Interview with Historical Romance Writer Leonora Pruner, Author of Close to His Heart

A love of reading became a love of writing when Leonora Borge Pruner moved from Iowa with her parents to her maternal grandparents in Pasadena, California, in the middle of the Second World War. A friend’s correspondence based the paper doll stories they used to play evolved into working on her grandfathers ancient typewriter creating stories and plays, none finished. She married after graduating from Westmont College, raised two children and became a writing homemaker. She worked for Rayne and Raytheon Corporations, took an MBA degree from Pepperdine College and became the operations manager for World Christian Magazine. Spurred by a writing project she went to Maldives in the middle of the Indian Ocean and remained for 10 years where she wrote the first drafts of her recent book. She now has 13 grandchildren and five great-grandchildren.

You can find out more about Close to His Heart by visiting the publisher's website at

Q: Welcome to The Writer's Life, Leonora. Can you tell us how long you’ve been writing professionally and how your journey led to writing your latest book, Close to His Heart?

A: My enjoyment in the writing process began in junior high and evolved through various unfinished projects and Adult Education courses until, in the 1960s, I set aside my mornings to write after the children departed for elementary school. I became fascinated with a character in the Wonderful World of Disney’s series titled The Scarecrow of Romney Marsh. What if Dr. Syn was a different sort of parson? There were similarities between him and my very favorite character The Scarlet Pimpernel. Dr. Syn led me into five years of research and note taking as I immersed myself in everything I could find regarding 18th century southern England. Wherever the family went, my husband and children would go shopping while I went to the library. For several years my perfect manuscript was returned from publishers. I happened upon a book rack in a grocery store. I noticed the imprint on one book and thought if they liked that one, they might like mine. I took it off the closet shelf and submitted it. They liked it! Finally, my first novel was published in 1981, over five years after I typed The End.

One cannot waste all that research on a single book, so I wrote another, not a sequel, but about neighbors, which was published in 1987. By then I was living in Maldives with a Maldivian family collecting folk tales. Again characters came to life in my imagination, and I wrote based on what I recalled of my research. Four books were born during my decade there. Close to His Heart was one of them.

Q: I love your title…can you tell us why you chose it?

A: Actually, my original title was Times Out of Mind referring to an accident resulting in amnesia. As the story continued to grow and refine, I changed my working title to Love is…, thinking of exploring the many kinds of love we experience. After reading the manuscript, the publisher’s wife came up with the present title. She picked it up from Lord Buryhill’s use of a brooch made of Grace’s hair (popular in those days) symbolizing their relationship.

Q: Why did you believe your book should be published?

A: Of course, I found the characters and events fascinating. The storyline involves two people who meet, marry, have serious problems and learn to resolve them, growing through that experience. I believe it is vital for people to learn to forgive each other and avoid leaping to obvious conclusions which might actually be incorrect. Love is too precious to be crushed when a romantic ideal fails to materialize. It takes nurturing work and commitment for a relationship to grow into a deep, mature love in which the focus shifts from self-pleasing to being other centered, what we think of as mature or agape love.

Q: Can you tell us the story behind your book cover? Did you choose it or did your publisher, Nordskog Publishing, Inc. have full control? Were you happy with the decision or did you have something else in mind?

A: Of course the ideas for the illustration went through a number of ideas. I worked with the person Nordskog assigned to develop the cover, mainly trying to make the design appropriate to the era and the story. It came out very well, don’t you think, incorporating the main characters, a horse, and Haley’s comet?

Q: How have you approached marketing your book? Do you have someone doing it for you or have you had to do most of the marketing yourself?

A: I am a writer, lacking the necessary marketing connections, except for a few locally. Fortunately, Nordskog has connected with a publicity firm which arranged some interviews for me and a virtual book tour during the month of August.

Q: What book on the market can it compare to? How is it different? What makes your book special?

A: I am not aware of a comparable book. Using the intriguing background of 18th century England, I sought to illuminate some of the injuries arising in many marriages such as damaging misunderstandings needing to be worked through and forgiven. And, I also highlighted the impact of a person’s spiritual life or lack of it affecting the relationship. This have a powerful healing effect in the lives of people and adds a deeper dimension to the story. I enjoyed Georgette Heyer’s books of the Georgian and Regent periods

Q: Open to a random page in your book. Can you tell us what is happening?

A: On the first page we meet Grace Carstares attempting to slip quietly out of her room and elope with one of her father’s footmen, stepping into an endless life of happiness. However, a man lying across the doorway prevents her. Before trying to step over him, she inspects him by candlelight wondering who he is and why he is there. He opens his eyes suddenly and immediately she is breathlessly in her room braced against her door. Several more unsuccessful attempts leave her frustrated and despairing. Later that morning, her father introduces her to Lord Buryhill, the son of a business associate, the very man aborting her escape. She is horrified to learn her father has granted him permission to court her. Not likely she’ll accept him – or will she, in time?

Q: Do you plan subsequent books?

A: Yes. Nordskog plans to publish another book, In The Aerie of the Wolf in the coming months. It is set in Yorkshire during the same era. And there are two other incomplete manuscripts hiding on my computer. I am working on one of them now.

Q: Thank you for your interview, Leonora. Would you like to tell my readers where they can find you on the web and how everyone can buy your book?

A: Thank you for your kind interest. Close to His Heart is available through along with my first two books now out of print. Your readers might also try to order it through their local bookstore saving the postage charge. Sorry to say, I do not have a website, twitter, and so forth – yet.
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