Thank you for joining me today, author Manda Collins! I’d like to ask you a few questions.
One of the biggest challenges of writing historical romance is maintaining an authentic historical feel while giving the present day reader what she wants in terms of characterization and plot. This sometimes means glossing over aspects of real history that just don’t fly now—like going for weeks without bathing. Or writing far more young and handsome dukes than were actually living at the time. It’s a trade off sometimes. And for the most part, I think readers are pleased, though I do get readers who sometimes think that my heroines are too “modern” sounding. But I’m always aware that though the setting of my books is 19th century England, I’m writing them in the here and now, with all the awareness and sensibility that comes from that.
2.What character do you relate to the most in Ready Set Rogue?
Because each character—even the villain!—has a little bit of me in them, I am able to put myself in all of their fictional shoes. But for each of my books I relate most to the hero and heroine. In this case, I think I relate a bit more to Ivy than to Quill, just because I understand far more what it’s like to be a scholarly young woman trying to further her education than, you know, being a Marquess. I’m certainly no classics scholar, though. That part I had to use my imagination and research to craft!
3.Do you have a playlist for the book that we can listen to?
I usually end up just listening to WMVY, a radio station that is available online, out of Martha’s Vineyard, while I’m writing. Though there are a few songs that I own myself that I had on a loop while I wrote this particular book.
Let it Be Me, Ray LaMontagne
Change the Sheets, Kathleen Edwards
I Ain’t Easy to Love, Candi Stanton
Breathe, Faith Hill
I’m Still Loving You, Blackie and the Rodeo Kings
Cover Me Up, Jason Isbell
King of the World, Old 97’s
4.If you could have any celebrity play as the characters who would they be and why?
When I was writing Ready Set Rogue, I had Amy Adams in mind for Ivy. She’s got the look I was going for, and I think could pull off the intelligent, determined, but still kind personality of Ivy.
For Quill, I was thinking of someone like Michael Vartan—remember him from Never Been Kissed and Alias? But with hair that’s a little bit darker. And obviously in breeches and billowing greatcoat!
5.What book do you think has influenced your writing?
There have been far too many to name to just one. I would say that a couple of authors that I read early on had a huge influence on me. Jane Austen was a big one. Along with Agatha Christie and the various authors of the Nancy Drew series. As for books, Persuasion, Pride and Prejudice, of course are probably the most influential. I also owe a big debt to Amanda Quick, or Jayne Anne Krentz, who writes just the sort of hero/heroine working together to solve a mystery stories that I do. I didn’t consciously set out to write like her, but I find her books are the ones that most resemble mine. (Minus the multiple bestseller/legendary status, of course!)
6.When do you usually write?
My best, most productive time is from around 10AM to 3PM. I need time for the coffee to kick in after I wake up, and though I can go until around 6 in the evening, I think 10 to 3 is when I’m at my best.
7.What are your top 5 favorite books?
Wow! That’s so hard! My favorites are constantly changing. But if I have to name them right now, here goes:
Persuasion, Jane Austen
Emily and the Dark Angel, Jo Beverley
Broken, Karin Slaughter
The Turncoat, Donna Thorland
Smooth Talking Stranger, Lisa Kleypas
8.Are you currently working on anything else?
I’m about to get started on copy edits for the next book in the Studies in Scandal Series, Duke with Benefits. Then it’s on to Book 3. I’m really enjoying staying in the same locale for this series and getting to know the people of the village and all the little details that make the South Coast of England unique.
9.What inspired you to write Ready Set Rogue?
I’ve always been a fan of romances with bluestocking heroines, so I thought it would be fun to write a series with all bookish types in the lead. In this case, I wanted to gather together a group who didn’t already know each other in a sort of school-like atmosphere, only they’d be grown-ups. So Lady Celeste Beauchamp and her generous bequest was born. Of course there also had to be sexy noblemen and mystery, too, so I added those in too. And then I was off and running!
10.And lastly, Mr. Knightley or Mr. Darcy?
Darcy, definitely. Not only because Mr. Knightley is kind of a paternalistic downer, but also because I’d rather be Lizzie than Emma. I love Emma, but, dang, she makes it hard sometimes!
Thank you so much, Manda Collins! This interview was a blast and I hope you had a blast, too.