interviews / Q&A's

0 Comments

 

ellaquinnindexI treat The Regency era as if it were a foreign country, and attempt to suss out the nuances of living there,’ says historical romance writer Ella Quinn, our latest guest at The Literary Lounge.

A relative ‘newbie’, Ella Quinn has burst onto the historical romance writing landscape like a whirling dervish. She has published four books in quick succession in Kensington’s digital programme and is putting the finishing touches to a further two Regencies.

Before settling down to write, Quinn had many different jobs and incarnations, moving from playing in a rock band and tending bar to enlisting in the Army and training to be a lawyer, the latter of which she worked as for 20 years.

Quinn travelled extensively as a child and lived in five different states before the age of five, before going abroad with her grandfather. She fell in love with Morocco at the age of nine and her absolute fascination with other cultures began there.

After living and working in England, Europe, South Pacific and Central America, among other places, Quinn decided to retire with her husband of 30 years to the beautiful island of St Thomas (the US Virgin Islands), where she now writes.

She sat down to pen her first novel after having a vision of an angry woman in a Regency dress. She was taken on by Elizabeth Pomada of The Larsen–Pomada Agency – and the rest, as they say, is history.

Desiring Lady Caro is the fourth book in Quinn’s acclaimed ‘The Marriage Game’ series, which also features: The Seduction of Lady Phoebe; The Secret Life of Miss Anna Marsh; and The Temptation of Lady Serena.

 

 

Q&A – Ella Quinn

 

LS: Firstly, Ella, welcome to The Literary Lounge at The Literary Shed. Thank you so much for agreeing to spend some time with us.

 

Q: You’ve travelled extensively during your life. Has that been for work? Family? Have your travels informed your writing at all?

EQ: When I was younger it was because my brother and I were bounced back and forth between my grandparents. Then when I was an adult, I joined the Army. I think living in so many different places, and from a young age, [has] given me the ability to delve into the cultures, and not assume every place is like the last place I lived. I treat the Regency era as if it were a foreign country, and attempt to suss out the nuances of living there.

 

Q: Which books have influenced you most?

EQ: I really can’t point to books, but to authors whose books have influenced me. As I’ve often said, Georgette Heyer is one, but there is also Dorothy Dunnett, Elizabeth Peters, Robert Ludlum, and John le Carré, to name a few.

the Unknown ajax 9e84605cb934313dace3f78b26da9fbd

 

Q: You’ve cited Georgette Heyer as a particular favourite historical romance writer. Who are your favourite hero and heroine?

EQ: My favourite heroine is Sophy from The Grand Sophy (1950): she is intelligent, capable, kind and completely ruthless. My favourite hero … I’ll go with Hugo Darracott from The Unknown Ajax (1959; see right). He has a great sense of humour, but is also very savvy, and sweet without being sappy.

 

Q: How long did it take you to write your first novel? Was it published?

EQ: The first draft took me one month. After that, I had to learn some writing craft, and how to edit. It is published. It is The Seduction of Lady Phoebe [the first in ‘The Marriage Game’ series; 2013].

 

Q: Do you think writing is a gift or a craft that can be honed like any other? Or is it a little of both?

EQ: I think writing is a bit like playing an instrument. Some people can’t do it at all, some people do well, and are technically correct, then you have the ones with the ability to make you lose yourself in the music.

LS: That’s a good analogy.

 

Q: What are your essential writing tools? Those items you have near you before you begin a book.

EQ: My computer, even I can’t read my handwriting, and an internet connection. I keep the online version of the Oxford English Dictionary open all the time, and I research as I go along. This presupposes that my muse has already given me the first scene.

 

Q: Do you research your books yourself? How important is historical detail to you?

EQ: Historical detail is very important to me, and I do my one research, unless someone else I trust has done it as well. I don’t believe reinventing the wheel is helpful as long as the wheel was constructed properly.

 

Q: You’re a member of the RWA ‘Beau Monde’. Can you explain what this is and what the benefits are for anyone wanting to start writing Regencies?

EQ: RWA or Romance Writers of America, is a profession organization for romance writers. The Beau Monde is the Regency chapter within RWA. Anyone writing romances should belong to RWA. It has local chapters and conferences, as well as the National conference. I firmly believe that romance writers are the most generous community of people I’ve ever met.

The Beau Monde, as a group, is supportive and extremely knowledgeable. Our members range from just beginning to New York Times bestselling-authors, such as Eileen Dreyer and Eloisa James. Anytime I get stuck, I know I can call on The Beau Monde to help me find an answer.

 

Q: Would you ever base your historical romances in another period? If so, which one and why?

EQ: I have not yet done so, but I will end up going into the Victorian era as my characters are having children.

 

Q: If you could start over again would you still write a series? What’s the most challenging aspect of it?

EQ: Absolutely! I love reading a series. [The most challenging aspect is] keeping the characters and facts straight. I’ve had to begin a bible of the places and characters.

 

Q: Now you’ve published several books, is there anything you’ve found particularly surprising about the publishing industry?

EQ: Yes, how few clients literary agents take a year. I was completely shocked to discover it ranged between one and five new clients a year. Fortunately, I already had my agent by then. Also, the time it takes for agents to get back to an author, even for a rejection.

 

Q: What’s your most/least favourite aspect of it?

EQ: The length of time it takes to get paid. I’ve been published for 6 months and just now received my first check.

 

Q: You have a strong social media presence. If you had to choose one platform that’s been the most useful in promoting you as an author/your books, which would it be? Twitter or Facebook, for example?

EQ: I honestly don’t know. I think in many ways they serve two different audiences.

 

Q: How important is it for authors to have blogs?

EQ: For a new author, I think it’s essential. If an author has been around for years, and is consistently a bestseller, then not so much.

 

Q: Many of your peer authors publish group blogs. Is this something you would consider doing?

EQ: Yes, and I have a group of authors that have decided to form a group blog, the problem is we have not had the time to get the blog up.

 

Q: Have any authors been particularly helpful/supportive since you started publishing?

EQ: Definitely. Not only does everyone get out there and help spread the word, but Grace Burrowes, Sally MacKenzie, and Eileen Dreyer have done cover quotes for me.

LS: That’s extremely good to hear. The romantic-fiction community appears to be extremely supportive and nurturing of new talent.

 

desiringladycaroellaquinnindexQ: How many books are going to be in this series?

EQ: ‘The Marriage Game’ will have eight full-length novels and one novella. [Desiring Lady Caro, book #4, published in April 2014; see left.] I’m writing book #6 now. I’ll have the next two written in the next few months. Although, my first contract was for three books, they were already written. Last year was spent building my social media platform, learning to edit and promoting releases. So I only got two and the novella done.

 

Q: How long will it take you to write them?

EQ: Book #6 will be finished this month. I plan to complete the next book by June or July, and the last book by September.

 

Q: Have you got another series of books or standalones mapped out already?

EQ: I do. I have the first two books of the next series written. One has been reedited, and I’ll reedit the next one as soon as I finish book #8 of ‘The Marriage Game’.

 

Q: If you could give one piece of advice to aspiring authors, what would it be?

EQ: Don’t listen to everyone, but learn to take criticism.

 

Q: You live in beautiful US Virgin Islands. Would you set/Are you setting a book there?

EQ: Book #5, Enticing Miss Eugénie Villaret, Wivenly’s story, is based down here. That will be out in August.

 

Q: Where do you write? Do you have a special place or room?

EQ: I’ve set up a desk in front of a sliding glass door where I have a view of Lovenlund Bay [St Thomas, US Virgin Islands].

 

Q: Would you ever write in a different genre?

EQ: I can’t imagine it right now. Occasionally, I get a vision of a time travel book, but it would be going back to the Regency.

 

Georgette-Heyer-at-home-w-007

Above: Ella’s comfort-read author Georgette Heyer is photographed here at home, c.1939, with her dog, whom she described as a ‘sour and rather cynical snob’

 

Q: Finally, in challenging times, is there one book that you would go back to and read again for comfort?

EQ: Any of my Georgette Heyers fit the bill. I’ve read them so often that when they rereleased in the late 90s I bought all new copies. I also have them on Kindle.

 

LS: That’s a great place to end, Ella, especially as Georgette Heyer’s top of our ‘a pair of safe arms’ authors’ list, too, along with Nora Roberts and Agatha Christie.

It’s just left for us to say a very big thank you so much for spending time in The Literary Lounge.

We wish you all the best with Desiring Lady Caro and your other forthcoming titles.

 

EQ: Thank you so much for having me.

 

Desiring Lady Caro, the fourth in ‘The Marriage Game’ series, is published by Kensington (April 2014);

Enticing Miss Eugénie Villaret, the fifth book, will be published in August 2014. To find out more about the series and Ella Quinn’s other news, please see the author’s site.

ella-quinn

 

Also of interest: Book cover of the month, March – ‘Georgette Heyer’s Frederica by Arthur Barbosa (1965)’; ‘The World of Georgette Heyer‘ on The Literary Shed’s Pinterest boards.

Photographs in article: Image of Ella Quinn (photographer: Steve Rockstein) and US covers for books 4 and 5 of ‘The Marriage Game’ series, (all courtesy of Kensington); The Unknown Ajax by Georgette Heyer (Heinemann, 1959; cover illustration by Arthur Barbosa); photograph of Georgette Heyer with dog, c.1939 (the Georgette Heyer Estate).

Notice: Please note the above images are intended to be for promotional purposes only. In no way, have we have intentionally breached anyone’s copyright.

This article has been published with the approval of the author. The article text is ©The Literary Shed, 2014. It can only be reproduced with our permission. Please contact us if you wish to do so. The site must be fully credited.

 

Tags : , , , , , ,