Sword & Silk is pleased to welcome Jenna Mandarino
Her novel, A Guise of the Sea, is a Historical Women's Fiction with Romantic elements comparable to Poldark and Outlander.
A widow and a Highlander-turned-privateer team up to chase a murderous commodore across the high seas in order to save her estate and get his revenge.
If Emme Clark can’t obtain proof of her husband’s death, she’ll lose everything. The bloody Commodore Cobbe didn’t record his death. She’ll do anything to get proof—even follow him across the ocean by joining the privateering ship, the Bluebell. But there’s a catch: the insufferable Captain, Highlander turned privateer, Xander Lock is wanted by the Crown, and a lass such as she would catch attention from the British. So, Lock has Emme disguise herself as a man. It’s fine—if she acted her way into upper class, she can act her way onto a ship— that is, until she witnesses the Cobbe commit murder.
Lock explains that Cobbe has hunted him since the Battle of Culloden, and he intends to kill Cobbe for the death of his wife. She explains she needs him alive to gain the proof to access her jointure. They concoct a scheme: they’ll follow him saying they’re betrothed so they can both get what they want. Instead, with his own secrets and whispers of an island project, Cobbe traps them with an ultimatum—he’ll write a letter of proof of “death”, and as a wedding gift, stop hunting Lock—if they marry today.
Emme has her proof, but a husband. Determined to hold up her end of the bargain, she accompanies Lock only to discover a love for each other they didn’t expect, despite the rocky waters of marriage. It all seems to be going swimmingly, until they learn soldiers from her late husband’s ship are missing, and all clues lead to the mysterious Oak Island. As secrets are revealed, a shocking truth threatens to destroy Lock and Emme. Now it is up to Emme to solve the mystery of Oak Island or lose the love of her life.
Jenna Mandarino is a historical and fantasy women's fiction writer usually incorporating romance and your favorite tropes. She is a freelance content editor having formerly worked at small publishing houses. By day, she is a Teacher on Assignment and specializes in behavior interventions and is attending school for her Doctorate in Education. She lives in Southern California where she can often be found drinking champagne, cooking, speaking French, trying a new TikTok organization method, and with her husband chasing after her two sons.
An Introductory Interview with Jenna
Tell us a bit about yourself!
The biggest thing about me is that I am a life-long learner. School and learning new skills excite, whether it is from pursuing more and more education or to something like learning to paint, I am stimulated by learning and being challenged. I am an educator by day where I work some of the most marginalized students to offer behavior interventions and supports to help ensure they have full access to their education. As difficult as it can be in education today, I have a lot of passion for my job. I am a mother to two boys and married to a fellow teacher. I have been writing for about 7 years now, and line & content edit on the side.
Where did the inspiration for your book come from?
So many things from books, movies, etc. but I love the time period. I am a big early American history buff and I had read that privateers assisted with the American Revolution and so I thought about how that worked and why they’d do that and it ignited a spark of interest eventually leading me here. I also must thank working with the amazing Maria Tureaud who helped me streamline 5 million ideas into one central plot, see question 3 for more details on my writing style.
What is your writing process? Plotter or Panster? Are you a morning or evening writer? What is your tried and true method for getting words on the page?
Well, apparently, I am a panster who will write an entire book only to go back after and dissect it into beats and re-write it completely. I have done this too many times now. With historical, it is different. It is a much longer process as I must accurately world build. Sometimes, I can spend minutes writing a single sentence because I need to look up word etymology and ensure this word was even used back then or try to find an old map and see what this place was called, etc. For me to be fully engaged in a story, I essentially plot it in my head over and over again with scenes and play it out different ways before I can even start the actual writing. Once I write, I will do it quickly when I’m determined.
Authors often impart pieces of themselves into their stories. Which character best reflects you? Do you share any personality traits with your protagonist?
I don’t know if any one character is me, but more so overall themes and moments of funny lines are where my personality comes out. But I’d like to think Emme’s grit, determination and perseverance reflect my personality a bit—although I think most people just call me stubborn for those traits ;).
What drew you to your genre as an author?
Honestly, fantasy drew me to historical. Although on surface level, there seems to be a big difference between the two genres, they are both immersive and you feel like you are engulfed in a different place. The world building is what attracted me to historical as a genre. I like to read about cool, random historical facts and then ask myself, ‘what if…?’ There are a lot of random real-life events in A Guise of the Sea that I was able to take that question and grow inspiration.
If you could give your teenage self one piece of advice what would it be?
Write. I always made stories up, but I believed becoming an author was a pipe dream, so I wish I had started earlier. So, I’d tell myself: write!