Q: Why did you decide to write a book, Arabella?
A: I grew up on a diet of Jane Austen and other classic novels, discovered Georgette Heyer, and became addicted to the sparkle and wit of Regency. One day my aged mum complained that all the Regency novels she was getting from a Big Name Publisher were starting to sound formulaic and asked me to write one for her. So I did. Then I wrote another one and another one… I found a publisher by accident, they loved my books, and the rest is (Regency!) history!
Q: How long have you been writing?
A: I have always toyed with writing amusing poetry and articles, but writing The Dangerous Duke, my first Regency novel, was a big step.
Q: How long did it take you to write this book?
A: I’d never written a book before so it took about a year to write The Dangerous Duke. As I wrote more, I got better at it. I do have a full-time editing job so finding time is hard.
Q: What do you use to write your books?
A: I always start by scribbling ideas and a sequence of events down on paper, also a list of potential characters, ideas, dates, events in history etc. Then I start the book on my PC.
Q: What problems did you encounter?
A: This sounds big headed, but I never get writer’s block. I always think of something. The story sort of writes itself in a way. One must have an outline, but the characters make things happen as well, often unexpected things that I think will not work – but it does.
Q: How do you think you’ve evolved as a writer since you’ve started?
A: I’m a better writer now, of course. As you write more, you should also be reading more, and also reading articles on the art of writing. I feel more confident now as a writer, that I can create interesting characters that people will enjoy, even the villains.
Q: Is there anything you wished you’d known when you started writing?
A: I wish I had started much earlier. I could have written more books!
Q: Do you structure your plots Arabella or just go with the flow?
A: I like a basic structure that offers an interesting plot/sequence of events. The rest is up to my imagination, my characters, and a bit of serendipity.
Q: Do you work on a set amount of words per day or does it change?
A: As I said, I have a job so sometimes time will go by and I haven’t actually typed anything BUT I think about the whole story a lot. I play out scenes in my head so that when I get to writing, it’s already there.
Q: Do you do a lot of research when writing a book?
A: Absolutely. This is historical romance, after all. Although I know a huge amount about the Regency era, having done tons of research for each book, I still research as I go along. I follow other historical romance and Regency authors on their blogs and Twitter, and I keep up by reading articles around the era.
Q: How would you describe your writing process?
A: Structured but open to creative sparks and bursts of genius!
Q: What time of the day do you find is best to write Arabella?
A: Any time suits me. Actually, just time will do. I’m not fussy.
Q: Where do you draw your inspiration from?
A: The era inspires me. Plus I am a big BBC Classic Drama fan and they are just fantastic for bringing the period to life.
Q: What draws you to this genre?
A: I think because I grew up with all the classic writers and Georgette Heyer’s novels are so charming, witty and romantic without being mushy that this struck a chord with me. I have branched out though. I am busy working on To Murder a Marquis, a time travel/murder mystery Regency romance – if there can be such a mash-up. It’s coming along nicely. Interested readers can find me and the first few chapters on Wattpad. https://www.wattpad.com/story/37706241-to-murder-a-marquis
Q: Have you ever tried to write other genres?
A: To Murder a Marquis is my tentative foray into murder mystery. I love detective novels and murder mysteries. I’m a huge Agatha Christie fan as well, but I never thought I could pull off a murder mystery. This one is going quite well so far.
Q: Which author/book would compare yours too?
A: Georgette Heyer, of course! And I only say this because I have had some lovely compliments saying this from my Wattpad followers.
Q: Can you relate to any of your own stories?
A: Not really in that these events take place about 200 years ago, in the Regency era, but what I can relate to is women wanting to have a voice, to be treated as unique, strong individuals and not as mere chattel to be married off to cement an alliance or prop up some noble family’s failing fortunes. This comes out strongly in my favourite of all my books, The Reluctant Bridegroom.
Q: How many books have you written?
A: To Murder a Marquis is my eighth Regency romance. I have seven Regency romances and I have also penned a very short self-help book on finding the right relationship in ten easy steps, peppered with pithy advice from Jane Austen. The Secret of Love came about after I ran an exclusive dating agency for a year. That experience taught me more about human nature than reading a thousand books on what makes people, and love, tick!
Q: Have you ever written in collaboration with another author?
A: No. I’m a leader. Sadly, I’m not good in a group. I prefer to write alone. However, if another author whom I respected wanted to give it a try, I’d say yes.
Q: Who designed your front cover?
A: I have a wonderful designer for all my covers. Amanda Matthews of AM Design Studios does an incredible job and she ‘sees’ how I see my covers.
Q: Who was the first person you showed your novel too?
A: My mother, of course!
Q: Have you ever dedicated a book to someone?
A: My mother, again of course! I owe her everything. Without her, I would never have been able to achieve what I have done. All my romance books are dedicated to her.
Q: How do you market your books?
A: Marketing, isn’t that the huge chore authors hate doing? I have a Facebook page, a website, and a rapidly growing Twitter account. I also have around 2000 followers on Wattpad and some have very kindly supplied me with editorial reviews on Amazon. I also have a subscriber newsletter which offers a nice gift – The Dangerous Duke free if you sign up. Marketing is difficult because there is so much information out there, so many authors bombarding readers that it is hard to get a foothold in the market. People who read my books then find they like them and want more, and those are the readers who spread the word and are loyal to the brand.
Q: How do you deal with bad reviews?
A: The first time I got a one star (horrors!) on Amazon I was devastated. The reader took offence at a rather dramatic scene and did not bother to read further and find out what was happening. This was a scene from my second book, Married at Midnight, which many readers really loved. I shared this on Facebook and was quite relieved when other author friends shared their bad review experiences. In the end, I felt as if I had joined some kind of exclusive club!
Q: Do you use an agent?
A: No, I don’t have an agent. I found a publisher right away, by accident, and although they eventually closed down, I moved on to a wonderful distributor, Bublish, and I’m very happy with the arrangement.
Q: How much time do you devote to marketing your books?
A: I try to do something every day, be it posting on Twitter or Facebook, or doing interviews like this one. I have found that Twitter is the quickest and easiest route. I use AskDavid.com to tweet reviews or book news to a large number of Twitter followers.
Q: How do you get your book reviews/reviewed?
A: It’s very difficult. One hopes that readers will be inspired to post a review after they finish the book. Some of my Wattpad fans were so kind as to supply complimentary comments for Amazon. I always ask for reviews in the back of each of my books. Hopefully, some readers of this article will be inspired to ask for a review copy of any of my titles, which I am happy to provide.
Q: Do you do all your own proofreading and editing?
A: No, definitely not. Although I work hard at a final clean copy, all my work goes to an editor. I think that writers are too close to their own work and miss silly mistakes because they have read their own work too many times.
Q: How and where are you publishing this book?
A: I will be publishing To Murder a Marquis with Bublish. Then I’ll start the sequel, To Marry a Marquis!
Q: What are the main benefits of being an independent author?
A: Independence, I think. You have more control over the whole writing, editing, marketing process, but sometimes I wonder what it would be like to enjoy the benefits of a big publisher?
Q: What are you reading at the moment? Which book do you have by your bed?
A: Terry Pratchett. Maskerade.
Q: What was the first book you ever read?
A: The one that sticks out for me from childhood is Robert the Rose Horse, about a horse that was allergic to the rose in his hat.
Q: Who is your favourite author/book?
A: Too many to mention.
Q: What is your favourite quote from a book?
A: This is actually from The Reluctant Bridegroom, which I often reread because I enjoyed writing it so much:
“His encounter with the outspoken Miss Miranda Lavenham was possibly a humbling one. Those sorts of experiences were generally considered beneficial to building one’s character, although at thirty, his character must be built already.”
Q: What is your favourite book to film adaptation?
A: Pride and Prejudice, of course.
Q: Where are your favourite places to read?
A: In bed, of course. Or on the sofa.
Q: When you read do you prefer a book or a Kindle/tablet?
A: Real books, please.
Q: Do you have any tips for aspiring authors?
A: Never give up. Make sure your manuscript undergoes intense editorial scrutiny before you even think of publishing or sending it to an agent/editor.
Q: What’s coming next?
A: To Murder a Marquis and then To Marry a Marquis.