Sarah M. Eden and I belong to the same writers group—American Night Writer’s Association. I first met her at a summer retreat. If you want to put some life into a party or event—Sarah’s your gal. I’ve been to two writer’s conferences where she presented and discovered this about her: She’s clever and funny, and never boring.
Untroubled by the lack of interest by traditional publishers, Sarah self-published her first several books, and was nominated last year for a Whitney Award for her novel, Seeking Persephone. I’ve read it, and done a book review on it, and can’t wait to get my hands on her newest book—which is being published traditionally—Courting Miss Lancaster.
My family has lived in the arid deserts of Arizona since before the invention of air conditioning. So insanity runs in my family. Not something most people would include on a resume, but it's great for an author. Writing requires a certain degree of mental instability—and a tendency toward insomnia. I write a lot at night and while my kids are at school and any time I am supposed to be cleaning my house. My 6-year-old describes my books this way: “Kissy, romantic books where the people lived a long time ago and talked funny.” Yep, pretty much. I write clean romances that take place in Regency England (think the first two decades of the 1800s: Napoleon, Jane Austen, Mad King George). The endings are always happy, the characters are usually funny and my mom thinks they are amazing.
So do I, and so do a whole bunch of other people! So, where do you get your inspiration for your stories?
Perhaps the single greatest source of inspiration for me lies in the fact that writing gives me an excuse to avoid responsible things. “Wow, I have very large piles of dishes on the counters (yes, plural) of my kitchen. Sorry. I need to write.” “The PTA is hoping I will bake 6 dozen cupcakes for the bake sale in a half-hour. Sorry. I need to write.” “What is that, children? You want dinner? There are frozen waffles in the freezer. Mom needs to write.” Inspiration? Check.
Do you have any challenges to getting your thoughts on paper?
I have a deep and unshakable need to consume large quantities of unnecessary and useless calories (and by this I mean Cheetos). This need creates another need—to exercise my backside, hips and gut off. These very real needs often get in the way of my writing. To my joy, I have managed to invent, in many different versions, a contraption made up of very large books, packing tape and the back of the sofa in my living room which allows me to type while spending some quality time with my elliptical machine while burning calories to which I'd rather not become too permanently attached. I would take a picture, but it's pretty embarrassing. Embarrassingly awesome! I am also developing a system by which I can type and eat at the same time. I call it “Click, click, click, chew.” Fascinating. I'm thinking of writing a book about it.
Where do you begin a book, plot or character?
My books always begin with a character, oddly enough. The plot and setting develop around him or her. I write romances, so the next step is deciding what kind of person would be the love-interest for that character. Then I flesh out where and exactly when within my time period these people live, their circumstances, etc. Those things which come in the way of their being together are usually obvious at this point—if not, I figure that out. So, my ideas come from people. This is probably the primary reason I have no friends — everyone is afraid they'll end up in my next book. It probably doesn't help that I tell them about this possibility.
Tell us about your most recent Regency Romance novel, Courting Miss Lancaster.
About 200 pages. Oh... wait. I get what you mean. Let me refer to the oh-so-handy back of the book:
Harry Windover adores blonde, green-eyed Athena Lancaster, but alas, a penniless man like himself has no hope of winning a young noblewoman's hand. To add insult to injury, Athena's brother-in-law and guardian, the Duke of Kielder, has asked Harry to assist Athena in finding the gentleman of her dreams. But the lovesick Harry is cunning as well: as the weeks pass, he introduces Athena to suitors who are horrifically boring, alarmingly attached to their mothers, downright rude, astoundingly self-absorbed, and utterly ridiculous.
Athena can't comprehend why she is having so little success meeting eligible and acceptable gentlemen. Indeed, her circle of admirers couldn't be less admirable--nothing like the loyal, gentle friend she's found in Harry.
But how long can Harry's scheme be hidden before it is discovered? And what will Athena do when she uncovers Harry's deception?
This sounds great! What are you working on right now?
I am currently writing a sort-of-sequel to Courting Miss Lancaster. It follows the misadventures of another Lancaster sister — timid and uncertain Daphne — as she attempts to find love despite almost overwhelming obstacles. She comes up against snooty Peers, selfish matrons and even the dreaded “Love Triangle!” Now, that's gonna be an amazing story!
Oooh, I can’t wait. I know you're a mom and don't have a lot of free time, but other than writing, what other kinds of things do you enjoy?
When my daughter was in preschool, she made me a Mothers Day card in which she answered several questions about me. Her answer to the question “What does your mom like to do most?” was “Not cook.” So, there you go.
I also enjoy reading and music and not sleeping (though “enjoy” isn't precisely the right word for that last one—more like “accept begrudgingly”).
In all my free time, (rolling my eyes), I am a regular contributor at http://mormonmommyblogs.blogspot.com/ a presenter at various writing conferences, a Mommy-Taxi and an interviewer-extraordinaire for my recurring blog segment “I Need Friends Friday” at http://www.sarahmeden.com/.
Where can readers buy Courting Miss Lancaster?
Courting Miss Lancaster can be found at Deseret Book stores and Seagull bookstores. A link to purchase online can be found at my website, http://www.sarahmeden.com/.
"Courting Miss Lancaster" sounds like great fun and I hope people will hurry and get a copy. I know they'll be glad. The trailer is at http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=UCNGPBmmYfQ
Thank you, Sarah, for the interview!