Novels Alive and Be My Bard would like to thank New York Times Bestselling Author Grace Burrowes, not only for taking the time to provide some wonderful answers to our “10 Questions with…”, but also for the countless hours of reading enjoyment she has provided to both Dayna L. and I since the debut of THE HEIR.
When creating the perfect hero and heroine, do you rely solely on your imagination or do you draw inspiration from other sources (family and friends, actors/actresses etc.) or a combination of both?
Though I’m often the last to see it, much of the inspiration for my characters comes from my own journey. Lady Jenny ran off with a footman when she was sixteen—I dated a really, really, BAD choice at that age, and kept it from my parents. St. Just loved the horses—I owe my sanity to my horses and ridin’ buddies. Valentine Windham had to learn to stand on his own without music….I once upon a time thought music was my fate. Of course, if I hear somebody use a wonderful word, or drop an excellent quote, I am likely to find a way to reset the same gem in a different context.
Which character from your own work would you most like to meet in the real world and why?
I would like to meet Gareth, the Marquess of Heathgate, so I could thank him. He’s the hero who started me writing historical romance, and his struggle from darkness to light took everything he had, everything he’d carefully constructed himself to be. We all mature, and even heal, through a process of loss, love and learning, and his story exemplifies that progression beautifully (sez moi).
Which character from another authors work would you also like to meet?
Adrian Hawker, from Joanna Bourne’s Spymaster series, specifically The Black Hawk. ALSO Ian MacKenzie, though meeting new people would be hard on Lord Ian, so maybe I’d write him a letter telling him what a phenomenal tale, THE MADNESS OF LORD IAN MACKENZIE is. (I’ve already told, Jennifer Ashley, the author!)
If you had to choose between writing a story that would leave your readers LAUGHING out Loud, CRYING from all the intense emotions or with a pressing need for a COLD SHOWER, which response would you prefer?
All of the above.
Living and breathing a cast of characters for months/years while writing a story must make it hard to set that character aside when the story is finished. Which character did you most have the trouble with saying “Goodbye” to?
Gayle Windham, the Earl of Westhaven, keeps popping up in other people’s books. I could understand it in the Windham series—he is the next duke, the older brother, and so forth. But I also caught him waltzing through one of my Scottish Victorians, for cryin’ inna bucket. I told him I’m thinking of doing a series for his four lady cousins, and he’s already making suggestions for scenes….
A lot of authors are now using social media websites like FACEBOOK and TWITTER to connect with their fans and promote their new and upcoming work. How much of a difference do you believe that these interactions help in engaging new readers/fans to your work?
Hmm. When I use social media, I don’t think it creates new readers for my books. I think it helps me gain a clearer sense of who my readers are, and what they enjoy about my books. THOSE readers can use social media to spread their enthusiasm for an author’s work (or their lack of enthusiasm), and potentially create new readers as a result. For me, social media is a way to counterbalance the isolation of sitting alone all day in front of a computer. I use social media for fun more than anything else, and like to see my readers doing the same.
Now that self-publishing is growing in popularity and even established “Print” authors are choosing to release some of their work outside the traditional norm of a publishing house, do you believe that the added level of control given to the author will ultimately see a rise in the quality of the works available or just the quantity?
We certainly have seen a rise in quantity, though I think that bow wave may recede. Self-publishing does put product control in the author’s hands, but it’s hard, hard work, and the rewards are uncertain. Then too, savvy publishers and agents are finding ways to create more collaborative relationships with authors, and many authors who self-publish see the benefits of a relationship with the right publisher.
As for quality… quality is subjective. One person’s brilliant, bold experiment is another person’s howling one-star disaster. Every publishing model results in books that do well and books that do nothing. If the product is commercial fiction, then isn’t its performance in the marketplace one valid measure of its quality?
Speaking of control…when it comes to the cover art, when a character or couple are portrayed it’s not uncommon for them to be shown as a perfect model of themselves without any of the descriptive flaws found inside the pages of the story. Do you think that readers prefer the more romanticized version or would they rather see a truer version of the characters being portrayed? AND, which would you prefer?
My characters tend to have physical challenges that wouldn’t show on the cover (a bad hip, migraines), and so the characters present fairly well for cover purposes. I’ve asked readers what they like to see on covers—couples, hero, heroine? Faces, no faces? Shirt on, shirt off? Answers vary, though I don’t hear much enthusiasm for explicit covers.
I am troubled by the tendency for covers (including some of my own) to objectify and idealize the male body the way women have been objectified and idealized for most of modern history. On the one hand, ladies are entitled to enjoy what they see on covers. On the other hand, is the definition of a gentleman’s pecs and abs really that much more noteworthy than the tenderness in his eyes?
The NEWS is always doing stories on pirate and file sharing websites that illegally make copies of music, movies and television freely available online, but they rarely if ever include mention of eBooks in these reports. What are your thoughts on the lack of attention being given to this issue?
There’s a school of thought that says for midlist authors in particular, piracy boosts sales, and that most piracy happens in locations where the books simply aren’t available otherwise. Those two conclusions tend to contradict each other, in my view, and they point to what is true: We have very, very, VERY little reliable data on the extent and impact of piracy. Until somebody makes it a priority to collect that data, debating the topic is largely sound and fury.
I do think, though, that when a criminal act has no consequences, or a liberal return policy can be abused without consequences, that behavior will expand. If people knew they could walk out libraries with dozens of books in their backpacks, no risk of consequences, then libraries would soon be empty. Not a cheering prospect.
Would you care to share something about your latest release or a story that you are working on now?
I’m writing a novella for my contemporary lawyers series, which will come out late 2014. I think we might title it, “Courtship Adjourned.” It’s terrific fun to use the day job as grist for the writing mill in a contemporary setting, and let’s just say… I’m laughing a lot, and that feels wonderful.
Grace’s newest releases: GARETH: LORD OF RAKES (The Lonely Lords) series and novella MORGAN AND ARCHER
Grace Burrowes grew up in central Pennsylvania and is the sixth out of seven children. She discovered romance novels when in junior high (back when there was a such a thing), and has been reading them voraciously ever since. Grace has a bachelor’s degree in Political Science, a Bachelor of Music in Music History, (both from The Pennsylvania State University); a Master’s Degree in Conflict Transformation from Eastern Mennonite University; and a Juris Doctor from The National Law Center at The George Washington University. Her debut novel, THE HEIR was chosen as a Publishers Weekly Top Five Romances for 2010.