**EDITED TO ADD – Winner of contest announced in comments and on FB** I’m delighted to host historical romance author Theresa Romain on the blog today! I met her in person at a writer’s convention and immediately knew we had to be friends–I mean just look at that smile. I’m also a big fan of her clever and utterly swoon-worthy novels. The latest in her Romance of the Turf series, Scandalous Ever After released this week. Welcome, Theresa!
Theresa: Thank you for hosting me, you wonderful lady! It’s been such a treat to get to know you online and read your books, then meet you in person at a conference last summer.
LB: I loved the first book in the Romance of the Turf trilogy, A Gentleman’s Game. How did you first come up with the idea of setting a series in the world of horse breeding and horse racing?
Theresa: I’m so glad you liked A Gentleman’s Game—thank you! To answer your question, I didn’t come up with it at all. If I’m remembering right, it was a suggestion from my agent. We were tossing around ideas about a possible new trilogy, and she remembered that I’d recently mentioned my research into horses—which in one form or another, dated back to when I was about five years old. (Yes. I was a Horse Girl.) She suggested a horse-racing series, which was something I didn’t remember seeing before and seemed like a lot of fun to research.
And it really has been. The Romance of the Turf trilogy is as much oriented to a family as it is to horse-racing. The Chandler family, troubled, talented, and varying degrees of horse-mad, is due for HEAs and the resolution to a lot of old family mysteries and secrets.
LB: What interesting historical tidbits did you uncover while doing the research for this series? Anything you weren’t able to include but wished you could have?
Theresa: I cram as many of the interesting tidbits as I can into the stories, because I hope they’ll be interesting for readers too. For the series’s prequel novella, The Sport of Baronets, you’ll get a look inside the room where the jockeys weigh in and out before and after races. The hero and heroine make, um, unconventional use of the person-sized scale.
For Scandalous Ever After, which takes place partly in Ireland, I researched steeplechase, which is different from English flat racing. You’ll also meet a few abandoned castles and get a sense of what travel was like in the 1810s. Sooooo much travel, by horseback and foot and carriage and sea, because I seem to have written a road romance along with a friends-to-lovers story.
I couldn’t fit this into a historical romance, but I’ve really enjoyed it as a resource anyway: the “If Horses Were People” series on YouTube. It’s so charming and funny, made with a lot of love for horses and their quirks. Check it out!
LB: I’m in awe of the fact that you are writing two series simultaneously, the Royal Rewards and the Romance of the Turf. How on earth do you keep all of the characters straight in your head? And what’s your secret to being so prolific (and can you please gift me with some of that pixie dust)?
Theresa: Ha, you give me too much credit! I work on one project at a time, which helps me keep the characters straight in my head. And really, I don’t have any secret tricks. I struggle with chronic fatigue and can’t always keep the writing schedule I want to. I’m very grateful for a supportive husband, a kick-butt agent, and a fabulous editor. They all help me do my best work.
LB: Booklist gave you a glowing starred review for Scandalous Ever After, highlighting the “elegant prose, inventive plotting, and brilliantly nuanced characters.” Do you have any special methods or writing rituals that help you go deeper with character development or plotting?
Theresa: I love digging into character, but plot is more of a struggle for me. To make sure I include the necessary arcs and tie up all the loose ends, I refer to the beat sheet developed by screenwriter Blake Snyder. It’s not specific to romance, but it’s a great guide anyway for story structure. For character, I keep a bunch of messy notes in word files, screen shots, and on paper that may or may not eventually get put into the final manuscript. So, um, that’s not very helpful.
LB: I know you’ve said you’re a fan of Julia Quinn, Courtney Milan, and Kristan Higgins (three of my favorite authors). Would you ever consider crossing over to contemporary romance like Courtney did? What keeps you writing historicals?
Theresa: I love the work of those authors and also admire them very much as people. There are a lot of fabulous people writing romance these days! Switching to contemporaries is not in my plans right now, but I’ll never say never. For now, I’m happy in the Regency and might even look at other historical time periods in the future. I’m fascinated by the past, and how some things are the same over time (like human motivations) and others shift so much (like social mores about women’s behavior). That interplay between the familiar and the strange is one of the things I enjoy most about historical romance.
LB: When I was in France recently I saw one of your books in French at a Carrefour grocery store! I was so proud to know one of the authors in the romance aisle. What do you think of the French covers?
Theresa: That’s so cool that you spotted one of my books in the wild! Merci! So far, the only foreign editions of my books that have been released are the French ones, which all have beautiful covers. They don’t necessarily look like Regency covers, but they’re elegant and give a great sense of character. Indonesian and Russian translations of some of my books are forthcoming, so it’ll be interesting to see what the cover art for those looks like too. Every publisher seems to have a distinct artistic style.
LB: What’s up next for you?
I’m finishing up a book that will spin of the Royal Rewards series. Lady Rogue will be out next spring! Before then, in September, Grace Burrowes and I are releasing a Regency novella duo called The Duke’s Bridle Path. Readers can check my website, theresaromain.com, for excerpts, links, and all the latest news about my books.
LB: Ooh I love Grace Burrowes! I’m reading The Trouble With Dukes right now and it’s fabulous. I’m super excited for your novella with her. Thanks so much for visiting the blog today!
Theresa: It was my pleasure!
You can read Chapter One of Scandalous Ever After here. Theresa is offering an awesome prize that will bring one lucky reader up-to-date on the Romance of the Turf series. Simply comment for a chance to win a Kindle or Nook copy of The Sport of Baronets and a Kindle, Nook, or print copy of A Gentleman’s Game. Open internationally!