Sunday, May 13, 2012

Author Q&A: Sara Ramsey author of Scotsmen Prefer Blondes

Sara Ramsey, author of the book Scotsmen Prefer Blondes, stopped by for a Q&A.



Welcome, Sara! And congratulations on the release of your first book!!

You’ve set both of your novels, the Golden Heart Award Finalist HEIRESS WITHOUT A CAUSE and the Golden Heart Award Winner SCOTSMEN PREFER BLONDES, in Regency England. Were Regency novels among the first romances you read? 

 
Yes, though the very first romance I read was a western, Brave the Wild Winds by Johanna Lindsey, which I read at age twelve. My family lived in Ukraine for a year while my father worked for an agricultural nonprofit, and I read anything in English that I could get my hands on. As soon as I returned to the US, I devoured every romance my local library carried. Johanna Lindsey’s Regencies were a natural starting point, and from then on, I was hooked on the period.

You started The Muses of Mayfair series by writing SCOTSMEN PREFER BLONDES and then you wrote HEIRESS WITHOUT A CAUSE, which has just been published. Time-wise it’s the first book in your The Muses of Mayfair series. Why did you write them “out of order,” so to speak? And when do we get to read SCOTSMEN PREFER BLONDES?

 
I originally intended for HEIRESS WITHOUT A CAUSE to be the sequel to SCOTSMEN PREFER BLONDES. However, when SCOTSMEN didn’t get a traditional publishing deal, I put it aside and wrote HEIRESS as the first book in the series. The rationale was that we would try to sell HEIRESS, and then do some rewrites for SCOTSMEN and sell it as part of the same deal.


As it turns out, I love having SCOTSMEN as the second book – Amelia, the heroine in SCOTSMEN, plays a key role in HEIRESS that she wouldn’t have been able to play if she were minding her own business as a newlywed. SCOTSMEN PREFER BLONDES should be out by the end of March 2012.

We meet Madeleine in HEIRESS WITHOUT A CAUSE, in which her muse calls out to her and she (gasp!) ends up performing on the London stage. Will you tell us a bit about the three friends who are the other Muses of Mayfair?

 
Madeleine is an actress, but at the start of HEIRESS she’s unhappy because she can’t pursue her passion in private – an actress must have an audience, after all! The other muses are able to conceal their identities, even though there’s always a risk they’ll be caught. Madeleine’s cousin, Lady Amelia Staunton, writes Gothic romances under a pseudonym – and there are times in HEIRESS when Madeleine wishes that Amelia had stayed holed up with her characters rather than trying to rewrite Madeleine’s story. Amelia stars in the next book, SCOTSMEN PREFER BLONDES.


The next muse is Ferguson’s sister Ellie, the widowed marchioness of Folkestone. A painter, her artistic expression has been blocked since her disastrous marriage to her former husband. But his cousin and heir is about to return from a spying mission in India, and Ellie’s encounter with him will unlock everything. They star in THE MARQUESS WHO LOVED ME, which will be out sometime in June.


After that comes the story of Miss Prudence Etchingham, a bluestocking with an interest in history. She has been corresponding with other scholars who think she’s a man, but when she gets caught up in an investigation into an ancient artifact of mysterious origin, she’ll find a passion that goes beyond anything she’s read about in the history books. Her book is still untitled, but it should be out by early fall 2012.

Who were some of the other stars of the theater at the time Madeleine was on stage? And, in addition to Shakespeare's work, what other sort of plays were commonly performed? 

 
Sarah Kemble Siddons was the most acclaimed actress of the age; she retired in 1812, the same year that Madeleine made her debut. She was most famous for playing Lady Macbeth, although she played many of Shakespeare’s other heroines to great acclaim. Her family consisted of a number of great actors and actresses, including her brother John Phillip Kemble, and her niece, Fanny Kemble.


Dorothea Jordan wasn’t the greatest actress of her generation, but she was one of the most famous, if only because of her long-lasting affair with William, Duke of Clarence, who later became King William IV. She had ten children with him while acting on the stage, often playing “breeches roles” in which she wore men’s clothing and played a male part. She couldn’t marry the duke and eventually died in poverty, but her children were given titles and/or married well, and her descendents include David Cameron, the current British Prime Minister.


There were a lot of plays written every year for the stage. Only a few theatres were allowed to stage drama, but many smaller theatres staged comedies, musicals, and pantomimes. It was also possible to attend opera and ballet performances.

What attributes do you share with your protagonists—especially Madeleine and Ferguson—in HEIRESS WITHOUT A CAUSE, and Amelia and Malcolm in SCOTSMEN PREFER BLONDES? Humor? Resilience? Intellect? Feeling disenfranchised? 

 
I think all of my books deal with the issue of finding a path that feels true to oneself regardless of society’s expectations. My heroines are all trying to pursue their artistic passions even though they should be thinking of marriage, and my heroes tend to be unconventional and rebellious, too. However, I also feel pretty strongly about honor and loyalty, which makes things interesting for my characters – how can they be true to themselves without betraying those around them?


Beyond that, all of my main characters tend to be some combination of smart and funny. They tend to laugh a lot. I guess I feel that no matter how bad things are, there is always something to laugh about, and I think their humor makes them feel more real than if they were dark and brooding all the time. (Although they do their fair share of brooding too!)

What compels you to write?

 
I absolutely love to tell stories. I make up stories in my head all the time. I’ll see someone on the street and create a whole back story for them without ever having a conversation. Writing is a better outlet for my storytelling tendencies than making up stories about me. In an effort to keep my friendships, I put my fictions on the page rather than in my relationships.


I also think writing is a deep act of connection. Writing lets me connect with readers, makes me feel like my voice has been heard, and gives me a way to show myself to others. It’s also cathartic; even though my characters aren’t autobiographical, I learn more about myself through my writing than anything else.

Your writing has been called fun and feisty—is it?

 
Ha! I hope so! It would probably be more accurate to say that my characters tend to be fun and feisty, and their interactions with each other are meant to be entertaining. But my books aren’t entirely light romps – there’s emotional depth in them, too, as the characters learn more about each other and dig deeper into their own souls.

Will we see Madeleine and Ferguson again? Are you working on your next book? Do you have anything else being published this year?

 
Madeleine and Ferguson play a supporting role in SCOTSMEN PREFER BLONDES, and may make an appearance in Ferguson’s sister Ellie’s story, THE MARQUESS WHO LOVED ME. 


I’m working on THE MARQUESS WHO LOVED ME and have written the first part already. It should be out later this year. I have a glimmer of an idea for Prudence, the fourth member of the Muses of Mayfair – if she cooperates (uncharacteristically!) her story will come out in fall 2012.

Please recommend a few books to put on my reading list.

 
If you read paranormals, the book at the absolute top of my list if Kresley Cole’s Lothaire, which I’ve been looking forward to for years. I predict that it will be the hot paranormal book of the season.
In the Regency/historical world, I can’t wait for A Rogue by Any Other Name by Sarah MacLean. I’m also looking forward to Anna Randol’s debut novel, A Secret in Her Kiss—it’s set in the Ottoman empire, which is a refreshing change.




About the book:
 
She never wanted marriage...

When a friend is forced to consider a marriage of convenience, Lady Amelia Staunton is determined to rescue her. But her plans trap her in an illicit seduction, and Amelia must marry him herself. Malcolm’s all-consuming kisses and devilish humor might make up for her lost freedom, but she believes he will force her to abandon the Gothic romances she yearns to write. Since she can’t escape him, she must distract him from her secret...

He isn’t looking for love...

A powerful autocrat with a well-hidden rebellious streak, Malcolm MacCabe doesn’t need another beautiful mistress – he needs an obedient wife. Obedience is not one of Amelia’s virtues. But he’s too enthralled by her wit and passion to let her go – even if it means risking the political reputation he is building to save his clan.

Their hearts can’t survive the scandal...

Despite their intentions, every wicked embrace binds them together. But as their conflicting desires combust into insatiable hunger and unavoidable ruin, they must decide whether to pursue their personal destinies alone – or fight for the love that could destroy them both. 



About the author:

Sara Ramsey writes fun, feisty Regency historical romances. She won the prestigious 2009 Romance Writers of America ® Golden Heart award with her first book, Scotsmen Prefer Blondes (formerly titled An Inconvenient Marriage). The prequel, Heiress Without A Cause (formerly titled One Night to Scandal), was a 2011 Golden Heart finalist.

Sara grew up in a small town in Iowa, and her obsession with fashion, shoes, and all things British is clearly a rebellion against her hopelessly uncool youth. She graduated from Stanford University in 2003 with a degree in Symbolic Systems (also known as cognitive science) and a minor in history. Sara subsequently worked at Google for seven years in a variety of sales, management, and communications roles. She left Google in 2010 to pursue her writing career full time. Read all about her Regency obsessions and upcoming works at www.SaraRamsey.com.




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