Today I have the pleasure of speaking with author Susana Ellis
. Thanks for taking time to talk with me today Susana
To start, can you tell us a little bit about yourself?
I'm a former middle school teacher who finally has the opportunity to do what she's always wanted to do-be a full-time author. Reading has always been my favorite pastime, and many times while reading I think to myself that I'd have written it differently. Well, now I have the opportunity to actually do it…a dream come true!
Could you tell readers about your upcoming release Treasuring Theresa
Of course, I'd love to! Treasuring Theresa is a Regency story about a country girl who-although an earl's daughter-prefers the genuineness and charm of country life over the superficial snobbery of London society. Unfortunately, her life is about to take a tragic turn, and perhaps the fact that the man she expected to marry all her life suddenly proposes to another is not the worst of it.
Damian Ashby, Lord Clinton, is the heir-presumptive of Lady Theresa's father's earldom. A wealthy viscount in his own right, Damian is devastatingly handsome and one of the most debonair Corinthians in London. He's so much in demand in London society that he's learned to be quite brusque and intolerant in his dealings with sycophants and "mushrooms." Uncivilized country folk fall right into that category, and when he meets Lady Theresa, he thinks her one of the most ill-bred young ladies ever.
But when he finds himself obligated to spend some time in the country at her father's estate, Damian discovers that Cousin Theresa is not at all the mannerless chit she appeared to be in London. Nor does the country and the country folk he meets seem quite so beneath his touch as he imagined. As he begins to assimilate to country living, Cousin Theresa becomes more and more desirable to him. But…she's a country lady and he needs a society wife. Are they too incompatible to make a love-match?
Is there anything you find particularly challenging in your writing?
While I love writing once I get started, it's not always fun. Sometimes I have to write scenes when I'm not feeling particularly inspired to write, and I have to struggle to get my head together. It's also a temptation to keep going back and questioning my previous work instead of moving ahead. I think that's one good thing that came out of my NANO experience last November (see below)-keep writing and avoid the temptation to get bogged down. The more I write, the better I know my characters, and that makes it easier later in the revision stage. Trying to "fix" things too soon can be counter-productive.
What is the single most powerful challenge when it comes to writing historical novels?
Checking and re-checking the historical details. The Internet makes this pretty easy, but it does slow things down a bit. I dislike it excessively when I find errors in the books I read, so I do try not to make too many of my own. It's impossible not to let a few slip through on occasion, though. Fortunately, I have some eagle-eyed Regency critique partners to weed out most of them.
What is the most interesting thing you've done in the name of research?
My trip to England last May. Everywhere we went had a special significance to a historical junkie like me. Standing in the Assembly Rooms at Bath. Drinking the water in the Pump Room. Walking through Henry VIII's Privy Chamber at Hampton Court. Viewing the Elgin marbles at the British Museum. This is my favorite sort of research, one that I hope to repeat every year.
If you could pick any celebrity to be on the cover of your book, who would it be and why?
Hmm…to be frank, I wouldn't want any existing person on the cover of my book. I have a visual impression of my characters in my head, and I would not want that to be spoiled by some actor or actress. I feel that way about favorite books too. No real person could ever spoil the images in my head of Outlander's Jamie and Claire. The only exception to this would be the 1995 production of Pride and Prejudice. To me, Colin Firth is Darcy, and Jennifer Ehle is Lizzie Bennet. Why is that? Beats me. Maybe because I've seen it so many times.
What would you say is your interesting writing quirk?
Not sure how interesting it is, but I do my best writing early in the day. Very early. Like four a.m. when the entire East Coast is still in dreamland.
When did you first consider yourself a writer?
I think I've always been a writer, from fourth grade when I used to write plays for my friends and me to act out. I wanted to major in creative writing, but it seemed unlikely to pay enough to put food on the table, so I became a teacher instead. But I read voraciously all that time and wrote a few articles and letters to the editor and things like that. I always wanted to write fiction, though, and doing it full-time is a dream-come-true.
Do you tend to write one story at a time or do you have several going at once?
Usually I work on a first draft of a new story in the morning, and then work on revisions for another project in the afternoon. I also have other writing tasks to do like blog posts or critiques for my critique partners, things like that.
Do you set a demanding schedule for yourself?
Good question! I'm still working on finding a good balance between writing and other things like exercise and household tasks. It's easy to get distracted by all sorts of stuff when you work at home. Eventually I want to set up a nice, uncluttered, serene office space where I can look up and not see things like dirty laundry or bills to be paid.
If you had a warning label, what would it say?
DO NOT DISTURB BEFORE COFFEE
What's the most interesting obscure fact you know?
I know a lot of obscure facts, but as far interesting ones…not so sure. But…did you know that one of the only grounds for women to divorce their husbands in Regency times was the husband's inability to perform his marital duty? First, the couple had to share a bed for three years. The wife must be proved a virgin, and the husband had to prove he was incapable of achieving an erection, which was done with the assistance of skilled prostitutes. Needless to say, this law was rarely-if ever-used.
Can you tell us about your experience doing Novel Writing Month for the first time?
Ah yes, I worked with a team of three other historical authors in the Savvy Authors Entangled Smackdown. We had to write an average of 1667 words a day in order to make our goal of 50,000 words in 30 days. Having to report our scores every day was a good motivation-nobody wanted to let the rest of the team down!
It was easy at first. I was way ahead of the count for the first ten days, but then I had about eight days of travel where I found it hard to get in any writing at all. I struggled to get in even half of the words sometimes, so by the time the end of the month rolled around, I had to work extra hard. But we all made our goals, and our team ended up a respectable ninth out of 27 teams. And I ended up with three new author friends and critique partners-actually, five, since two others have joined us from other groups. Now five of us are busy working on revising our NANO novels. One has actually submitted hers already! She's quite a go-getter!
What writing project are you currently working on?
I am currently revising a novella that shares some of the same characters as Treasuring Theresa. I hope to get it in shape to submit by February. And, of course, my NANO novel. All Regencies.
Is there anything else you would like to add today?
Please check my web site below for in-depth background sketches for Theresa and Damian, and also an extra scene that you won't find in the story.
To celebrate the release of Treasuring Theresa,I am hosting a series of contests on my web site for the month of January. All you have to do is answer a question about the Regency period and your name will be entered for the next drawing. The winner of a $20 Amazon gift card will be chosen on January 31.A Rafflecopter giveaway
Thanks for taking time out of your busy schedule to answer some questions for us today!
Thank you for having me! I love to chat with readers!
, Susana's Parlour
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Interviewed by: Tammy