A few days ago I read NO REGRETS and, having enjoyed it very much, I checked out the author’s website to figure out what other books she had written. As I explored her site I became curious and wanted to know more about her. I knew right then that she would be a great author to interview for my blog—if only she would say ‘yes’! I was honored when she graciously agreed to be interviewed. Now, without further ado, I would like to share with you my interview with Michele Ann Young and her alter ego, Ann Lethrbidge.
1) Could you tell us about your historical romance novel, NO REGRETS?
The book is set in Norfolk, London and France. Three very different locations in 1816, after Waterloo. No Regrets is the story of two old friends, Caro and Lucas, who liked each other very much growing up, but whose paths diverged as adults. They find themselves in very different circumstances when next they meet, she is trying to support her sisters after her father’s death, and he is man about town rake, who is being forced to marry by his dictatorial father, or go without funds. The odd thing is that his father wants him to Caro. Caro is not your usual romance heroine, she is plump, she wears glasses and her self esteem is at an all time low. But she finds it very hard to resist the man, though he has changed, when she loved the boy. Once they enter into their marriage of convenience, then the adventure starts, for there is a lot about each other they don’t know.
2) How much has ‘No Regrets’ changed since draft one of the story?
Great question. It is also hard to actually remember, but what I can say for certain is that the first scene, thought it was rewritten and improved over time, never changed. Since I tend to write without a roadmap or a plot, the biggest changes for me are always the scenes that have to be cut. I loved writing about Paris and the Champagne regions of France, though, and I did oodles of research, most of which did not end up in the book, but there are still little bits of interesting information here and there. The biggest change was the additon of the flashbacks to their childhood together, something my editor requested.
3) I visited your webpage and discovered you had published other Historical Romances under a different pen name: Ann Lethbridge. I was curious why you were publishing under two names?
Ah, that was the publisher’s choice. The particular name was my idea, but since they already have several Michelle’s writing for the line and the spelling of my name – Michele – didn’t really make a huge difference in brand recognition, they asked me if I would mind. Well, when people ask so nicely, what else can one do? I decided to use my middle name and go with a new last name, I have always wanted to be in the middle of a list, rather than at the end. lol
4) Could you share with us one of your favourite reviews?
I was quite thrilled when No Regrets was awarded an honorary mention in the Foreward Magazine’s Book of the Year contest. But my favourite review for the book has to be this one from Romantic Times:
The familiar marriage of convenience plot spins out into an engaging and adventurous story. A hero and heroine who don’t quite fit the conventional mold make for some interesting surprises and unexpected twists so not everything is quite as it appears on the surface. The road to happiness is bumpy, but the final result is a relationship with No Regrets.
5) Why did you choose to write in the Regency era?
Probably because this is what I read. Given a choice of a any other genre or a regency historical, I go for the regency. I loved Georgette Heyer’s work growing up and still read them for pure enjoyment, even though her style of writing would not be accepted in today’s market. I also loved Jane Austen’s works, Sir Walter Scott and C. S. Forester’s Horatio Hornblower is one of my all time favourite hero’s. Since I also like reading fantasy, I expect I like to imagine myself in another world and I felt very much as if I knew the Regency world. I have to add, though, I have learned a great deal more since starting to write them. I am also working on a series set during the Napoleonic Peninsular Wars 1809 to 1815. It is not a romance but rather a straight historical.
6) Several of the writers I know are in their querying stage right now. Could you share with us some of the difficulties you encountered and what you learned through this experience?
Since every writer comes at writing fiction from a different place, it is hard to know what people will find helpful without sounding like every other author who gives advice. My first rejections were very difficult, especially since they came such a long time after submission. I certainly learn to be patient and not expect instant success, or even instant appreciation of my work. Some folks do get their first book published and whizz to the top, but that is not my experience. And looking back at it, I can quite see why. Those first books were my baby steps. This understanding led me to go to lots of workshops and classes and to read and absorb the information in craft books, preferably those written recently, though there are also some classics which can be added to, but not replaced.
Finding a hook that will catch an editor’s eye is very hard. One tends to be so bogged down in all the detail and nuances of a story, picking the one thing that will make an editor go aha! eluded me for quite some time. I did find my critique partners, all now multi-published authors, great for narrowing things down to the essence, and once I had an agent, he was exceedingly helpful in this respect.
7) What are you top five favorite books?
I suppose I ought to be literary and super-sophisticated about this, but nope, I tend to like things that appeal to me viscerally. My list would be as follows:
Georgette Heyer – These Old Shades
Laura Kinsale – Flowers in the Storm
Dickens – A Tale of Two Cities
Charlotte Bronte’s – Jane Eyre
Tolkien’s – Lord of the Rings
All of these are books I read as a young person and they stuck with me, though there have been many more I have enjoyed since. These I would happily read over and over, if I was stuck on a desert island.
8 ) Do you have any advice for the aspiring novelists?
Persevere, but listen to advice you trust. Attend workshops and talk to other writers. Write as often as you can, every day if possible. If you have a feeling that something isn’t quite working or that it is utterly brilliant, it probably isn’t what people want to read. That last is a conglomeration of a couple of quotes that I thought sensible.
Thank you so much Michele for this lovely interview!
Michele Ann Young’s short story Remember in the Mammoth Book of Regencies by Running Press will be out in July 2010 in North America. Her next Ann Lethbridge book Wicked Rake, Defiant Mistress, from Harlequin Historicals is in stores on May 4 2010. If you want to know more about her books visit http://www.regencyramble.blogspot.com from where you can learn more about the Regency as well ramble to her websites for the latest news.