Interview & Contest with Sally MacKenzie

Jen: I am excited to have Sally MacKenzie as our guest today as I absolutely adore her Naked series. Sally, will you please share a short bio with us?

Sally: Sure–and thank you for inviting me to be here, Jen.

I was born in Washington, D.C., and still live in the Maryland suburbs. I did go away for college and a brief stint in law school–and I married a fellow from upstate New York–but other than that, I’ve always lived within a ten–or less–mile radius. Is that a little boring? One of my first published pieces–excluding my work that appeared in the Federal Register, LOL–was an essay in The Washington Post taking issue with the popular “wisdom” that D.C. is made up of transients. After leaving law school, I worked for the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Food and Nutrition Service writing regulations for the school nutrition programs. (Anyone remember ketchup as a vegetable?) I “retired” to stay home with my four sons and got back to writing when the oldest was getting ready to leave for college. And now, here’s my “official” bio:

USA Today bestselling author Sally MacKenzie writes the funny, hot, Regency-set Naked nobility series for Kensington Zebra. Her seventh and final (at least for now) Naked novel, The Naked King, releases June 7, 2011; she’ll be starting a new series for Kensington in 2012. Her books have been translated into Japanese, Norwegian, Portuguese, Russian, Slovakian, and Spanish. Sally graduated with a B.A. in English from the University of Notre Dame in the first class of women. She’s a Cornell Law School dropout, former federal regulation writer, recovering parent volunteer, and mother of four mostly grown sons. A native of Washington, D. C., she still resides in suburban Maryland with her husband.

Jen: Tell us about The Naked King and where it can be purchased.

Sally: The Naked King is available wherever books are sold–in stores or online. Here’s the back cover blurb:

Indiscretion Is Just The Beginning…

One night of slight overindulgence—oh, all right, he was drunk—and Stephen Parker-Roth finds he must betroth himself to prevent yet another scandal. But his “intended” is lovely, a redheaded beauty under her horrendous, unfashionable bonnet, and before long, he’s congratulating himself on compromising such an excellent candidate—and anticipating what other naughtiness they’ll get caught at before the wedding…

Lady Anne Marston has long since given up any thought of marriage. That is the price she pays for the mistakes of her past. But one little conversation with a handsome rogue should never have led to a sham engagement. Even if it did end in a rather shocking kiss…in broad daylight…on the front step of London’s premier gossip. Now, trapped between a secret and a lie, Anne must somehow disentangle herself from this charming, maddening man before the truth comes out—or her heart gives in…

Stephen’s not actually a king–in 1821 the King of England was George IV and I really doubt any of us would want to see him naked. He’s been given the nickname the “King of Hearts” because he’s very good at cards. (At least that’s what he says. The ladies of the ton have a different theory.) I had great fun with him–Naked readers might recognize him. He was first mentioned in The Naked Gentleman (his brother John’s story) and he appeared in The Naked Viscount (his sister Jane’s story) and “The Naked Prince” (his friend the Earl of Kenderly’s story and my novella in An Invitation to Sin). Lady Anne is a completely new character.

Jen: At what age did you discover writing? When where you first published? Tell us your call story.

Sally: I was always a reader, but I first remember wanting to be a writer when I was in grade school–fifth grade, I think. We had to write a story for homework, and I got completely wrapped up in that assignment. When I read it to the class the next day, everyone laughed in the right places–apparently even then I was into humor. However, my writing got derailed while I raised the kids and ran the cub scouts and the local swim team and other kid-related organizations. Then when I didn’t need to be mom 24/7, I took inventory of my life to see what the next chapter would be. I decided it was time to try to make my dream of being published come true–or give it up and move on to something else. I wrote my first Regency, The Naked Duke, joined the Romance Writers of America, and entered RWA’s Golden Heart contest. As luck would have it, I made the finals, and one of the editors who judged that round liked the Duke so much she got my contact information from RWA and called me out of the blue to offer me a two book contract.

Jen: How do you approach your writing? Do you plot or go with the flow?

Sally: I don’t plot. I usually muse about my hero and heroine first–what they’re like, who their friends and families are, what has shaped them into the “people” they are today (“today” being the late Regency), and what’s troubling them most. Then I put my characters “on stage” and hope they’ll start talking. It’s a bit crazy, really.

Jen: Do you struggle with deadlines? How do you deal with the pressure?

Sally: The best way I deal with deadlines–especially as I don’t plot and am a rather slow writer–is to start as soon as I can and make steady, daily progress. I can’t write furiously at the end like some authors. I like to finish the first draft a month before my deadline so I have time to revise and polish. This is the ideal, of course–things don’t always work out this way. I’m also pretty dedicated to regular exercise, which helps with stress–or at least it helps keep the old body working, especially since I spend so much of the day sitting.

Jen: Do you have a theme, object or person that appears in all of your stories?

Sally: I don’t think so. My books up to this point have all had “naked” in the title, but my characters usually aren’t any more naked than other romance characters–probably a lot less than those in erotic romance. But I suppose I do always look for the naked angle 😉

Jen: What is it about the romance genre that appeals to you?

Sally: The happy ending, of course!

Jen: Do you have a favorite character or one you most identify with?

Sally: I love all my characters–and they all, on occasion, drive me mad. There’s probably some bit of me in all of them.

Jen: If you could travel back in time for one year, what time and place would you choose? If you could only take 3 things with you, what would they be?

Sally: I suppose I would go to England in 1821, since my stories are set between 1816 – 1821. Then I could get a better feel for the period, especially the little details that hardly ever make it into history books or even contemporary letters. As to what I would take…I’m a big fan of modern plumbing and modern medicine, but I don’t suppose I could take those. And my computer wouldn’t last long without electricity nor would my digital camera. So I guess I’d take: 1. My husband, though he’d probably be pretty annoyed about it. Still, an adventure is always better shared. 2. My eyeglasses. I’m terribly nearsighted; I doubt the spectacles of that time would be strong enough to work for me and I hate not being able to see properly. And 3. A good supply of modern toothpaste–sadly, I’ll have to leave my electric toothbrush at home.

Jen: Who are some of your favorite authors and books? What are you reading now?

Sally: That’s a hard question, because I count so many authors as friends and I don’t find time to read very much. (Actually I can’t allow myself much reading time–I get wrapped up in the book I’m reading and have to finish it, which throws my writing schedule off.) Before I was writing, some of my favorite Regency authors–besides Georgette Heyer–were Mary Balogh, Marion Chesney, Marion Devon, Edith Layton, Barbara Metzger, Joan Wolf–I could probably go on and on. When my kids were young, my mother and I would go out to lunch once a month and hit the Borders as well, buying that month’s Signet Regencies to share. I don’t tend to read many Regencies now, though. And then there’s all the research books calling to me. Right now I’m slowly reading The Age of Wonder by Richard Holmes for research, and I’ve just finished Marjorie Liu’s In the Dark of Dreams. Kristan Higgins’s My One and Only is calling to me…and The Complete Servant by Samuel & Sarah Adams (for research).

Jen: What did you do to celebrate your first book?

Sally: I called my husband, and he brought home a bottle of champagne. I’m pretty sure there was a celebratory dinner involved as well.

Jen: What’s next for you?

Sally: I’m starting a new series–a novella and a trilogy–that I’m calling the Duchess of Love series. I think the books might be coming out starting in 2012, but, as far as I know, no release dates have been set. I’ve written the novella, and now I’m writing the first book.

Jen: Where can you be found on the web?

Sally: My web site is http://www.sallymackenzie.net/ (Not dot com–that’s a South African Sally). My facebook fan page is here: http://www.facebook.com/pages/Sally-MacKenzie/144131384814 My blog is: http://sallymackenzie.blogspot.com/ And my Twitter “handle” or whatever you call it is @Sally_MacKenzie

Jen: Is there anything you’d like to ask our readers?

Sally: Sure–I’ll ask one of your questions: If you could go back in time, what period would you choose and what would you take with you?

Jen:  I understand you have a contest for our readers.

Sally: Sure.  I’d like to give away a copy of The Naked King.  It’s open to everyone.

Jen:  Readers, to enter the contest you first need to leave a question or comment for Sally.  Then to finish your entry, you must to either leave your email address in your comment or send an email to admin.bookblog AT gmail.com.  If I don’t have a way to contact you, you won’t be entered in the contest.  The winner will be announced on Sunday, June 12.

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