Turns out my rush to bow at the feet of her greatness was a slight inconvenience; Sarah had been rather urgently waiting for the end of the gala to make a discrete trip to the ladies' room. Then this crazy woman hurdles tables in a mad dash and hijacks Sarah to gush about her work. (I think she likes me anyway.)
Since then, Sarah's moved to Utah so I get to see her a lot. She's now part of my critique group. This means I get to read her work before anyone else. (I know what story she's working on now and what characters from Courting Miss Lancaster are in it! Bwahahahhaaaa.)
I just had to do an interview with Sarah. If you haven't been on her blog, be sure to visit, especially on Fridays, when she interviews people. (Click on the "I Need Friends Friday" button in my sidebar for the interview with me. Then read her others, including my favorite: the one with Jacob Black. Favorite line: "I'm pretty sure I wouldn't date a Happy Meal.")
Without further ado, here's a bit about Sarah, with my commentary in between, because you know me; I can't shut up!
1) I received my Bachelor's degree in social science research, which makes me a complete and total nerd. [See why we're friends? Total nerds rule the world!]
2) I took a class in college that covered the complete works of Shakespeare. It was taught by Professor William Shakespeare. His actual name. And, yes, he was related to the original William Shakespeare. [Cool points for both of us! I grew up one street away from that very William Shakespeare. His son went to my high school and, as was family tradition, he also carried the name. The dad went by Bill, and the son, a great actor in his own right who appeared in Shakespeare plays, went by Will. Their license plate was, "THE BARD."]
3) My shoe size is 4 ½. For those of you keeping track, that size is found in the girls' section and not the women's. My shoe selection is often limited to Barbie and Dora. [*Taking notes.* Next time I'm out shopping for my daughters' shoes, I'll grab something classy and adult-looking . . . if I find anything like that.]
4) One of my goals in life was to reach 5-feet tall. I didn't make it. [But your heart is the size of Manhattan, so it all evens out.]
5) My great-grandmother paid for me to take dance classes starting when I was 4 because I was so incredibly shy that the entire family was worried about me and hoped the forced interaction would boost my confidence a little. Most people wouldn't guess it, but I still am pretty introverted. Okay. Stop laughing. I really am in some ways. Once I know someone, or if they approach me first, I'm a social kind of gal. But I tend to keep to myself when I don't know people. No really. Stop laughing. [I'm extremely shy myself, so I totally get this. People, stop laughing at both of us.]
What drew you to write specifically about the Regency period?
I first started reading Jane Austen in elementary school, because I'm not normal. I loved it. I didn't completely understand it all being only 11 years old, but what I understood I loved. Over the years I continued reading her works as well as Georgette Heyer, who wrote a mind-boggling number of novels set in the Regency era, and I simply fell in love with this time period.
Over the years I have absolutely consumed books from and about this era in English history and the more I learn the more fascinated I am. The differences between this time period and our own are intriguing, but so are the similarities—war, economic turmoil, divisiveness in politics, obsession with celebrity, etc.
I started writing romances set in this time period when I got fed up with the lack of good, clean Regency era romances. Once upon a time this sub-genre of romance was a safe haven for those with basic moral standards, but not any longer. Tired of not being able to find novels I wanted to read, I opted to write my own.
[What amazes me is how FAST you learned to write WELL. If I didn't love your guts, that alone might be grounds for hating you.]
Do you have any writer quirks? (I know, writers ARE giant quirks. But is there anything you need to get into the groove? Any rituals? Stuff that absolutely guarantees writer's block?)
In reverse order of importance:
- Something to drink. And by something, I mean water. Obsessed with water.
- A restroom nearby. Mostly because of the above obsession.
- Music. I can't write in silence. The sound of my own breathing annoys me. The music has to match the tone of what I'm writing and not have lyrics, or else I catch myself typing the lyrics instead of my own thoughts. That is also annoying.
- No children.
[No children around and having Cheetos are most important. Check. Aspiring writers, take note.]
What's your favorite part of the writing process?
I love when I'm writing and the pieces fall into place accidentally. That sounds weird, probably, but it happens. For example, I look back at what I've written and realize that I've set up something that hadn't occurred to me before but is a perfect fit. Or I discover something that actually happened in history that will add some extra punch to the story I'm writing. It doesn't happen all the time, but when it does, I flip out. In a good way.
I love that feeling!
[Me, too! And it doesn't sound weird; it's happened to me lots of times. Non-writers may think we've lost our marbles, though.]
Least favorite part of writing?
Editing. Hands down. I like creating and discovering the story. Nit-picking each word and sentence drives me crazy. Or crazier, anyway.
[Writing always involves some level of crazy, for sure. I don't mind editing until the end, when I'm so sick of a book I don't CARE where the comma goes; just BURN the thing.]
Favorite board game?
Backgammon. I always get funny looks when I tell people that. C'mon. It's not that weird. And it's a great game.
[Another note, this one for our summer to-do list: "Sarah must teach Annette how to play Backgammon."]
Name a scar you have and briefly tell the story behind it.
I have a huge scar on my right knee—it was once mistaken for an earthworm. I was at camp one summer when I was 14, I think. Even then I had a reputation for being accident prone. I had just finished the hatchet and ax class, in which I was only allowed to explain how I would use said hatchet and ax were they to allow me to use them (which they didn't) because every adult present was afraid I would sever something vital were I given a sharp object.
I hurried over the the lashing class, figuring that rope was dull enough to prevent injury. However, I misjudged my proximity to the large piece of rebar serving as a stake for the canopy under which the class was taking place. Life lesson learned that day: When flesh and rebar get into a tug-of-war, flesh always loses.
[Of course you weren't cut by the ax. That would have made far too much sense.]
Favorite childhood toy?
I loved my Lite-Brite. Nothing says hours of childhood fun like a light bulb and teeny, tiny colored plastic sticks jammed into a black peg board. Aah. Those were the days.
[Lite-Brite! I loved those! Never had my own, but I coveted my cousins' and used theirs any time we visited. My kids inherited one from their cousins. Nightmare to clean up after, so I secretly threw it away. I'm evil.]
If you could have a super power, what would it be--and why?
Flying. I have always wanted to be able to fly. Not only would it be fun, but talk about convenient!
1965 Austin Healey 3000 MkIII, deep green, retractable leather top. Why? Because that is one hot-momma car and I'd look pretty swanky driving that baby.
[Super cool. This is the best image I could find:]
Author intrusion. I go absolutely bonkers every time I'm reading a book and something happens or is said or is stuck in the description that immediately screams “Hello, reader. This is the author. I interrupt this story to do one of the following things: 1. tell you something I think you should know but would rather not got to the bother of figuring out a more natural way of including it, 2. conveniently drop in a plot point that I like but that wasn't working out on its own, or 3. throw in some writing that is here purely for my own gratification and to show off my writing ability.”
Wow. I'm feeling annoyed just thinking about it.
[I'm twitching. Clear sign that it's one of my peeves too.]
Favorite Sesame Street character? (Because we need to cover the really important stuff.)
Cookie Monster. “C is for Cookie. That's good enough for me.” Me, too, Cookie. Me, too.
[For me, he ties with Grover. I guess I have a thing for blue Muppets.)
What writers influence your work the most? In what ways?
Of course, Jane Austen. I love that she always allowed her characters to drive the story. She didn't need crazy plot twists or tons of subplots to keep her novels going. She gave us characters we could relate to, and because the tension always arose from their own flaws and misconceptions, we get it even hundreds of years later because it parallels the struggles of all of us. That's what I try to do in my books—character-driven plots and issues that modern readers can relate to and understand even though the setting is 200 years earlier.
I have often said that Georgette Heyer is the author I want to be when I grow up. She wrote in the early part of the 20th century and was positively prolific. Her books were, like Austen's, very much character-driven. Despite writing dozens and dozens of books, each is original and unique—no carbon copy plots for Georgette Heyer. Her grasp of the Regency-era language was flawless. And her comic sense was spot on. Georgette Heyer is, far and away, my historical-romance super hero!
[Confession: I've never read Georgette Heyer. She is hereby on my TBR list.]
What did you do to celebrate your first book's acceptance?
I did the Dance of Joy in my living room. Here, I'll demo. *dance, dance, dance* That was awesome, huh?
I also went out to eat with my family.
Then I started working on my next book.
A little boring, but I enjoyed it.
[Only boring for those who don't know the Dance of Joy, don't enjoy food, and don't enjoy writing.]
Aside from Regency romance, what genres are your favorite to read? Favorite authors?
I love romance in all its varieties—except the morally-decrepit variety. I am also a fan of fantasy, to a degree. Not hard-core fantasy, but books with a fantasy element. And not dark fantasy. I also enjoy me a little steam punk, which seems like an odd fit, but there you go.
- Harper Lee—To Kill a Mockingbird is my all-time favorite book.
- I'm also an enormous fan of Orson Scott Card's Ender's Game.
- Of course Jane Austen, Persuasion being my favorite of hers.
- And Georgette Heyer!