Time for Spotlight Saturday again! Joining us today is Alyssa Drake. She writes historical romantic suspense. Let’s find out more…
You write historical romantic suspense. Tell us how you gravitated towards that genre. What’s your favorite part about writing in that genre?
I have been reading romance novels for years. Harlequin was my first exposure to historical romance (Scottish highland stories). Eventually I found Julia Quinn (my favorite historical romance author of all time). However, when I attempted my first novel, I found elements of suspense crept into the writing. I adore mysteries and decided to combine the two genres together into historical romantic suspense.
The best part about writing historical romance is the social constraint. Manners (and the subtle insults which flow along underneath them) are the driving forces behind my characters’ actions. They are obligated to behave in a certain fashion, yet their desires are completely opposite of what they are required to do. It creates some amusing situations. Plus, I adore how someone can tell you “Have a nice day” and what they really mean is “F*$% you.”
Writing historical romances I imagine requires lots of research. The time period in your novels is set around 1850s England. Tell us your writing process, including how/where you research. Have you ever been to England? If so, what was your experience like?
I research in the middle of writing, which means that instead of flying through thousands of words a day, I spend hours studying lighting (electric lights were not common yet), ice cubes (that was an interesting subject), clothing, manners, mealtimes and the food consumed. Sometime I only manage one paragraph, but I would rather be historically accurate, then accidentally have a telephone show up in Merry Ol’ England. I have not been to England yet, but I would love to visit London. I have seen a myriad of pictures and studied a lot of history though; I have always been fascinated with Europe.
A Perfect Plan is book 1 in the Wiltshire Chronicles. How many books do you plan in this series? Can each book be read as a standalone? When is the next book in the series due to release?
I originally planned three books. A Perfect Plan is the introduction of the characters and the love match between Benjamin and Samantha. An Imperfect Engagement (released March 24th) is the continuation of the relationship between Benjamin and Samantha as well as the beginning of Thomas’ story. The 3rd book in the series, A Perfect Deception, is the continuation of Thomas’ story as well as the conclusion to the series. They were not meant to be read as stand alone. However, I have one ARC reader who wanted to start in the middle. I am curious to see how she rates the book compared with everyone else who started with A Perfect Plan. There may be more books in the series further down the road. I am reticent to leave Wiltshire and may spend more time there with other characters in search of love.
Congrats! You’ve won an award before. Obsessed by Book’s 2016 Indie Award for Best Historical Read. What did the writing contest entail? Describe how you felt when you realized you won. How did you celebrate?
I did not even know A Perfect Plan was nominated. One of the indie authors I worked with gave me the heads up. It was not a contest, but a reader vote of favorite authors and books. I was up against another indie friend of mine and completely surprised to learn I was the winner. I celebrated at home; a quiet dinner with my family. Interestingly, now, my 11-year-old wants to be a writer.
Back in the 1850s attitudes towards sex was different. Do your books have sex (graphic) scenes? If so, describe how difficult it is to write. If not, do you think you’ll ever include those types of scenes?
I always find sex scenes are the most difficult to write; I have to be in the correct frame of mind or the scene sounds forced. There are only a handful of sex scenes in A Perfect Plan and An Imperfect Engagement, but they are not explicitly graphic or erotica. I enjoy describing the seduction more than the actual act. Plus, I love building tension between characters.
When and where do you usually write? Besides writing, describe your favorite hobbies.
I usually write in the mornings while in my mobile author cave (i.e. on the train). I commute to work an hour each direction and use the time in the morning for creative writing. In the afternoon, I use the time to edit, answer emails or read.
Outside of writing, my favorite hobby is momming. What is momming? It means I get to do all the fun things my kids do, under the pretense of being their mom and having to participate. In all honesty, I am just a child at heart. I also enjoy walking, swimming, logic puzzles, music (listening and playing), watching movies and reading.
If you could pick one scene from A Perfect Plan, which scene would it be and what song would match it in emotion?
My favorite scene from A Perfect Plan is the scene where Benjamin takes Samantha onto the balcony the first night he meets her. His intention is to “show” her how ill-equipped she is to deal with suitors. Instead, he ends up kissing her. The song that matches the emotion for me is “New” by No Doubt.
“Don’t let it go away
This feeling has got to stay
And I can’t believe I’ve had this chance now
Don’t let it go away.
New, you’re so new
You, you’re new
And I never had this taste in the past
New, you’re so new.”
Crazy question time! You work at a Chocolate Factory. If you had to live off of one piece of chocolate for the rest of your life, what kind would it be and why?
If I had to live off one piece of chocolate for the rest of my life it would be the Claire Du Lune candy bar. It is 85% dark chocolate and has undertones of cherry flavor.
Any last thoughts?
I also am included in a Fairytale anthology releasing in September 2017. I am one of ten authors re-imaging fairy tales with a romantic twist. The tale I am working on is The Frog Prince.
Thank you so much for joining us, Alyssa! If you want to connect with Alyssa, or check out her Wiltshire Chronicles series, just click those beautiful links below.