Why do you write historical romance?
Two words: Jane Austen. I fell in love with her books as a teenager and never looked back. At the same time, I was reading a lot of Julie Garwood. Between the two authors, swoony romance became inextricably linked with cravats and kilts in my imagination.
How did you come up with the idea for Goddess of the Hunt?
When I first sat down and said to myself, “Self, let’s write a romance novel,” I chose a country house party setting. This being my first stab at writing an original Regency-set romance, I thought it would be a good idea to limit the geographical scope. (A caution I blithely tossed to the wind when I started my second book, Surrender of a Siren.) I also knew I wanted to include a bit of screwball comedy, which meant I needed a heroine with just the right blend of toughness and naivete. Outwardly daring, but secretly vulnerable. So I decided to set the book at an autumn hunting party, with Lucy as the host’s younger sister and ward–a girl raised amongst men, who always wanted to be “one of the boys.” Except now she’s grown into a woman, and she wants…one of the boys.
So you must be a real sportswoman, eh? Hunt? Fish? Ride horses?
Erm…not so much.
How long does it take you to write a book?
About five or six months, in the writing phase. There are several months before that where I’m just thinking about the story, and then revisions and edits happen down the road.
Do I have to read your books in order?
Not necessarily. I’ve tried to make sure each book can stand on its own, but I do think they’re best enjoyed in sequence.
Is Spindle Cove a real place?
Spindle Cove is a fictional village, but I envision it situated on the East Sussex coast, somewhere between Rye and Eastbourne. In 2010, I spent a week or so exploring that area, wandering through crumbling Norman castles, smugglers’ caves, Tudor-era taverns, stately manor houses, medieval cathedrals, and pastures full of sheep. I took all my favorite snippets from reality and squashed them into one tiny fictional village, Spindle Cove.
Spindle Cove is also my “dream village” for a different reason. Like so many of us, I went through a rather painful phase in adolescence. I was hopeless at sports, occasionally outspoken, awkward around boys, and always reading a novel tucked behind my science textbook. In creating Spindle Cove, my idea was to create a haven for my younger self—a charming, sunny seaside village where a bookish, unconventional young lady could live in peace, and no one would look at her funny for walking and reading at the same time. And of course, the unsuspecting men who stumble into that village soon discover these seemingly “hopeless” spinsters are enchanting, enticing, and utterly irresistible!
Can you talk a little about Bram and Susanna, the hero and heroine of A Night to Surrender?
As the only daughter of the local gentleman, Miss Susanna Finch is the unofficial patroness of Spindle Cove. She’s worked hard to nurture their peaceful community of unconventional women, and she’s none too pleased when Bram, the new Earl of Rycliff, arrives with plans to raise a local militia. Susanna is a self-taught apothecary and the daughter of a weaponry inventor, so she knows how to hold her own with a wounded warrior. But the explosive chemistry that sparks between them catches them both off-guard. Susanna’s determined to keep the peace, but raising a fighting force is Bram’s last chance at redemption. It’s a classic battle of the sexes, as only one can emerge as the leader of Spindle Cove.
Tell me about the round “KISS and Teal” burst on the cover of A Night to Surrender.
The “K.I.S.S. and Teal” campaign is a wonderful partnership between Avon Books and the Ovarian Cancer National Alliance. September is Ovarian Cancer Awareness Month. All of Avon’s September books will feature this seal on the cover and will include important information about ovarian cancer in the back. The “K.I.S.S.” stands for “Know the Important Signs and Symptoms”, and teal is the designated color for ovarian cancer awareness. Avon has donated $25,000 to the OCNA and will donate up to $25,000 more, based on sales of these books ($0.25 per book sold). The other important part of the campaign is raising awareness. There’s no routine test for detecting ovarian cancer, and the symptoms are all-too-easy to miss. That’s why Avon and OCNA want to encourage all women to know the signs and symptoms of ovarian cancer (K.I.S.S.) and discuss them with their friends and family (“teal”/tell). I’m honored that A Night to Surrender is part of this important effort.
Can you describe your writing routine?
I’ve often said the only routine we have in the Dare household resembles a circus routine! The darelings are swinging from the trapeze or doing their best impressions of wild animals. Over in the other ring, we have the strong man, Mr. Dare. And I’m walking the tightrope, trying to balance a laptop in one hand and a laundry basket in the other. Basically, I squeeze in the writing whenever, wherever I can.
What’s next in the Spindle Cove series?
Spindle Cove book two, A Week to be Wicked, will be available next Spring. I had so much fun writing this book. It’s a zany, sexy road-trip romance between two people who couldn’t be more dissimilar—a bespectacled bluestocking passionate about fossil-hunting, and a devil-may-care viscount who spends his life in search of a good party. The two embark on an epic journey together, and of course everything that can go wrong, does. I like to joke that the high concept was “Jane Austen meets Harold and Kumar Go To White Castle.”
Where can readers connect with you?
I love to hear from readers! At my website, TessaDare.com, readers can learn more about me and my books. They can also find the link to send me an email, or jot down my post-office box address if they prefer snail mail. I’m active online in several places. I blog with a wonderful group of Regency romance authors at The Ballroom Blog (http://www.theballroomblog.com/), and I’m on Twitter (http://www.twitter.com/tessadare) and Facebook (http://www.facebook.com/tessadareauthor).
Why do all of your books seem to feature livestock?
I don’t know. I really don’t know. I don’t plan it, it just…happens.
Actually, I do think the way a person relates to animals can be very revealing, so I like to include that as part of my characterization. But that still doesn’t explain the goats. Or the sheep. Or the werestag. Hm, sorry.
What’s with that Werestag novella, anyway? It sounds paranormal. Do you write paranormals too?
No, I don’t write paranormal romance. The Legend of the Werestag is strictly Regency-set, but I’ll admit it was my attempt to take some favorite paranormal themes and play with them within the confines of historical romance. And as a new, completely unknown author, I thought it would help to have a title that made readers do a double-take: “A werestag? Is she serious?” (Hint: The answer to that question is almost always “no”. 😉 )
Will you ever write more about the peripheral characters in your first trilogy? (Joss, Hetta, Davy, the kids)
No question makes me happier! It’s so exciting when readers want more. I recently blogged about my answers here.
You started out writing Jane Austen fanfiction. How would you feel if people wrote fanfic based on your books?
I learned a tremendous amount about writing through my dabbles in fanfiction, as did several other authors I’ve met. And if someone were to write fanfic based on my characters or stories, I think I would be carried away with glee. To me, fanfiction is the ultimate compliment to a creative work. Fanfic’s existence means that fans want to find ways to stay in that fictional world a bit longer, and that the characters and setting have the depth and complexity to support more story than the original creator gave them. That said, although I’d be thrilled to hear such fanfic existed, I don’t think I’d read it–most authors have a policy of not reading fan-produced works for various legal and creative reasons.
Why are your heroes always feeding your heroines?
I like to eat! And I love a man who likes to see a girl eat. My heroines have different body types and wildly different personalities. But if there’s one thing they all have in common, it’s a healthy appetite. And all my heroes completely dig watching their heroines enjoy food.
Do you have any advice for aspiring authors?
Write a complete book. Let some people read it. Listen to what they have to say.
There may be as many different paths to publication as there are published authors, but from my observation, those are the three steps you can’t get around.
If you’re writing romance, I’d encourage you to join Romance Writers of America. I’m a national member, and I volunteer on the board of my local chapter (OCCRWA).
Aren’t you friends with some of the hottest, most up-and-comingest authors in historical romance?
Why, yes. Yes, I am. Here are just a few of my friends who have recently sold their first books or published their debuts. It’s a list I know will keep growing!
- Courtney Milan
- Sara Lindsey
- Jennifer Haymore
- Jackie Barbosa
- Beverley Kendall
- Erica Ridley
- Maggie Robinson
- Tiffany Clare
Any more questions? Drop me a line!