Welcome, Vanessa Kelly!
by Vanessa Kelly
Available May 4th!
Their marriage was convenient...Simon St. James, fifth Earl of Trask, knows he could do worse in the marriage of convenience department. Sophie Stanton may be a bit of a social liability, with her ungovernable ways and flighty nature, but Simon has responsibilities as an earl that far outweigh happiness in the household. As for happiness in the bedroom...he has to admit he sees Sophie’s potential in that arena...
Their passion was not!
But Sophie isn’t some bargaining chip to be traded, and she’s not about to let Simon St. James tell her how to live her life—even though she has nurtured a crush on the handsome young earl for as long as she can remember. If his idea of courtship is telling her what to do, then she is not interested, or at least she is trying not to be. But when his scolding words turn to scorching kisses, suddenly Sophie starts paying attention...
Sex And The Single Earl is set in the Regency period, specifically 1815. Is there a particular reason you chose that year?
The short answer is that it’s a follow-up to my first book Mastering The Marquess, which is also set in 1815. The events in Sex And The Single Earl take place about three months later. The long answer is that I wanted to write about the time period following Waterloo, and the end of the Napoleonic Wars. My hero is something of a proto-industrialist who is intent on building an empire in the textile trade. Now that the war is over, he wants to expand his commercial holdings to the Continent. The economic and social dislocation that occurred in those months following the war is a factor in the plot, as well.
How did you become interested in this time period? What do you love about it?
I became interested in the Regency period in the same way many historical romance writers did – through the novels of Georgette Heyer. From there I moved on to Jane Austen, which pretty much sealed my fate as far determining my favorite period of history. In graduate school, I studied British women writers of the Georgian and Regency era, especially Fanny Burney. Her diaries are a detailed and riveting account of life in artistic circles and at the court of George III.
I guess what I love most about the period is that fascinating combination of glamour, glitter, and wit exemplified by London’s elite society, co-existing alongside a truly gritty and flourishing underworld. The beauty and culture of the Mayfair mansions were only a few blocks away from the worst stews of London. But those worlds so often intersected in a strangely democratic way in places like Covent Garden and Vauxhall.
Throw in the danger and intrigue of the Napoleonic Wars and you have a killer combination.
What do you like least about this period? Anything that constrained you or that you had to plot carefully around?
There really isn’t much I dislike about this period. I just find it endlessly fascinating. There are always problems to plot around, though, and it can often be the little things that trip you up. Matters of social etiquette are probably the most common. Or details such as when certain dances or customs were first introduced into England. In my first book, I had a major plot point revolve around a breach of etiquette involving the waltz. I had to double and triple-check that the waltz was, in fact, being commonly danced in the year that my book was set. I think I might have even bumped the book up a year in order to accommodate that.
Anything you flat-out altered or “fudged”? If so, why?
In Sex And The Single Earl, which takes place in Bath, I needed to set an important scene in the workhouse, in a specific part of town. I was never able to nail down exactly where the workhouse was located in that period, so I picked the street I wanted it to be in and put it there. It fit the existing neighborhood at the time perfectly.
Any gaffs or mea culpas you want to fess up to before readers get their hands on the book? I know I always seem to find one after the book has gone to press. *sigh*
My hero is the ninth Earl of Trask, but the back cover copy of the book refers to him as the fifth Earl of Trask. I don’t know how I managed to let that one slip by! I’m hoping it’s corrected in the final version, but I may have noticed it too late. I’m sure there will be other slip-ups that someone else will point out to me.
Tell us a little about your hero. Something fun, like his favorite childhood pet, or his first kiss.
Simon is an uber-alpha tough guy, but when he was young he liked to play the piano and sing. He also wanted to teach mathematics at university, but things didn’t work out that way.
What sparked this book? Was it a character? An historical event? A scene you just couldn’t get out of your head?
As I mentioned earlier, Simon and Sophie were secondary characters in my first book. They took over every scene they were in and had really strong chemistry. I loved them right from the start, and knew they would be the hero and heroine of my second book.
Did you have to do any major research for this book? Did you stumble across anything really interesting that you didn’t already know?
Since the book is set in Bath, I had to do a ton of research on what the city was like in 1815. I have a sub-plot involving child prostitution, so I also had to research what the criminal underworld was like. Surprisingly, it was pretty extensive given the size of the town, because Bath was a resort that attracted rich people. There was a lot of poverty, too, which doesn’t really fit with our image of Bath in the time of Jane Austen.
What/Who do you like to read?
I enjoy reading histories and biographies of the period. In my grad school days, I loved both Fanny Burney and Jane Austen, and I was pretty partial to Samuel Richardson, too. As far as historical romance writers that I read, Loretta Chase, Eloisa James, Joanna Bourne, Madeline Hunter, and Anna Campbell are among my favorites. There are, however, too many great historical romance writers to list. I also read romantic suspense, and right now I’m devouring the back list of Karen Rose, who I think is monstrously talented.
Care to share a bit about your writing process? Are you a pantser or a plotter? Do you write multiple drafts or clean up as you go?
I’m a mad plotter, and do tons of pre-work before I start writing. In addition to my historical research, I do character biographies, GMC charts, a plot board, and usually a full synopsis before I commit words to the page. That results in a pretty clean draft. I do two revisions, which usually don’t take me very long.
What are you planning to work on next?
My third book is also in this connected series, and I’m really excited about it. The heroine is actually the villainess of Sex And The Single Earl. I’ve reformed her and hooked her up with a hero who drives her crazy.
I also write contemporary romance with my husband, under the penname of V.K. Sykes. Our first book, Caddygirls, is being published this summer by Carina Press.