I wrote Regency romances for Kensington Zebra for several years. I was so sad to see the sub-genre die, with the closing of Berkley Signet and Kensington Zebra traditional Regency romance lines. I’ve always felt that there was still a market for that kind of novel, one where the relationship was the centre of the plot. I moved on to paranormal and historical romance, and then began writing cozy mysteries as Victoria Hamilton.
But one day I learned that my literary agent, in association with a fabulous editor, Bill Harris, was e-publishing books for her clients using a cooperative imprint called Beyond the Page. Having already regained the rights to my Regency novels, and having the rights to some of my other work, we entered into a mutually beneficial venture.
We’ve rebranded them as Classic Regency Romances, and I’ve been so touched by how many people appreciate the traditional feel of these romance novels. It’s a whole new audience, and I’m just tickled pink. Along the way I’m giving some of them ‘facelifts’ to reflect my (hopefully) better writing skills.
Which actor/actress would you like to see playing the lead character from your most recent book?
That’s a tough one, but I can see Rufus Sewell as the hero of almost any romance I’ve written! Or Colin Firth. For a female lead I have to say Michelle Dockery, Lady Mary on Downton Abbey, would work as the female lead in a Regency romance… she’s so elegant and pale.
Any tips on how to get through the dreaded writer’s block?
I refuse to believe in writer’s block. There have been times when writing has been difficult, but that was generally because I was going in the wrong direction.
What are your thoughts on good/bad reviews?
Believe the first, ignore the second. LOL. Actually, I have skin like a rhino, developed over the years. Good reviews are easy, and I’m always pleased when someone likes my work, but bad reviews I approach with a few thoughts in the back of my mind.
First, is it really a review or just a nasty so-and-so venting on a poor, unsuspecting author?
Second, is the review written by someone who can string a sentence together? If the reviewer is functionally illiterate, it’s hard to take it seriously. Yes, I read for punctuation, grammar and spelling in reviews. Shouldn’t everybody?
Third, can I take anything valuable from the bad review? A well written negative review can be a fabulous learning tool. I’ve been a professional author for many years now, but there will always be something more to learn.
And last… I will always always remember that a review is someone’s opinion; they’re entitled to it, but it doesn’t mean they’re right, nor that I need to take it to heart. To remind myself of this, I occasionally read the Amazon reviews of some of my favorite books and authors, but it’s not schadenfreude, and I don’t enjoy the negative reviews they get. It’s just that I figure if reviewers can criticize Diane Setterfield, Scott Westerfeld, and Sue Grafton, then I am in excellent company.
TV. I love reading, but after a day of writing and/or editing sometimes I just need a mindless reality TV show like Survivor, or Big Brother. Or a great sitcom like The Big Bang Theory. Or… be still my beating heart… Downton Abbey.
What is your favorite motivational phrase?
Go big or go home? Nothing ventured, nothing gained? I really don’t have one.
What is your favorite book?
Just one??? Has any writer ever been able to answer that? If I had to choose the one book I have read over and over, it would be Pride & Prejudice, the most perfect novel in the English language.
If you weren't an Author, what would be your career of choice?
Librarian… all those lovely, lovely books!
Who is your favorite author?
Okay, I have to categorize here, kind of like an award show:
Best Mystery Author: Sue Grafton
Best Humorous Mystery Author: Joan Hess
Best Historical Mystery Author: Anne Perry for her Charlotte and Thomas Pitt mysteries.
Best Literary Author from the Past: Jane Austen
Best Author – Mainstream Fiction: Diane Setterfield
Best Author – YA: Scott Westerfeld
What is your favorite movie?
Again, I have a few, but I’ll keep it to two.
Old comedy: Some Like It Hot… Tony Curtis and Jack Lemmon dressed up as jazz musicians Josephine and Daphne. ‘Nuff said.
Romantic: The Holiday, with Kate Winslet, Rufus Sewell, and the incomparable Eli Wallach. This is what I tell everyone about The Holiday; it poses as a romance between Jack Black and Kate Winslet, Cameron Diaz and Jude Law, but the real heartfelt romance, the very best part of the movie, is between Kate Winslet and Eli Wallach. That’s the relationship that makes me cry, the aim of any good romance movie.
Which famous person, living or dead would you like to meet and why?
Jane Austen. I keep trying to think of someone else, but she’s it. I’d like to talk writing with her for an afternoon, while we sipped tea in the garden.
What is the most interesting trip you have ever taken?
London, England when I was 14. I was too young to fully appreciate it, but I don’t travel much, otherwise. It was amazing.
What was your most embarrassing moment?
Only one? Well… this is a contender. I was walking to work one spring morning. Ahead of me on the sidewalk I saw a guy whacking at a bird with a hammer and I bolted up to him, shrieking about how could he do that, what a jerk he was, etc. He looked up at me with wide eyes and told me the bird had been hit by a car, and it was suffering; he had to put it out of its pain. I felt like such an idiot, because as much as that could have been an excuse, I knew in my heart he was telling the truth and doing the right thing. I felt like an idiot, but the important thing is, I learned not to judge someone’s actions on an impulse.
White wine or red? White, most of the time, except for merlot.
Coffee or tea? Coffee in the morning, tea after noon.
Cook dinner or order take-out/delivery? Cook most days, delivery for special occasions. Or Fridays.
Vanilla or chocolate ice-cream? Chocolate! Or actually something a little more interesting, like tin roof, or rocky road, or pecan praline.
Pancakes or eggs? Pancakes, but even better, French toast.
Sleep in or get up early? Early. Some mornings very early. Even if I’ve been out until two or three am, I’ll still be up by seven or eight, at the latest.
Laptop or desktop for writing? Desktop for writing, laptop for editing.
Donna is GENEROUSLY giving away two packages each including: 1 Book tote, 1 pen, and 1 paperback romance novel. All you have to do to be put in the drawing is answer the question: If you could instantly transport yourself to one time in history and live there for a month, where and when would it be?