Novels Alive is always very pleased as punch when one of our former guests comes back for a second visit for “10 Questions With…” This week, we welcome back an author who consistently puts out stories that are as beautiful as they are entertaining. A big thank you to New York Times Bestselling author…Grace Burrowes!
We’ve all pondered the age old question of which came first the CHICKEN or the EGG? As a writer, when creating a new story, which tends to come first for you—the CHARACTERS or the PLOT?
Characters, always. Then it’s a matter of staring the characters down until they give up their defining wounds. Step three is to conjure the plot that will drive an interesting, credible character arc for my protags. First thing I have to know though, is “Where does it hurt?”
It’s inevitable that small bits and pieces of a writer’s own personality will make their way into the characters they create. But if you had to write yourself into one of your books, would your character most likely be the hero/heroine, the steadfast best friend, the comedy relief or the villainous mastermind?
Best friend, probably, because that comes closest to the author’s role. I watch the characters moving around in the story, and write the scenes they give me. I can wish and hope and argue with the characters over how the story should unfold, but like a friend, I have to maintain a slight detachment. It’s not my story, it’s the characters’ story.
Speaking of villains…do you prefer writing characters that are clearly evil from the second they appear on the page or the surprise villain that no one would ever expect?
I haven’t written that many villains, but they seem to fall into the first category—the villain’s identity isn’t a surprise to the reader. The reader KNOWS how dastardly the villain is, but the characters usually don’t until it’s nearly too late.
If you had the power to step inside the pages of any book for 24 hours, which one would you choose and why?
Tough question! I’d choose one of Joanna Bourne’s spymaster tales, except those characters are usually in danger. That leaves Loretta Chase’s NOT QUITE A LADY, a gem of a story in the Carsington series. I think the heroine, Charlotte, and I would have a lot in common, and I’d love to watch first hand as the scientifically rigorous Darius Carsington falls hard for a lady who sees him for the hero he is.
5) If you could use that same power to jump through the screen into the world of your favorite television show or movie, which would it be and why?
Another tough question, because I don’t own a TV or DVD player. How about… It’s a Wonderful Life so I could have a long chat with Clarence over a friendly cup of tea?
Over the last few years, books of an erotic nature or with taboo subject matter have become more acceptable—even popular—in the mainstream marketplace. How, if at all, has this change affected the way that you write your own “love scenes”?
Very little, I’d guess. My first book came out about three-and-a-half years ago, right before the heat wave, which means my readers expectations were established before that shift in the publishing market occurred. To remain consistent with the expectations I’ve created, I keep delivering more or less the same heat level, and within the historical romance sub-genre, I probably always will.
There was once a time when authors had to rely almost solely on mainstream media like newspapers and magazines to find reviews written on their latest book. Now that the internet has made it possible for anyone with a keyboard to become an armchair critic, has the sheer number of reviews available for your books made it easier or harder to deal with criticism?
I avoid reading my reviews. The positive ones can give me an inflated sense of a book’s quality, the negative ones can send me into a creative tailspin, and the mean ones can break my heart. I can ask my editor to scan them if a book seems to be falling outside my usual range, and report any trends she sees in either direction. The review I DO pay attention to is the one rendered when a reader buys my next book, recommends the books to friends, and the readership expands. With respect to this very important criterion, so far, so good!
Many authors have branched out into multiple genres over the years. Is there a particular genre of fiction that you have always wanted to tackle but, haven’t tried yet?
Within the romance spectrum, I’ve already written Georgian, Regency, early Victorian and contemporary. I might add to that some Scottish contemporaries, but what I’m really drawn to writing that’s different is non-fiction—a writing craft book.
If you could choose one historical/contemporary romance from your own or another author’s library of work to be made into a feature film which would it be and why?
Joanna Bourne’s Spymaster series (next release, THE ROGUE SPY (November 2014)). Jo’s prose is gorgeous, her historical detail is faultless and exactly appropriate to the tale being told, her characters are unforgettable, and her plots clever without being hard to follow. I love everything single word that woman has written.
Tell us a little bit about the project you are working on now or share something about your newest or upcoming release(s).
THE CAPTIVE (July 2014) is the first book in The Captive Hearts regency trilogy. The remaining books, THE TRAITOR and THE LAIRD come out in August and September respectively. These books are a testament to the idea that the harder the journey, the sweeter the happily ever after. I think they’re my best work to date, though the third book, THE LAIRD, covers some dark ground before emerging into brilliant sunshine.
I’m also working on a Regency trilogy for the sisters of Nicholas, Earl of Bellefonte, which is proving to be a lot of fun.
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 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.
Grace writes Georgian, Regency, Scottish Victorian and contemporary romances in both novella and novel lengths. She’s a member of Romance Writers of America and Novelist, Inc. and enjoys giving workshops and speaking at writer’s conferences. If you’d like Grace to speak or present at your conference, contact her here. Giving back to the industry is a large part of the fun of being published!