Jen: Readers, please help me welcome Emily Bryan back to Romancing the Book. Emily, will you please share a short bio with us?
Emily: Sure! I grew up in the Midwest. Married my college sweetheart. Had couple kids. Moved around following my DH’s job. We have lived in 9 different states—all four time zones. When I told my sweetie I hoped we’d be able to a lot of traveling in our marriage, I didn’t think I’d have to drag all my stuff with me!
I’ve had a rather checkered past. I’ve been—hold on!—a professional opera singer, a teacher, a choir director, a director of children’s ministries, a homeschooling mom, a realtor and a banker. Then I finally figured out what I wanted to be when I grew up—a writer!
Jen: Tell us about Stroke of Genius and where it’s available.
Emily: I’m so excited about this delicious story. My hero is a celebrated artist, a sculptor (so you know he’s good with his hands!) But he’s a bit of a cynic and thinks it will be entertaining to pull a fast one on the ton and turn an awkward heiress into the most sought-after Original. When she catches the eye of a marquess, he realizes he’s done his job too well and fights to win her for himself.
Jen: At what age did you discover writing and when were you first published? Tell us your call story.
Emily: In 2001, I met my first published author, Eboni Snoe. She was the wife of a fellow my DH worked with. She was fascinating. The more I talked with her, the more I realized I wanted to try it myself. My debut title Maidensong, which was published under Diana Groe, came out in 2006 from Leisure Books.
My call story isn’t too dramatic. I was exhausted after working at the bank all day and my agent called when I got home with the offer. It didn’t seem real to me until I actually saw the book in print, but I remember we did celebrate that night with pizza. Hey! Anything that gets me out of cooking is a win.
Jen: Are there any other writers, published or not, in your family?
Emily: No other published authors, but my uncle was the editor of The Washington Post for a number of years. He now teaches journalism at Drake University in Des Moines, IA.
Jen: Describe your writing in three words.
Emily: Sensual, adventurous, surprising
Jen: What kind of research did you do for this book?
Emily: To write my sculptor hero, I had to learn a bit about that art form, which hasn’t changed much since the first cave man picked up a rock and chipped away on another with it. Since my hero and heroine spend an evening at Vauxhall, I did some special research on the pleasure gardens. My heroine also makes her come out at Almack’s, so in addition to my regular Regency research, I paid special attention to that venerable institution. I posted some of the most fun stuff on my blog:
Jen: What’s the most challenging aspect of writing? Easiest?
Emily: Self-promotion is the hardest thing publishers expect of writers now. First, I have zero marketing expertise. And second, I have the natural Midwestern modesty that makes self-promotion an uphill pull.
The easiest thing about writing is spending my days in complete control of my fictive world. I love making things up for a living!
Jen: What’s the most rewarding aspect?
Emily: I really love helping other writers hone their craft. Maybe that’s the teacher coming out in me, but I enjoy sharing what I’ve learned. There are 7 pages of material dedicated to aspiring writers on my website (http://www.emilybryan.com) under the Write Stuff tab and every week on my blog (http://www.emilybryan.blogspot.com) I host Red Pencil Thursday. I do an online critique of 500 words of a WIP and everyone seems to enjoy the public scrubbing.
Jen: How do you pick the character’s names?
Emily: Since I write historical romance, it’s important to choose names that were common to the period. I use source documents, letters, legal notices, etc from the time period looking for names that speak to me and suggest a complete character. Finding the right name is the first step in creating a compelling character.
Jen: What five authors or people, from the past or present, have been important to you as an author? What question or comment have you always wanted to say to them?
Emily: That’s a toughie. I have so many authors who’ve inspired me—MM Kaye, Mary Stewart, Victoria Holt, Wilbur Smith. And authors who’ve helped my career—Romance legend Connie Mason and NYTimes Bestseller Bobbi Smith to name a couple. I guess I’d just like to say thank you to all of them.
Jen: What did you do to celebrate your first book?
Emily: Honestly, I didn’t do anything special. I was more concerned about getting Book #2 sold. My biggest fear was being a one-book wonder.
Jen: What has been your highlight of your career to this point?
Emily: The highlight is always the next release. I’m very excited about Stroke of Genius and hope my readers will love the story as much as I loved writing it.
Jen: What’s next for you?
Emily: Well, funny you should ask. My career is about to take a new direction. Alicia Condon of Kensington Publishing has just acquired my Touch of Seduction trilogy for their Brava line and invited me to participate in an upcoming anthology called IMPROPER GENTLEMEN. Because my new historical romance stories have paranormal elements, Alicia asked me to take a new pen name. I know it seems confusing, but it’s not unusual. My new pen name will be Mia Marlowe and you can learn more about the Touch of Seduction trilogy at http://www.miamarlowe.blogspot.com.
Then Leah Hultenschmidt of Dorchester, who has been my editor up till now, decided she wanted three more titles from me as well. Since she realizes it’s hard to promote two pen names, she agreed to let me write for Leisure Books as Mia Marlowe as well.
So I have 6 novels and a novella to deliver in the next 15 months. Look for the first Mia Marlowe book in May 2011!
Jen: Where can you be found on the web?
Emily: http://www.emilybryan.com From my website, you can find my blog, MySpace, Facebook, Twitter and Goodreads account. I love to be in touch with readers and the social networks have been lots of fun.
Jen: Is there anything you’d like to ask our readers?
Emily: Do you have any literary pet peeves? Are there storylines that make you want to turn a book into a wallbanger?
I’d love to give away one of my backlist to one of your readers. No restrictions on geography, but they need to be 18 to read my work. To enter, leave a question or comment and be sure to include your email address (or send a message to email@example.com after commenting). The winner will be chosen on Thursday, May 6.
Thanks so much for having me here today. I apologize in advance if I’m unable to respond to comments and questions. I’m at the RT convention and may not have an internet connection. However, I will check out the site when I get home and promise to answer questions at that time!