I am so delighted to introduce my very good friend, Lavinia Kent. I met Lavinia years ago when she came to one of her first Washington Romance Writer meetings. We ate lunch together and, as sometimes happens, I knew instantly that I’d made a new friend. Lavinia, Mary Blayney (Strangers Kiss, Sept 2009), Julie Halperson, and I were all writing Regencies and we had regular lunches together and yearly all day talk-fests at Mary’s house. Still do!
I was captivated by every page of A Talent For Sin by Lavinia Kent, a masterfully written book that brims with style and vitality—it is a sexy and emotional experience that will sweep you off your feet!”– Lisa Kleypas, New York Times Bestselling Author
“a refreshing romantic dynamic.”– Publisher’s Weekly
“4 1/2 Stars”– The Romantic Times
1. This is your debut novel, Lavinia! Tell us about your book.
I started writing this book because I wanted to do something different. As I’ve gotten a little older myself I’ve had a greater desire for more experienced heroines. One of the greatest things about being a writer is that when you long for a character you can create one.
Violet, Lady Carrington has actually existed since my first (unpublished) regency manuscript. I was shocked when I realized how much of her character I’d already laid out – three dead husbands before she was twenty-one, wealthy widow, likes younger men, very independent.
I took the basic idea of her and combined it with the desire to try to write a book that started with a sex scene – a relevant one. The first scene in the book – the excerpt on my website – is all about my hero showing he would do anything for Violet. All he wants is to make her happy.
2. We love to hear about a new author’s journey to publication. Tell us about yours and include your “The Call” story! Did being a four-time Golden Heart finalist help?
I’d actually gotten The Call after my first Golden Heart final and had turned the offer down on my agent’s advice. I don’t know if I would do the same thing again. I love where I’ve ended up, but it was an awfully nerve-wracking couple of years in between.
When I got The Call this time the biggest thing I felt was relief. I’d spent over two years wondering if I’d made a huge mistake. I actually got called by another publisher before Avon and was about to accept then when Avon called. It felt like a real dream come true moment. I think I danced for a week.
3. What was risky about your book?
I think the heroine was the riskiest thing about my book. I know that the romance world has changed, but writing about an unapologetic experienced woman who doesn’t have any wish to marry again still felt like it was pushing some boundaries.
There is also a risky scene where the heroine is being forced to sleep with another man. I wasn’t sure until I finished writing the scene what would happen. All I knew for sure was that the hero would love her anyway.
3. I read A Talent for Sin’s tantalizing excerpt and can guess about how you researched that! But tell us something about your other research for the book.
It sounds strange, but what I ended up researching the most was whether I could move the book forward a year in time. I’d written this book to follow an earlier book that had to happen over a certain period of dates. When this became the book that sold and it was separated from the first book all that changed.
One of my following books begins with George IV’s coronation and I needed the right amount of time between the books. I had to go through everything in this book to remove any reference that would have made changing the date impossible.
5. What is it about the Regency era that draws you to it?
I must confess that I’d actually intended to write Medievals. I was drawn to the idea of physical strength and political power being tied closely together. When I actually started to write, many of my friends were writing Regencies and I got sucked in. It is such a wonderful period it would be impossible not to be drawn to it.
6. What’s next for you?
I have another Regency, Bound by Temptation, coming out in February 2010. It’s the story of Violet’s brother. He was never intended to be a hero – in fact was more of a villain, but something about him just captured my interest. I loved being able to explain his side of the story.
I am also working on a proposal for the youngest sister’s story (the one that caused the timeline change). She’s still young, but has been through some really rough patches. If things work out she’ll end up with my favorite hero of them all.
I also have a second proposal in the works – but that one will just have to be a surprise.
I cannot wait for A Talent for Sin. You have a chance to win a copy, just by commenting here. So ask Lavinia some questions!
Nash’s vibrant, fresh storytelling sparkles as she tells the tale of a woman’s secret desires and the man who can make them all come true. Here’s a fantastic story you’ll want to go on forever! –Romantic Time BOOKreviews 4 1/2 stars for Love With A Proper Scoundrel
Let’s give a warm Riskies’ welcome to my friend, Sophia Nash. I knew Sophia even before she became an award-winning Regency Romance author, and I’m delighted she’s visiting us today. Sophia writes for AVON and she’s here to talk about Book 3 in her Widows Club series. Sophia is also giving away a signed copy of Love With A Proper Scoundrel to one lucky commenter.—Diane
1. Tell us about Love With A Perfect Scoundrel.
This is the third book in the series I’ve had a wickedly fun time creating for Avon.
Here is the back cover blurb:
Twice jilted in the last two years, the achingly beautiful yet stoic Grace, Countess of Sheffield has given up on love. Now she’s no longer capable of maintaining the elegant, serene facade with the members of the Duchess of Helston’s secret circle of friends. And so she flees… only to encounter wretched disaster during the carriage ride north.
But little does Grace know that once she faces all fate has tossed her way, she will find a new life…with a tall, rugged stranger who not only saves her life but forces her to dig deep into her hidden reserves of desire and fortitude to blossom into the woman she was destined to become—a lady willing to sacrifice all for a mysterious, yet powerful man who insists he is nothing more than a perfect scoundrel.
2. How did you think of writing this particular book? Did it start with a character, a setting, or some other element?
It started with a character–Grace Sheffey. Many readers wrote in and demanded that this poor woman have her own happily ever after after the first two books. She was a challenge to write because after horrid endings for her in the first two books, she was very unsure of herself. So right away I put her in a situation where she had no choice but to prove how strong she was under her elegant facade. And the hero? Well, Michael Ranier is my very favorite hero I’ve ever created–enough said.
3. Did you run across anything new and unusual while researching this book?
Absolutely– the plot! While the characters were firmly fixed in my head early on, the overall plot was more elusive. Luckily I had planned a research trip to England months before. After driving 1,200 miles through a gazillion hair-raising roundabouts, I arrived in Derbyshire–right into the teeth of a freak snowstorm. And I wondered….what if Grace Sheffey got caught in a blizzard in Derbyshire? A hundred scenes popped into my head and a story was born.
4. What do you think is the greatest creative risk you’ve taken in this book? How do you feel about it?
I remember one of my favorite authors suggesting a long time ago that it was very difficult to have only two characters in a story. And she was right. But I wanted to delve deep into the psyches of two strangers cocooned in the middle of nowhere together. I have to say that I really loved writing this part of the book. The extraordinary chemistry between the hero/heroine made it easier than I had imagined. The tricky part was weaving in bits and pieces of the mysteries and secrets of Grace and Michael along the way.
Can you tell I loved writing this book? It’s not always that way. I will admit that The Kiss gave me ALOT of sleepless nights!
5. Your books have won an incredible number of awards in the relatively few years (in publishing years) that you’ve been writing, including the biggest of all, the RITA. What has this been like for you?
Well, while the initial glow of winning an award is lovely, I’ve also learned not to take any of it seriously. Author Anne Lamott wrote something like, “whenever the world throws rose petals at you, beware the cosmic banana peel right behind.” I’ve found this to be dead on. Right after the RITA and having a book named “Top Ten Romance of the Year” by Booklist the Signet Regency line closed, I struggled with a proposal that flopped, changed agents, wrote a new proposal, etc. ad nauseum before FINALLY, my stories found a new home.
And of course the opposit is true re my Banana Peel View on winning awards: All the writers watching the winners crying on stage are the ones with the last laugh since they’re the ones being offered the “significant” deals, right?
5. You’ve also had a variety of exciting careers, from news producer to Capitol Hill speech writer to Executive Director of the Washington International Horse Show. Why in the world did you become a Romance Writer? And how does writing Regency Romance compare?
The reason I turned to writing is a very sad story. My father, a WWII war hero and the most avid reader I’ve ever known, had always talked about the idea of one of us writing a novel. During the last stage of an illness, he made me promise to write a book because he said life was too short and he knew I secretly wanted to write. So I I forced myself to write a terrifyingly bad first draft of A Secret Passion. My father edited the first few chapters and I gave him my word before he died that I would see it through. Needless to say it is dedicated to him. Which of my jobs did I like best? Writing will always be my first love, although the nightly adreneline rush of the Miami newsroom was great. It was kind of like boot camp with alot of hairspray and duct tape.
6. What’s next for you?
An anthology: Four Dukes and a Devil arrives on book shelves this coming July. And then the final book in the Widows Club quartet, which I’m currently writing. Although…there might be another widow or other liar lurking about in mourning if the powers that be have a say…