Bianca M Schwarz was born in Germany, spent her formative years in London and just got her US passport, but she considers herself a world citizen.
She lives in Los Angeles because that's where they make movies and she used to work on them.
And she writes novels because that's kind of like making a movie in people's heads and because she just loves books. Bianca has one son, because that's all she can handle and she tolerates her husband because, well, she loves him and there is no help for that. If you want to know more, click around below.
What is your favorite word? Least favorite?
My son would tell you it’s “fuck” and that he constantly has to tell me not to use
bad language. He might be right, I do like the hard sound of it but I also like the word gorgeous for its dark lushness.
I hate “Good girl”, it sets my teeth on edge. First of all, I’m not a girl, I’m a
woman. And secondly, stop being a patronizing ass.
What turns you on creatively, spiritually or emotionally?
A view that connects me to the world outside and lets me dream into the distance at the same time inspires me.
Music is spiritual for me.
Emotionally, a strong man, who accepts me for who I am, turns me on.
What sound or noise do you love? Hate?
I love the sound of the wind in pine trees. It is the sound of my childhood, the sound of daydreams and unlimited possibility. It is also the first sound I can remember being described in fiction that totally connected me to the heroin of the book. The Book was Heidi, and she heard the wind in the pine tree behind her grandfathers hut.
I hate to hear my son crying. The sound of his distress is the most awful sound in the world.
If Heaven exists, what would you like to hear God say when you arrive at the Pearly Gates?
You were right to ignore all those bible-bashing fools. I don’t care about your church attendance record, only the content of your heart and your actions toward your fellow humans.
If you were reincarnated as some other plant or animal, what would it be?
Probably a big old oak tree so I can learn to be rooted in the soil of my birth. I am the human equivalent of a tumbleweed in this life.
What is your idea of earthly happiness?
A cabin in the woods, overlooking the sea where I write in a room with a view. There will be a farmers market and an authentic French bakery in walking distance and like-minded friends will live nearby. My books will sell, keeping me fed, comfortable and able to travel whenever and wherever I like. And there will be an adoring, supportive man in my life.
Who are your favorite fictional heroes/heroines?
Colonel Brandon, Jane Austen’s second male lead in Sense and Sensibility, is a hero in every sense of the word. And, of course, Sir Henry.
As far as heroines are concerned, I’m partial to my Eliza in A Thing Of Beauty
Who are your favorite heroes/heroines in real life?
“A working class hero is something to be!” John Lennon, he truly was a working class hero who never forgot his roots, never sugar coated anything and still managed to leave a positive and enduring legacy.
Who is your favorite artist (writer, painter, musician, poet, etc.)?
Kate Chopin, I want to be at least half as good as she was one day.
Mark Rothko, I never post any of his art because the paintings just don’t work in reproduction in small format, but when you allow yourself to linger in front of one and let yourself drift into the painting, the feeling is indescribable. I like William Turner for similar reasons.
My taste in music is eclectic. To me it’s more about the quality than the style. I like Beethoven, Mozart, Karl Orf, Paco de Lucia, Beth Gibons (Portishead) and 21Pilots. That list is by no means exhaustive, but don’t ask me to pick a favorite, it all depends on my mood.
One of Bianca's favorite songs:
Suddenly, and at the end of a life well lived.
What is your present state of mind?
I’m a little overwhelmed with all that is going on right now. My life has completely changed in the last two years and the only good change is becoming a published writer. That reminds me, I have to complete three short stories for different anthologies in the next couple of months. Besides that, I’m waiting for an agent to get back to me about the second Sir Henry Book and I should be writing the third. I also want to self publish two stories before X-mas to test out the theory that having more then one book out, no matter how short the new addition, will increase your sales. I hope to make at least one of the stories free to make it easier for people to give my writing a chance.
What is your motto or favorite quote?
“The only thing we have to fear is fear itself.”
The first time I heard this quote was in a Wim Wenders movie, I think “The State Of Things”. It was, of course, used in FDR’s inaugural address, but I am fairly sure I have read it in Ralph Waldo Emerson’s work. No matter who said it first, it is true and I strive never to give in to fear.
“I keep my eyes fixed on the sun.” A line from one of my favorite songs by Cage The Elephant
“A thousand dreams within me softly burn.” Arthur Rimbaud
“All purpose of human life, no matter who is controlling it, is to love whoever is around to be loved.” Kurt Vonnegut
A THING OF BEAUTY, Bianca's acclaimed historical romance.
Eliza had never seen so many people in one place. The sights, the sounds, the smells made up an atmosphere that was almost celebratory. It was noisy with all the vendors vying for the shoppers’ attention and joking good naturedly with their customers in their thick cockney accents. The stalls were covered with colorful canapés and as far as Eliza could tell, anything one could possibly desire was for sale somewhere in this market. From sweet cox apples, small mountains of exotic spices and dried fruit, to bales of wool and silk cloth, to books and cheap trinkets as well as shoes, hats and furs. It smelled of roasted chestnuts, mulled wine and unwashed bodies and someone, somewhere, was roasting meat.
The cries of the hawkers were underscored by the occasional sounds of a fiddle, an old English ballad and even the distant strains of a bagpipe. Henry explained that the best musicians would be at the plaza in front of the Opera House, where the Punch and Judy show was and where the acrobats performed. He promised that they would stop there later after they were done shopping.
Sir Henry insisted on freshly roasted chestnuts to munch on whilst they explored. They meandered leisurely through the seasonally large crowd. Representatives of all social strata could be observed perusing the stalls—the market was one of those rare places where the classes mingled naturally, all drawn by the festive atmosphere and the bargains to be had.
They bought cone shaped bags of sugar plums and candied almonds for Mrs. Tibbit, some delicate doll clothes for Emily’s favorite doll, a length of lovely, white-on-white sprigged muslin for Eliza to practice her sewing and, of course, the gloves and muff they had come for.
The gloves were soft grey leather and slid onto Eliza’s fingers like a second skin. Not that she could bear to wear gloves in a place where every stall seemed to hold something that just had to be touched or smelled to be fully appreciated. The muff was, at least to Eliza’s mind, a decadent creation made of grey rabbit fur and covered on the outside with red velvet.
Eliza couldn’t stop herself from rubbing the soft fur against her cheek as she thanked Sir Henry for the handsome gift. But she was afraid she would lose the lovely thing in the crush and so let the vendor wrap it for her and handed it to William to carry.
Henry watched Eliza explore, and smiling to himself, relaxed into the experience.
The two servants took the opportunity to do a little Christmas shopping of their own and so were soon laden down with all their purchases. Henry sent Roberts back to the coach with all the packages and told him to meet them in the plaza before the Opera House, where the buskers and acrobats performed.
On the way to the plaza they cut through the big market hall, where Eliza admired a hat in a milliner’s shop, but she moved on as soon as Henry caught up to her. Henry took one look at the shop window, saw the fur trimmed, grey hat with the dark red ribbons Eliza had been looking at and was about to suggest that they go in when she hustled past him and pretended to be impatient to see the acrobats. While she was probably embarrassed about the money he had already spent on her, the hat would go perfectly with Eliza’s new muff and cape and he figured it would make a splendid Christmas present, even if he couldn’t be there to see her unwrap it on Christmas morning.
Henry had not seen anybody who looked remotely how Eliza had described Wilkins and he felt confident that no one had followed them. So he called to William to stay close to Eliza and for them to go on ahead, and ducked into the small shop to buy the hat.
As soon as Eliza stepped into the plaza she felt exposed, vulnerable. She couldn’t have explained why, it was just a cold prickle at the nape of her neck, and she told herself to stop being such a ninny and that both Sir Henry and Roberts would be back in a trice. Besides, the burly William stood right next to her sharing his sugared doughnuts with her so she was hardly alone. But the prickle of warning would not go away.
They had worked their way into the crowd to get a better look at the tumblers and so, whilst William marveled at a girl cartwheeling on a tight rope, she looked around her, unable to dismiss her feeling of unease.
There were no familiar faces in the crowd but the handsome gent in the dapper rust colored suit and the brown top hat, who stood just behind her, had an odd glint in his eye when he said to somebody on her other side: “She’s a pretty pigeon.”
The smile he bestowed on her made her skin crawl and she was overwhelmed by the thought that this creature was ten times worse than Horace had ever been. But before she could nudge William or cry out around her last bite of doughnut, a broad, callused hand closed over her mouth and a beefy arm pulled her backwards through the crowd. Then the stench of onions and rotting teeth threatened to overwhelm her when Wilkins’s voice whispered in her right ear: “Come along Liza, play time’s over! I come to collect what’s mine.”
Eyes wide with panic Eliza tried to get William’s attention by the sheer force of her will. She scratched at Wilkins’s hand dragging her mercilessly backwards and kicked at the dapper gent who had parted her cloak to grab her around her waist and kept smiling at her as if they were playing some sort of game.
Within seconds, she couldn’t see William anymore and knew herself to be lost if she could not alert anyone to her plight. She swallowed that last bit of doughnut that had lodged itself in her throat and bit down as hard as she could on Wilkins’ fat, dirty middle digit. He bellowed and cursed but let go of her mouth. By this time they were out of the crowd and she was being dragged between stalls towards a dark little lane beyond. Eliza threw her head back in desperation, head-butting Wilkins in the process, and screamed with the full force of her lungs.
“HELP! HENRYYYY!!!! HE...AHHH.”
Her scream for help turned into a cry of pain as Wilkins cuffed her around her ear and the other man’s hand grabbed her breast in a vice like grip and twisted her nipple with excruciating efficiency. “Shut up bitch or I’ll tweak the other one, too!”
Fear froze any further sound in Eliza’s throat as she looked into the man’s pale, menacing eyes. The smile that crept back over his face was pure evil. The vice grip around her nipple relaxed and his hand started to massage the pain away and she thought she would be sick on his polished boots.
“See Wilkins, it’s always a question of findin’ the right mo’ivator. Soon as we’re in me ally, she can scream all she likes, no one will take no notice.”
With that he turned her around and grabbed her around her waist as Wilkins’s fist closed around her upper arm on the other side. His stupid grin held the promise of more pain to come.
“Right ya are Mr. Hobbs.”
Now that she could see that they were only one stall away from said ally, Eliza knew with blinding clarity that she had to make one last stand. Neither Henry nor William could come to her aid if they did not know which way she had gone.
She fervently wished she had ignored the doctor’s advice and donned her stays just for today. They would have offered some protection from Hobbs’s evil fingers. But there was nothing for it, she ignored all the fear pooling in her belly and used the fact that they were practically carrying her to pull up her knees and slam down her booted heels on both her captors’ toes. In the same movement she twisted her arm out of Wilkins’s slackened grip and turned under Hobbs’s arm to head back towards the stall behind her.
“SIR HENRY! HELP!”
She managed to grab the canvas of the rickety stall and upended a table full of brass oil lamps that clattered to the ground making an unholy racket, before a merciless hand grabbed her hair right at the nape and yanked her back. And then his hand closed around her other breast and the white hot fury of pain he inflicted on her rendered her helpless. The pain had left her no breath to scream but the stall holder’s anger lent her hope that he might remember her if Sir Henry came to see what the commotion was all about.
Hobbs hauled her through the last row of stalls and into the alley.
The alley was dark and stank of sex and human refuse. Farther into the shadows one could just make out girls for sale loitering against the walls. This was obviously Hobbs’s kingdom and he did not expect anyone to dare to follow him here. He pushed Eliza forward . “Blimy, the bint ‘as more spirit than what’s good for ‘er. Now she’s got matching fucking marks on ‘er titties. ‘ow am I suppose to sell ‘er if she can’t show ‘er tits.”
Wilkins’s laugh was mirthless and derisive. “She’ll have lots more marks by the time I’m done with ‘er. I owe ‘er a few just for today, never mind that that nob took what was mine.”
Hobbs, suddenly all business, stopped to square off with Wilkins, keeping an iron grip on Eliza’s arm. “Stop whining ya snifflin’ pillock. Virgins are overrated anyways, she’ll still be young and tight. But get this straight: this one’s trouble as is and the only reason I’m still ‘ere is ‘cause the good Sir ‘enry owes me a pigeon. So ya can fuck ‘er all ya want and I won’t even say anything if ya prefer the wrong ‘ole, but ya won’t put another mark on ‘er or ya’ll ‘ave a ‘ard time gettin’ your twenty quid off me. Are we understood?”
Wilkins planted his feet and squared his shoulders and yanked Eliza closer to his side. He extended his neck to get farther into Hobbs’ face and narrowed his eyes at him. “I’ll do with ‘er what I want and I don’t know what ya’re complainin’ about. Ya’re getting ‘er all broke in. Since ‘er fine gent has already done half the work, all I have to do is make sure she knows one cock’s as good as the next and that gin takes the edge off…That’s what you said. Besides, a deal is a deal.”
As the pain subsided, Eliza started to follow their exchange and finally found enough breath to voice her disgust. “Fucking bastards! You think I’m Sir Henry’s whore, and now you,” she indicated Wilkins with her head, “are going to force yourself on me and then sell me to this demon here out of revenge? Because you think I gave Sir Henry my virginity, instead of guarding it faithfully so you could be the first bastard to rape me?”
Her eyes flashed angry fire as she looked from one to the other questioning whether she had all the facts straight. Hobbs assumed a calm, almost gentle demeanor that made Eliza cringe with apprehension. “Come, come now pigeon, of course he’s had ya. Ya’ve been living in ‘is ‘ouse and ‘e’s famous for ‘is great big cock and ‘is liking for the ladies. So we’re going to let Wilkins ‘ere ‘ave his pound of flesh and then …”
At that moment Eliza saw Sir Henry emerge from between two stalls with a pistol firmly trained on Hobbs. Eliza wanted to sag in relief but was all too aware that one against the two of them on Hobbs’s turf was probably a very bad idea so she shook her head at Henry to warn him away. He nevertheless smiled at her reassuringly and stepped forward. “Ah, but I’m not done with Miss Eliza yet. So if you would step aside Mr. Hobbs.”
Hobbs turned to him with a grin and raised his hand also holding a pistol.
“And why would I, this ‘ere is my world ya know.”
Henry nodded and seemed to think for a moment. “True enough. But you see…” He indicated a low roof behind Hobbs where William was just coming into view with a rifle trained on Hobbs.
“This here is William and he would like nothing better than to put a bullet in your head for hurting his girl. Daisie, you might remember her, I persuaded you to leave her in my care?”
Hobbs was a businessman at heart and had no trouble realizing when a deal was no longer to his advantage. So he released Eliza from his grip, lifted his hat, bowed with a flourish and then retreated farther into the ally, all the while keeping his gun at the ready, just in case.
Wilkins, stunned by this unexpected development, yanked Eliza back to him before she could step closer to Sir Henry and furiously shouted after Hobbs. “You lily livered bastard! Ya’r supposed ta ‘ave me back.”
Hobbs fixed him with cold, hard eyes. “She ain’t worth the trouble. Get yar twenty quid of ‘im. He obviously enjoyed her so he might as well pay…And a word of warning mate—if ‘e still wants ‘er, you won’t get ‘er off ‘im. He can be a right ‘ard bastard.”
With that the pimp turned and walked away. Wilkins took a moment to assimilate what Hobbs had said and then turned to Henry to rail at him. “I paid for a virgin and ya bloody ruined ‘er! So if ya want ‘er back, it’s gonna cost ya.”
Henry regarded him for a moment and then offered. “I’m willing to gift you fifty pounds if you will sign a contract that says that you give up all rights to Miss Eliza and that you will never come near her again.”
Eliza quickly calculated—Wilkins had only valued her as long as she was a virgin and he would let her go more readily if he thought her spoiled goods. What Eliza found troubling was the fact that Sir Henry was about to buy her. Her heart sank further as she realized that fifty pounds was not a sum she could hope to repay any time soon. Her only consolation was that being owned by Sir Henry was infinitely preferable to being owned by Wilkins.
Wilkins agreed to the deal. “All right. But show me the money first.”
Henry handed his gun to Roberts who had appeared behind him and retrieved a crisp fifty pound note from his wallet and held it up for Wilkins to see, right there in a Covent Garden back alley. Eliza couldn’t make up her mind whether it was the bravest or the stupidest thing she had ever seen anybody do.
“There is a scribe in the market, so if you let Eliza go with my man here, we can go to him and have the contract drawn up for you to sign. William and I will witness it.”
Wilkins thought about it for a few seconds but eventually let go of her arm. Henry took Eliza’s shaking hand, held her close for a moment, and then handed her over to Roberts. He met her eyes and gave her a little smile, hoping to reassure her. “Wait for me in the carriage. I won’t be long and then you will be rid of him once and for all,” he whispered to her.
Eliza returned a shaky smile and nodded.
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