Interview & Contest: Leigh Michaels

Jen:  Please help us welcome Leigh Michaels to Romancing the Book. Leigh, will you share a short bio with us?

Leigh: I am a native Iowan and now live in Ottumwa, home of the fictional Radar O’Reilly from M*A*S*H. My husband and I live on the outskirts of town where we can watch white-tailed deer and wild turkeys from the bay window in our living room – which is also a nice spot when it snows because it feels like sitting in a snow globe. I am the author of 80 contemporary romances and now write historicals set in Regency England.

Jen: Tell us about A Wedding Affair and where it can be purchased.

Leigh: The Duke of Somervale’s sister is getting married – but the guests who have gathered for the wedding are much more interested in their private affairs (and I do mean affairs!) The Duke is dodging bridesmaids who are doing their best to trap him, so he sets up a pretend betrothal to the impoverished widow Olivia Reyne, while Olivia bargains to secure the future for her small daughter. Meanwhile, Olivia’s friend Kate desperately needs a job; perhaps a wedding guest needs a governess or secretary – if only adventurer Andrew Carlisle will stay out of her way. And Penelope Townsend sees the wedding as her last chance to turn her marriage of convenience into a real union – if she can figure out how to seduce her husband.

Jen: At what age did you discover writing? When were you first published? Tell us your call story.
Leigh: I’ve been writing since before I could actually form the words on paper – there’s poetry in my baby book which I dictated to my sister. I sold my first book when I was 27. That was in the dark ages before email and easy trans-Atlantic calls (heck, it’s far enough back I didn’t even have a fax machine yet), so the news came in a letter, not a call. Probably a good thing, because all I remember is that I screamed a lot.

Jen: You’ve written many books, but now you’re writing in a completely different genre. Tell us about your writing journey.

Leigh: After writing 80 sweet traditionals for Harlequin, I got very burned out and had to take some time off from writing. When I got the bug to write again, I had to find a new challenge, so I switched from short books to long ones, from sweet to very spicy, from contemporary to historical – in short, I changed everything I could change.

Jen: Has your writer’s voice changed over the years? If so, how?

Leigh: I definitely write more tightly now – more action and dialogue, less musing and contemplation. But I’ve always included a lot of humor, and I have always written about what one reader called “marriageable men” – and though my heroes are from another era, that’s still very true.

Jen: What is it about the Regency period that appeals to you?

Leigh: I love the restrictions that society placed on people of the day – and I’m intrigued by how they managed to evade the rules. For example, where did two upper-class people who were having an affair actually go to make love? There were no fancy hotels as such and they couldn’t just pop into each other’s homes (servants talk, and there were usually other family members around, too). So they had to get creative.

Jen: What kind of research did you do for this book?

Leigh: While I was in England I visited stately homes and palaces and soaked up atmosphere, and walked around London, where a lot of Regency architecture still exists. I also have a big library of books from and about the Regency period, and those are very helpful for details and things like getting the flavor of the language right.

Jen: How do you pick character names?

Leigh: Names for Regency heroes and heroines can be tough to choose, because many of the names that were quite popular then sound very odd now – Stacy for a man, for instance. It’s short for Eustace, which sounds even worse. Throw in that the aristocrats had titles AND family names, and it’s easy to confuse readers. Sometimes I give my heroes titles that can be shortened into a sensible-sounding name – that simplifies things a little.

Jen: Are there any “must haves” while you’re writing?

Leigh: Quiet. Once in a while a book cries out for atmospheric music, but there’s a reason my office is in a corner of the house as far as possible from my husband’s, because he likes noise while he works.

Jen: Is there a genre you’d like to write? Is there a genre you’ll probably stay away from? Why?

Leigh: I’ve always wanted to write a cozy mystery series, and I not only have my amateur sleuth figured out but I’ve drawn a full map of her little town. Unfortunately, this is also the genre I’ll probably stay away from because the talent to create (and then solve) a convincing puzzle eludes me.

Jen: What are one or two things that readers wouldn’t normally know about you?

Leigh: I’m a nut for miniatures – there are pictures on my website of the 1/12 scale Georgian house that my husband built for me. Now if I could just find a 1/12 scale maid to keep it dusted…

Jen: What’s next for you?

Leigh: I’m currently writing another historical. Like The Wedding Affair, it involves three heroes, three heroines, and three intertwined romances in one book.

Jen: Where can you be found on the web?

Leigh: My website is www.leighmichaels.com and you can find me on Facebook (Leigh Michaels) or on Twitter (@leighmichaels)

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

Leigh: Would you like to have lived in the Regency period? Why, or why not? (Personally, I think not – because showers weren’t invented till the Victorians came along!)

Contest details:

  • The prize is a print copy of The Wedding Affair.
  • The contest is open to US & Canada residents over the age of 18.
  • You must leave a meaningful comment for entry.  This means your comment needs to be more than “please enter me in the contest”.
  • A valid email address needs to be included in your comment.  If you’re worried about spam, please modify your address, such as admin.bookblog AT gmail.com.  You can also send a message to this email after your comment has been posted.
  • While following the blog isn’t required, it is appreciated.
  • The contest ends on Sunday, September 11.

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