Sabrina Jeffries is a New York Times bestselling author, a lover of outrageous jewelry, and lives in North Carolina with her husband and son. Her latest book, Beware A Scot’s Revenge, has just come out, and is the third in her School For Heiresses series. Commenters to the interview will be entered to win a copy of Beware A Scot’s Revenge; check out the official rules here. The winner will be announced on Monday night.
Welcome to the Riskies, Sabrina. Thanks for joining us.
1. Can you talk a little bit about your background, and how it helps—or doesn’t—in your writing?
Growing up in Thailand opened my mind to different cultures, which is good for any writer. Also, because we were isolated in the country and I had no other American kids to play with (and my Thai friends spoke little English while I spoke little Thai), I spent more time reading than most kids. Being out there alone must have also sparked my creative bent, because I made up stories all the time. There was nothing else to do.
2.Which of your books is your favorite?
That’s like asking which child you love best! I like them all, for different reasons. I loved the whole childless theme of Married to the Viscount (and I really love that it landed me on the New York Times Extended List for the first time ☺). I can identify with the heroine of Never Seduce a Scoundrel. I adore Lachlan Ross from Beware a Scot’s Revenge, just because I have a thing for Highlanders, and he’s my only one. I could go on and on.
3. You’re continuing your School For Heiresses series with Beware A Scot’s Revenge. What was the spark that series? Did it start with a character, a setting, or some other element?
The generation of this series wasn’t nearly as clearcut as for The Royal Brotherhood series. Pocket said something about wanting a character who went across all the books, and for some reason, I thought of Charlie’s Angels. Weird, I know, but I did love that TV show, and I think I’d just seen one of the movies. Anyway, I loved the camaraderie of the women in the show, and I especially loved the anonymous Charlie. I wanted so badly to find out who he was. So that was in the back of my head when I came up with the series — I wanted an anonymous benefactor who could end up in a romance with the school’s headmistress (whom I subconsciously named after Charlie by naming her Charlotte, even though the mysterious guy is Cousin Michael). Then it went from there.
4. Was Beware A Scot’s Revenge an easy or difficult book to write?
The beginning of any book is usually difficult for me. I tend to go back and revise the beginning several times before I’m happy with the characters and their motivations. Once I get to that point, writing the rest of the book generally comes pretty naturally. But Beware didn’t fit the pattern. I sailed along on it until about chapter 18, where I came to a grinding halt. It took a couple of weeks for me to figure out what was wrong in the book, so I could go on.
5. How do you do your research?
I‘ve accumulated several research books already, but for book-specific research, I use the internet and libraries (Wikipedia rocks!). I‘m lucky that I live in an area with several major libraries, so I can always find what I need at ONE of them. I usually don‘t do much research in the beginning—just enough to confirm that my plot will work in the period. But once I start writing, I have to research individual points, so that takes me lots of different places. My website has a page that discusses the research I did for each of my books, in case readers are interested.
6. What are you working on now?
I’m writing the fourth book in the School for Heiresses series—Once a Rake, Always a Rake.
7. In your writing, do you feel as if you are taking risks? How?
My risks are small ones—things like having a gay secondary romance in In the Prince’s Bed—but that’s only because I truly enjoy the classic romance, and have no great desire to mess with what I like. I don’t feel this incredible pressure to stretch. I just want to entertain. If being entertaining required me “stretching,” then I’d do it.
8. Your writing is deliciously light and very, very readable, especially as compared to your earlier books. Was that a conscious decision, or did it just evolve naturally?
Definitely a conscious decision. Early in my career I wrote darker historical romances under the pseudonym Deborah Martin, with less dialogue and more history and complicated plots. At some point I realized that I wasn’t writing the books I enjoyed reading, but the books I felt, as a former academic, that I somehow ought to write. What I enjoyed reading was Regency historicals by authors like Johanna Lindsay, Amanda Quick, and Judith McNaught. I finally decided that it was time to start writing what I liked reading.
9. Did you run across anything new and unusual while researching this book?
I always run across something new and unusual. In this case, I discovered that there were wildcats in Scotland in this period, and that they looked like giant tabbies. I even saw a woodcut of one. I just thought they were so cool that I had to put one in the book.
10. Is there anything you wanted to include in the book that you (or your CPs or editor) felt was too controversial and left out?
Not really. If I really want to include something in a book, I do. My CP’s job is more to give me a perspective on things that I, in my clueless way, sometimes don’t pay much attention to. For example, I had my hero nicknaming the heroine Princess Priss. Later, he utters some doggerel about how “Princess Priss hates to piss” (he was deliberately being coarse), and my CP said that from there on out, she heard Princess Piss every time he teased the heroine. Which was NOT a side effect I was aiming for. In fact, only once in my career did my publisher ask me not to do something because it was too unappealing, and that was YEARS ago.
11. You are a part of the GoddessBlogs group blog; what is your favorite part of participating there?
I love interacting with readers, but more than that, I really enjoy the authors there. We’re a good mix of fun-loving types, so doing the blog is sheer enjoyment for me. Which is what I was aiming for.
Is there anything else you’d like the Risky Regencies readers to know about you?
I can’t think of anything. But thanks for having me!
Thank you, Sabrina!