Jen: Today we welcome Vicky Dreiling to Romancing the Book. Vicky, will you share a short bio with us?
Vicky: Triple RITA finalist Vicky Dreiling is a confirmed historical romance junkie and Anglophile. Frequent business trips to the UK allowed her to indulge her passion for all things Regency England. Bath, Stonehenge, and Spencer House are among her favorite places. She is, however, truly sorry for accidentally setting off a security alarm in Windsor Castle. That unfortunate incident led her British colleagues to nickname her “Trouble.” Vicky is a native Texan and holds degrees in English literature and marketing.
Jen: Please tell us about your newest release and where the idea came from.
Vicky: WHAT A DEVILISH DUKE DESIRES is the story of Harry, the new Duke of Granfield. His beloved uncle recently died and Harry is trying to cope with all the changes. After a night with friends at White’s, Harry decides to walk the short distance to his rooms at The Albany. When he sees a woman struggling with a thief, he runs to her rescue and offers his escort for her safety, but the maid with the crisp upper class accent brandishes a knife and informs him he needs her protection. He’s thoroughly bemused and cannot forget her.
The idea for the book was two-fold. First, I’d done quite a bit of research on Regency dancing and courtship. As it turns out, dancing was the primary method of courtship. FYI: Those slow dance movements you see in the BBC version of Pride and Prejudice aren’t true to the period. Regency dancing was actually extremely energetic.
Second, I happened to be watching T.V. with my mom who was riveted by the show Dancing with the Stars. The high concept popped into my head: Dancing with the Regency Stars, so I turned my heroine into a dance instructor. Also, I’ve always wanted to write a book with a couple from two different worlds. So I created a duke and a maid who were so far apart socially I wondered how I would pull it off, but the challenge only made it more compelling for me. I hope readers feel the same way.
The misty fog swirled around Harry as he strode along Piccadilly, but it wasn’t too dense tonight. Soon he must buy a carriage. He’d need one for inclement weather, and now that he was a bloody duke, he supposed he ought to have a decent vehicle for traveling. God knew he’d inherited an enormous fortune and could afford whatever caught his fancy. He’d always thought money would bring him happiness, but it hadn’t. Perhaps in time he would feel differently.
He was only a block away from his rooms at the Albany when he saw a thief tugging on a woman’s basket. When she screamed, Harry ran as fast as he could and shouted, “Stop, thief!” The ragged man took one look at him and ducked down an alley.
“Are you hurt?” Harry said as he reached the woman. Lord, his heart was hammering in his chest.
“No, but I thank you, kind sir,” she said, picking up the small loaf of bread and dusting it off.
He couldn’t help noticing her shabby glove as she set the bread beneath a cloth in her basket. Yet she spoke in a crisp, educated manner. The hood of her red, threadbare cloak fell back as she straightened her small frame. The lighted oil lamp nearby revealed her thick, red curls. She had the kind of hair that made a man want to take it down, but that only reminded him of her peril. “You ought not to be on the streets alone at night,” he said. “It’s dangerous for a woman.”
She pulled her hood up and scoffed. “Sir, I assure you, I would not set foot on these mean streets if I had any other choice.”
The woman’s plump lips and bright emerald eyes drew him. She was a rare beauty. “If you will allow it, I will escort you for your safety,” he said, smiling. “Surely you will not object to protection.”
Her eyes narrowed. “You’ve done your good deed for the evening, Sir Galahad.” She reached in her basket and brandished a wicked-looking knife. “My trusty blade is protection enough.”
Holy hell. It was a large blade, but she held it too low. He also noticed her arm trembled. She clearly had no idea how to use the blade. One sharp blow to her arm would incapacitate her, and the knife would fall to the ground.
She looked him over and shook her head. “Perhaps I should escort you for your safety.”
He laughed. “That’s rich.”
“Evidently, so are you.”
She’d obviously taken stock of his clothing and deduced he was wealthy. “Come now, I’m a man and far stronger than you. I can defend myself.”
She angled her head. “Have a care, sir. I quickly deduced you have a full purse inside your inner breast pocket. And if I can surmise that this quickly, you can be sure ruffians will, too.”
“You heard the coins jingling while I ran.”
She looked him over. “I wager those boots were made at Hoby’s. They’re worth a fortune. So is all of your clothing. At the very least, you ought to carry one of those canes with a hidden blade. Not everyone is as merciful as I am.”
“You believe I am in danger?” How the devil had this conversation taken such a bizarre turn?
She regarded him with a world of knowledge in her eyes. “Tonight, Sir Galahad, you are far more vulnerable than I am.”
Stunned into silence, he watched her disappear into the wispy fog. Then he reached inside another inner pocket and took out his penknife. A second, longer blade, far more wicked, folded out at the opposite end. He’d kept it hidden because he didn’t want to frighten her. So much for gallantry, he thought wryly. He wrapped the wool scarf around his neck to ward off the chill and continued on his way home, her impertinent green eyes haunting him the entire walk. And damned if they didn’t coax a smile out of him.
Jen: What age did you discover writing?
Vicky: I read a book when I was ten years old that featured a diary. Sadly, I don’t remember the title, but I liked the idea of writing about my life. I kept diaries until I was twenty-one years old. I didn’t write again for many years as I had little kids back then, but one day I’d run out of books, so I started writing one for fun. A chance phone call to a friend changed everything. My friend called to tell me she’d signed up for a class at the local university. I confessed my secret hobby to her. She said something that changed my life. She’d seen a sign-up for how to write a romance and gave me the number to call. I made the call, signed up for the class, and my life has never been the same!
Jen: Are you a plotter or pantser?
Vicky: Total pantser. I outlined a book once because I thought plotting would make me write faster. Hah! I just ended up changing it because I get my best ideas while writing.
Jen: How do you remember ideas that come to you at odd times?
Vicky: I’m a visual learner and when an idea hits it’s usually a Big Idea (alias a high concept). Also, I spent 10 years in corporate marketing and always had an elevator pitch ready in case I ran into a VP. So that’s just become second nature to me.
Jen: Is there a genre you’d like to write?
Vicky: I’d love to write contemporary comedies. All of my historical romances have humor in them, so that would be a natural for me.
Jen: What kind of research did you do for this book?
Vicky: I watched the dance steps online in order to write them. Some of the dances were more than a little challenging. I also had to research walking routes in London for the heroine. I used familiar areas such as Green Park. It was helpful that I’d traveled to London several times.
Jen: If this book was made into a movie, who do you see playing the main characters?
Vicky: I always choose an actor and actress as role models for the leads. For Harry, I chose Liam Hemsworth, and for Lucy, I chose Amy Adams.
Jen: Who are some of your favorite authors? What are you reading now?
Vicky: I love Loretta Chase’s books. I also enjoy Elizabeth Hoyt’s sexy historical romances. Joanna Bourne writes really great spy stories.
Jen: What’s the most interesting comment you’ve received about your books?
Vicky: “This gal can write.” I loved it.
Jen: What’s been the highlight of your career to this point?
Vicky: The day I got a call informing me that I’d triple finaled in the RITAs. It was the first time I’d ever entered.
Jen: What did you do to celebrate your first book? Do you do anything to celebrate a sale, new contract or release?
Vicky: I went to lunch with my friend Karen and we drank margaritas! For new releases, I like to go to Barnes & Noble to see them on the shelf!
Jen: What do you do in your free time?
Vicky: What spare time? 😉 I like to have lunch with writer friends when possible, but writing is my job, so most of my time is spent at the keyboard.
Jen: What’s next for you?
Vicky: I’m currently writing another historical romance.