Interview: Sarah MacLean

Today’s a special day.  We’re turning the blog over to Rachel Van Dyken as she interviews Sarah MacLean who’s new book, A Scot in the Dark, releases next week.  Ladies, the blog is yours.

Rachel: Before we get started, can you share a short bio with us?
Sarah: A life-long romance reader, Sarah MacLean wrote her first romance novel on a dare, and never looked back. She is the New York Times and USA Today bestselling author of historical romances, and the author of a monthly column at The Washington Post celebrating the best of the romance genre. She lives in New York City. Visit her at www.sarahmaclean.net.

Rachel: Sarah, your most recent series, Scandal & Scoundrel, is basically like a historical version of TMZ (Awesome idea by the way, I’d be lying if I said I wasn’t irritated I didn’t think of it myself, haha!). How did you come up with this concept? Please tell me you were reading US Weekly while simultaneously watching TMZ and a little idea popped in your head! 
Sarah: Thanks! So happy you like it! You’re actually not that far off the mark. I came up with the idea right after the famous Met Gala incident where Solange Knowles punched Jay-Z in an elevator and the whole thing was caught on tape. The tabloids went crazy, and I immediately saw the similarities to 19th Century gossip rags – not just reporting the event, but speculating wildly about it. Celebrity gossip isn’t new, it had a heyday in the 1800s, so the idea of lifting modern scandal and setting it down in the 19th Century just felt right.

Rachel: I also noticed that rather than focusing on a few of the other sisters (the scandalous Talbot sisters), you wrote the next book in the series about the “Brute Scot.” Was there a reason you did that? 
Sarah: I knew I wanted to write a “celebrity sex tape,” book, and at first, it seemed logical that one of the Talbot sisters would be the kind of woman who would proudly strip down for a nude painting. That said, I wanted to explore that choice a little more than the Talbot girls would have allowed. I didn’t want to write a scandalous belle of the ball, but rather a woman who was beautiful, but desperately lonely in her beauty. Which left room for the wild character to be the hero…and nothing is wilder than a man in a kilt!

Rachel: I love the idea of using a painting as a scandal especially since it totally correlates with the way we live our lives now…post something horrible on Instagram and it’s around forever. Is this something you plotted out from the beginning of the series?
Sarah: Absolutely. As I was working on the series structure, Jennifer Lawrence’s cellphone was hacked. Kim Kardashian’s sex tape still looms. Leslie Jones is being shamed for her private property as I type. Every time I see a story like this, I am reminded that we’ve clamored for salacious gossip since the dawn of time…and women are always the victims of it.

Rachel: How do you decide who you’re going to write about next?
Sarah: Characters I love, tropes I want to try to twist, and the never ending litany of “What if that were in a book?” that runs on repeat in my head.

Rachel: Are you working on anything while simultaneously giving us these un-put-downable books?
Sarah: I’m trying something very different and very fun. If only I could write my contracted romances faster, I would be able to finish it and share it! But I think every writer is always toying with the idea of trying something different just for fun. It’s a lovely reminder of why we became writers to begin with—for the joy of it.

Rachel: A Scot in The Dark is not only a clever title but it totally fits the story to a T. Do you come up with the title first or the story? And does anyone help you with naming your books? 
Sarah: My titles come after the books are conceived, and at this point, I’ll take ideas from anyone! I use the Notes app on my phone to keep track of fun ideas – some of which will never ever work, but always give me a giggle. (Scot to Trot? To Be or Scot to Be? Great Scot!) Truthfully, it gets harder each book, because it’s not enough for the title to be a pun, but it has to really lend more information to the book and not be too too silly. That’s a fine line.

Rachel: Which lucky Talbot sister will be next, and can you tell us a little bit more about the story? Or do you have something coming out next?
Sarah:  Seraphina Talbot, Duchess of Haven returns in 2017 in The Day of the Duchess! Readers will remember Sera from The Rogue Not Taken. She returns after three years in exile, willing to do anything to get her life back and win her freedom. The only problem is that she has a husband who’s willing to do anything to woo her once more.