I also loved an old 1897 first edition copy of a book that had belonged to my great-grandfather. It was Bulfinch’s AGE OF FABLE or the BEAUTIES OF MYTHOLOGY. I was enthralled by it—and not just for the half-naked statuary they used for illustrations! The tales of gods and goddesses was my first introduction to some of the universal themes that would find their way into my own stories. I still have the book.
Emily: I actually had three novels published as Diana Groe, MAIDENSONG, ERINSONG and SILK DREAMS, which are all still in print. These angsty, dramatic tales set in the Dark Ages are rather like grand opera for the romance reader.
Empress: Are you a plan-the-whole-book-out person or a write-as-it-comes person?
I’m very much a character-driven writer. If I’m true to my character’s goals and personality, the plot will unfold naturally. If I try to force them into a pre-conceived story line, I run the risk of becoming a puppet master.
Empress: Do you write every day?
Writing is much like singing. You must do it often to do it well. When I was singing, I had to practice everyday. I could tell if I skipped a day. My vocal coach could tell if I skipped two. And I’m sure the audience would have been able to tell if I was ever so foolish as to skip practice for three days.
I also fight the pull of the internet while I write. Sometimes it’s for a legitimate purpose—I need a bit of research verified or something—and other times it’s a serious time suck. To combat this, I write on a little laptop which I never connect to the internet. I have to switch computers to pull myself out of the story.
Empress: Do you have a favourite out of all your characters?
Empress: Do you ever find yourself becoming your character?
But I don’t think I’m like any of them. The truth is—I lead a fairly uneventful life, emotionally speaking. I have a very stable, loving relationship with my DH and two daughters who have given us little grief and much joy. If I were a reality TV show, I would be cancelled inside a week for sheer boredom.
I wouldn’t want to trade places with any of my characters. Their lives make for good drama and uproarious comedy, but it’d be hard to ride that emotional roller coaster all the time.
Empress: This probably isn’t one of the questions you ask in polite society but does writing steamy bedroom scenes have any rub-on benefits in your own life? What reader hasn’t got all hot and flustered reading romance and then jumped DH bones (I will try and word this with a bit more class LOL) ... hmm Emily didn't mind, so no change.
Yes, there are definite side benefits to writing romance. My DH is always threatening to have a t-shirt made that reads:
Emily: There are always things a writer could do differently, better, more convincingly. At some point, you have to fling the story to the public and hope for a kind reception.
If I tell a possible plot change, I might be committing a “spoiler” so I’ll just let the matter lie.
Empress: Have you ever had a bad book review & how did you cope?
Reading is a subjective activity and much of our enjoyment depends on what we bring to experience. Perhaps the reviewer had a bad day. Maybe someone with the same name as my hero broke their heart once. Maybe my writing style/ word choices/ genre/ fill in the blank/ just doesn’t resonate with them.
That’s ok. I always say it’s a good thing we don’t all like the same things. Otherwise, you’d all be after my husband!
I try not to obsess over bad reviews. I’ve been blessed with many more stellar ones than not. A couple months ago, I noticed that some of my fans came to my defense on message boards and such over a negative review, and that felt wonderful. Thank you all!
Empress: How much research goes into your novels?
I love the research!
Emily: September 29th is the official release date, but I’ve found that if you pre-order at Amazon, the book is usually available a week or two earlier than the official release.
As usual, I’ve done something a little different for my part of this anthology. My novella MY LADY BELOW STAIRS features a heroine who’s a born-on-the-wrong-side-of-the-blanket scullery maid, but Jane is a dead ringer for her well-born half-sister. When Lady Sybil goes missing before the ball at which she’s supposed to accept a proposal of marriage, Jane is called in to pose as Sybil until she can be found.
This was such a fun anthology to be part of. All our characters are attending Lord and Lady Hartwell’s fabulous Christmas ball. Beyond that, there is no connection between our stories. But since the major part of the action takes place at Hartwell House, we had to agree on the floorplan of the mansion, the décor, refreshments, music etc. It was almost as if we were planning to give the ball ourselves, which I guess in a sense, we did.
Emily: I’m working on STROKE OF GENIUS (due out summer 2010) right now. Grace Makepeace, a Bostonian heiress is trying to snag a titled husband and failing abysmally. Crispin Hawke, the brilliant artist who’s been commissioned to “do” her hands in marble, enjoys making fun of the ton, who reveres his talent, and agrees to help her. Trouble comes when he realizes he wishes he were the object of her affection.
I’m running a contest this month that will enable a reader to help me name an important secondary character in STROKE OF GENIUS. The winner will receive signed copies of my backlist and a special “thank you” in the acknowledgment page of STROKE OF GENIUS. Please visit my website to enter today!
Empress: Favourite authors?
Empress: Bookmark or Dog ear? (oh I’ll be shot for that one)
Emily: I confess I’m a dog ear-er. Librarians, I sincerely apologize, but I’m unlikely to change.
Here's Emily as Rosalinde in Strauss' DIE FLEDERMAUS -
Empress: Do you have a Guilty pleasure?
Emily: Um . . . masquerading as a French courtesan?
Empress: If you could go anywhere for a holiday, where would you go and why?
Emily: Ok, this is going to sound like a total suck-up, but I’d really love to visit Australia. You have so many interesting animals that are found nowhere else in the world. I’d love to hear a performance at the Sydney Opera house and view the Great Barrier Reef (from the comfort and safety of a glass bottom boat, please. I have no wish to meet one of your sharks!) Plus there’s an Australian version of the RT convention I’d love to make it down for someday.
Gotta save my pennies.
Empress: When you were little what did you want to grow up to be?
Emily: I never really knew for sure. My school guidance counselor assured me I had the aptitude for almost anything but brick-laying. I switched majors a couple times in college. Since I graduated I’ve been (hold on!) a professional singer, choir director, teacher, home-schooling mom, realtor, and banker. Now, (thank you God!) I’m a full-time writer.
I finally figured out what I want to be when I grow up!
Empress: 3 must have items if you were stranded on a tropical island?
Emily: 1. Buckets of sunscreen. I burn like crazy.
2. A monthly airdrop of romance novels. No cable on the island, you know.
3. My DH. After all those romance novels, I’ll need some relief!
and now a question from The Queen of Happy Endings & The Fussy Princess
Queen: What makes your historical romances different from others?
Emily: Some historical romances are adventurous. Some witty. Some dramatic and some comedic. My historical romances are not strictly one thing. I try to incorporate all those elements in my stories. If I can give my reader a laugh or two, maybe a tear, and a chance to fall in love while sharing an adventure with a gorgeous hunk, then I’ve done my job.
Princess: What are you reading now?
Emily: I always have a couple books going. Right now I'm reading Tamera Alexander's BEYOND THIS MOMENT, Judith Flanders' INSIDE THE VICTORIAN HOME (research, you know!) and Eloisa James' AN AFFAIR BEFORE CHRISTMAS.
Empress: Thanks so much Emily for chatting with me today and sharing so generously with our readers.
For the latest on Emily's novels visit her website, it's also a treasure trove of information for aspiring writers. Visit Emily Bryan's blog for news on her latest work, up and coming releases, interesting tidbits, blog tours, contests, author interviews & just plain fun posts, sure to give you a giggle.
Emily: Thanks so much for having me on Royal Reviews. This was great fun
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