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Author Interviews Featured Authors

An Interview with Lucy Smoke

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

It really depends. Haha. Unfortunately, the majority of my characters have some sort of internal damage and I don’t know if I’d want that. But I’d love their strength and fortitude. I think, though, I’d personally like to go in as just myself and see how I would adapt to a new world–contemporary or fantasy.

What is your work schedule like when you are writing?

I’m a night owl, so my work schedule generally starts late afternoon and moves into the early morning. I usually do my research, outlining, and admin duties in the afternoons, and anywhere between 7 pm-1 am I’ll find myself writing. I’m addicted to writing, so I generally write every day if I can help it.

Do you have a favorite character that you have written? If so, who? And what makes them so special?

I love all of my characters, but with that said, I do love some more than others. In my fantasy works, Barbie is my favorite (from the Barbie: The Vampire Hunter series). In my contemporary works, Avalon is my favorite (from Sick Boys). These two have a lot in common. They’re both brash and aggressive. They don’t back down from challenges, yet at the same time, they have flaws and wounds from their childhoods. They’re special to me because of those flaws of theirs. 

Characters who are perfect and always good don’t interest me because I can’t see them being real people, but these two, Barbie and Avalon, aren’t always likable, but just because they aren’t likable doesn’t mean they aren’t loveable. 

Where do you draw inspiration from?

Pretty much anything and everything. I draw inspiration from real life, from my own past and childhood, as well as stories I hear on the internet, on the radio, from friends and colleagues. I want to make my characters as human as possible with their wants and desires and dreams. They may be fictional to readers, but in my mind, there’s so much beneath the surface of their characterization and bringing them to life on the page. 

If you could ask one successful author three questions about their writing, writing process, or books, what would they be?

Well, first, I feel like “success” is in the eye of the beholder so that makes it hard for me to determine who I would ask and what I would ask because those questions would change depending on the author in question and their expertise. Generally, though, I might ask about the mental fortitude it takes to be an author and what they do to cope or harness the varying levels of their craft and how they are perceived by readers. 

I can only be who I am and they can only be who they are, but other authors will understand that working in the publishing industry isn’t easy. If it was, everyone would be a “successful” author. We do it because we love it and I enjoy hearing people just talk about what makes them happy. So I’d ask what about this industry they love and why they keep writing. 

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? 

Currently, I’m working on the next book in the Sick Boys series. It’s become my most popular series to date under both my fantasy pen name (Lucinda Dark) and my contemporary pen name (Lucy Smoke). The original trilogy has been completed, but I have follow-up stories in standalone format for the side characters that everyone fell in love with. The expected release date is October 2021 (so next month!). 

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 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 Lauren Billings

An Interview with Lauren Billings

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

Probably New York sex clubs or how often people die in the Utah slot canyons.

Which of your characters do you relate to the most and why (any book)?

Bennett & Chloe, because of their ambition. Harlow for her fierce love for her friends.

If you had to write yourself as a villain, what kind of villain would you be? What would you be named?

I would be the villain in a mediocre man’s story about how a highly qualified, emotionally intelligent woman got the job he half-assed his way to the interview for, haha.

What is the first book that made you cry?

Oh, good question. For sure Where the Red Fern Grows, and I’m so glad they don’t include that in our district’s curriculum because I wouldn’t be emotionally prepared to help my kids work their way through that heartbreak. As an adult, I cried the hardest after finishing Forbidden, by Tabitha Suzuma.

What is your favorite part, and your least favorite part, of the publishing journey?

Hands down, my favorite part is working with my best friend every day, and getting to collaborate with a team of people who are so good at their jobs it’s awe-inspiring. I really am so lucky to be able to do this job, with these people. And least favorite part would be the hurry-up-and-wait aspect to the industry. There is a lot of that built into the publishing process.

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?

The Soulmate Equation is out on May 18th, and it’s our first hardcover release. We are so proud of this book! It’s the story of single-mom Jess, who is skeptical about a new dating service that matches people based on their DNA, but does it on a whim and finds that she matches with the company’s founder, in their highest level of compatibility ever. It has mild enemies-to-lovers, fake dating, a cast of characters I adore! And we also just finished drafting our 2022 novel, which is Romancing the Stone-meets-The Hangover and I honestly don’t know if we’ve ever had so much FUN writing a book before. Writing these two books has been the best writing experience of my life.

Author Interviews Featured Authors

An Interview with Christina Hobbs

An Interview with Author Christina Hobbs

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

I LOOOOVE doing research for books. It’s like I need to feel competent in whatever the character knows (within reason) to write about their daily thoughts. After Dirty Rowdy Thing I know a lot about the Canadian fishing industry, and with Roomies I learned a ton about the US immigration process.

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

Probably a good computer? But also we have an outside PR rep (Kristin Dwyer @ Leo PR) and she is worth her weight in gold.

If a film were made of The Honey Don’t List, who would you cast in the leading roles?

We are the absolute worst at this. I don’t have an idea for Carrie or James, but Kristen Bell and Dax Shepard would be hilarious as Melly and Rusty. 

If you could spend time with a character from one of your books who would it be? And what would you do during that day?

Fizzy is the best friend in The Soulmate Equation and she’s a total scene-stealer. She’s also a romance novelist and I think we’d be instant besties. 

If you could ask one other successful author three questions about their writing, writing process, or books, what would they be?

  • What is the single best piece of promo they’ve done? It’s hard to know where to reach readers and what moves the dial.
  • I assume they’ve had a long career, so the best piece of advice for that longevity.
  • The best advice they were ever given.

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? 

We have The Soulmate Equation out on May 18th. We just finished a first draft of a Romancing the Stone meets The Hangover type of book for 2022, and are currently brainstorming our next one!