Tuesday, April 9, 2013

Amanda Scott - Historical Romances - Author Interview

Author Interview

1. How did you come up with the titles?
Border Bride was the first of these titles that I wrote. It was actually my second manuscript, because I didn’t realize that having written a book set in the Regency period labeled me (in my agent’s and editor’s mind, at least) as a Regency author. I knew nothing about categories or the romance genre, and thought I had simply written a historical novel. I loved Jan Westcott’s The Border Lord, and since my heroine was a reluctant bride, I thought Border Bride sounded great. Unfortunately, both my agent and my editor were shocked and insisted that I write another Regency romance, which I did (The Kidnapped Bride). In the meantime, my agent sent Border Bride to just about every publisher in New York (and there were many more of them then). I received many of the nicest rejection letters anyone has ever received. They all liked the book, but said it was the ‘wrong setting’ for the sort of story it was, that comedy didn’t belong in a Scottish book. Most said they wanted to see anything else I’d written. In other words, they were looking for bodice rippers, and Border Bride made them laugh. Several suggested turning it into a Regency romance, but since it was based on Scottish laws pertaining to women, that wouldn’t work. So I put it on a shelf. An editor from Simon & Schuster’s Tapestry line called, having heard about the manuscript. I sent it to her, and she said I should “tone the hero down,” that he was “too alpha,” so I did. Then she said she didn’t know why, but the book she had previously loved just didn’t appeal to her anymore. I knew exactly what the problem was, of course. The “toned-down” hero made the heroine look and sound like a witch. So, I put it back the way I’d wanted it to be, and I’d just gotten home from the hospital after major surgery when another editor called, from Dell. She said she’d heard that I had a historical romance with a comic side to it. I sent it to her; she loved it and bought it; and it flew off the shelves. That was seven years after I’d written it. In 2001, Border Bride came out again as a reprint from Kensington/Zebra and made the USA Today bestseller list.

Dangerous Illusions came next. It was a launch book for a new historical line (Denise Little Presents) at Kensington. Set in the Regency period, it has a sort of Romeo-Juliet theme, in that the two main characters’ families have been on the outs for years, although no one seems to know why. The hero, Major Lord Gideon Deverill (heir to the Marquess of Jervaulx), promises a friend just before the Battle of Waterloo that, should the friend die, he will take the news personally to the man’s fiancée, Lady Daintry Tarrant. Aware of the feud between families, and realizing that he would be persona non grata if he g his own name, Gideon is in the process of giving a false one when he sees her. Stunned by her beauty, he impulsively tells the butler that he is her fiancé. Aware that he’s submitted to an unholy urge and done a totally dishonorable thing, he hopes to set things right by revealing his lie the next day and apologizing, but complications arise. The story includes many “dangerous illusions,” and one darker thread that continues through the next two books, Dangerous Games and Dangerous Angels. The fourth book in the series, Dangerous Lady, takes the family into the early Victorian period when Gideon and Daintry’s daughter, Lady Letitia Deverill, inherits a house in London for unknown reasons and is appointed a maid of honor to the young Queen Victoria. Dangerous Games opens in a gaming house, and the dark thread I mentioned above figures strongly in this book. The heroines of these two were children in Dangerous Illusions, so the series is something of a saga.

I chose all the titles for this series, and if I recall correctly, the word ‘Dangerous’ became the keyword, simply because I knew the play and movie Dangerous Liaisons, and it suggested Dangerous Illusions.

Highland Fling actually came out right after Dangerous Illusions, and we alternated the Dangerous books with the Highland books. Highland Fling is about a Highland lass whose father’s land has been handed over to an English lord for the Englishman’s help in defeating the Scots at Culloden. Again, the book is loaded with humor, primarily centered on the heroine’s father, who is distilling and smuggling whisky and fully intends to keep his land, English lord or none. Part of the story takes place in London, because the heroine travels there to offer aid to Bonnie Prince Charlie, who has returned to London (which he did in 1750) to try to renew his fight for the Scottish throne. The heroine is arrested, sends for the only man she knows of with any power in London (duh, the hero), and there you are. He takes her back to the Highlands, and the rest of the story takes place there. This is post-Culloden Scotland, when the English were building roads and doing what they could to destroy the Highland clan system. The other books in this series are Highland Secrets, a Highland historical mystery; Highland Treasure, the heroine of which has the gift of second sight and keeps seeing a treasure chest in a black hole—she also acquires two orphan children to look after; and Highland Spirits, starring one of the children from Highland Treasure who keeps seeing a ghost. When she goes to London, she sees a man who looks exactly like her ghost and endows him with the same qualities that she believes her ghost has.

Border Fire and Border Storm are brother/sister books I wrote for Kensington/Zebra. Both are based on Scottish Border ballads. The titles for these books were simply the combination of their setting with words suggesting the chaos there at the time.

The Bawdy Bride was a title suggested by a friend when we were tossing ideas back and forth over the phone one day. I had just begun plotting the book, and that title suggested a twist that the plot might take. That thought led to another, which led to the book’s ultimate use by a Duke University Creative Writing class as an example of “creative use of viewpoint.” It was a fun book to write. It is set in the Regency period and includes a mystery and a crazy uncle fascinated by hot-air ballooning.

2. If you had to do it all over again, would you change anything in your books?
Nope, I prefer not to dwell on the past, other than when I’m writing the books. I’m delighted if a reader finds a mistake I made, because it means that the reader cared enough to write. Moreover, I know that his or her comments will help me grow as a writer, but I don’t bemoan the mistakes. I just work harder on the next book.

3. What do you find is the hardest part of writing?
The same thing that Virginia Woolf did, keeping the arse in the chair. Distractions of any sort can unseat me, especially when I’m at the beginning of a book or at the very end, when I need to concentrate for long periods of time. I used to liken an interruption to a train of thought derailing. Sometimes, when that happens, the train doesn’t get back on that same track, and the flow ebbs for a while. Still, family is family and distractions happen. One learns to cope.


Do you recall how your interest in writing originated?
Sure, from my own reading and a big nudge from my husband. I’m assuming here that you mean writing professionally. I was throwing books across the room because the authors had failed to do basic research. I said I could do better myself, and my husband dared me to try. Actually, he did more than dare. He bought me a beautiful leather-topped desk and a good chair with his poker winnings (he was in the Air Force, on alert for three days at a time, and is so lucky at cards that people who shall remain nameless have been known to throw whole decks of cards at him in frustration). After that, what else could I do but write?


Who is your favorite author and what is it that really strikes you about their work?
I don’t have a favorite author. I read constantly, voraciously, probably four or five books a week if you count research. I read everything, from political, legal, and medical thrillers to romance, mysteries, science fiction, and more literary books, even plays and poetry, as well as Scottish history. Some of my favorite authors are Jan Westcott, Lee Child, Brad Thor, Roberta Gellis, Janet Evanovich, Tess Gerritsen, Emily Dickinson, Stephen J. Cannell, Alex Kava, Sir Walter Scott, Charles Dickens, James Grippando, Jane Austen, Vince Flynn, John Sandford, Lisa Scottoline, Stuart Woods, Kate Wilhelm, Thomas Perry, Steve Berry, Dana Stabenow, Robert Crais, Harlan Coben, Robert B. Parker, Daniel Silva, Elizabeth Peters, Greg Iles, Kay Hooper, Catherine Coulter, Deborah Crombie, John J. Nance . . . I could go on, but these are the first ones that come to mind, so you probably get the idea. As for what really strikes me in another author’s work; that depends on the author. With Robert B. Parker, it’s his astonishing ability to make dialogue his primary tool. The man rarely used anything but “said,” and uses that sparingly. His descriptive bits are nearly always kept to a few lines at the beginning of a scene. His skill was incredible. I look for writers with a gift for words and syntax, people who know their business. With some it might be their gift for a neat turn of phrase, or their ability to keep me turning pages. I’m something of a sponge and I try to learn from everything I read.

6. Tell us your latest news.
My twenty-one Regency romances and my historical The Rose at Twilight—which takes place after Richard III’s death at Bosworth Field and is about a young Yorkshire woman, Lady Alys Wolveston, an erstwhile foster child in Richard III’s household, who meets a Welsh warrior serving the “murderous usurper” Henry VII—will all be available for the first time as ebooks from Open Road Media on May 7, 2013. The Laird’s Choice, book one of my Lairds of the Loch (Loch Lomond) trilogy, came out from in December 2012. Book two, The Knight’s Temptress, will be out in August, and I just finished book three, The Warrior’s Bride, which should be out in early 2014. All three stories take place at the beginning of the fifteenth century in the Scottish Highlands west of Loch Lomond. The heroines are the daughters of a MacFarlan laird whose treacherous cousin usurped his lands and chiefdom (except for Tùr Meiloach, a sacred estate, where true MacFarlans always find sanctuary and protection—ven the beasts and landscape protect them). All three heroines have unusual gifts. Their three heroes are warriors of just the sort that their father is seeking to help him win back his chiefdom.

I’m also working on the outline for a new trilogy. Having just done two series set in the Highlands (the Scottish Knights and the Lairds of the Loch series), I’m ready to return to the Borders for awhile, and perhaps continue with Scott and Douglas history for the background. I tend to move forward chronologically with the history as I write, so I’ll set the three books around 1426–1437, during James I’s reign.

About the Books

The first book in Amanda Scott’s acclaimed Dangerous series journeys from the battlefields of Waterloo to the ballrooms and boudoirs of London, where a deadly deception unfolds . . .

Engaged by proxy to a man she’s never met, Lady Daintry Tarrant is dismayed when the war hero returns, introducing himself as her fiancé, Lord Penthorpe. She cherishes her independence and has turned away many suitors, but this one she must marry. Penthorpe is completely captivated by Lady Daintry—but he’s not who he claims to be.

Penthorpe and Lord Gideon Deverill fought together at the battle of Waterloo, and when Penthorpe fell, Gideon assumed his identity in order to see the beautiful Lady Daintry. Gideon knows there’s bad blood between Lady Daintry’s family and his own, but he’s smitten with Daintry and determined to reunite the bitterly feuding clans. When a ghost from Gideon’s past appears, he could lose everything—including Daintry’s love.

Prices/Formats: $7.99 ebook
Pages: 448
Genre: Historical Fiction
Publisher: Open Road
Release Date: March 26, 2013
Buy Links: Amazon

Set in treacherous sixteenth-century Scotland, the first volume of Amanda Scott’s Border Trilogy tells the unforgettable story of a woman sworn to defy the knight she is forced to wed—only to discover a love she’ll do anything to claim.

As Mary, Queen of Scots, languishes in the Tower of London as a prisoner of her cousin, Queen Elizabeth, war tears Scotland apart. To save her beloved homeland, a proud Highland beauty named Mary Kate MacPherson must wage her own battle when she’s forced into wedlock with a knight, Sir Adam Douglas, from the barbaric borderland of Tornary.

Even as she succumbs to her seductive husband’s sensual demands, Mary Kate vows never to give him her heart. She will belong to no man. But Adam burns with something deeper than desire. Sworn to carry out a long-awaited revenge, he won’t rest until he has vanquished his enemies. Accused of treason, the last thing he expects is to lose his heart to the woman he’s determined to tame but never to love: his own wife.

Prices/Formats: $7.99 ebook
Pages: 368
Genre: Historical Fiction
Publisher: Open Road
Release Date: March 26, 2013
Buy Links: Amazon

Forbidden passion has never been more dangerous—or more irresistible—in the first novel of bestselling author Amanda Scott’s spellbinding Highland series.

Scotland, 1750. In the aftermath of the Jacobite rebellion, Maggie MacDrumin vows to keep fighting to liberate her people. But the intrepid Scotswoman is risking her life for a dangerous cause. When her latest mission lands her in a London courtroom on a trumped-up larceny charge, she has only one hope of survival. Enlisting the aid of Edward Carsley, the powerful fourth Earl of Rothwell, is a two-edged sword. The seductive aristocrat who awakens treacherous desire is her clan’s mortal enemy—a man she can never trust.

Edward will do whatever it takes to quell another bloody uprising. But how can he fight his passion for the rebellious Highland beauty in his safekeeping? As their lives come under siege, Maggie lays claim to the one thing Edward vowed never to surrender: his heart.

Prices/Formats: $7.99 ebook
Pages: 421
Genre: Historical Fiction
Publisher: Open Road
Release Date: March 26, 2013
Buy Links: Amazon

About the Author

A fourth-generation Californian of Scottish descent, Amanda Scott is the author of more than fifty romantic novels, many of which appeared on the USA Today bestseller list. Her Scottish heritage and love of history (she received undergraduate and graduate degrees in history at Mills College and California State University, San Jose, respectively) inspired her to write historical fiction. Credited by Library Journal with starting the Scottish romance subgenre, Scott has also won acclaim for her sparkling Regency romances. She is the recipient of the Romance Writers of America’s RITA Award (for Lord Abberley’s Nemesis, 1986) and the RT Book Reviews Career Achievement Award. She lives in central California with her husband.

Links to connect with Amanda:
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