It’s her debut romance, but already Kensington author Vanessa Kelly is getting rave reviews for her book, Mastering The Marquess. You know when more than one reviewer says “I couldn’t put it down,” its a definite keeper. Read Vanessa’s bio and you’ll fall in love with her quirky sense of humor. Read her books and you’ll fall in love with her characters!
Join me in welcoming Vanessa to the blog!
I’ve been writing my entire adult life, in one form or another. I spent several years in graduate school studying English lit. Naturally, there was a lot of writing involved in that pursuit. After I left school I worked as a researcher/writer in the public sector. But I loved reading romance, and always wanted to write one. It took me quite some to convince myself that I could switch from non-fiction to fiction.
You write wonderful historicals set during the Regency period. Why that time period and do you have any aspirations to write another subgenre or time period?
I love that period of history. The first romances I read were the wonderful Regency-set novels of Georgette Heyer. In grad school I was drawn to Jane Austen, and other British women writers of that time. My thesis was on Fanny Burney, who was a wildly popular novelist during the Regency.
I also write contemporary romances with my husband – as yet unpublished. We hope that changes soon!
How long were you writing romance before you sold? Was it a slow, torturous path, or quick and easy?
Compared to many other writers, it was quite fast. About two years. I was really focused on completing the book and getting an agent. Getting an agent fairly quickly made the whole process easier.
Tell us about your first sale, “the call.” Did you know it was coming, or were you totally shocked?
I was shocked! I had only had my agent for a month, and I didn’t expect anything to happen so quickly. In fact, I wasn’t home when the call came. My agent left a message with no details, just that it was important that I call her later in the afternoon. After several agonizing hours I called, and the first thing she did was put me on hold! Fortunately, she only kept me waiting a few minutes before she came back on the line with the news.
Tell us a little about your debut book, Mastering the Marquess?
It’s a sensual historical that combines the elegance of the Regency novel with the dark romanticism of the Gothic. I love a story with a darker edge, and this one has dastardly villains and a lunatic asylum. Meredith, my heroine, is desperate to save her sister from the clutches of their evil uncle. She’s forced to turn to the Marquess of Silverton, my hero, for help. Meredith resists doing that because she’s a strong woman who doesn’t like to be obligated to anyone. But we all need a little help now and again, right? And Silverton is more than willing to oblige!
What’s your writing schedule like? Do you write every day? In mornings, afternoons?
I do try to write every day, although life has a way of messing with my schedule. I write most afternoons, and often in the evening. I’m not a morning person, so that’s when I do my email or run errands.
After reading the bio on your website, it’s obvious you’ve got a vivid imagination. Where do you get your ideas? Was there something in particular that spurred Mastering the Marquess?
Do you plan out your books? Do you plot ahead of time?
Yes, I’m a big plotter and planner. I work up a scene-by-scene story board, and for my next book I even wrote out a very long synopsis before I started. That’s not to say that everything works out exactly as I plan it—sometimes the characters or the plot go off in unexpected directions. But that’s the fun of it, right?
Who are you favorite authors/favorite books?
For historical romance, I love Loretta Chase, Lisa Kleypas, Eloisa James, and Anna Campbell. I think Chase’s Lord of Scoundrels is one of the best books I’ve ever read. For sheer fun, Alexander McCall Smith and Jasper Fforde. And I adore Susan Elizabeth Phillips and Jennifer Crusie. For literary fiction, I love Austen, Dickens, Joyce, and Melville. I think Moby Dick is the most amazing novel I’ve ever read.
Besides practicing poses for the cover of your future album, what do you do when you’re not writing?
Yes, I did have the rock star dream when I was younger! I even have a picture that I would put on the back of the album.
I live a pretty quiet life in Ottawa with my husband. We both like a life that is as balanced and serene as possible. Of course, I love spending time with my friends, and visiting with my large family spread out all over the U.S.
What advice can you give aspiring writers?
Get a good critique partner, and listen to her. And don’t give up!
What are you working on now? Give us your first line (or a favorite line) from your current work in progress and/or a blurb?
I’m working on a sequel to Mastering The Marquess. Right now I’m still revising, so I don’t think I have a favorite line—yet!
Where can we find you on the web?
You can find me at http://www.vanessakellyauthor.com/
Or on Facebook. Stop by for a visit!
Vanessa, I love most of the same books you do (except Moby Dick, which I haven’t read). Lord of Scoundrels is one of the best books I’ve read, too. This really makes me eager to read Mastering the Marquess.
Now I’m off to read the bio Lori kept talking about. 😆
This is onmy to buy list for later this week.Does you know where we van find a list of the upcoming Zebra Debut list books. I really like the books and the $3.99 price defintely helps the book budget!!
Hi Edie! Thanks for stopping by. Lord of Scoundrels is just fantastic, isn’t it?
Hi jcp – you can find the list of upcoming Zebra Debut books on Kimberly Killion’s website, or at the Kensington Publishing website. BTW, Kimberly is a Zebra Debut author, and her book was nominated this year for a RITA award!
Congrats on the release of your debut book! Mastering The Marquess sounds right up my alley. I love historicals with a darker edge and I like a strong heroine. Also, I think the cover is beautiful.
Thanks, Raven! I love my cover, too – I was really lucky.
Can’t wait to read your book! The whole madness theme is very intriguing. It’s ironic that many of your “true loves” when it comes to Eng Lit are mine. Congratulations again! Looking forward to meeting you in DC. Best of luck! Kit
Your bio cracked me up! I love gothics. Can’t wait to check out your book.
Thanks for stopping by, Kit! Can’t wait to meet you in person, too. We can talk English Lit!
Nancy, aren’t gothics the best? I’m glad they’re coming back in style.
How is it writing with your husband?
Thanks, Alison. Writing with my husband is really a lot of fun. We have long and detailed conversations about plot, characters, and how we think each manuscript should evolve. As you might except, we each have different strengths. He’s a whiz at plotting and dialogue, but leaves a fair bit of the characters’ emotional development to me. I’m better at description and psychological nuances, so our work seems to dovetail very nicely. Sometimes we get into pretty heated arguments when we disagree about the plot, but we always seem to work it out. Plus, it always cracks me up to see him spend so much time in the romance aisles of the bookstore!
Madness is Regency England is not a topic for the weak of stomach–but it does have me interested in reading your book. LOL
Hi Pat! You’re right – reading about what happened to poor George III made my hair stand on end. And he got the best treatment of the day!
I love that there are so many regency inspired novels out there! Great interview!~
Thanks, Heather. I love regencies, too – obviously! The social history is so fascinating and varied, which is the enduring attraction, I think.
Your book sounds like lots of fun! Love that cover. Can’t wait to check it out.
Thanks, Jenette – my cover makes me pretty happy!
Sounds like a very interesting topic-I’ll have to check it out!