There were countless authors at RT and I met many of them. Those I interviewed, I asked the same three questions.
What is the most interesting piece of research you ever uncovered while writing a book?
How have people responded to you when you tell them you write romance?
If you had to have lunch with one of your characters, who would it be and why?
My next book is called The Suffragette’s Scandal which is about Frederica Marshall who is a recurring character in The Brothers Sinister series. It comes out later this summer. The hero of the book is someone my readers have never met. He is a complete scoundrel, a blackmailer, a man who doesn’t believe in anything at all. Frederica is the most idealistic heroine I’ve ever met so it’s an explosive combination.
In my latest book, my heroine had gone to Cambridge so I was researching women attending Cambridge at the time. They gave a test called the Mathematical Tripos to those who would graduate with Honors. They finally started allowing women to take the test but wouldn’t rank them alongside the men. Instead, they would announce the women separately and then say where they would have fallen in the official ranking. In 1890, there was a woman named Philippa Fawcette who was a badass. She took the test and her results posed a challenge for the announcers. Her score beat out all the men… by 13%. She is one of the reasons Cambridge began to let women be ranked alongside the men.
For a very long time I kept my romance life completely separate from my work life. Then, I quit my day job. All of my friends were completely supportive. I went to a reunion and, afterwards, a guy from it emailed me and said “We all voted and we think you have the coolest job.”
At this point, it would be Free (Frederica). She’s funny, she’s optimistic, and she likes to eat. So we could order everything.
My latest book is Diary of an Accidental Wallflower–it’s “Mean Girls” set in Victorian London. It’s will come out in late 2014 or early 2015 and is being published by Avon.
In Diary of an Accidental Wallflower, the hero’s a physician who is working on a device to safely deliver chloroform in surgeries. I researched the phases of sedation. I actually found a YouTube video from the late 1940’s and early 1950’s and watched it over and over again. I was interested to learn that many people fight being sedated and may have to be tied or calmed down to get to that final stage of unconsciousness.
I get a lot of raised eyebrows because in my day job I am an epidemiologist at the CDC.
I would have lunch with Carolyn Tolbertson, the heroine of my second book, Summer is for Lovers. First, I would get to go to Brighton in the 1800’s. Second, she was a very unusual woman. She was a swimmer at a time women didn’t swim. She was very true to herself. I think she would be an interesting person to talk to.
My latest–and first–book is Siege of the Heart. It’s a Medieval romance set in England in the aftermath of the Norman conquest. The heroine, Isabel, is English-born but Norman-blooded and is somewhat adrift in this new political climate. The hero Alexandre is one of William’s knights sent to her holding to secure her family’s loyalty. It was released in April of this year by Kensington Books.
It was incredibly difficult to research this time period. It was a time when everything was in the transition, so I had to research the late Anglo-Saxon period, the post-Norman climate in England, and make guesses as to what happened in between. It was an eye-opening experience for me, especially given that the victors write the history.
I’d pick Isabel. She is a twisted mirror reflection of myself. She’s the version of myself I’d like to be.
My upcoming release is Roulette, which comes out in December, 2014.
The most interesting bit of research had to do with Sharia Law and arranged marriages in Somalia. This still goes on, but the laws are gradually changing to allow mothers to support their daughters’ decisions to decline an arranged marriage. It’s only a minor part of a subplot, but I love learning all these random facts. I also loved doing research into Parisian cheese shops, high-end clothing shops, Van Cleef & Arpels, and private jet interiors.
When I tell people I write romance they are usually super-excited to meet a “real” writer. I am often out socializing with my husband and the conversation frequently leads to the raised eyebrow along with, “So…do you help with research?”
I would love to have lunch with Miki and Rome from Roulette. He brings her take out from Petrossian that they eat in the back of a limo when she is too busy to eat lunch between high-powered meetings in New York City.
available books mentioned in this post are: