness of our resident chef.  Nicholas insists on having a top-rated chef at all times, and he takes it very hard when one of them leaves.   Since Downtown Abbey became popular,  people I meet are a lot more interested in what I do than they used to be.  They think I am like Mrs. Hughes, but our staff at the Abbey is much, much smaller than the staff at Downtown.”
Deborah: “Does the new attention make you uncomfortable?”
Ellen: “Not at all. The attention isn’t new really.  My job has always kept me in the spotlight because of my connection to Nicholas.   He is the second richest man in England.  The press hounds are  always pursing me for gossip about the women in his life.  Of course, I tell them nothing.”
Deborah: “How did you come to be the housekeeper at Burnham Abbey?”
Ellen: “I grew up on the estate. My father was a tenant on one of the Burnham Trust farms. I went to university to be a teacher, and I taught for a while at the school in the village after I got married. My husband Pete also grew up on one of the estate farms.  He oversees all the Trust’s agricultural holdings now.
“I agreed to be Nicholas’ housekeeper after Nicholas inherited the title and wanted to live at the Abbey and take care of the land in the traditional way of the old dukes.  He was going through a bad patch in his marriage to Deborah just then, and I couldn’t say no. The job stuck, and I’ve been doing it ever since.”
Deborah: “Is it true Nicholas became close to Princess Diana because of his wife?”
Ellen: “Yes.  Deborah and Diana were great friends at West Heath when they were girls.   Nicholas loved Deborah beyond anything I’ve ever seen, and he turned to Diana for advice when his marriage was in trouble.  And she, likewise, sought his advice over the whole Charles-Camilla thing.”
Deborah: “Did you ever meet the Princess of Wales?”
Ellen:  “Oh, yes.  Many times.  She was a lovely, lovely warm woman.  I still cry at times when I think about her being gone.  I’m always half-expecting to hear her car in the drive and her voice calling out for Nicholas.  He always took her part in everything.  There were so many men in her life who should have loved her, but who didn’t. More fool them.   She was just the most beautiful, thoughtful woman in the world. And she loved her boys.”
Deborah: “What did you think of Taylor Collins when you met her?”
Ellen: “She didn’t look like a lawyer.  She was this tiny little thing with dark curly hair and deep violet eyes.  But there was something about her that set her apart from the other women Nicholas brings around.  She had this fierce, determined attitude that made her seem a little off-putting at first.  But I saw the way Nicholas looked at her, and I was so afraid he was going to get his heart broken again.  Losing Deborah was a blow he refused to get over, and now I thought he was headed for another heartache. Taylor Collins was the only woman in the world who hadn’t any interest in being the Duchess of Burnham.”
Deborah: “Did you know Nicholas was looking for the video tape that Diana made, naming her killer?”
Ellen: “Oh, yes.  He was discouraged for so many years because he had no information about what happened to it.  I begged him to let it go because looking for it put his life in danger.  But he wouldn’t listen.  After Deborah died, I think he had a death wish.  That is, until he met, Taylor.”
Deborah:   “I understand you knew Nicholas’ ward Lucy very well?”
Ellen:   “I don’t think any of us knew Lucy well.  Sixteen-year-olds are unpredictable, and Lucy was particularly hard to understand.  I just know she broke Nicholas’ heart too many times to count.  He blamed himself for her, and I didn’t think that was right.  Drug addiction tears a family apart.”
Deborah: “I understand Taylor Collins found a manuscript in the Abbey library that Thomas Carey, the first duke wrote, about the love of his life, Elizabeth Howell.  Have you read it?”
Ellen:  “I have.  Nicholas always insisted the family was founded on the murder of Thomas’ first wife to clear the way for him to marry Elizabeth, the heiress.  Taylor, who had read the manuscript, said that wasn’t true; and I wanted to know how the Careys came to be one of England’s most powerful and wealthy families.”
Deborah: “And did you find out?”
Ellen: “Indeed, I did.  Thomas’ contemporaneous portrait of Henry VIII is fascinating.  You feel as if you’re standing right there in front of him with Thomas.  But I haven’t time  to tell you that story now.  We’re serving tea in the Long Gallery in a half hour to a group of American tourists. Tourists are a substantial part of the Abbey’s income, and they spend a lot of money with the villagers in Burnham during their summer visits,  so Nicholas insists we make them feel fully welcome to show our gratitude.   But I would love to have you join us for tea.”
Deborah: “Thank you.  I would be delighted.”
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Genre – Contemporary Romance,Mystery
Rating – G
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