Interview with Denise Eagan

Jen: This weekend we’re happy to have Denise Eagan as our guest. Denise, will you please share a short bio with us?
Denise: I’ve been reading romance for over 30 years now, in every subgenre although historical is my favorite. I live in a (humdrum) Boston suburb with my husband, two teenage sons and a thieving male beagle. Boredom and testosterone poisoning are definitely problems. I fight ‘em with periodic doses of Chocolate Chip Cookie dough and by murdering characters in my Victorian-era romances. Nothing says romance like a dead body!

Jen: Tell us about The Wild One and where it’s available.
Denise: It’s sort of Cinderella meets Maverick in the Victorian West… The heroine, actress Jess Sullivan has been betrayed both love and marriage, and has given up on both for life. Her goals are simple: to earn enough cash to repay the money her husband stole from her brother, and to return home where she can pick up her “good girl” life. Not even the rich, handsome ultra-charming Lee Montgomery can change her mind. The last thing she wants is a playboy gambler; the last thing the Boston aristocrat-turned-gambler can have is an actress wife. Once he’s sewed his wild oats, his family expects him to marry a proper aristocratic woman. But Lee’s never met a woman he couldn’t walk away from, until Jess—and he can’t have her. While Jess and Lee struggle with their feelings, they’re framed for murder. A race across the Colorado prairie keeps them one step ahead of a posse and thrusts them into a torrid affair that threatens everything they thought they believed in.

Jen: At what age did you discover writing and when were you first published? Tell us your call story.
Denise: I started writing when I was 13 or 14. I ran out of good books to read, so I entertained myself by writing. But I didn’t really pursue it as a career until my first son was born and I quit work as an accountant to raise my kids and write. I thought I’d be published in a few years—boy was I wrong! Rejections, horrible contest critiques, you name it, it came my way. I took all of it very hard. But I always dusted myself off and tried again. Finally in August of 05, I was chosen for the American Title II contest. I didn’t win, but it gave me enough confidence to pitch the book at a conference and I got The Call from Hilary Sares at Kensington in July of 06. My first book came out in December 07, a few months after my son turned 18.

Jen: Describe your writing in three words.
Denise: Lol—You mean on a good day, right? I guess fast-paced, sensual, emotional

Jen: Do you have a writing routine?
Denise: I should. I keep trying to develop one, but it hasn’t stuck yet.

Jen: Do you have a specific time or place that you write?
Denise: I write in a reclining blue wing chair next to the fireplace in the living room. I like to write most between 8am and 4pm. I have an office but I don’t use it too much. It’s too far from the kitchen. . .and the coffee.

Jen: How do you shut out disruptions?
Denise: I create playlists for each book, and I play them over and over until they’re just background noise. If the family is getting in my way, I put earphones in and blare the playlist until I can’t hear anything else.

Jen: What kind of research did you do for this book?
Denise: Oh man all kinds, mostly about San Francisco and San Franciscan Society. I did some on the acting profession in the 19th century, but that’s difficult to find, and some research on Victorian balls. I have a few ball scenes, which was a kick to write. That was the most fun research, learning about dance cards and Victorian “fan code”. I chose one of those scenes for an excerpt here at Book Talk.

Jen: How do you pick the character’s names?
Denise: For main characters—I don’t know. I develop the character and then one day I hear a name, and well that’s the name. It just is. I don’t always like the name—other characters will sometimes make fun of them–but still, it’s the right name. Secondary characters though, I got through a list of Victorian names and take ones that work best.

Jen: What is it about the romance genre that appeals to you?
Denise: Character development and the ability to explore relationships, those between man and woman, and those between friends and family. I think after food and shelter, nothing is more important to human beings that love relationships. Even better, the romance genre has blossomed into several sub-genres, which make it pretty much the least confining genre to write in. Historical, Paranormal, Sci-Fi, Suspense—the industry integrates it all.

Jen: Is there a genre that you’d like to write? / Is there a genre you’ll probably stay away from and why?
Denise: I’m pretty happy with historical romance. I love the research. If I were to try something else, it would be romantic suspense, or suspense with romantic elements, because I also love researching serial killers. I can watch CSI for hours! What I would stay away from? Women’s Fiction. It’s too like my own life. When I write, I want to escape.

Jen: If you could travel back in time for one year, what time and place would you choose? And if you could only take 3 things with you, what would they be?
Denise: Maybe 1878 Colorado or 1887 Newport. Colorado would be still be wild enough to make it interesting, and I really want to know what all those people in Newport were thinking when they built those mansions, for two months of the year. The waste astounds me. What would I take? Penicillin, Vicodin, and Zantac. I’m a bit of a hypochondriac.

Jen: Who are some of your favorite authors and books? What are you reading now?
Denise: My comfort reads are Victoria Holt, Mary Stewart, Georgette Heyer, Laurie McBain. Newer authors, Mary Jo Putney, Loretta Chase, Stephanie Bond. Currently I’m reading The Dark Desires of the Druids #1: Murder & Magick by Isabel Roman, The Model Man by Nicole McCaffrey, and Dawnkeepers (Final Prophecy, Book 2) by Jessica Andersen.

Jen: What’s next for you?
Denise: I’m fiddling around with a couple more books in this series, and tossing around ideas for a couple historical with light paranormal elements as well.

Jen: Where can you be found on the web?
Denise: My website is www.deniseeagan.com. I can also be found with other Victorian writers at www.slipintosomethingvictorian, and other writers blogging about writing at www.moodymuses.com

Jen: Is there anything you’d like to ask our readers?
Denise: I could write a book of questions! Let me see—What are your impressions of the Victorian era? And what ultimately convinces you to plunk your hard-earned money down on a new author?

Jen: Thanks so much Denise! Readers, one lucky commenter will be willing their own copy of The Wild One. Just leave a comment and you’ll be entered. I’ll pick the winner on Sunday, March 29 around 5 pm PST.