Interview with Emma Lombard, author of Discerning Grace (Book One of The White Sails Series)


As the first full-length novel in The White Sails Series, DISCERNING GRACE captures the spirit of an independent woman whose feminine lens blows the ordered patriarchal decks of a 19th-century tall ship to smithereens.

Wilful Grace Baxter, will not marry old Lord Silverton with his salivary incontinence and dead-mouse stink. Discovering she is a pawn in an arrangement between slobbery Silverton and her calculating father, Grace is devastated when Silverton reveals his true callous nature.

Refusing this fate, Grace resolves to stow away. Heading to the docks, disguised as a lad to ease her escape, she encounters smooth-talking naval recruiter, Gilly, who lures her aboard HMS Discerning with promises of freedom and exploration in South America.

When Grace’s big mouth lands her bare-bottomed over a cannon for insubordination, her identity is exposed. The captain wants her back in London but his orders, to chart the icy archipelago of Tierra del Fuego, forbid it. Lieutenant Seamus Fitzwilliam gallantly offers to take Grace off the fretting captain’s hands by placing her under his protection.

Grace must now win over the crew she betrayed with her secret, while managing her feelings towards her taciturn protector, whose obstinate chivalry stifles her new-found independence. But when Grace disregards Lieutenant Fitzwilliam’s warnings about the dangers of the unexplored archipelago, it costs a friend his life and she realises she is not as free as she believes.

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Having a Chat with Historical Women’s Fiction Author—Emma Lombard

When did you start writing?

I wrote my first novel between the ages of 11 and 14. Through family friends, I had a wonderful opportunity to present my manuscript to the editor of a large publishing house. She responded with some thoughtful feedback but 14-year-old me didn’t cope very well with the critique. Seriously—what would a publisher know!?! *teen snark* Lol! So, that manuscript got tossed in a drawer (I still have it! It’s sooo bad, I cringe at the thought of a professional publisher reading it. But it was a great life experience.)

Then life and four kids got in the way, though I always knew that one day I would resume my writing career. It took me until 2016 to steal some time and headspace to indulge my little dream and start putting words on paper.

Now that little dream has become my new career. Who would have thought!


Tell us about Discerning Grace.

It’s a purely fictional, romantic adventure featuring an independent young lass whose feminine lens blows the ordered patriarchal decks of a 19th century tall ship to smithereens. It will suit fans of feisty historical female leads who are not the docile and obedient type, and who always ruffle the feathers of the men in their lives, as well as the society of their times—and inevitably end up in hot water.

Readers who enjoy a rollicking tale with high stakes, which incorporates the thread of a slow-burn but ultimately passionate romance, will find Discerning Grace appealing.

My biggest delight is having readers tell me how much fun they are having reading my book because it matches with my experience of writing it. If I have entertained a reader for the duration of my book, then I have achieved my goal as an author.


What was your inspiration?

The idea for my story is born from a nugget of truth. My 3x great grandmother apparently left her well-to-do family in England to elope with an English sea captain and live aboard his ship. That notion has always utterly fascinated me. It got me thinking about what her life must have been like—and that she was obviously blessed with loads of bravery to attempt such a drastic life change. The romantic in me hopes it was because of love.

However, this is where any connection to my ancestor ends. I decided not to delve into her personal life but to rather use the idea of her story as the inspiration for my work of fiction. I still had a ball imagining what life must have been like aboard a tall ship back then. Not easy!

What are you currently working on?

I feel like a bit of an octopus with so many fingers in so many pies. My juggling schedules looks like this:

  • Auditioning narrators for Discerning Grace’s audiobook
  • Commissioning a musician to compose the music and lyrics for the audiobook intro (having written a seafaring adventure, I’m capitalizing on the hugely fun and popular trend of traditional sea shanties!)
  • Absorbing the developmental edits for Grace on the Horizon (Book 2 of The White Sails Series)
  • Revising Grace on the Horizon with said editing suggestions
  • Thinking ahead and plotting more of Grace Arising (Book 3 of The White Sails series)
  • Keeping in touch with my readers through my monthly newsletter, By the Book


And having a blast while keeping all these balls in the air.

What are you reading at the moment?


Two books I’ve just finished are A FEIGNED MADNESS by Tonya Mitchell, and THE LONDON MONSTER by Donna Scott. I’m about to start KEEPERS by Cheryl Burman.

As you can see, I’m a one-book-at-a-time kinda gal. I love to read one book from start to finish before I begin another. I don’t know how other readers who have multiple books on the go do it. Kudos to them!

What do you like to do in your free time when you’re not reading or writing?

Thankfully Australia has kept a tight lid on Covid-19, so we’ve been blessed with the ability to still go out and about. I enjoy nothing more than a fun night out with my girlfriends at a decent restaurant. An excellent meal always tastes a million times better when shared with friends’ laughter. After experiencing a short lockdown in the very early stages of 2020, I have been hugely appreciative of now having the freedom to go out and enjoy this small pleasure in life (which isn’t so small when you can’t do it anymore).

And finally, can you tell us some fun facts about yourself.

I’m terrified of heights. So, what does someone with a height phobia do? Climb the Eiffel Tower of course. Twice! I wanted to demonstrate to my sons not to let our fears get in the way of our goals—and their goal was to climb the Eiffel Tower with me. Gulp! Not sure if the jelly legs were a result of the fear or the 674 stairs! I tell you what, it does not help that the stairs are numbered either! Lol!

I’ve also visited Santa at the North Pole. True story! Another wonderful experience shared with my four sons when they were younger. I drove my own dog-sled team through a snowy coniferous forest, but considering that the sled was over-loaded with four gleeful squirming boys I had to hop off and help the pups by pushing the sled up the hills. Hard work! Next time, I want to be the one sitting inside the sled!

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Emma Lombard 

Emma Lombard was born in Pontefract in the UK. She grew up in Africa—calling Zimbabwe and South Africa home for a few years—before finally settling in Brisbane Australia, and raising four boys. Before she started writing historical fiction, she was a freelance editor in the corporate world, which was definitely not half as exciting as writing rollicking romantic adventures. Her characters are fearless seafarers, even though in real life Emma gets disastrously seasick. Discerning Grace is the first book in The White Sails Series.

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