Debut Author Susanna Fraser and The Sergeant’s Lady

This is such an exciting day! Our guest today is none other than debut author, Susanna Fraser! Susanna’s been a great supporter of Risky Regencies and we can truly say we knew her when she was simply Susan Wilbanks. Many a time Susan and I have waxed poetic over the Napoleonic War and gushed over Wellington. So it is a very special thrill to announce Susanna’s new Carina Press release, The Sergeant’s Lady, a regency romance set in (what else?) The Napoleonic War!

Susanna is giving away a voucher for a copy of The Sergeant’s Lady to one lucky commenter.

“…entertaining and a delight for readers.” Top Pick! Night
Owl Reviews

“Absolutely delicious and a wonderful reading
experience” The
Reading Reviewer

“If you want to read a great romance and learn
something about the Napoleonic wars, pick up this book!” The

That’s not all the buzz for The Sergeant’s Lady, either. Barbara Vey of Beyond the Book is a great fan of Susanna’s new website. Take a look !

Welcome, Susanna! Tell us about The Sergeant’s Lady.

The lady of the title is Anna Arrington, an aristocratic heiress who, two years before the story opens, marries a handsome cavalry officer after a whirlwind courtship, hoping that life as an officer’s lady will bring her the adventure and significance she’s always longed for. Unfortunately, their relationship quickly sours as he reveals himself to be an abusive, misogynistic jerk. He’s been forcing her to follow the drum in Portugal and Spain because, for reasons it would be spoilery to reveal, he doesn’t trust her very far out of his sight.

When he dies, Anna just wants to go home and put her dreadful marriage behind her, so she joins a convoy of wounded bound for Lisbon. She strikes up an unlikely friendship with Sergeant Will Atkins, one of the soldiers escorting the convoy. They know anything more than friendship between them is impossible…but when the convoy is attacked, they find themselves alone together as fugitives trying to escape across the Spanish countryside to their own army. Under such circumstances, temptation becomes much harder to resist…

We love debut authors. Tell us something about your journey to publication and especially about “The Call.”

I wouldn’t be here if it weren’t for the Riskies! Really!

I’d been writing seriously since 2001, and I finished my first manuscript in 2003. I had a full measure of newbie arrogance and was confident that publication and success were right around the corner. I was 30 in 2001, and I remember setting a goal of being published by 40, thinking that was just ridiculously easy and maybe I ought to say 35.

As of this writing, I’m 39 years and 8 months. Go figure.

I wrote the manuscript that became The Sergeant’s Lady back in 2005. With it I got an agent in 2006, and she shopped it extensively to print publishers. It came close at a few places but never quite sold. I got positive feedback on my writing, but a strong message that the story itself just didn’t fit any of the niches they were looking to fill.

So I decided that maybe there wasn’t a place for me in romance, parted company with my agent, and tried other things. I spent the better part of 2007-09 on the same alternative history manuscript, which never quite became what I wanted it to be. I think that’s the biggest mistake I made on my road to publication–too much time on that one story. If I had it to do over again, after my second draft I would’ve said, “You know, it’s still not close to right, and maybe that means that the idea wasn’t as wonderful as I thought or I just wasn’t ready to write it yet. I’ll set it aside and do something else, and if I ever want to come back to it, it’ll still be here.” If I’d done that, I’d have 2-3 more manuscripts under my belt by now.

Anyway, back to The Sergeant’s Lady. I happened to re-read it in January, and I thought, “You know, I still love this book. And the historical market seems to have shifted and broadened these past few years. Maybe I’ll submit it to a few more places.”

Here’s where the Riskies come in–around that time, the Riskies posted a Call for Submissions from Carina, with descriptions of what the editors were looking for and a Q&A with Angela James. I liked what I saw, so I decided to submit.

Fast-forward to April 1. (Yes, really, April Fool’s Day!) I didn’t get The Call, I got The Email, because Angela James was home with a coughing, sick child and was doing all her business by email that day. And it was just as well, because I had laryngitis and was letting all my calls go to voicemail anyway!

Hey, we’ll be glad to take credit for your success!
What has your experience been like with Carina Press?

So far it’s been nothing but wonderful! I feel like I’m part of a team with the staff, I enjoyed working with my editor, Melissa Johnson, and I felt like my input on the cover was truly listened to–which, from what my print-published friends tell me, is by no means the industry norm.

I’m also impressed by Carina’s marketing push, particularly how they partner with their authors to get the word out about our books on Facebook, Twitter, and the blogosphere.

Also, I was amazed by how quick the turnaround from sale to release date was for me. The Sergeant’s Lady released less than five months after Carina acquired it, which meant, among other things, that editing was a whirlwind and I had to scramble to build a web presence under my pen name. I don’t think it’s going to be quite as quick going forward, though, because their submission volume has increased. They’ve just acquired my second manuscript, with an exact release date TBD but probably Spring 2011, which feels positively leisurely by comparison!

We’re all about risky here. What is risky about The Sergeant’s Lady?

The setting and the hero. About 3/4 of the action takes place with Wellington’s army in Spain during the Peninsular War, a long way from the normal Regency world of London ballrooms and the pastoral English countryside. And Will is a sergeant who’s exactly what he appears to be–he doesn’t turn out to be the long-lost son of a duke or anything of that sort, so he and Anna have to find a way to face and move beyond their difference in station.

I’m loving Will and the Penisular War setting! Did you come across any interesting research when writing The Sergeant’s Lady?

Too many details of army life to possibly count, though I’d recommend anyone wanting to write Peninsular War find a copy of Antony Brett-James’s Life in Wellington’s Army.

One thing that surprised me was that the army didn’t issue tents for the soldiers till 1813 or so. The Sergeant’s Lady is set in 1811-12, so Will and his fellow soldiers sleep in the open, make do with whatever kind of shelter they can rig for themselves, or occasionally get billeted under whatever roof the army could commandeer from the local population.

What is next for you?

As mentioned above, Carina will publish my other Regency historical, currently titled A Marriage of Inconvenience, sometime in 2011. It’s a prequel to The Sergeant’s Lady with Anna’s brother as the hero.

I hope you are excited as I am about Susanna’s The Sergeant’s Lady. I already have it on my Kindle and I’m well into it. Do you like Napoleonic War stories? Do you have any questions about the Napoleonic War, because Susanna can probably answer them. Did you read Barbara Vey’s blog about Susanna’s website? Comment for a chance to win a voucher for The Sergeant’s Lady.

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Barbara Monajem
12 years ago

Congratulations, Susanna. Once I get my e-reader (I’m still shopping around), your book is first on my to-buy list. Your story sounds wonderful, and I’m particularly happy to hear there’s a PREQUEL coming out. I often like prequels better than sequels. It’s like going back in time and knowing the future, and usually in a romance it’s a happy future, so it’s nice to know about it. 🙂

I’ve been doing research lately about ciphers used during the Napoleonic Wars. I’d never found the wars all that interesting to read about before, but suddenly I understand why so many books are written about them. Wow. So now I’ll be gobbling them up, including the two Georgette Heyers I never could get through – An Infamous Army and The Spanish Bride.

Susanna Fraser
12 years ago

Thanks for inviting me to visit the Riskies today! We’ve got baseball tickets this afternoon, so I’ll be out for several hours in the middle of my day (Pacific time), but other than that I’ll be around.

Barbara, if you don’t want to wait for an e-reader for my or anyone else’s book, there are ways around it–e.g. you could buy the PDF version of the book from the Carina site and read on any computer, or you could download one of Amazon’s free Kindle apps and buy that version. They make them for PC, Mac, iPhone, iPad, and BlackBerry, and if you end up with multiple versions, it automatically synchs between devices.

12 years ago

this sounds wonderful and is giving me one more reason to go on a buying spree at carina press! congratulations!

12 years ago

forgot the email – sorry!

k_sunshine1977 at yahoo dot com

12 years ago

yay Susan! So thrilled for you!

I don’t own a kindle. Or an iPad (although I’ve played with one of my church’s) or a phone that will let me read these books…. so I’m a bit sad about that now….

Are Carina eventually releasing to paperback?

Amy DeTrempe
12 years ago

Congratulations. The book sounds very interesting. I’ve been looking for reads outside of the normal regency.

Louisa Cornell
12 years ago

Congratulations, Susanna !! I love the idea of a hero who is exactly what he is. A couple that has to overcome societal obstacles is always a great read.

And congrats on sticking with it and finding a way to make your dream of publication come true. I can’t wait to read this book AND the prequel.

And yes, I read the article about your website! Some great publicity there! LOL

Sandra Sookoo
12 years ago

Congrats! I love a good historical 🙂 Best wishes for more success!

Susanna Fraser
12 years ago

Thanks, k_sunshine! Carina is putting out some great books, IMHO.

Leanne, at this point there are no plans to release Carina books as paperbacks. If you’re up for reading a book on a computer screen, you can buy the books as PDFs from Carina or get the Kindle app for PC or Mac, though.

Thanks, Amy and Sandra!

Thanks, Louisa! I really need to write up my story of what actually happened with my website–mostly, how incredibly busy my husband and I have been this year what with buying a house, my selling a book, and his getting the opportunity to teach a university class on top of his full-time job, ALL AT THE SAME TIME. So the website is exactly what it seems: he ended up with 30 minutes to put something together, and that’s just his sense of humor. We’re working on the real site now and will hopefully have it up in a week or two.

12 years ago

Oh, wow. How exciting for you and congratulations. Your book is going to be on my TBR list; I like the synopsis and the cover image is lovely.

12 years ago

Thanks so much for sharing your experience, Susanna! It’s truly inspiring. The story sounds intriguing. Congratulations! Without spoilers, do you have a favorite part of the book?

Karyn Gerrard
12 years ago

I have heard great things about this book, all the best for its release, I and loved the call/e-mail story! Gives hope to us unpubbed!

I don’t have an e-book reader either, nor plan to get one, but find I can manage to read PDF files on my Ipod touch quite happily, I will look out for yours!

Barbara Vey
12 years ago

I ordered the book, so as soon as I get a chance I plan on reading it. Congratulations Susanna.

Barbara Vey
12 years ago

This comment has been removed by the author.

Elena Greene
12 years ago

Congratulations on the sale, Susan! I have been wanting to read this story ever since I learned about it and am so glad the market shifted enough to make it possible.

Susanna Fraser
12 years ago

Thanks, Daphne! I really did get lucky on the cover image, I think.

Judy, let’s see, without running into spoiler territory I’ll just say I like the part in the middle where the hero and heroine are staying with the Spanish family.

Thanks, Karyn! iPod Touches function pretty similarly to iPhones as readers, right? I’ve been surprised how much I read on my phone as opposed to my actual Kindle, because the phone is always with me and I quickly got used to the smaller screen.

Thanks, Barbara! I hope you enjoy it.

And now I need to figure out what I’m going to wear to the game, find our tickets, and so on. See y’all in a few hours!

Scorpio M.
12 years ago

I found the website story hilarious, your husband’s sense of humor really came through. I can’t believe some folks didn’t GET it.

I have to say that it was the Spain factor that caught my eye with “The Sergeant’s Lady.” I haven’t read many books that involve the Napoleonic War but will definitely read this one.

Diane Gaston
12 years ago

Susanna, you are probably enroute to the game, but I’m so delighted to have you here.

Thank goodness those of you who don’t have ereaders can get Susanna’s book to read on your computer or iTouch or various smart phones.

Welcome, Barbara Vey! It is so nice to have you stop by Risky Regencies.

Barbara M, I just read a consumer reports article about the new Kindle. Consumer Reports really likes the Kindle and so do I!

Susanna, I haven’t yet gotten to the Spanish family part. Now I can’t wait! I’m almost halfway through the book.

Janet Mullany
12 years ago

Susanna, so great to have you here and I’m thrilled that Carina grabbed your book. Sadly I don’t yet have an e-reader and I hate reading on the computer but yours will be one of the first I read when I succumb!

Amanda McCabe/Laurel McKee

Welcome Susanna! It’s so nice to see you here as an interview-ee as well as a commenter, and this book sounds sooooo intriguing. (I also liked your advice about not spending too much time on one story–sometimes, hard as it is, a book isn’t meant to be just yet and it’s better to move onto other things, at least for a while…)

Susanna Fraser
12 years ago

Back from the game, which the Mariners actually won–a rare event this year.

Thanks, Elena! I hope you enjoy the book.

That’s good to hear, Scorpio. I was a bit dismayed that a few of the website’s readers thought my marriage must be in serious trouble, since that isn’t at all the case.

Hope you’re enjoying the book, Diane!

Janet, I found that once I started reading e-books, it didn’t really matter as much as I expected it to. A story is a story is a story for me, no matter what it’s printed on.

Amanda/Laurel, I’m still kicking myself, because if I hadn’t been so stubborn about that one story, I might have so much more ready to sell now. I just thought it was the best idea I’d ever had and couldn’t walk away from it. Now I’m not so sure–but of course I can see clearer from not being in the middle of it.

Delle Jacobs
12 years ago

Congratulations, Susanna! Great book!

Diane Gaston
12 years ago

Susanna, I am enjoying the book! I LOVE the military and war details. I love Will!

Cara King
12 years ago

Yay, Susanna!!!! I’m so happy for you. And I’m sure I’ll love your book – your knowledge of the history is so great, of course, plus I’ve known for years that you totally GET it. I mean that your knowledge is not just facts, but understood facts, seen through a real understanding of the period.

I don’t have a Kindle or anything, but I don’t care! I can read it on my computer, or on Todd’s pda (he reads tons of ebooks on his pda — so handy!), or whatever!

Oh, and what a lovely cover!

(BTW, I apologize for the plethora of exclamation points, but I’m excited!)


Julia Justiss
Julia Justiss
12 years ago

Susanna, I’m so excited about your book. As you may recall from the Beau Monde loop, I adore war-set stories and historical detail. I’m so glad you found a home for your story at Carina Press. And the cover is fab!

Susanna Fraser
12 years ago

Thanks, Delle, Julia, and Diane! And Cara, I don’t mind the exclamation points. 🙂

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