Last week I introduced Sara and her recent debut Heiress Without a Cause. Today I’ve got an Interview with Sara and she will be giving away a copy of her book to one of the commenters on this post. You have till April 5 to enter the giveaway. Sara will be checking in periodically to reply to questions as well. Be sure and leave your email address in the designated field of the contact form so that if your comment is chosen I can give Sara a way to contact you and get your prize out.
Winner chooses their version of the book – Paperback, Nook or Kindle. I will pass the contact information of only the drawn name to Sara so she can contact that person to arrange type and delivery of the book.
[Note of Caution: This book is mainstream romance and as such may contain scenes with graphic content even though this post is family friendly.]
Now for the interview.
Among the living, I would love to meet Tom Colicchio, the chef and head judge of Top Chef. I really respect how straightforward he is to the contestants, but he also has a good sense of humor – and I can’t resist great food. If I could choose someone who has passed away, I would choose my mother’s father; he passed away a decade before I was born, but he sounds like an amazing man, and I wish I could have known him.
2. What’s your favorite comfort food?
I know most people would go for chocolate or ice cream, but I’m all about potatoes. Baked potatoes, scalloped potatoes, home fries, hash browns, mashed potatoes, fried potatoes, potato chips – I’ve never met a potato product I didn’t like. I grew up in a very rural town in southern Iowa and didn’t eat much pasta or rice, so potatoes were my main carb for most of my youth and will always hold a special place in my heart.
Chocolate does seem to come up alot although I have gotten a variety of answers some of them rather surprising on this question. I don’t know if ice cream ever made the list. Have to admit chocolate is mine though not cake or ice-cream but chocolate chip cookies do usually satisfy a craving now and again.
3. What would be your dream vacation?
I love to travel, but my first thought was that I’d love to take a vacation without a laptop or phone – how sad is that? I think spending a week in Paris or Venice, completely disconnected, would be fabulous!
I think in today’s world we all dream of “disconnecting” for awhile. Though it’s been many years I loved Paris when I was there during college and would love to go back again to explore on my own agenda.
4. Is there anyone who has influenced / encouraged you to write? Who and how / why?
Really, all of my family and friends have been wonderfully supportive. I know a lot of writers struggle with finding a support system, but I have been very blessed to have a circle of people who want to see me succeed as a writer and are understanding when I have to be a hermit for a few days (or weeks) to finish a project. I really appreciate that the romance community is so supportive and inclusive, but I’m glad that my parents, family, and friends in the “real world” are just as encouraging.
5. Can you give a brief synopsis of your journey to publication with your first piece of fiction?
When I first started writing, I fully intended to follow the traditional path. And I will say that I made steady progress toward that goal – I signed with an agent in 2009, won the Romance Writers of America Golden Heart award for best Regency manuscript in 2009 (and finaled again in 2011), and wrote two manuscripts for my agent to shop to traditional publishers. However, the market is really tough for debut authors, and when neither of those books sold, neither my agent nor I were willing to let them keep languishing on my hard drive.
So, I decided to self-publish both books and keep writing the series, rather than giving up and moving on to something else. I’m thrilled that I did; the response so far has been great, and beyond that, it is unbelievably wonderful to hold my book in my hands and know that people other than my mother are reading it I don’t regret self-publishing at all, and actually enjoy it quite a bit; my background is in marketing and online advertising, so I may be one of the rare authors who actually enjoys some of the promotional drudgery.
6. What else have you written / are you currently writing (including unpublished works)?
The second book in the Muses of Mayfair series, Scotsmen Prefer Blondes, is coming out the first week of April, so I’m busy getting ready for that launch. I’m currently working on the third book, The Marquess Who Loved Me, and hope to have it out sometime this summer. Beyond that, I’m brainstorming the fourth book in the Muses series, and then I need to decide whether to continue with these characters or start something fresh.
7. What first gave you the idea for Heiress Without A Cause?
I’m lucky to live in an age where it’s possible for me to pursue my artistic dreams; so many female authors in previous decades/centuries had to write under male pseudonyms to protect themselves or attract an audience. I’ve also always been fascinated by how constrained some Regency women must have felt. I’m sure many aristocratic women enjoyed going to endless parties (and they certainly couldn’t complain, since all the non-aristocratic ladies had it much, much worse) – but there must have been some who were utterly bored by it all.
Eventually I came up with the idea of several friends who all had different artistic passions, and who created their own club to support each other in their endeavors. The Muses of Mayfair were born. Heiress features an actress, while the next books in the series feature a writer, a painter, and a historian.
8. What else would you like to share with readers about yourself or Heiress Without A Cause?
Heiress is definitely a love story, but as I wrote it, I realized it was also an ode to strong female friendships. While the secondary characters hopefully aren’t a distraction, it was important to me to show heroines who have great friends beyond the hero – for me, marriage to the right partner is vitally important, but there should also be room for wonderful friends beyond the partnership between the hero and heroine. That’s why there are probably more scenes with secondary characters than in some romance novels – I wanted to show other aspects of human relationships beyond the love story.
9. Share with us one of the craziest things you’ve done or that’s happened to you?
I tend to find myself in odd situations, so this is a tough one. But one of the craziest things I’ve done happened during a “photo scavenger hunt”. I spent six months in India in 2005 with my former employer, and for my birthday, a bunch of the other expats and I divided into teams and did a scavenger hunt through the city to take photos of various quintessentially Indian things (buying bangles, trying on saris, autorickshaws, motorbikes, different buildings in the old city, etc.). Everything was worth one point, but you could get five points for kissing a cow…which I was crazy enough to do. Luckily we got the photo, and luckily I didn’t catch any diseases (or poison myself from smearing hand sanitizer all over my lips immediately after!).
10. What five books would you take with you to a desert island?
This question gets tougher every year, especially since I have an ereader now and don’t have to choose! If I’m stuck on a desert island, it would be smart to take some fish cookbooks and maybe a survival book, but I’ll go with some of my childhood/adult favorites instead:
The Grand Sophy by Georgette Heyer
The Blue Sword by Robin McKinley
Anne of Green Gables by Lucy Maud Montgomery
The Lord of the Rings by J.R.R. Tolkien (an all-in-one version 😉
The Secret Garden by Frances Hodgson Burnett
Haven’t read any GH yet but want to, love Anne books all of them, in fact have six hardback rather old editions I got from my Grandmother’s library when she passed away. (the first six titles of series) #7&8 I have in paperback because they released much later than the hardbacks of Grandma’s.
11. Why did you start writing and when?
I’m a lifelong reader and I’ve also been making up stories in my head forever, so it only made sense that I would start to write. When I was younger, I wrote a lot of bad short stories and woeful journal entries. I also wrote a lot of postcards to my best friend during the summer – we were in a rural area, so before we could drive, we didn’t see each other much when school was out. Those postcards turned into fictional stories that we wrote back and forth to each other all summer, which was super fun. But I didn’t have the patience for novel-length fiction until I was in my mid-to-late twenties.
12. How do you choose names and get to know your characters?
I can’t totally explain how I choose my characters’ names. However, if I have a name in mind, I often reference this odd book called The Secret Universe of Names, which claims to analyze peoples’ personalities based on the sounds of their names – saying that n’s in a name make it more negative, for example, or that s’s are more sensual. Maybe it’s bunk, but then again, it claims that people named Sara are cynical, sarcastic, and stubborn, which is right on for me. I want to make sure the sound of a character’s name matches their personality, so this book works for me.
I spend a lot of time getting to know my characters – I write a lot of journal entries about them, and probably write dozens of pages about each one that never make it into the final book. Hopefully this makes them more well-rounded; if nothing else, it makes me feel more confident as I write the book.
13. What’s your favorite character from your stories or books (so far)?
I love all my heroes and heroines, but my favorite may be the heroine for the third book, which I’m writing now. Ellie is the sister of the hero in Heiress Without A Cause, and she tries to steal every scene she’s in – she’s brutally honest, but she cares deeply about people and is always ready to help anyone in trouble. She also has red hair, which I’ve always secretly wanted, so that’s an added bonus!
14. Do you have any teasers you can share for your next book or story to be published?
The next book, Scotsmen Prefer Blondes, comes out in early April, and I can’t wait to share it. It stars Lady Amelia Staunton, whose attempts to save her friend Prudence from an ill-advised arranged marriage result in her being forced to marry the man herself. What I love about this book is how much Amelia and her hero, the Earl of Carnach, laugh when they’re with each other – she can be dramatic (she is a Gothic romance novelist, after all), but he brings out her humor, and their dialogue was so much fun to write.
15. Are there any closing remarks you’d like to share?
Thank you so much for hosting me! It’s been a pleasure to answer these questions. For those of you who are reading this, thank you for spending your time with this interview, and I hope to hear from you in the comments!
Thank you for taking the time to share with my readers.
Click the bookcover for more info or to purchase a Paperback copy. Click here for the Nook format. Click here for the Kindle format. Don’t forget to click the author’s photo to visit her website. Read an excerpt, my review is coming soon, and don’t forget to leave a comment for a chance to win Sara’s book.
Note: I purchased this book and received no compensation for promoting it.