Tag Archives: Interviews

Author Interview: Candice Hern

 

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Candice Hern is the author whose books were among the ones that made me fall in love with the historical romance genre. I was thus very excited when she agreed to do an interview with me. I checked my email everyday and when I finally received her answers, I confess to have done a little jig around my room! Alright now, without further ado, it is my pleasure to share with all the readers and writers out there my interview with this most talented author:

 

Could you tell us a bit about your newest book, It Happened One Night?anthology_ihon_350

It’s an anthology in which four authors — Stephanie Laurens, Mary Balogh, Jacquie D’Alessandro, and me — each wrote a novella using the same plot premise. It was Mary’s idea. She wanted to prove that regardless of how similar plots might be, that no two (or four) writers will ever produce the same story. There will always be differences in voice, in perspective, in style, etc. We came up with a simple premise: a man and woman who know each other but haven’t seen each other for ten years, find themselves stranded for a night at the same inn. Mary was right. All four stories are VERY different. It was a fun experiment.

My novella is about a woman who was introduced in my Merry Widows series. She was the oldest of the widows and I never intended to give her a book of her own. But I received so much mail about her that I thought the anthology was a great opportunity to give her a happy ending. Both she and the hero are in their 40s. I’ve had so much mail thanking me for writing about “older” protagonists!

thrill_350Your award-winning Merry Widows Trilogy was super fun to read! Where did you get your idea to write about widows?

I actually came up with the idea for the first book, IN THE THRILL OF THE NIGHT, as a standalone book. But knowing publishers love connected books, I toyed around with ideas for a trilogy. At first I considered a connection through the hero, ie brothers or friends, etc. Then I decided I wanted to do something different. There were lots series and trilogies connected through the heroes — brothers, fellow soldiers, secret society members, etc. Series tied to the heroines were less common, though certainly they were out there. Lots of sister series, for example. I wasn’t sure how I wanted to connect the heroine of my first book to other women but I knew I wanted to focus on the heroines. Then I was watching “Sex and the City” one night, and it all clicked. The heroine of my first book wanted to have a love affair. After watching “Sex and the City” I decided I would create a group of Regency girl friends who had affairs and talked together about sex. : -) I pitched the series as “Sex and the City meets Jane Austen.”

How many books have you published to this day?

Fourteen novels and one novella.

I have visited your discussion board several times to ask questions about the Regency era and you have always answered them so thoroughly. How did you gain so much knowledge of this period? And what made you love the Regency era in the first place?

I’m glad you find the discussion board helpful. I’ve created an entire Regency World on my website where I’ve gathered up lots of info on the period for both readers and writers, including in illustrated glossary, a detailed timeline, an illustrated digest of Regency people and places, links to research sites, etc.

I’ve always been a history buff, with certain specific pockets of history as favorites, eg 18th dynasty Egypt, Tudor England, Revolutionary France, gold rush California, etc. My bookshelves are filled with books about those eras. I’ve also always been drawn to the late 18th century and Regency England, primarily from the perspective of an antique collector. That’s the period I tend to collect most. (You can see some of my collections on my website, here. Like any serious collector, I study the social and political history of the period so I understand the context of the items I collect. So I have a pretty substantial library of books on the period — general history, fashion, accessories, design, art, architecture, decorative arts, literature, poetry, social movements, the Peninsular Wars, Nelson and the Royal Navy, royalty, and on and on. When people ask research questions on my discussion board, I can generally hunt down the answer in my library.

I believe, though, that it was the fashion that first drew me to the period. I have always loved it. I am fascinated by the short period — 25 to 30 years — of high-waisted dresses with narrow skirts sandwiched between two periods of huge skirts. Of all the historical fashion eras, it’s my favorite style.

Do you remember how you felt when you published your first book?

Oh yes! It was such a thrill. I even used my real name, deciding against a pseudonym. In case I only ever published one book, I wanted my own name on it! I was still working at my day job at the time, and my work colleagues through a big booksigning for me in one of the conference rooms. It was great fun.

Do you ever reread your published books? How do you feel when you do?

I don’t really re-read them. I spend so much time writing a book that I have pretty much had my fill of it by the time I’m done. Besides, if it doesn’t hold up in a later reading, it does me no good to know that as it’s too late to fix it. I’m afraid I will too often think of things I should have done and cringe at what I did do. Sometimes, when I am doing a workshop on some aspect of writing and I want to pull an example from one of my books, I’ll start flipping through and often end up reading a whole section. If it’s good, I’ll think, “Did I really write that?”

What was the toughest experience you had with publishing?bad_350

Not being able to find a publisher after 14 books.

What was the best experience you had with publishing?

Meeting other writers and making some of the best friends I’ll ever have.

What do you believe is required to make a great romance novel?

A good love story that sweeps you away. It’s not about the history being accurate or the mechanics of writing being perfect. It’s all about the story.

Do you have any last words for aspiring writers?

Keep writing! When you finish a project, don’t spend years tweaking it. Yes, you should polish it until it publish-worthy, but don’t overwork it. Package it for submission and start the next project. Keep moving forward. And get connected with other writers. Not just for sharing ideas and critiquing, but for industry networking. Genre fiction is so competitive that you need to keep your eye on what’s happening in the industry and the market, join professional writers’ groups likes RWA, network with industry professionals at conferences, etc. Write the best book you can, but be smart and informed when you’re ready to sell it.

Thank you so much Candice for this interview!

 

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Author Interview: Sarah Tormey

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Sarah Tormey’s Recipe for Romance:

Wit, humor, and a rakish hero determined to risk everything to win the heart of the woman he loves.

  

  

I discovered this most talented author through her blog and fell in love with the first chapter of her Historical Romance, Flirting with Scandal. I immediately contacted Sarah Tormey to ask for an interview and she kindly agreed to answer some questions pertaining to her experience on “both sides” of the publishing industry. At last, the interview is ready, and I am now super excited to share this with everyone! 

 

You worked for several years at Random House as a mass merchandise sales representative. Could you share a bit of your experience with us? What did you do exactly?

When I left Random House last summer, I was selling all the adult imprints to Target.  It was an amazing job covering everything from presenting the upcoming releases to shipping reorders to providing the publishers with current sales data.  I would arrive at my office each morning excited to see the daily sales figures for recent releases.  And there were times when I would literally jump for joy in my office after securing great placement for one of my favorite authors.  While I love having more time to write, I still miss my coworkers and the buying team at Target.      

 
When you decided to leave this job to become a full-time writer, was it a hard decision to make? 

Very hard.  I knew I needed more time to write apart from the time during my subway ride to and from the office and the few early morning hours I set aside for writing.  While I loved my job, completing my first manuscript was my dream.  I spoke with my husband and we decided that now was as good a time as any to pursue my dreams.       

Could you tell us about your historical romance, Flirting with Scandal ?

Set in 1813 England, Flirting with Scandal is the story of an innocent twenty-something lady whose best friend’s unconventional plan leads her to pose as a courtesan and come face-to-face with the one man she vowed never to marry.  To learn more and to read an excerpt, please visit my website at www.sarahtormey.com.  
 
Why did you set this story in the Regency Era?

I fell in love with the Regency Era years ago when I first started working in publishing.  I was helping with a marketing campaign for Sabrina Jeffries and once I started reading her books, I couldn’t stop.  Next I fell in love with Mary Balogh’s Slightly series, then Julia Quinn, Eloisa James, and Madeline Hunter (just to name a few).     

 
Do you write following a schedule or when inspired?
Most weekdays, I sit down at my computer after I make my husband’s french toast.  I write until lunch time, taking breaks to check email, read my favorite blogs or move the car (NYC is a land of alternate side street parking).  After lunch I usually continue until about five, sometimes later if I’m feeling inspired.  On the weekends, I start each day writing, stopping only when the inspiration fades or another obligation pulls me away from the computer.  

 
What difficulties have you faced in your road to publication? And how did you deal with it?

Patience.  The hardest part for me is the waiting.  But I don’t think I’m alone in this.  About two days after I send out my first round of query letters, I learned that I needed to find more patience.  I keep telling myself that becoming a patient person will help me in all aspects of my life.  There is a post-it note on my wall reminding me of this.  

  To overcome my impatience, I generally turn off my email and try to lose myself in my current work-in-progress.  If the impatience returns, I remind myself that the agents and editors who have my work are very busy people.  And they can’t read all the time.  They have families and other obligations.  After all, there are only so many hours in the day, which I have a strong feeling applies to both agents, editors, and writers. 

As a last resort, I clean my apartment.       

  

What has been your best and worst experience in querying to agents?
 
I have found the querying process very rewarding.  Most agents I’ve queried have responded relatively fast with a request for either a partial or a full.  After I sent out my first round of partials and full manuscripts, I received a handful of rejections.  Each rejection offered insights into how I could improve my work.  I then spoke with an agent who’d read the full and offered lots of great suggestions.  Based on her feedback, I completely revised my manuscript and resubmitted to another round of agents.  

    
What are your top five favourite books?

Just five? Wow, that’s a hard question to answer.  To come up with a response, I thought about the books that I simply can’t part with.  If my apartment caught fire, I would grab my cat and this list of books.  These are the books that if I give my copy to a friend, I order a new one for myself the next day.

And I certainly can’t put them in any sort of order or pick a #1 favorite.  Of course this list is constantly changing as new books are released.  If I could add a sixth, I think it would be Goddess of the Hunt by Tessa Dare (on-sale in July 2009).  Thanks to my former coworkers at Random House, I read an advanced copy and loved it.    

Jane Eyre by Charlotte Bronte
A Wild Pursuit by Eloisa James
The Duke and I by Julia Quinn
The Romantic by Madeline Hunter (It was very hard to pick just one of her books!)
Suzanne Brockmann’s Troubleshooter series (I can’t pick just one.  I would save the entire series from the fire without a second thought.)

Could you tell us about your experience working with RWA?

My experience working with RWA while I was working on the other side of the publishing industry played a large part in my decision to take the leap to full-time aspiring writer.  I knew before I made the transition that the romance community was a supportive, encouraging group of writers and readers.  I had been to the Romance Writers of America® national conference in the past for my job and witnessed this first hand.  Thus, one of the first things I did when I joined RWA® this past fall was to also join my local chapter in New York City and then a few months later, The Beau Monde.  I would recommend that anyone who is interested in writing romance join RWA and your local chapter.  Even if you don’t attend the meetings, I find that it is nice to have a support group to share your successes and your setbacks. 

Do you have any advice you’d like to give to other aspiring authors?

 Write.  Dee Davis, a fellow member of the RWA NYC group and a highly acclaimed author (www.deedavis.com), posted a few words of wisdom to the group online chat loop that I printed out and hung on my wall.  I’m paraphrasing slightly, but basically she said:  “A writer writes period.  Regardless of whether you’re published or still waiting for “the call,” the truly important part of the process is the writing.” 

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Excerpt from Flirting with Scandal

Charlotte Ashton stared in wide-eyed horror as Nathaniel White rounded the corner at the far end of the otherwise empty hallway. Breathless at the mere thought of coming face to face with the notorious rake, Charlotte did what any other reasonable eighteen-year-old daughter of an earl would do.

She sought refuge in the nearby window dressings. Read more here.

  

If you have any questions for Sarah Tormey, please leave a comment.  She’ll be checking in throughout the day. 

 

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Author Interview: Mandy Hubbard

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“If the shoe fits, wear it–and if you’re in the mood for a frickin’ awesome romance, this is definitely the shoe for you.” – Lauren Myracle, New York Times Bestselling Author of TTYL

Pride and Prejudice meets The Wizard of Oz meets The Princess Diaries in this enchanting story of a young girl’s journey back in time… With delicious romance around every corner, and tantalizing mysteries waiting to be uncovered, Prada & Prejudice will satisfy the sweet tooth of dreamy, young readers everywhere.” – Kristin Walker, author of A MATCH MADE IN HIGH SCHOOL, Coming from Razorbill in 2010.

“Based very loosely on Pride and Prejudice, this humorous teen time-travel romance is the perfect escape.” – Cyn Balog, author of FAIRY TALE, coming from Random House in June 2009.

 

 

Here’s my interview with Mandy Hubbard, author of the soon to be released YA novel, Prada & Prejudice (June 11, 2009).

For the people who’ve just learned about your book, Prada & Prejudice , could you tell us a bit about it? It’s a young adult novel about a fifteen year old girl who trips in her Prada heels– and ends up in 1815.
 
What inspired you to write it? 
I am completely in love with Regency romances, but sometimes I wish the heroines would think and act more like me. So I thought– why not make my dream book and put a modern girl into 1815?
 
How did you come up with your characters? Do you develop them from people you know?
I always come up with the “hook” or plot first, and the characters second. I create the kind of character who would have the most trouble with the set-up so that I can have a lot of conflict. In Prada & Prejudice, Callie is from the twenty-first century, so I created Alex (a duke) who is, like most guys in 1815, sexist. He doesn’t understand or believe that girls can be just as smart and successful. Callie herself is used to trying everything to conform and be popular, but when she meets someone as maddening as Alex, she does the opposite– she speaks her mind and sticks up for people.
 
Do you have any plans to publish Broken Road, the story you posted up on Fictionpress?
Right now, no. I do love that story, but it needs some extensive revisions to be ready for publishing. I do sometimes play with the idea of tackling it, but at the moment I have enough projects to keep me busy! I am, however, THRILLED that it continues to find readers on Fictionpress. It is by far my most popular story– more so than the rest of them combined.
 
Both fictions are based on romance. How would you define ‘love’? And what elements do you believe are required to make a good romance novel?
I’m not sure how to truly define love– it’s an emotion that consumes us until we can’t think of anything else, that’s for sure! It’s the ability to see the best in someone else, it’s finding someone who snaps into your life like they were made for it. I think a good romance is one that takes two flawed characters who can come together and be better because of it. A good romance needs plenty of conflict, though. I HATE Romances in which the only conflict arises from a very simple misunderstanding– one which if one of the characters said about two sentences about it, the whole book would be wrapped up and the conflict would be gone. I prefer ones in which there are both external and internal conflicts, and the reader really has to wonder how the problems will be solved in time for a Happily-Ever-After.

And yes, a HEA is a must for me.
 
What do you do when you’re in a writer’s block?
Force it. Truly. It doesn’t always work, but if I’m having trouble and I have a deadline or a goal, I just write pure, utter drivel until it starts flowing. Sometimes it only takes a few pages, other times a chapter or two, but eventually I strike gold and things start flowing again. Then I have to go back and cut the yucky stuff.
 
Are there any authors that influenced your writing?
Kat Martin wrote the first ever regency romance I read (THE BRIDE’S NECKLACE) and is the one who inspired me to try and go from Fictionpress to published.
 
How long have you been writing for?
I created my Fictionpress account in 2003, so I suppose six years now! 
 
What do you find most difficult about writing?
Staying motivated to make it through the middle and to the end. I like to say, “I don’t like to write, I like to have written.” 
 
What are your favourite 5 books?
Oooh! In no particular order:
 Going Too Far by Jennifer Echols
The Season by Sara Maclean
The Forest of Hands and Teeth by Carrie Ryan
Hate List (fall 2009) by Jennifer Brown
A MATCH MADE IN HIGH SCHOOL (2010) by Kristin Walker
 
Favourite movie?
Empire Records
  
Do you have any advices for aspiring writers?

 If you love it, it is worth it, and don’t let anyone convince you otherwise. It’s impossible to NOT encounter rejection or bad reviews, but as long as you stick with it and put the time into improving your craft, it WILL happen. The question is, will you stick with it long enough?

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