My tendinitis is starting to improve. (Children! Pay attention to ergonomics, and don't ignore your symptoms hoping they'll go away.) But I'm still not quite ready to blog yet, so I'm delighted to welcome my guest, Elyse Mady, another Carina author trying a new approach to the Regency era. Her novella, The Debutante's Dilemma, is available now
It's all yours, Elyse!
Hi Susanna – thanks so much for inviting me to your blog today to talk about my debut publication, “The Debutante’s Dilemma”. I’m really happy to be here.
1) How long have you been writing, and what made you realize you wanted to become an author?
Turns out I’ve been writing a long time, I just didn’t know that meant I wanted to be an author. I was down in my parents’ basement not too long ago, hunting for some-such or another, and ended up hauling out some boxes my parents had packed away on the happy, happy day I moved away from home. (My mother will lie, as all mothers ought to, and tell you she cried, but I strongly suspect there was much high-fiving and one-down-two-to-go talk between she and my father that day).
At any rate, in the course of hunting down a long remembered file, I discovered a whole box of my writing. Most of it was old term papers – first year university essay on “The Decameron”, anyone? – but amongst the bits and pieces were several screenplays, a number of short stories and even some longer story fragments and novel outlines, dating back to when I was young.
It’s only as I’ve gotten older and I realized that not everyone has characters who tromp in and out of their heads, blurting out story bits and ideas that I slowly came to the realization that not only do I love to read, I love to write, too. Over the last number of years, I’ve completed a four part screenplay adaptation, three novels and more than 30 magazine articles. It’s all been good practice and helped me hone my skills bit by bit.
2) Tell us about getting The Call.
I’m still waiting for the call, actually. It was all done via email, which totally lacks drama and makes my answer, whenever another author or reader asks that question, very, very short. When Angela and I finally spoke on the phone (I called her after an excellent game of voicemail tag), we spent our time discussing exciting things like Carina’s commitment to long-term author development and sales projections. There were no tears, sobs or hysterical laughter to relate.
It’s kind of sad, really. Heck, I’m a writer! I should just make up a fantastic story, shouldn’t I? Something that involves Daniel Craig, pleading phone calls and the response, “Daniel, I would if I could, but Angela James is counting on me.” If you say anything with enough conviction, people will believe you, right?!
But in truth, I managed to sell “The Debutante’s Dilemma” almost as a fluke. I’d submitted another manuscript entirely to Carina (well, actually, I submitted it twice, when the first version went into the electronic ether following a system malfunction at Carina last December) and was waiting on their reply for about three and a half months. That story was a very sexy contemporary – as far from a Regency as you can get. But in the meantime, while I’d been waiting, I wrote “Dilemma” almost as a lark, because the characters were so compelling and the fun of channelling my inner Regency snark was totally appealing.
When my first manuscript was greeted with a very positive revise and resubmit request, I was able to say to the lovely Gina B., “I’ll definitely work on those changes. In the meantime, any chance you’d like to read this other novella of mine?” It only took a month and smack dab in the middle of Carina’s launch this past June, I heard that not only had they taken me on, but that I would be on e-shelves before the end of the year. How cool is that?
3) What gave you the idea for THE DEBUTANTE'S DILEMMA?
Honestly, I don’t know.
I certainly read a lot of period romances and I love 18th century novels generally (Austen, Edgeworth, Burney, Richardson, Defoe) but as I mentioned above, I hadn’t had any definite intentions of writing a story set in the early 19th century.
Whatever the spark was, the slightly supercilious and snarky voice that opens “The Debutante’s Dilemma” sprang into my mind without any warning. The opening line, “Miss Cecilia Hastings was the luckiest girl who had ever lived to draw breath,” came to me fully formed and I found myself one night, sitting up in bed, scribbling furiously in a notebook, about this young debutante who had strolled so elegantly into my imagination. Her difficulty – that of having two eligible lovers and being unable to choose between them – was also something I knew almost immediately.
I wish all stories wrote themselves like that – usually I find myself in a painstaking process of brainstorming and piecing the elements together bit by bit – but in this case, whatever authorial alchemy was at work, I was glad to embrace it.
4) What's the most surprising thing about being published so far?
Besides the fact that Oprah hasn’t had either of us on her book club yet? I mean, are you as hurt by that oversight as I am, Susanna? :-) We’d make great guests, wouldn’t we?
But seriously, there haven’t been too many surprises in the ‘I totally didn’t expect this to happen’ sense of the word. The surprises have been more in the ‘I knew this was going to happen but it’s a thousand times better than I could have expected’ vein.
My cover is one of those surprises. I love my cover. Love it. Love it. Love it. It exceeded all of my expectations and having seen the other lovely covers Carina’s cover coven have been putting out, that’s saying a lot.
The impact an editor like Gina has had on my work is another great surprise. I have a couple of CPs I work with and they’re great – their brainstorming and problem solving are indispensable as I shape my early drafts - but having a pro’s eyes shaping the material later, asking the difficult questions, has made my work better without question. I like the editing process. Not while I’m in the midst of it, of course – I write romance, not S&M! – but there’s something so satisfying about shaping an idea or a phrase or a plot point until it shines.
5) Tell us a little about your heroine. If she'd been born 200 years later, what would she have done with her life?
What a great question! I think Cecilia would have made a great event planner. She’s someone who excels at making people feel at home. That seems like an odd characteristic for a heroine to have, I know, but Cecilia is naturally out-going and curious about others and that makes her someone that people naturally gravitate to. In 1814 terms, that means she’s the non-pareil of the Season; in 2010 terms, that would make her a leader of people, I think.
It’s certainly her curiosity and honesty that compel her to issue the unorthodox challenge to her two suitors: a kiss before she will entertain their proposals. Because she knows she wants to marry for passion and she knows herself well enough to know that she couldn’t bear to be stymied or constrained by a ‘polite’ agreement. But definitely neither she nor Henley or Wexford expect anything like what comes of their encounter, I can promise you that.
6) What's next for you?
I’m working on a variety of new projects. In addition to my magazine work, I’ve had two contemporaries accepted by Carina and they should be hitting e-bookshelves at some point in 2011. I’ll have all the details on my blog, www.elysemady.wordpress.com, as soon as they’re available.
Then I’m also working on a new, full length historical novel which has no title at present because titles are so not my forté. It’s another regency but it’s a significant departure for me – a fusion of sorts between historical fiction and historical romance that I’m really excited about. I’ve left behind the ballrooms and salons that I explored in “The Debutante’s Dilemma” and am moving into less vaunted but still fascinating (to me at least) spheres of everyday Londoners during the period. Like your book, “The Sergeant’s Lady”, many of the characters involved were actual people and bringing them to life, filling in the many unknowns yet keeping true to the historical record and shaping a compelling story is a really interesting challenge for me as a writer. No battles or cannon fire but there are mass arrests and bribes, gaol fever and riots and all sorts of legal skullduggery, leavened with a big heaping dose of romance.
7) Anything you'd like to ask my readers?
I’d love to know if like me, you read more than one genre of romance and if so, why? I write both historical and contemporary and read ‘em, too. What about you? Do you read across multiple styles or do you prefer to stick wholly to one type of romance?
I’ll wrap this up by saying thanks again for having me! I loved having a chance to talk about my writing and my new book., “The Debutante’s Dilemma”.
I’d love to say thanks by offering one lucky poster the chance of winning a digital copy of “The Debutante’s Dilemma” in their choice of ebook format. Comment between now and midnight Wednesday, Pacific Standard Time, for your chance to win!
The Debutante’s Dilemma by Elyse Mady
One woman in search of passion
Miss Cecilia Hastings has achieved what every young lady hopes for during her first London season…in duplicate! She’s caught the eye of not one but two of England’s most eligible bachelors. Both Jeremy Battersley, Earl of Henley, and Richard Huxley, Duke of Wexford are handsome, wealthy and kind, the epitome of proper gentlemen. But Cecelia doesn’t want proper, she wants passion. So she issues a challenge to her suitors: a kiss, so that she may choose between them.
Two men in love with the same woman
Friends since childhood, and compatriots on the battlefields of Spain, falling for the same woman has set Jeremy and Richard at odds, and risks destroying their friendship forever. But a surprising invitation to a late-night garden tryst soon sets them on a course that neither of them could have anticipated. And these gentlemen quickly discover that love can take many forms…
Available now from Carina Press and E-book retailers.