Ooh, color me excited! In fact, color me excited and write it in fireworks and tell the UN!
A couple of years ago, thanks to my fabulous critique partner Annie West, I discovered a writer who has since become one of my all-time favorites. I’m not at all surprised that this particular writer has since won back-to-back RITA awards. Clearly everybody agrees with me that she’s an exceptional talent.
So we have a wonderful author. And we have someone making a lair debut. And we have a Christmas romance – I’m always a sucker for a Christmas romance.
You can see why I’m jumping around like a…jumping thing.
The brilliant Sarah Morgan is here all the way from the U.K. to tell us about her first full-length contemporary romance SLEIGH BELLS IN THE SNOW. Here’s the blurb:
Once upon a time, Christmas was Kayla Green’s favorite time of year. Now all the workaholic wants for Christmas is for it to be over—as fast as possible! So when duty calls her to snowy Vermont to close a deal with a new client, Kayla is grateful for an excuse to avoid the holidays for another year.
Jackson O’Neil left a thriving business behind to return home and salvage his family’s resort—it’s in his blood, and he can’t let it fail. Now that he’s got marketing whiz Kayla Green working with him to put Snow Crystal on the map, success is on the horizon. The fact they strike enough sparks off each other to power all the Christmas lights in Vermont is just an added bonus.
Kayla might be an expert at her job, but she’s out of her depth with Jackson—he makes her crave the happy-ever-after she once dreamed of, and it’s terrifying. As the snowflakes continue to swirl, will the woman who doesn’t believe in the magic of Christmas finally fall under its spell?
SLEIGH BELLS is already creating a lot of buzz. RT Book Reviews called it “a Holiday hit” in a 4.5 star review. Publishers Weekly gave this book a starred review and said, “This touching Christmas tale will draw tears of sorrow and joy, remaining a reader favorite for years to come.”
Sarah, welcome to the Bandita lair! I’m so excited about your full-length Christmas romance SLEIGH BELLS IN THE SNOW. Can you tell us about this book?
Thank you for inviting me to the lair, Anna! It feels like a warm, cosy place to be, especially as SLEIGH BELLS is a winter story! I’m so excited to be here. And I’m excited about my first mainstream novel. I’m driving everyone around me crazy so it’s good to inflict my excitement on someone else for a change. SLEIGH BELLS is a holiday romance. My heroine Kayla hates Christmas. Every year, she buries herself in work and just waits for it all to be over so when she is invited to Vermont by a new client (my super sexy hero, Jackson O’Neil) she thinks it will be the perfect place to escape. A secluded log cabin in a snowy forest away from civilization sounds like the perfect place to pass what is, for her, the worst time of the year. But things don’t go the way she has planned!
Sounds great! What were the inspirations behind this book?
Last Christmas my family and I broke with tradition and instead of staying at home, we rented a log cabin near a lake. It was snowy and perfect but I realised that although for us it was a wonderful place to spend the holidays, it would equally be perfect for someone who found Christmas a difficult time of year and wanted to avoid the craziness of the holiday season.
A month earlier I’d had a conversation with Dianne Moggy at Harlequin, and she’d been telling me about her miniature poodle Maple. She entertained me with stories of Maple’s antics (hilarious!) and I thought it would be perfect to make Maple part of my story, but I wanted to make sure that the dog wasn’t just window dressing but central to the story and Kayla’s development as a character.
At that point I knew I wanted to write a mainstream romance, but I hadn’t decided on the setting. It was while I was talking to Dianne that I thought – Maple – Maple syrup – Vermont (this is how a writer’s brain works as you well know!) So now I had my setting and a heroine who wanted to avoid Christmas.
Because we writers are supposed to torture our characters I then had to make her face the one thing she dreaded most – so I surrounded her with a big, noisy happy family. I confess that I love fish out of water stories and there is an element of that in this book. Kayla is a city girl and finding herself in snowy Vermont is a culture shock! And that’s before she starts trying to do business with the O’Neil family who are nothing like her usual clients. I had so much fun with this story.
Noodling around your website, I notice that we have two more books in the O’Neil Brothers series following SLEIGH BELLS IN THE SNOW. Can you give us a sneak peak of what’s to come in the series?
I wanted to write about a big, loving, interfering family so the first thing I did for my hero, Jackson, was give him two brothers. Jackson’s twin brother Sean is an orthopedic surgeon. His story, SUDDENLY LAST SUMMER, will be out July 2014. Younger brother Tyler is a gold medal winning downhill skier who retired from the circuit after a serious accident. He’s the bad boy of the three! His story will be out November 2014. The three O’Neil men share a close bond, but they’re very different and they each face different issues and challenges. I had fun finding the right heroine for each of them!
Yum! I notice you have a novella out toward the end of November to tempt us. I’d love to hear more about RIPPED.
RIPPED is part of the new Cosmo Red Hot Reads programme, which is a joint venture between Harlequin and Cosmopolitan. These novellas are fun, super sexy stories featuring strong, independent heroines (my favourite type!). The heroine of RIPPED, Hayley, is an engineer. She’s the reluctant bridesmaid at the wedding of her ex and suffers a major wardrobe malfunction. She’s rescued by the best man, sexy Italian Nico Rossi, a buttoned up lawyer who she believes has always disapproved of her. This story takes place a few days before Christmas and wrapping paper isn’t the only thing to be ripped in this book! I had so much fun writing it. I laughed the whole time. I hope it makes a few readers laugh too!
What else is coming up for Sarah Morgan?
I’m in the middle of writing the second Cosmo story, BURNED, about Hayley’s sister. Then I’m moving on to the last book in my O’Neil Brothers series, which is Tyler’s story. I’m really looking forward to writing this one. There will be a few surprises from Tyler’s past and some issues I can’t wait to explore and I love the O’Neil family (especially Grandma Alice and Grandpa Walter!), so I’m looking forward to being with them for another story. And puppy Maple of course. She will be a year older, but still jumping no doubt!
As this is your first visit to the lair, we’d love to hear about your writing journey.
I always loved writing (I wrote my first story when I was eight) but I didn’t think it was something that could be a career, so I wrote alongside other jobs for many years. I trained as a nurse so when I started writing seriously it seemed logical to me to write a Medical Romance. As well as writing the love story, I loved being able to control what happened to the patient. I wrote 35 medical romances for Harlequin and because my heroes were so often alpha they suggested I write for Presents, which I did and I loved it! I’ve wanted to write a longer length contemporary for a while so when Harlequin offered me the opportunity to do that I was thrilled. So at the moment I’m playing with different story lengths, novella, category at 50,000 and full length, mainstream (100,000 words) contemporaries. Each demands something different from the writer and I love the variety. Hopefully readers will too.
One of the things I love about your books is that you take the classic Harlequin Presents/Sexy/Modern style and give it a really contemporary twist. I’d love to hear your thoughts on what constitutes a classic Presents and also on how you give your own particular spin to the stories.
Presents is known for its international settings, the glamour, the sophistication and, of course, the alpha hero. For me, it’s important to match just the right heroine with the hero for the story to work. The alpha hero is strong (although not a bully. The hero’s actions should always be well motivated, even when he appears ‘hard’ to the reader). He is the leader of the pack (by virtue of his skills and attributes, not his ability to lose his temper) and winning his heart won’t be easy. I love finding the woman who can do that. I always write strong heroines, but my heroine may not be strong in the same areas as the hero, in fact she probably isn’t but her strengths will compliment his and in the end they will be perfect for each other.
Sarah, huge congratulations on your latest releases. I love that I’ve got so many new books from you to look forward to. Do you have a question for the Banditas and Bandita Buddies to get the conversation going?
What is the one gift you’d like to find under the Christmas tree this year? (I want your golden rooster – would he like to come and live with me for a while?)
Take him! He’s yours!
OK, people, get commenting! Sarah has very generously offered an international prize of a copy of SLEIGH BELLS IN THE SNOW! Now, that’s going to brighten up any Christmas season!
I’m thrilled to be hosting a couple of dear friends in the Lair today. Both should be well known to you by now, since both have guested with us before! Regan Black and I met eons ago, back when we still had young children and life was hectic and somewhat crazed. Regan and Debra met a couple of years later and gradually the circle closed until we were all chums. I admire both of them so very much and seriously love their books. Today they’re talking about something that happens often in writing circles but is rarely discussed with readers: mentoring. Debra and Regan both write suspense (though Regan’s tends toward the paranormal) and Debra sort of took Regan under her very experienced wing. Showed her how to do what she already did even better. Now Regan is here to talk about this mentor relationship and what it does for both of them. Deb will probably be popping in to answer comments, as well. Settle in, pull up a chair, grab a cold beverage and a warm canape and listen in.
Thanks so much, Caren, for having us back in the lair today! Deb and I always have such fun here.
Mentors are people we look up to, people we admire for their various skills and expertise. They are the people we’d like to resemble when we grow up. Debra Webb, one of the top names in romantic suspense, has been that person for me for the majority of my career. She’s driven, prolific, and quick with a plot twist if you find yourself in need of one.
We first met at a Smoky Mountain Romance Writer’s conference ages ago (but miraculously, neither of us has aged a day since). Her advice from those sessions carried me in good stead (and still does). Though our publishing paths differed, Deb has always been a tremendous source of support and encouragement in my career.
Deb gave me my first cover quote for Justice Incarnate. She taught me how to write a synopsis (a feat my critique partners greatly appreciated). She helped me sort out the editorial language of revision letters. In 2011, she introduced me to the editor of the Mammoth Book of Futuristic Romance, who purchased an original Shadows of Justicenovella for that anthology.
But let’s fast-forward to August of 2012.
With Deb’s stunning success early in 2012 self-publishing Obsession and Impulse, the first two books in her acclaimed Faces of Evil series, Grand Central picked up the series. Just as her books were about to be re-launched in ebook and paperback, Deb called to check on me.
Seriously. Yeah, she’s good like that.
My year wasn’t going nearly as well as Deb’s. In fact, I was sure my career was going down in flames. I had the obituary written (it was some of my best work), but Deb refused to believe it. More importantly she refused to let me believe it.
That phone call last year was a tremendous change-up. I took pages of notes while she efficiently dissected my career circumstances, listened to my goals and ideas, assessed my strengths and productivity, and laid out a plan to move me forward.
Deb always has a plan.
BULLETPROOF, the first book in a new paranormal romantic suspense series, is the big next step in that plan. Deb brought these characters from vague concepts to three-dimensional with in-depth brainstorming and “Oh! What if…” phone sessions. She kept me motivated with hard release dates, promotional schedules, and killer advice for the cover art concepts.
A soldier is nothing without his honor.
To avoid a dishonorable end to his decorated military career, John Noble made a deal with the devil. He gave up his name, endured harrowing training, and accepted every mission thrown at him for one purpose: redemption.
An ambitious reporter, Amelia Bennett, is about to break the story of her career, if she lives long enough to tell it. Caving to her boss’s demand, she hires a bodyguard and soon it is obvious John Noble is the only obstacle standing between her and certain death.
Just when John believes he has found someone he can trust and love, who loves him unconditionally for who and what he has become, his orders are amended: Amelia Bennett is to be terminated.
Introducing Unknown Identities: an alternative for elite soldiers and spies facing criminal charges… if they can survive the program. Don’t miss Double Vision, the next installment of this sizzling, action packed series.
Available October 17, BULLETPROOF has enough of a paranormal edge to keep my muse happy, but still this venture often feels like a giant step into a new genre for me. When I start to freak out, Deb pipes up with the familiar ‘don’t worry’ refrain. (Sing it with me!)
It’s a blessing to relax in her utter confidence. And she should know whether or not I need to freak out. Not only is she one of the best in the business when it comes to romantic suspense, she was the editor-in-chief for BULLETPROOF.
Deb’s philosophy of mentoring is rooted in the theory that authors need to work together for mutual success. While our writing styles are different, we can still brainstorm, evaluate, and share experiences (or nightmares) from marketing to formatting to tangled plots in order to help each other stay productive.
Some days that involves listening to the natural highs and lows of working in the weird, non-linear publishing industry. Other days it means a swift kick in the creative pants to get ourselves back to the keyboard and into the next wonderful tale that wants to be told.
To celebrate this new book and the Unknown Identities series, Deb and I would like to give one lucky winner a $10 gift card to Amazon or B&N along with a signed BULLETPROOF tote bag. To enter, just leave a comment about your experience being mentored or being a mentor.
Good luck everyone!
Live the adventure,
Okay, y’all know what to do. Tell us about your adventures in either being mentored or being a mentor!
It’s always a delight to host the wonderful Miranda Neville in the lair, especially if she’s here to tell us about one of her delicious new releases.
I love Miranda’s books and I’m so looking forward to reading her latest, THE RUIN OF A ROGUE(from that cover, it looks to me like he’s having a very nice time being ruined – and she doesn’t look like she’s complaining either!). RT Book Reviews loved TROAR, saying, “Neville’s heiress vs. fortune hunter plot has enough clever twists and witty repartée to be unpredictable and delightful. Driven by dialogue and well-motivated, smart characters, here’s a romance to spark both imaginations and emotions.”
Here’s the blurb:
Charm, wit, and nerves of steel have helped Marcus Lithgow gamble his way across the Continent. But when his heart is at stake, all bets are off for this most perfect of rogues…
Anne Brotherton is tired of being an heiress. Why can’t men like her for her sharp mind and kind heart rather than her impressive dowry? When she meets Marcus Lithgow she thinks she’s found the right man, until she learns he’s nothing but an unscrupulous fortune hunter.
It’s been years since Marcus set foot in England—why toy with the ton when he can fleece wealthy fools in Paris and Rome? Everything changes when he inherits a ramshackle estate. Marcus’s first and only chance at a respectable life needs funding…the kind Anne Brotherton can provide. Such a wallflower should be ripe for the picking. So why does Marcus feel like he’s the one hanging by a thread?
She nearly falls for Marcus’s smooth seduction. But when Anne realizes she’s being strung along, a lust for revenge empowers her like never before. Two can play at the game of deception. The game of love, however, has its own rules…
Miranda, welcome back to the lair! We love it when you visit us!
Thanks so much for inviting me back to the lair, Anna. As always I have my bathing suit and suntan lotion, plus a hard hat for when things get wild, as they most likely will.
The cabana boys are already excited! Miranda, huge congratulations on your new release from Avon, THE RUIN OF A ROGUE, book 2 of the Wild Quartet. Can you tell us about your story?
The hero, Marcus Lithgow is a very bad boy. In my previous book, THE IMPORTANCE OF BEING WICKED, he was very bad indeed, trying to nick a friend’s Titian. But Marcus has a big problem: a professional gambler, he has mysteriously lost his luck and is flat broke. Marriage to super-heiress Anne Brotherton is the only answer. Anne is a very good girl. She is sick of fortune hunters but finds Lord Lithgow exceedingly attractive, especially since he shares her obsession with Roman history. Anne is no dummy though; she soon figures Marcus out and plots revenge. Stuff happens (as we professional writers say in our synopses) and we learn the answers to several important questions. Will Anne ever get to dig up a ruin? (The title contains a hint.) Do heiresses make good housemaids? Can Marcus milk a cow? Will he be reformed? (And how much reform do we want to see?) Would you rather read a love scene set in a ruin, a folly, or both?
Hmm, all of the above? What were the inspirations behind this book?
I love bringing apparent opposites together and proving to myself – and hopefully my readers – that a mismatched pair are made for each other. The joy of a badly flawed hero is seeing how the heroine helps him change, and vice versa. Anne has always felt defined by her money, an accident of birth with nothing to do with her as an individual. In foiling Marcus’s schemes and then falling in love with the better man he becomes, Anne defies her heritage and her upbringing. Marcus journeys from outright rogue to respectable gentleman while Anne makes the trip in the other direction. In a way they meet in the middle.
The Roman villa that Anne discovers gave me an opportunity for the kind of historical research I always enjoy. I found a 1786 monograph in the British Library describing a Roman excavation in Northamptonshire and used it as inspiration. I moved it to Wiltshire, however, so that Marcus and Anne could visit Fonthill Abbey, the home of the eccentric millionaire William Beckford. Their visit is based on an account of Beckford’s entertainment of Nelson and Lady Hamilton at Fonthill.
What nefarious plans does Miranda Neville have for the rest of the Wild Quartet?
I’m just finishing up Book 3 now but the title’s under the hatches until it’s official. The Earl of Windermere returns from a diplomatic mission to Persia, intending to make up with his estranged wife, Cynthia. But London is full of rumors that she is having an affair with the Duke of Denford, who just happens to be his former best friend. After that (spoiler alert!) it’s Denford’s book. He has some trouble in his background that will come back and bite him in the series finale.
Sounds yummy! Our spies on the Regency ground tell us that you recently had a novella out as part of what looks like a delicious anthology, AT THE DUKE’S WEDDING.Can you tell us about this story?
The anthology is a co-production with Maya Rodale,Caroline Linden, and Katharine Ashe with four stories set during a wedding house party. Though each novella is self-contained, our characters pop into other stories, and we have several common threads. P.S. I LOVE YOU is my take on Cyrano de Bergerac. Inarticulate Frank Newnham asks for his cousin Christian’s help when he woos Rosanne Lacy by letter. Rosanne falls for Frank’s delicious prose, but when they meet in person at the duke’s wedding party, Rosanne can’t understand why Frank seems so dull. Instead she is drawn to the brooding Earl of Bruton, with his scarred face and air of melancholy. I loved writing the story, and working on the whole project with three really amazing friends and writers. By the way, grottos (as well as ruins and follies) are great locations for kisses.
And now for the most important question – as you know, Ernie, your rather obstreperous kitty, has quite a fan club (I’m a lifetime member). Can you give us life according to Ernie as it stands today?
Poor, poor Ernie. His life has been ruined by the introduction of Emma, my daughter’s impertinent female tabby. I tried to persuade him to make another book trailer, but he flatly refused to do it with Emma as a co-star. I’m working on him, however. With a combination of threats and bribery they may yet make it to You Tube.
For anyone who missed it or who wants to see it again, Ernie’s brilliance is CAT-tured in celuloid here:
We love hearing about your travels here in the lair. Been anywhere interesting lately? Any exciting trips in the pipeline?
I’m off to England later this month, mostly to see family but I’m definitely going to Bath. My daughter is coming with me and she has never been there. I’ve been kind of a homebody this year – too many deadlines. I’m really looking forward to the RT Convention in New Orleans next year. I love that city! Hopefully I shall see some of the Banditas and their readers.
You should definitely trip over a Bandita or two. Thanks so much, Miranda. Do you have a question for the Banditas and Bandita Buddies today?
New Orleans makes me think of food. One of my guilty pleasures is cooking competitions on TV and my latest discovery is MASTERCHEF UK, PROFESSIONAL EDITION. Michel Roux Jr. is the hottest TV chef ever. I could go on for hours about his beautiful hands and the twinkle in his eye.
So let’s dish about TV cooking shows. Which ones do you like? What do you think of Gordon Ramsey and Tom Colicchio? If you’re not a cooking show fan, what’s your favorite TV guilty pleasure?
Miranda has very generously offered a copy of THE RUIN OF A ROGUE (print or e-book international) to someone who comments today. So good luck, people!
It’s always a pleasure to host historical romance star Nicola Cornick in the lair. Today Nicola is back with us to tell us about her latest book THE LADY AND THE LAIRD (oh, yummy, Scotsmen ahoy!) and also about some of her recent travels. If I’m good as this life, I think I’ll come back as Nicola’s suitcase. She always goes to the most wonderful places!
THE LADY AND THE LAIRD is making friends all over. Publishers Weekly recommended the book as one of the second chance at love romances to watch out for this year and RT Book Reviews said: “There are many delicious moments in the first of Cornick’s Scottish Brides series. The lively dialogue and sexy cat-and-mouse games (a little touch of Cyrano de Bergerac!) combine with poignancy and tenderness so readers become invested in the characters and their love story.”
Nicola, welcome back to the lair. Congratulations on your new release for HQN, THE LADY AND THE LAIRD. Can you tell us about this story?
Thank you so much! It’s great to be back in the Bandits’ lair. THE LADY AND THE LAIRD is the first book in my new Scottish Brides series. I’m thrilled about the series because it’s set in the Regency period in the Highlands of Scotland, thus combining two of my favourite things!
Lady Lucy MacMorlan is the very proper daughter of a Duke but she has a very improper hobby; she writes erotic love letters on behalf of her brother Lachlan and his friends. When Lachlan elopes with the Marquis of Methven’s bride, Lucy is in big trouble because Robert Methven guesses that she is the real author of the letters and threatens to expose her secret and ruin her reputation.
Robert is also in trouble. He has to marry and beget an heir or his ancestral estates will be lost. Worse, a royal decree means that he can only marry a lady descended from a rival clan. Lucy is the obvious candidate but even though there is a chemistry between her and Robert from the start, she has sworn never to marry after losing her fiancé years before. Robert’s courtship of Lucy isn’t exactly conventional; there is a lot of the rugged highland laird in him and Lucy frequently points out to him that he needs to learn some refinement. I really enjoyed showing this ill-matched pair starting to recognise and respect each other’s strengths and falling in love.
Rugged Highland laird? Let me at him! What were the inspirations behind this book?
I’ve always wanted to write Regencies set in Scotland and I’m not sure why it’s taken me so long! As you know, I love the Scottish scenery. I love the wildness of it, and the way you can reflect that in the characters and their story. Lucy in particular is a very well brought up and proper Regency young lady but there is another side to her, a wild side that she has never acknowledged before. Robert makes her confront that.
I was also hugely inspired by the tumultuous history of Fair Isle, an island off the north coast of Scotland. I drew on that a lot for the book.
Love the photos of Fair Isle you sent for the blog. What’s coming up next for you?
Book 2 in the Scottish Brides series, ONE NIGHT WITH A LAIRD, is out at the end of November. It’s the story of Lucy’s sister Mairi and Robert’s wicked cousin Jack. I’m currently writing book 3 CLAIMED BY THE LAIRD, which will be out next summer.
Scotsmen abound in Romancelandia (even from Sassenach writers like your good self). What do you think is the enduring appeal of a Scottish setting?
I’ve thought about this a lot (It’s no hardship to think long and deeply about men in kilts!) and talked to a lot of people about it. The Scottish hero is masculine and powerful, a real alpha, but he has a loyalty to his clan, his people, and that demonstrates that he also has a protective side. He possesses other qualities we admire in our heroes too – honour, resourcefulness, independence, determination. He’s usually very physical and shows this through fighting for a cause he believes in. He’s the whole sexy, swashbuckling package!
In addition, there’s the appeal of the clan as family. In Scots Gaelic if you ask someone “where are you from?” the actual translation is: “Who are your people?” This goes to the heart of the whole idea of kinship for me. I think the Scottish set romance is all about loyalty and belonging, about fighting for what is important to you and protecting your kin. I think that is a very appealing concept.
Are you noticing any particular trends in historical romance right now?
There’s been a lot of talk recently that the historical romance genre is either dying or already dead. I think this is an over-exaggeration and there are still some fabulous historical romances about and some great authors putting their unique twist on the genre. At the same time it feels as though the time is right for the genre to develop in new directions. Sometimes it can be difficult for authors to push change through. Established authors may want to try something different and take a few risks, but get vetoed by publishers who want to stick with tried and tested success. New authors may come up with fabulously fresh ideas, but then find it difficult to sell them.
I think it’s actually an exciting time. I’ve lots of fresh ideas I’m keen to explore in my writing and I’m also keen to see the direction others writers are going to take in the genre.
We love to hear about your travels here in the lair. It’s a little while since you last ventured into the Bandita cave – can you tell us about some of the interesting places you’ve visited lately?
Well, I went to Fair Isle last year to research the background for THE LADY AND THE LAIRD. When I say that it is the most remote inhabited island in the UK that sounds pretty tame – I mean just how remote can the UK be? But in fact we’re talking miles off the north coast of Scotland sort of remote. You have to take three flights to get there with the planes getting smaller and smaller until you’re in one so small you’re in the co-pilot’s seat. Our pilot was an ex-RAF Biggles type who was frightfully re-assuring to me as a nervous flyer. His pre-flight checks consisted of tugging on the wings to make sure they didn’t come off and kicking the wheels to make sure they weren’t flat. Then we were off and I swear he threw in some aerobatics just for fun.
Fair Isle feels like the end of the world – in a good way. It’s the most beautiful place, with huge cliffs and white sand beaches and masses of history from the Vikings to the wreck of a Spanish Armada ship to sea battles against French privateers during the Napoleonic Wars. I was in history heaven! And as if that wasn’t enough, there were ceilidhs in the evening where we enjoyed some fine Scottish dancing. I even came away with a genuine Fair Isle sweater. It was an amazing trip.
Lucky duck, visiting Fair Isle. It’s been on my list for a long time. Do you have a question for our Bandits and Bandita Buddies?
When it was time for us to leave Fair Isle a storm blew in, the planes were grounded and we were marooned for several days. Where would you like to be marooned – and with whom?
Thanks, Nicola, and all the best with THE LADY AND THE LAIRD.
Get commenting, people. Nicola has very generously offered a copy of THE LADY AND THE LAIRD to one of our visitors today (international). Good luck!
I’ve recently been devouring a lot of contemporary romance series, both paranormal and…well..not…and I was thinking yesterday about why I’m so taken with those books.
I’ve read a bunch of different series books by different authors, but in particular, I’ve just about foundered myself on the Lucky Harbor, Animal Magnetism and Sky High Air series by Jill Shalvis.
These are not what I write. They’re actually the opposite of what I’m working on now. They’re not particularly big plots. There is no big world threat. With a few notable exceptions, they’re not dark or overbearingly angsty, even when there is a suspense threat or the characters have something bad–like abuse– in their pasts.
Yet despite all the things that are “not typically me” about Jill Shalvis books, I slurp up her series like an alcoholic guzzles smooth, top-shelf Bourbon.
Way more than I oughta drink.
I have threatened to take the books to a testing lab, to find out if maybe she’s impregnated the pages with crack cocaine, because I finish one, then immediately go looking for the next.
So after considering this for a while, I think I’ve figured it out.
It’s the relationships.
No, not the romance. Of course, I want to see that romance be born and develop and mature and I want to see the couple get their HEA. But even if her characters have a certain zing that is her distinctive way of writing, the truth is, I can get the romance from a bazillion books on the market. That’s not the reason I constantly reach for her books over so many others.
I choose those books because of the friends of the heroes and heroines. The relationships that exist between the characters. The communities of people in which Shalvis sets her characters. She’s brilliant at making those communities come to life, but particularly, she hits her stride with trilogies of friends, and in particular, male friends.
In the first three Lucky Harbor books it was Jax, Ford and Sawyer, who (if I remember right) are not actually related but best friends from the same small town.
In Animal Magnetism it was Brady, Dell and Adam. Dell and Adam are actual brothers, and were together with Brady in a foster home.
In Sky High Air, Noah, Shayne and Brody met when they were all in trouble at school, and bonded over a love of planes and the allure of flying.
The men in each of these trilogies know one another in that way that says, “I’ll call you an asshole to your face, but nobody else better mess with you or I’ll pound them into the dirt.”
It is a bond that goes deep, and lasts a lifetime.
I live with a man who was once a Special Forces soldier, and almost all of his buddies are either still in the military, are military contractors, or work for the security of our country in other ways.
But even before I met him, I’d spent most of my life working in male-dominated fields, with mostly men, sometimes to the point that I was almost…almost…one of them. They never completely forgot I was female, or that there was a female among them, and they would never get as raunchy with me there as they would when it was all males, but they trusted me to not go all girly or get them in trouble, and they didn’t hold back much.
I know how men behave toward one another when (almost) no women are around. Shalvis’s friendships in these books read as real to me. And it is those relationships that suck me into her story worlds and won’t let me go.
Lexi George, who’ll be my guest next month, also builds a camaraderie between her heroes, but she does an especially brilliant job with the women in her books-the heroines who break the stoic, emotionless facades of the hunky Dalvahni Demon Hunters. In the first book we meet Addie Corwin and Evie Douglas, best friends forever, and it’s often “them against the world.”
The first book is Addie’s but the way Lexi builds the friendship and the caring for Addie’s friend, Evie, is masterful. I couldn’t wait for Evie’s book, and because I already loved her, it was even more satisfying.
The friendships—and sometimes the angst–between these women make the stories rich and full.
As I do my final rewrite on my own first release, I’m striving to create the kind of real-feeling friendships and relationships that make me fall so in love with series like the ones I’ve mentioned—the ones I love to read. Many authors do it well, but some are just masters of this craft.
Suzanne Brockmann first won me to her SEALs—this was years ago– back when she was writing for Harlequin/Silhouette–by so clearly showing the brotherhood that exists between these elite warriors. Okay, yes, I’ll be honest…she got the weapons right, which is a big deal for me, and that was the first time I gave a fist pump of any kind to a romance novel, but that’s a whole nuther story.
Anyway, that’s the original cover on the left, of the first Brockmann book I ever read. Prince Joe. It’s still on my keeper shelf as one of the best books ever.
Most recently my amazing friend, Dianna Love, has sealed my devotion to the Slye Temp Black Ops teams by the way she develops the friendships between the operatives. They don’t always like each other, but even when they don’t want to, they care about the other members of the team. It’s never more evident than in her latest release, Book 3 of the Slye Temp series, Honeymoon to Die For.
And that right there—illustrated so powerfully in her latest book–is the crux of it for me. That book is Ryder and Bianca’s story. But the role of the other operatives—the role of theteam—in this novel, is a major part of why I love it so much.
There is something powerful about bruised, battered hearts finding love that brings them closer to whole.
When they also find a group of people who support them—a community—it wraps the story in a way that binds me to the characters. Makes me want to live in that world.
Makes me go to the Kindle store and immediately hit “Buy” for the next book in the series.
Makes me yell “NOOOOOOOOO” when I reach THE END and the next one isn’t released yet.
I fall so in love with the other team members that when Dianna says, “I may make XXX’s book a novella,” I go “NOOOOOOOO! I love him! He has to have a full book!!!!”
She just laughs at me.
But my heart is invested. And with each book where the familiar friends play a role, I become more and more invested in each character’s happy ending.
I want that for my own books.
Yes, of course, I want to hook you, the reader, and yes, I want you to wait eagerly for the next book in the series. But the real dream, for me, is that I will be able to write the story world so that you’ll want to return over and over again. So that it’s so real to you that you begin to believe it is a real place. That those characters walk and breathe the same as you do, and that they are having their happy endings-and that their friends are going to get happy endings too.
So help me, Bandits and Buddies.
Most readers I know love series. Do you?
I want to know who does wonderful “friends” in books. What author does amazing groups of friends, or teams of people with relationships so real that you believe those characters actually walk on the earth in flesh and blood?
Which authors build the best story world—communities of people like Jill Shalvis’s Lucky Harbor, where we, as readers, worry—even between books–about the nosey little old ladies who post inappropriate and should-be-private things on the Lucky Harbor facebook page?
Which story worlds do you live in when you lie down to sleep at night, and wake up thinking about them in the morning?
Who are your favorite series writers, and what are your favorite series built around groups of friends or a team of people?
And what is it, exactly, that makes them seem so real to you?
I’m always delighted to welcome Aussie author Kylie Griffin back to the lair. Today’s she’s here to tell us about the next instalment in her wonderful Light Blade series, ALLEGIANCE SWORN.
RT Book Reviewsgave ALLEGIANCE SWORN a great review, saying, “The third outing in Griffin’s rousing Light Blade series provides readers with a breathtakingly strong and dedicated heroine willing to fight and sacrifice for her people. Griffin keeps the tension running high as the world she created heads ever closer to war.”
Here’s the blurb:
There is no mercy in the demon realm. No escape. In this place of desperation and conflict, anyone who is not purebred is virtually powerless. Until a demon leader seeks to unify the races…
SHE’S THE ENEMY HE CAN’T RESIST.
With the alliance of the humans and the half-blood Na’Chi forged, the demon Na’Reish prepare for war by seizing human blood-slaves. Captured during a rescue mission-gone-wrong, Light Blade warrior Arek Barial finds himself claimed by a Na’Reishi female who offers him an unexpected choice.
Raised in the elite ranks of a society she abhors, Imhara Kaal lives a dangerous double life as a Na’Reish Clan-leader and an advocate for a caste-free life that honors the Old Ways. Openly rebelling against the Na’Reish would mean her death, unless she can find an emissary willing to present her petition to the human Blade council.
But Arek isn’t about to blindly follow a demon—despite the intense attraction growing between them. And while hatred for the Na’Reish is all he has ever known, Arek must learn to trust Imhara, or risk the destruction of all three races…
Kylie, congratulations on the release of ALLEGIANCE SWORN. Can you tell us about this story?
ALLEGIANCE SWORN is the third book in the Light Blade series and one I was very excited to write as it features Arek, a rather deliciously tormented (yes, I do like torturing my heroes), secondary character, and one of my Light Blade warriors, who appeared in both VENGEANCE BORN (#1) and ALLIANCE FORGED (#2).
At the end of ALLIANCE FORGED Arek was wounded and captured by demon-slavers. In ALLEGIANCE SWORN he’s claimed by Imhara, a demon Clan leader.
He’s sworn to die fighting before allowing her to enslave him but then discovers she’s been living a double-life; that her Clan don’t enslave humans and accept half-bloods. And more significantly, they have one goal in common – to kill Na’Reish leader Savyr, the demon who murdered their families and destroyed their lives.
I had a LOT of fun making Arek face his greatest fears in this book but what surprised me the most was the way a couple of plot threads within the story ended – I intended the story to finish with the characters achieving certain goals but they refused to take that path and led me down another!
Lives being threatened, fighting, the death of a major character – all of this was supposed to occur, and it did, but not in the manner I expected and it brought about an entirely different conclusion to the story.
What were the inspirations behind this book?
Two ideas inspired ALLEGIANCE SWORN.
The first was Arek, the hero, and his hatred for all things demon. Throughout the series and of all the characters he’s probably had the toughest time. He’s found out he has a demon half sister. His grandfather not only tried to kill her but he kept the secret that demons and humans once lived harmoniously together and then betrayed the human race by leading a rebellion to keep the war between them going.
In ALLEGIANCE SWORN, Arek is confronted by the truth that his whole life and every decision and action he’s made has been based on a lie, one fostered by his grandfather’s deception.
And having been captured by demon-slavers at the end of ALLIANCE FORGED, he now faces one of his greatest fears – being the blood-slave of Imhara Kaal, his new owner. Anyone who’s already read the series will know Arek prefers death over serving as a blood-slave, so you can imagine the conflict this is going to create!
The idea of a double agent gave me the plot thread for Imhara Kaal, the heroine, in ALLEGIANCE SWORN. Unlike other demons, Imhara and her people have create a utopia of sorts where human, demon, and half breeds live peacefully and equally in the Old Ways but they’ve had to sacrifice a lot to remain undiscovered. Living a double-life and adopting two separate lifestyles was essential for their survival.
But it puts Imhara and Arek at odds right from the get go because she had to portray her alter-ego in order to claim him as her slave. You can image how well that went down with Arek, and trying to convince him of her other persona is nigh impossible.I loved being able to throw these two opposing personalities together and watching the sparks fly!
Ooh, sounds delicious. I love enemies into lovers stories. What’s coming up next for Kylie Griffin?
Besides a manic blog tour to promote ALLEGIANCE SWORN (and the mass market version of VENGEANCE BORN which was also released on April 2nd)? Well, I have a few plans I’m juggling. I’d like to write books #4 and #5 in the Light Blade series but that depends on whether the book-gods smile on a new contract.
I’m also keen to write a new post-apocalyptic romance, one that’s been mulling in the back my mind for a few years now. A change of genre would be refreshing and I’m quite excited about this one as I’m venturing into new territory. It’s rather more erotic in tone than I anticipated.
Delish! You’re now three books into your Light Blade series. Would you like to share your thoughts on writing a series? Has everything continued as you expected or were there some surprises with writing linked books?
As a fantasy reader from way back – I think I read my first book in this genre at age 10 – I love the scope a series allows me as far as world building and developing an over arching story line. While each story is complete within itself, I love being able to play with the external plot, dropping hints, showcasing certain events that will one day impact the timeline further on in the series. And looking back readers will see this and, hopefully, appreciate the depth and growth of the series.
There were some surprises along the way when I wrote the series. A couple of characters I intended to be only background figures decided they wanted a story of their own and as a result they’ve taken more prominent roles in the stories than I anticipated.
One of these characters was Zaune, one of the half-blood scouts. He appeared in VENGEANCE BORN then he popped up in ALLIANCE FORGED and again in ALLEGIANCE SWORN. Over time he’s become quite a strong character in my mind, so much so I have a book planned for him.
Another shock in this series came when I wrote ALLEGIANCE SWORN, I’d planned the death of a major character but as I wove various plot threads together, the story of Arek and Imhara began to stall. No matter the direction I wanted them to go – the scenes, their dialogue, their actions, the revelations I wanted to hint at, or uncover or confront, the action I saw taking place – they point blank refused to walk the path I wanted them to take.
Turns out I was trying to force a scenario that would have given the story a too easy solution, too convenient an ending to the thread I was trying to tell. Robbing the characters of conflict also meant swindling readers out of the emotional roller coaster ride that came with the conflict. So in the end, I ignored the voice inside my head and listened to my characters.
Did the story thread have a “happily ever after”? It depends on your point of view. Happily ever afters do occur but sometimes not in the way we anticipate or expect and this was definitely the case for Arek, Imhara and me. What exactly did the HEA involve…well, you’re going to have to read ALLEGIANCE SWORN to find out the details!
Kylie, congratulations on winning favorite futuristic, sci-fi or fantasy romance of 2012 at the recent Australian Romance Readers Association awards. I was absolutely delighted to accept your award on your behalf! Could you tell us a little about how you felt about receiving this award?
Thanks, Anna, for the congrats and accepting the ARRA award on my behalf!
I was away on a writers’ retreat the weekend of the ARRA convention with some writing buddies. We were following the awards dinner via Twitter on the night. Some of the books and authors nominated were MY favourite reads for 2012 – so to have gone head to head to them was an achievement in itself.
Seeing as I don’t own a mobile phone (yes, I know, I’m one of the rare few) I was relying on my friends to announce the results. When they read out my name, I honestly thought they were pulling my leg and kidding around but when I saw the same tweet on four phones I had to accept the win was fair dinkum!
I’m sure I looked like a stunned mullet. I know I see-sawed between incredulous laughter and shocked crying. I think I did a bit of both!
Honestly, it’s a very humbling experience to know there are readers who voted ALLIANCE FORGED as their favorite read for 2012, and I’m ever so grateful! The ARRA award now sits on proud display on a shelf in the lounge room!
What do you like to read when you’re not writing dramatic and adventurous romance?
I’m fairly selective, basing my choices more on the connection I feel with the author’s characters and their writing than the particular genre. I’m sure Anna won’t mind me using her as an example, but she’s one of two historical romance authors I read. I don’t usually indulge in this genre but I really enjoy her books because of her engaging characters and rich style of writing.
My nonfiction section of my library revolve around subjects likes names for babies, weapons, self-defence, herbal medicines, ancient cultures, myths & legends, and craft books like patchworking, photography, calligraphy and Lonely Planet Guides for travelling.
And my favourite place for reading these books – my garden! I have a couple of lovely spots where I can sit back, relax with a book and more often than not be interrupted by the wildlife that like to visit during the day.
Anna, thanks for having me here in the Lair – I always enjoyed my time here interacting with your readers. Knowing this, I’d love to ask them a question, if that’s all right.
I’ve just revealed Arek’s greatest fear – becoming a blood-slave to the Na’Reish demons – now I want to know – What’s your greatest fear? Is there anyone brave enough to answer this question? How about I dangle a signed copy of ALLEGIANCE SWORN Light Blade #3 as incentive to participate? Go on, I dare you! Face your fear, just like Arek does in ALLEGIANCE SWORN!
Thanks for that great interview, Kylie! And best of luck with ALLEGIANCE SWORN. It sounds like a corker. Get commenting, people. I’m sure you all want to win the signed copy of Kylie’s new book!
I have for you today the very model of a modern romance novelist, Maggie Robinson.
OK, fine, I’ll forget the G&S from now on. I promise, under threat of the snicker snee.
Maggie is a lair favorite and goodness me, she’s been busy lately. She has a whole stack of great things to tell us about, including her latest release LORD GRAY’S LIST, the first instalment in the London List series. This sounds absolutely luscious.
Maggie, absolutely lovely to have you back again! We love having you visit us. Congratulations on LORD GRAY’S LIST, the first book in the London List series released by Kensington Brava on 30th October. Can you tell us about this story?
I’m so happy to be back! The Banditas throw the best parties. LGL is a war of wits and will between Evangeline Ramsey, a strong, independent businesswoman, and Lord Benton Gray, the man who inadvertently broke her heart years ago. Here’s a little blurb:
Sometimes scandal comes looking for you…
Every Tuesday, The London List lands on the city’s fashionable doorsteps. Valets and viscounts alike can’t wait to read all the news that’s not fit to print. When Benton Gray’s scandals appear week after week on the front page, he’s forced to take desperate measures—he’ll make a gentleman’s agreement to buy the newspaper and shut it down. But when he meets the person responsible for reporting the gossip, Ben finds he’s no gentleman. It’s his lost love Evangeline Ramsey, wearing trousers and wielding a poison pen!
Sounds like great fun! What were the inspirations behind this book?
I saw an article on the illustrated blog “Missed Connections,” followed shortly thereafter by vintage lovelorn ads. I dreamed up a Regency-era newspaper that would be a clearinghouse for needy people looking for love and jobs, financed by the scandal on the front page. Originally, the book was called “Lord Craig’s List”, but the marketing department was a little leery of that, LOL.
Well, gray is definitely the shade du jour! The London List sounds like a delicious source of scandal. Can you tell us about the list and also about the series as a whole?
The paper has all the lists of anything one might need, naughty or nice. In the next book, February’s e-book exclusive CAPTAIN DURANT’S COUNTESS, Captain Durant reports for a very unusual job with scandalous consequences. The last book, LADY ANNE’S LOVER (August) has Lady Anne going undercover as a housekeeper who burns everything but the hero’s heart.
Love the titles. I notice that you’ve sold a series set in Edwardian London to Berkley Sensation for release next year. Yay, more Maggie Robinsons to read. Can you tell us about the Ladies Unlaced books?
Oh, I’m so excited about these. I’ve been dragged into the twentieth century, LOL. There are cars! The Evensong Agency finds a temporary husband for the heiress of IN THE ARMS OF THE HEIRESS in the first book (July), and Mrs. Evensong finds her own in the second (November). Yep. That’s four books next year. People are going to get sick of me.
Never! Maggie, you write a sizzling hot love scene. Can you give us any insight in how you go about creating these steamy encounters?
My agent kept writing “more” in red when she looked over my manuscripts, so you can blame her. I used to be satisfied with a sentence or two. I always think my scenes are much more mental than physical, so what do I know? I had one reviewer rate the heat level as “YIKES!” which I thought was a little bit of an exaggeration.
Personally, I often skim those long, long sex scenes in a book, and have to gird my own loins to write one. Speaking of which, here’s my question: Are you a skimmer or do you savor every thrust, lunge and lick? Who has written the hottest scene you’ve read? (I need inspiration.)
One commenter will get a copy of LORD GRAY’S LIST, or any book from my backlist if you’ve been wonderful enough to have already bought a copy.
Get commenting, people! This book sounds delicious!
Be sure to come back to the Lair on December 13 when we kick off the annual 12 BANDITA DAYS OF CHRISTMAS!Prizes and recipes every day!! Roosters. Starbucks goodies. Books. Dragons. Books. Cookies. Godiva. Books!! (By Banditas and friends like Sabrina Jeffries, Liz Carlyle, JD Tyler, Deb Marlowe, and many more!) You know you want the cookies, for sure, so come home to the Lair for the Holidays! Who knows, you might win something, and you’ll be guaranteed to have fun!!
I’ve got a real treat for you all today! Good friends Katherine Garbera and Nancy Robards Thompson are going to interview one another and give away their great new releases TEXAS CHRISTMAS (Nancy) and CALLING ALL THE SHOTS (Katherine).
TEXAS CHRISTMAS (Harlequin Special Edition) sounds like the perfect read for this time of year. Debbie Haupt at RT Book Reviews said, “Featuring both new and familiar characters from past tales, Thompson’s holiday romance will stay with readers long after the end. Her protagonists are clearly meant for each other from page one, and you’ll love how she brings them together.” Here’s the blurb:
Busted! When Pepper Merriweather’s superwealthy daddy is arrested for fraud—and the family fortune is kaput—just before the holidays, Pepper suddenly finds herself in need of a job. Despite her high-society connections, no one wants to give her a chance—no one except gorgeous billionaire recluse Robert Macintyre.
When he proposes a position that comes with more strings attached than a symphony orchestra, Pepper knows it’s an offer she should refuse. But beggars can’t be choosers. Besides, Pepper knows she has what it takes to rise to the challenge—but does she have what it takes to keep her hands off her irresistible new boss?
CALLING ALL THE SHOTS (Harlequin Desire) sounds like great fun too. Harlequin Junkie said, “The more that you get to know these amazing characters the more you fall in love with CALLING ALL THE SHOTS. If you are looking for a fun, sweet, romantic read then this is the book for you.” Here’s the blurb:
The irony of working on a matchmaking reality TV show hosted by the guy who broke her heart in high school has producer Willow Stead tied in knots. Not only that, but Jack Crown even has the nerve to ask her out. Should she risk taking him up on his offer?
Jack sees Willow Stead all grown up and has to have her. Soon passions erupt that rival the drama on the show. But does Willow have a trick up her sleeve that will throw the celebrity pitchman a major curveball?
Kathy: The two of us have known each other for more than fifteen years. So it was a nice surprise when we discovered we both had third books in a series out this month. Not only that, but both of our stories are set in the world of reality TV.
We got the ideas for our books because we’ve both worked behind the scenes of a television show. That leads to another happy coincidence of our friendship: we both realized that we worked on the same show, THE NEW MICKEY MOUSE CLUB, but at different times.
Nancy: Gosh, that seems like another lifetime ago, but it was definitely one of the best jobs I’ve ever had. It was fun and always changing. Still, I wouldn’t trade my writing career to work in TV and movies, but I’m glad I had the opportunity. How did you get the job on the MICKEY MOUSE CLUB, Kathy?
Kathy: I was part of the opening crew for the Disney-MGM Studios and we were hired about three months before the park opened so we recruited audience members at the Magic Kingdom each day and then took them to the Studios for the tapings. Everyone was new to the show including the cast so we all sort of hung out together. Since I was 18 I wasn’t that much older than most of them. But Nanc, the Mouse Club wasn’t your only job in that industry was it?
Nancy: No, my time on THE MICKEY MOUSE CLUB was bookended by two movies. I helped with extras casting on the movie D.A.R.Y.L. and then I was on set when Michael Damian (The Young and the Restless) and James Best (Dukes of Hazzard) filmed the short HOUSE OF FOREVER. I wasn’t employed by HOUSE OF FOREVER‘s production company. I was in public relations for the non-profit organization that owned the set where the film was made. I was the nonprofit’s contact person. So, I was on set every day. Even though each TV/film project I worked on was distinctly different, the action going on behind the scenes had a bit of the same feel. You know what I mean? Not to be cliché, but the lights, camera, action bit gave each project the same feel.
Kathy: I know exactly what you mean, Nanc. I also worked on the set of SUPERBOY which was filming at the Disney-MGM Studios before it moved to Universal (bit of rivalry back then). My fav memory is when my pal Judy and I were sent to pick up a prop on the production golf cart. We were goofing around on it and got it stuck in a ditch. Boy was that fun to explain! But you are right in that behind-the-scenes feels very similar the only thing that was different was when I worked on WWF’s MONDAY NIGHT SMACK DOWN and the game show TEEN WIN, LOSE OR DRAW! Because the action wasn’t scripted necessarily. On the game show I was stationed in the audience to remind people not to call out the answers while we were taping. If they did, we had to start that part of the show all over again.
Nancy: Working in TV and movies is definitely a hurry-up and wait game. Depending on your job, there can be a lot of standing around and waiting… and the days are usually long and demanding of your time. One of the biggest challenges I faced was when I handled the extras for D.A.R.Y.L. I actually had to book people to be extras in the movie. At first people were excited because they were going to be in a movie AND they were going to get paid for it! Woot! Woot! After the first few days of shooting reality set in that they were getting a flat fee for a very long, boring day. I think they got something like $50 or $75 for each day that they worked. Call time was early and the same for everyone, but I couldn’t tell them if they would be there one hour (if their scene was in was shot first thing) or if it would be a twelve or fifteen hour day (if their scene was toward the end). A lot of people would get upset because they had to sit around and wait for hours on end. The director wouldn’t let me release them and they couldn’t leave even for a few minutes. If they were there during a meal time craft services (the catering truck) provided their meals. So, really their compensation was a flat fee and sometimes up to three meals. On long days, I had a lot of cranky extras on my hands. Sometimes, I had to do a lot of tap dancing and sweet talking to appease them. If I remember right – that was a long time ago – my portion of the project lasted about a month. Toward the end, it got very hard to get people to agree to be in the movie.
Kathy: Haha! That’s something I never thought I’d hear anyone say that they had to beg people to be in a movie. We had to beg people to be in the audience for the NEW MICKEY MOUSE CLUB at first because it was a new show. We didn’t pay them but gave them complimentary tickets to come back to the Disney parks. One of my favorite memories was of when I got to sit in on the table readings for the show. It was so interesting to the kids take direction prior to shooting and then really show their skills when taping started. What was your most memorable experience on the set, Nanc?
Nancy: In D.A.R.Y.L., there was a car chase scene. When they were filming they closed down a portion of the highway between 2am and 4am. We needed A LOT of extras with cars who were willing to come out in the wee hours of the morning and drive. This is really a two-part memory – first, because I was so intrigued by the way they shot the scene. They had the extras drive 10mph so that when the “fast cars” drove by at 35mph, they looked like they were driving at breakneck speeds.
Kathy: What was the other memory? You said this was a two-parter.
Nancy: Oh, yes! The other fond memory is of the woman who started complaining about having to go to the bathroom the minute we got on the highway. Once we were there the director wouldn’t let anyone leave because we only had a very short period of time to shoot the scene (before they reopened the highway to regular traffic). There were no bathrooms and the exit ramps were blocked off by the police to keep cars not involved with the movie off the road. If she’d walked away to take care of business, her car would’ve been in the way of the shot.
Kathy: Oh, no! If only I’d been there since I was a Production Page I would have asked her before we left! Seriously, Poor woman! What did she do?
Nancy: Umm…I found a cup for her. I’ll let you figure out the rest.
Kathy: Oh. Sorry I asked. To change the subject… that’s a picture of me in my official MICKEY MOUSE CLUB jacket and Nanc is somewhere in that group shot.
Nancy: It’s sort of like “Where’s Waldo,” right? Actually, I’m standing just to the right of center (in the very center of the picture). I’m wearing a yellow blouse near that person in green and sandwiched by the people in pink. Haha! We were a colorful bunch, weren’t we? Look at some of those hairdos! We won’t talk about how long ago that was…
Kathy: Reliving all these memories has been fun! We’d like to ask Romance Bandit readers to share a memory of their favorite job or something unusual they’ve done. Nancy and I will select one lucky winner to receive signed copies of our books.
Ooh, great prizes, girls! Thanks for the great interview! Get commenting, people!
Although not QUITE as excited as I’m going to be on the 25th September.
Sheesh, this Bandita lair is turning into Grand Central Station. A girl can’t book a launch party any closer to her release day than a fortnight ahead. But, hey, let’s party like it’s 1999.
What’s that? Oh, right, I’ll rephrase. Let’s party like it’s 9/25/2012!
Yes, today is one of the infamous lair launches. And it’s for a full-length historical romance by MEEEEE! There hasn’t been a new one of those on the shelves since May 2011. Which perhaps explains the excitement. Although I’m eating chocolate right now so that probably helps.
I’m delighted that SEVEN NIGHTS IN A ROGUE’S BEDis out from Grand Central Publishing in a bit over two weeks. The first book in the Sons of Sinseries is a gothic retelling of Beauty and the Beast. Tortured hero with wicked intentions. Brave, innocent heroine. Crumbling castle. Evil forces massing against our lovers. Pretty much the whole enchilada!
Here’s the blurb:
Will a week of seduction…
Desperate to save her sister’s life, Sidonie Forsythe has agreed to submit herself to a terrible fate: Beyond the foreboding walls of Castle Craven, a notorious, hideously scarred scoundrel will take her virtue over the course of seven sinful nights. Yet instead of a monster, she encounters a man like no other. And during this week, she comes to care for Jonas Merrick in ways that defy all logic-even as a dark secret she carries threatens them both.
…Spark a lifetime of passionate surrender?
Ruthless loner Jonas knows exactly who he is. Should he forget, even for a moment, the curse he bears, a mere glance in the mirror serves as an agonizing reminder. So when the lovely Sidonie turns up on his doorstep, her seduction is an even more delicious prospect than he originally planned. But the hardened outcast is soon moved by her innocent beauty, sharp wit, and surprising courage. Now as dangerous enemies gather at the gate to destroy them, can their new, fragile love survive?
And if you’re a Romance Bandits lair member (and why wouldn’t you be?), there’s another excerpt coming up next month. If you want to access exclusive content like interviews and excerpts and prizes, just click on the Members Den button at the top of the blog. We’d love to see you!
While the book isn’t yet available, you can certainly preorder (and I hope you will!). If you click on the cover, it will take you right to the Amazon mass market paperback page.
You guys know that, in the immortal words of Mark Twain, there’s no such thing as a FREE LAUNCH. I’m giving away three copies of SEVEN NIGHTS IN A ROGUE’S BED (my lovely Australian publishers have sent me a few ahead of release date) today, but you have to play the game.
I like my title, SEVEN NIGHTS IN A ROGUE’S BED, but I want you to make it funny. So you can do either or both of:
Insert ‘Rogue instead of a word in a well known film or song or book. So for example, SNOW WHITE AND THE SEVEN ROGUES, or HOW TO MAKE FRIENDS AND INFLUENCE ROGUES.
Alter the title to something funny. So for example, SVEN NIGHTS IN A ROGUE’S BED: A SWEDISH MASSEUR GETS A RUDE AWAKENING.
Extra points for funny and/or clever and/or surprising.
Let the champagne flow! Let Sven massage (once he’s got over his recent experiences!)! Let Paolo shiver in terror! Let the gladiators loose! It’s launch time in the lair!
So be the first person in your neighborhood to get a copy of SEVEN NIGHTS IN A ROGUE’S BED. Three (3) copies up for grabs today. Have at it, people! Good luck! Giveaway is international.
One of the loveliest people I met at my first Romance Writers of America conference in Atlanta in 2006 was debut historical author Shana Galen. I remember going to my first Avon party with her and having an absolute ball.
It’s been lovely watching Shana’s career over the years since and now I’m delighted to welcome her to the lair as my guest to tell us about WHEN YOU GIVE A DUKE A DIAMOND, the first book in the “Jewels of the Ton” series.
Here’s the blurb for WHEN YOU GIVE A DUKE A DIAMOND (SourceBooks Casablanca):
He had a perfectly orderly life…
William, the sixth Duke of Pelham, enjoys his punctual, securely structured life. Orderly and predictable—that’s the way he likes it. But he’s in the public eye, and the scandal sheets will make up anything to sell papers. When the gossip papers link him to Juliette, one of the most beautiful and celebrated courtesans in London, chaos doesn’t begin to describe what happens next…
Until she came along…
Juliette is nicknamed the Duchess of Dalliance and has the cream of the nobility at her beck and call. It’s disruptive to have the duke who is the biggest catch on the Marriage Mart scaring her other suitors away. Then she discovers William’s darkest secret and decides what he needs in his life is the kind of excitement only she can provide…
You can find out more about Shana and her books and read an excerpt of WHEN YOU GIVE A DUKE A DIAMOND on her website: http://shanagalen.com/
Shana, welcome back to the lair! Congratulations on the release of WHEN YOU GIVE A DUKE A DIAMOND, the first book in the “Jewels of the Ton” series. Can you tell us about this story?
Thank you for having me, Anna!
WHEN YOU GIVE A DUKE A DIAMOND is the first book in a trilogy about three glamorous Regency courtesans who get involved with some dangerous diamonds and equally dangerous men. The first book centers on Juliette, called the Duchess of Dalliance. She’s in the wrong place at the wrong time and witnesses a murder that ties her to William, the sixth Duke of Pelham. He’s rigid, stodgy, and wants nothing to do with her. In the end, they realize they need one another for so many more reasons than simply uncovering the mystery of the diamonds.
The series sounds fantastic, Shana. What were the inspirations behind this book?
The inspiration for this book, and really the whole series, is MY LADY SCANDALOUS by Jo Manning. It’s the biography of Grace Dalrymple Elliott, who was a courtesan and spy during the Georgian Era/French Revolution. The descriptions of her life as a courtesan intrigued me and started me thinking about courtesans as heroines.
Can you tell us about the “Jewels of the Ton” series as a whole?
The series is really about these three women who have secrets and tarnished pasts, who come together in order to survive in a time when women who had the slightest blemish on their name were ostracized from Society. But if you’ve ever read any of my books, you know there’s going to be a lot of adventure and intrigue, and that’s where the mystery of the missing diamonds comes in. In each book, the hero and heroine are embroiled in a dangerous mystery having to do with a set of missing diamonds. It won’t be until the last book that the mystery is revealed.
I love that over-arching plot. People will be really eager to discover the solution to the mystery! What’s coming up next for you?
The second book in the series releases in March, and it’s titled IF YOU GIVE A RAKE A RUBY. Then I’ll release another Lord and Lady Spy book in fall 2013. There will also be a Lord and Lady Spy themed novella sometime before the second book in that series.
Readers seem to have an endless appetite for sparkling historical romances set in the Regency period. What do you think is the secret to this era’s enduring popularity?
Readers tell me they love the return to chivalry. Men were gentlemen and treated women as ladies. When you married someone, you stayed married. It was a time when people believed in honor, integrity, and duty. I think there’s something about the glittering ball gowns too!
We’d love to have a glimpse into your writing life. What’s a day like for the fabulous Shana Galen?
Well, it’s not fabulous. I have a three-year-old, so most of my day is spent with her. I usually get up about 4:30 a.m. to either write or go to fitness boot camp. When I get home, she’s waking up, and I have to feed her and entertain her until nap time. I usually write during her naps and then after she goes to bed. I spend a lot of time at the park, the children’s museum, the zoo, and the local inflatable bounce house play center. Fortunately, I have a great husband who cooks and often takes my daughter for daddy-daughter activities on weekends so I can get some writing in.
Sometimes when people I meet find out what I do, they’re surprised I’m so normal. I don’t know what they expect—a feather boa and a tiara maybe? In that way, I think authors are a lot like my courtesan heroines. Our lives aren’t nearly as glamorous as people suppose.
Hey, my life is glamorous, she said, contemplating cleaning bathrooms. Sigh. Do you have a question for the Banditas and Bandita Buddies to get the conversation rolling along?
What do you think of courtesans as romance novel heroines? Do you love them or prefer the virginal miss?
Ah, a question close to my heart! Shana has very kindly offered an international giveaway of WHEN YOU GIVE A DUKE A DIAMOND for one lucky commenter today so get commenting, people! Good luck!
Disclaimer: Our guests run the gamut from personal friends, to interesting authors who've asked to appear, to authors whose books we love. We have not always read our guests' books before hosting them here. Some of them provide us with free books though most do not. We do receive a commission from Amazon for every book purchased through links on our site. For purposes of making purchasing decisions, visitors should assume the bandit sponsoring the guest has a personal connection of some kind to her guest and may have received a free copy of the guest's book.