My guest today is fellow GRW member and award-winning debut historical romance author Jennifer McQuiston. Her book, What Happens in Scotland, earned 4 stars from Romantic Times Book Reviews and a Top Pick from Night Owl Reviews. She’s a two-time Golden Heart finalist and has won the Georgia Romance Writers’ Maggie Award twice. (Just so everyone knows, I won a copy of What Happens in Scotland, but I had already invited Jennifer to join us.) Welcome, Jennifer!
Thank you so much for having me on with the Romance Bandits, Nancy! It is a pleasure to be here.
I think you have a fascinating day job. Please tell us a bit about it.
Yes, my day job raises some eyebrows among writers (but no more than my writing raises eyebrows among my day job colleagues.) I am a veterinarian by training, and I also have a master’s degree in molecular microbiology. I put both skills to use tracking disease outbreaks at the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, working primarily on diseases swapped between animals and people.
How did you make the shift from infectious diseases to romance?
I began writing historical romance mainly as an intellectual challenge, believe it or not. I needed something creative to keep that part of my brain alive, and I had always enjoyed reading romance. It seemed a natural diversion, and I started writing seriously in 2009. Of course, I had to re-train myself to write. Somehow, my experience with peer-reviewed journal articles didn’t translate well on the page. My early work was called “stilted” by more than one well-meaning contest judge. I found my voice on book #2, and honed my craft on books #3-#4. I finally sold book #5.
We love call stories here in the Lair. Will you share yours?
My husband and I both work at the CDC, so we try to meet for lunch out about once a week. We had just settled down and ordered our food for our lunch date when my phone rang. I fumbled for it and it went to voicemail, but I could immediately see it was my agent. I remember feeling numb, because I KNEW something was up. We had only gone out on submission a few days before, but something about this story felt completely different.
Long story short, I had a lovely voicemail from my agent Kevan Lyon telling me she had an offer, and I kept it and replayed it for at least a few weeks. But then came another offer… and then another… and then we went to auction. Completely unexpected – after all, I was the author who had 4 manuscripts no one wanted! But I landed with Avon, and I am wildly happy with everything they have done for me.
I love your book trailer, so I’d like to share it if that’s okay.
Yes, thank you!
<<fans self>>Please tell us a bit about James and Georgette and their story.
WHAT HAPPENS IN SCOTLAND is a classic “she woke up married” story… only set in the decidedly non-classic setting of 1842 Scotland. My heroine, the widowed Lady Georgette Thorold, is none too thrilled to wake up to find herself in bed with a naked Scotsman, wearing his wedding ring and nothing else. Panicked, she clocks him over the head with a chamber pot and makes a dash for freedom.
James is a former black sheep second son trying to make his own way in the world, and so when he wakes up and finds his money purse missing and tales of his outlandish night tossed about, he is embarrassed enough to want to track down the woman whom he thinks swindled him. Neither of them have correctly interpreted the intentions of the other, but neither have full memory of what happened the night before… which makes it delicious fun to mess with both of their heads.
The entire book takes place over a 24 hour time period, and I (shockingly) keep the hero and heroine apart for a good chunk of the book as they search for each other.
Sounds fabulous. What’s next for you?
I was so fortunate to receive an offer for a 3 book deal, and I have just finished up copy-edits for book #2. It is called SUMMER IS FOR LOVERS, and it is an unrequited love story set in the Victorian seaside resort of Brighton.
The hero, David Cameron, is a bit of a rogue and border-line villain in my first book, so I loved being able to given him a chance to redeem himself. My heroine for book #2, Caroline Tolbertson, is the odd girl out in town, and hides her secret talent for swimming from the popular crowd. Thanks to a chance encounter when she was still a child, David Cameron is one of the few people who knows her secret. Now she is all grown up… and David is back in town for what promises to be an unforgettable summer.
I have also had the privilege of seeing this cover, and I can honestly say it is one of the most jaw-droppingly gorgeous historical covers I have ever seen. I am DYING to share this… but must wait until I have the green light.
All that sounds terrific! Good luck with it!
For more information about Jennifer and her books, check out her website. You can also find her on Facebook and connect with her on Twitter, where’s she’s @jenmcqwrites.
Jennifer is giving a copy of What Happens in Scotland to one commenter today, so please answer one or more of the following (or just leave us a comment about whatever comes to mind from this post): What’s your favorite book or movie set in Scotland? Do you have a favorite “they woke up married” book or movie?