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Author Interviews Featured Authors

An Interview with Mary Balogh

What’s the strangest thing you have ever had to research for a book?

I can’t think of anything that would qualify as really strange. However, I should mention that for many years after I began writing (in 1983) there was no internet. It’s hard to imagine now when it is so easy to check details and even whole topics. Research then meant hunting down books and making annual trips to Britain to see things in person. Often it was not easy. Historical facts (like wars and treaties) were no problem, but social facts were more difficult to find. What did people eat at their banquets, for example? What did they wear? Talk about? How long did a journey from Point A to Point B take? We couldn’t just google the answer in those days.

What’s the most difficult thing about writing characters from the opposite sex?

I wouldn’t be telling you anything you don’t already know if I said that men and women are totally different in the way they think, speak, act, and emote. Writing from a man’s point of view is a challenge. It has to be credible. I can remember the first time I knew of a man (a British medical doctor) reading one of my books. I wanted to bury my head in a deep hole and keep it there.  It was a huge relief when he commented without any prodding that I got the guy’s point of view exactly right. As a writer one always has to apply the believability test. The hero can’t think or say or do something just because it is convenient to the plot. It must all be consistent with his masculinity.

What special challenges did you face making your story stand out from others in the genre?

I don’t think I ever thought of my writing in those terms. I have never felt I was in competition with anyone else. I can remember a friend telling me when I was first published that I might be the second Danielle Steele. I told her I didn’t want to be the second anybody. I wanted to be the one and only Mary Balogh. I have always aimed for consistently excellent prose and love stories that combine an intensity of emotion and passion with realism and an aura of wonderful romance. I have always aimed for characters I (and therefore the reader) know soul-deep. I have always wanted my books to stand out from one another. I would hate to discover that readers were coming to find the same old same old in my plots or characters. It is difficult to be fresh and new after you have written more than a hundred novels and novellas. It takes constant hard work.

If you could have been the author of any book ever written, which book would you choose?

That is a fascinating and fun question. I have to be consistent with what I said above, though. Although I have some firm favorites among the many books I have loved and admired, I have never wanted to be the author of any books but my own. As writers we all have our own vision and values and–most important–our unique voice. I am very happy to be the author of my body of work. No one else could have written those books–just as I could not have written anyone else’s book, much as I might (and do!) love what certain other authors have produced.

What is the biggest surprise that you experienced after becoming a writer?

That’s an easy one. The biggest surprise was discovering when a New York publisher decided to buy my first book (A Masked Deception) that they were offering me a two-book contract. “What?” I thought. “Now I have to do it all over again?” Another surprise followed that. I did it! And then I did it again and again and… One does not, it seems, run out of ideas after a certain number of books. The more I write, the more I know I can write. Surprise, surprise!

What’s next for you? Are you working on a new project? If so, can you give us a teaser and/or an expected release date? 

I most recently published Someone to Cherish in June. It is the final book in the Westcott series–Harry’s story. Then there will be an add-on book in November, Someone Perfect, the story of Lady Estelle Lamarr, a character in the Westcott books but not strictly a member of the family. Both those books are written. I am about to start a wholly new series, the Wares of Ravenwood Hall. I plan seven stories–for a mother, her three sons, her two daughters, and her late husband’s illegitimate son. I can’t give any more detail than that. I will be starting next week (on March 1). My stories take shape as I write. I am not a planner! 

Author Interviews Featured Authors

An Interview with Amanda Ashley

What three qualities does an irresistible love interest have to have?

  • Sex Appeal
  • Humor
  • Kindness

How do you find new inspiration when you’re feeling stuck? 

I have no clue. New ideas just pop into my head. Sometimes it’s just a first line, which was the case with one of my old historicals. The line was, “He was dying, and he didn’t care”. (Midnight Fire) Well, that prompted a lot of questions. Why was he dying? Why didn’t he care?

What special challenges did you face making your story stand out from others in the genre?

I don’t really worry about that. When I write, I write mainly for myself and hope that what I like, my readers will like. I love writing paranormal stories because I can let my imagination run wild. Witches and werewolves, vampires, and time travel. There’s a whole world of possibilities.

If you didn’t write, what would you do for work?

Nothing. I’d just be a stay-at-home housewife.

What was the best money you ever spent as a writer?  

Joining the Orange Chapter of Romance Writers of America. I learned a lot at the monthly meetings, met a lot of published authors. Even got to meet Fabio, who was on the cover of one of my books.

What’s next for you? Are you working on a new project? If so, can you give us a teaser and/or an expected release date? 

Just published is In the Dark of the Night, one of my fav stories. The back cover copy says:

In a time of desperation, Lorena Halliday’s father sells her into service to wealthy Lord Fairfield. After years of servitude and unwanted sexual advances, Lorena finds the courage to run away, only to be accosted by a man with a knife.

Standing on the roof of his home, Demetri witnesses the attack and goes to the young woman’s rescue. After dispatching her assailant, Demetri takes the unconscious woman to an inn and procures a room for her. After paying for a week in advance, he carries her up the stairs and tucks into bed. She is young and beautiful and her blood calls to him like no other.

Needing to see her again, Demetri returns to the inn and offers the lovely redhead a position in his home as his housekeeper. Desperate and with nowhere else to go, Lorena accepts. She soon discovers that her mysterious benefactor hides many secrets. Nevertheless, Lorena finds herself falling in love with a  man who lives In the Dark of the Night.

June 28th is the expected pub date for Surrender the Dawn. The back cover copy reads:

Angelina Rossi has always been fascinated with vampires. She loves the movies, the TV shows, the books. After reading a love story between a woman and a vampire, she finds herself yearning for a love like that. What if vampires really do exist?  

Determined to find out, she searches every Goth club in the city, ending up at a nightclub called Nick’s Nightmare. The attraction between Angie and Declan Nicolae, the club’s owner, is instant and undeniable.

Declan is an ancient vampire who, having once tasted Angie’s blood, is determined to never let her go. For a time, romance blooms and all is well, until Samantha, Angie’s best friend, becomes one of the Undead and Angie learns vampires do exist — and that the man she loves is one of them.

Travis and Sara would likely never have met if Travis hadn’t chosen her as his prey. Was it mere coincidence that brought the two of them to the same sleepy little town? Or the hand of Fate?

August 24th will see the publication of the last book in my Children of the Night series – Night’s Illusion. The cover copy reads:

Giovanni Lanzoni may just be the world’s oldest male virgin. Or at least, the oldest male virgin vampire. Giovanni has clung to the vows he made a thousand years ago as a mortal priest—yet he is no longer either of those things. Others of his kind have settled down since claiming immortality, finding love, even raising children. Sensing his loneliness, Mara, Queen of the Vampires, eagerly sets out to find Giovanni the perfect mate. But only one woman, met by chance on a dark night, truly tempts him . . Cassie Douglas has never met a man she trusts as much as Giovanni. Yet the shocking truth he reveals makes her question their deep connection. There are other urgent obstacles too. Giovanni’s sire, an ancient, dangerously powerful vampire, is awakening after centuries of slumber, with vengeance on his mind. And in the battle unfolding around them, everything is at risk—their lives, their loved ones, and a passionate eternity together . . .

These are all vampire romances.

I just finished a Western titled Kade, the first one I’ve written in a while. I’m really happy with it. I don’t have the cover copy yet, but it starts like this:

He stared up at the vast blue vault of the sky. He had always known this day would come. Any man who lived by the gun usually died that way. Even now, blood from the gunshot wound low in his left side was leaking through his fingers, soaking into the dirt beneath him.

         Only a matter of time, he thought. He might have had a chance of finding help if his horse hadn’t been shot out from under him. But maybe that was a good thing. When a warrior died, the People killed his favorite mount so the warrior’s spirit wouldn’t have to walk to the happy hunting ground. Kade grunted softly as he glanced at the dead mare. At least he had a good horse to carry him to the land of spirits.

         Resigned to his fate, he closed his eyes and waited for death.

Author Interviews Featured Authors

An Interview with Emily Sullivan

What’s something you are really good at that few people know about?

In general, I think any time I’ve really good at something, I don’t exactly keep it a secret, but I suppose not many people know I’m very good at Trivial Pursuit. My husband refuses to play with me!

If you could have been the author of any book ever written, which book would you choose?

Oh boy, this is a tough one. Well, I think Persuasion is a perfect second chance romance, so let’s go with that!

Is there a character you’ve written that feels closest to your own personality?

I’m sure there is a little bit of me in each of my main characters. I share Lottie’s interest in travel, for example. But part of what I love about writing is creating people different from myself.

Which do you create first, your plot or your characters? 

In the case of A Rogue to Remember the characters definitely came first. I then combined a couple of ideas I had been mulling over to form the plot.

If you could tell your younger writing self anything, what would it be?

Don’t give up! Some day you will have a BOOK in Barnes & Noble. A ROMANCE book.

What’s next for you? Are you working on a new project? If so, can you give us a teaser and/or an expected release date?

I am drafting book three in my League of Scoundrels series while waiting for copy edits on the second book, The Rebel and The Rake, which comes out on December 28th!

Author Interviews Featured Authors

An Interview with Reese Ryan

When you develop characters do you already know who they are before you begin writing or do you let them develop as you go?

Sometimes I need to write a few scenes to get into a character’s headspace. However, my stories are very character-driven, so I prefer to start with a clear understanding of who my characters are. I use profile charts to help me get a clear understanding of my characters and do a deep dive into that character’s history and past wounds. That work is typically done prior to writing the first words of the story.

Who is your favorite fictional couple? What qualities do they have that you love?

There are lots of fictional couples that I adore for one reason or another. My favorite is usually the couple I’m writing at the moment. Currently, I’m revising Return to Hummingbird Way—the follow-up to Second Chance on Cypress Lane. So I’m in love with Sinclair Buchanan and Garrett Davenport. We met them in that book because Sin is Dakota’s best friend and Rett is Dexter’s cousin.

They are basically each other’s high school hate crushes. Their best friends are high school sweethearts who reunite nearly twenty years later. Now, they are forced to work together for a couple of reasons. And I’m kind of in love with this couple’s vibe and energy. There is so much heat and attraction between them and that one-night stand five years ago no one else knows about. LOL. 

The book turned out differently than I’d intended, but I love the change. It’s been beautiful to watch Rett & Sinclair really seeing each other for the first time. They discover they don’t know each other as well as they thought, and a lot of what they believed about each other was all wrong. It’s been fun watching them really get to know each other and realize how much they have in common. What I love about them is that they are confident, strong, creative people. Yet, they are humble enough to admit when they’re wrong and apologize. 

If you could escape into one of the worlds you’ve created in your books, what character would you become and why?

I’d definitely spend time on Holly Grove Island, if I could. There’s that small time vibe, a strong sense of community, and beautiful beaches. And since I’m crushing on Rett right now, I wouldn’t mind being Sinclair. 😉

What were your favorite books growing up?

I was a huge fan of Judy Blume and Beverly Cleary. I read all of their children’s books and Blume’s teen books. But the book that made me want to become a writer is Pride & Prejudice by Jane Austen. That book and Little Women by Louisa May Alcott continue to influence what I write: strong, unconventional heroines and lots of family drama.

What’s something you are really good at that few people know about?

When I first started playing corn hole (bean bag toss)—the unofficial sport of the South—I was surprisingly good at it. I haven’t played much in the last year or so, so I’m pretty rusty now. Also, my husband and I watch lots of mystery shows (mostly period mysteries right now.) I’ve gotten particularly good at figuring out the murderer (or thief) pretty early in the show.

What’s next for you? Are you working on a new project? If so, can you give us a teaser and/or an expected release date? 

I’m editing Return to Hummingbird Way, the follow-up to Second Chance on Cypress Lane now. Next, I’ll be writing the final book in my Bourbon Brothers series—a series about the romantic and business adventures of a family that owns a world-famous distillery in Tennessee. The release date of the final Bourbon Brothers book is February 2022. A date for RHW is TBD, since I’m still massaging the first draft of the book now. But I promise it will be oh so worth the wait. 😉

Author Interviews Featured Authors

An Interview with Jason Feifer and Jennifer Miller

Married authors Jason Feifer and Jennifer Miller both brought their own style and insight to their first, and only (so far!) romantic comedy novel, Mr. Nice Guy. Delivering a charming combination of flirty and steamy romance with your real-life romantic partner is no small feat, and we were thrilled the pair offered to give us some insight into their collaboration. Between juggling parenthood, a podcast, and two new novels in the works, the busy couple managed to give us the scoop on their writing process, their latest reads, and their winding career paths.

What is the biggest surprise that you experienced after becoming a writer?

JASON: It took a long time to figure out what kind of writing I was good at! I first thought of myself as a writer in high school, when I contributed to local music magazines. But as I pursued it professionally, I tried on many different voices and identities. I discovered, for example, that I’m a terrible screenwriter and an excruciating political columnist. I once thought of myself as a contemplative writer who used complicated prose, but ended up finding a groove as a fast-paced, straightforward writer who leans heavily on lessons and takeaways. It’s all been a surprise!

JEN: How hard it is to make a living…actually, I knew it would be pretty damn hard! 

When you set out to write a book, how do you begin?

JASON: Jen’s the true novelist between us, so I’ll shut up here.

JEN: I think about the main character in the book and try to imagine where they are and what they’re doing at a critical moment in their lives. In Mr. Nice Guy, that moment has Lucas emerging from the sweaty NYC subway to start his job at the city’s most popular magazine. In my debut novel, The Year of the Gadfly, it has my protagonist Iris being swept away to a new (and rather creepy) mountain town by her parents. 

Both of you tackled a new genre when you wrote Mr. Nice Guy. What inspired your collaboration? Would you do it again?

JASON: When I was in my 20s, I struck up an e-mail friendship with a sex columnist. That gave me the idea for a novel: What if two people each week slept together and then criticized each other’s performance in a magazine? But I had no idea how to turn this into a novel. I tried many times, over many years. I kept failing. Then… I married a novelist! After Jen sold one of her novels, she was looking for a new project and I suggested that she write something based on my idea. She suggested we do it together. And so the collaboration was born.

JEN: Writing a rom-com was one of the most fun exercises I’ve done. There was something incredibly freeing about being able to lean into satire and romance and cheese all at once. And we were able to play to our strengths. All the sexy, steamy columns are in the book—but I’ve never been much of a columnist, so I made Jason do that part!

If you could tell your younger writing self anything, what would it be?

JASON: Just keep experimenting. You may think a particular job, or project, or style of writing is lame—but you’ll learn a surprising amount from everything you do, and each experience will help you become a better storyteller later.

JEN: Stay away from social media. If you simply focus on your own work and what you love to do (and stop worrying about whether you’re successful enough), you’ll be much happier. My anxiety load significantly reduced when I finally quit Twitter! (I’m still there, but I only use it to track people when I can’t find their emails elsewhere and, occasionally, when I want to look up some breaking news.)

What’s the best book you’ve read in the past year? 


JASON: I am loving my friend Joe Keohane’s upcoming book, The Power of Strangers. It’s a nonfiction book about our relationships with strangers, and how to talk to them, and why connecting with people you don’t know is so important.

JEN: I’m currently reading Ron Chernow’s biography of Alexander Hamilton. It’s been super fun to compare/contrast the actual historical events with the Lin Manuel Miranda version (which I know by heart, because our 5-year-old is obsessed and demands we listen on every car ride). 

What’s next for each of you? Are you working on new projects? If so, can you give us a teaser and/or an expected release date?

JASON: Yes! We both have book projects—though both are nonfiction and neither of them are anything like Mr. Nice Guy

I’m currently working on a book called Build For Tomorrow, Not For Yesterday, which will come out in the summer of 2022. It’s about how to become more adaptable and find opportunity in change, with lessons drawn from the history of innovation and the smartest entrepreneurial minds of today. If you want an early taste of it, you can download a free audio course I created on the subject!

JEN: I’m writing a young adult non-fiction book about first-generation college students. It follows three students, all the first in their families to attend college, through their freshmen year. And we’re talking 2019/2020, so it was all quite unexpected and dramatic.