An Interview with Evangeline Collins

hlcToday, I’d like to welcome historical romance author Evangeline Collins! I just finished reading her debut release from NAL Signet, Her Ladyship’s Companion, last week, and I loved it. Evangeline has a beautiful voice, and her love scenes are exquisitely crafted and emotionally rich. If you like your romances lush and sensual, you have to give Evangeline’s book a read!

In the Scottish countryside of Selkirk, Lady Isabella Stirling resides at Bowhill Park, serving penance for a sin that nearly ruined her family. For five years she has been condemned to a loveless marriage and confined to the estate where she does little more than tend her rose garden. With her husband absent for months at a time and few visitors, Bella lives a lonely existence, denying the passions that burn within her very soul.

Then her cousin comes for a visit and makes an outrageous suggestion: what Bella needs is a lover. A hired lover. Despite her need, Bella says no. But soon Mr. Gideon Rosedale arrives—and he is at her service for two weeks. Indulging in what she intends to be a harmless flirtation, Bella is overcome by Gideon’s intoxicating presence. And when she at last permits him to satisfy her desires, she discovers she’s done the unthinkable—she’s fallen in love.


Jackie: The hero of your debut release, Her Ladyship’s Companion, is a male prostitute (albeit a very high class one!). It’s not unusual to see courtesans as romance heroines, but male escorts are pretty much unheard of, I think. What made you choose to write such an unconventional character?

Evangeline: First and foremost, I like ‘different’ in romance novels. I like to push the boundaries, to challenge myself to try something that’s not usually done and see if I can find a way to make it work. When it comes to deciding on a hero and heroine for a book, I like to go with opposites – two people who appear totally different on the surface but actually go together perfectly. So when I was mulling over a hero for Bella, a woman who looks like an ice princess but has a heart of a tart, I couldn’t resist giving her a man like Gideon. And well…I have a thing for spice in romance novels, and casting a man like Gideon in the role of hero would be sure to guarantee many opportunities to heat things up.

Jackie: Bella, the heroine, is a rose breeder. Although there isn’t a lot of technical detail about rose breeding in the novel itself, I sense you did a lot of research into that aspect of your heroine’s interests. Could you tell us a little about how you went about it and what you learned?

Evangeline: I’m not a gardener at all. Seriously. I have these two little bushes in front of the house, below a window, and this is the third year in a row where I’ve had to dig up dead bushes and plant new ones. I’m hoping I won’t kill them this year. So I had to do a lot of research to figure out what would be in Bella’s garden and how she would care for them. Primary sources for research include the internet (American Rose Society has a wonderful site) and my mother, who is an avid gardener with a particular interest in roses.

The main thing I discovered was that there’s a big difference between the roses we know today and those in the Regency. While Empress Josephine’s love of roses led to an increase in popularity of roses and to rose breeders developing new varieties, the major advances in hybridization didn’t occur until after the Regency, so with the exception of Chinas, roses only bloomed once a year. China Roses continuously bloom, but are not very hardy to cold temperatures, so they could only thrive in Bella’s hothouse.

Jackie: Madame Rubicon, the owner of the brothel in which Gideon was raised, is quite a ruthless woman. I know you’re planning to do more books that feature her employees. Do you think she has any redeeming qualities or is she just a straight-up bitch?

She’s definitely not the most pleasant individual, but she’s not a straight-up bitch. In Seven Nights to Forever, you’ll see that she treats the female employees a bit differently than her male employees. Rubicon used to be a whore herself, so it made sense to me that she’d be a bit more sympathetic/understanding of women, but not so with the men. Still, she’s not what one would call a genuinely nice person.

Jackie: Can you tell us a little more about your next book, Seven Nights to Forever?

Evangeline: It features another employee from Rubicon’s brothel, except this time the employee is a beautiful young woman named Rose (yeah…I’ve realized I seem to have a thing for roses now). She’s the daughter of a respectable country gentleman who’s been forced by circumstances to find a lucrative line of work to support her younger brother. Rose first tried life in the demimondaine, but after her experiences with an unpleasant protector, she relocated to Rubicon’s, where she works one week out of every month. When she returns from her country home to London to start a new week of work, she meets James, a wealthy merchant who was forced into an aristocratic marriage of convenience to gain entry into the ton. And their seven nights together lead to a chance at forever. ….all right, it’s more than a chance. They will get their HEA.

Jackie: You also write Regency-set m/m romance under the pen name, Ava March. Could you tell us a little more about your Ava March books? How did you get started writing m/m romance and how do you think it differs from m/f romance (if at all)?

Evangeline: The main differences between Ava and Evangeline are that my Ava books are significantly hotter, they are all novellas, and the books feature two heroes instead of a hero and a heroine. Other than that, I think the writing feels the same – same time period, both character driven, and heavy on the sex and angst. Well, Ava’s a lot heavier on the sex. *g*

The heroes are always my favorite characters in romance novels. I’m a woman and I know how a woman thinks – no great mystery there – but men are a different beast all together. I find them very fascinating. I also am quite the fan of m/m romances. So one day I decided to try to write my own. Well, it actually was a bit of a dare between a friend and I – we each started writing m/m books at the same time (there is definitely courage in numbers. LOL). I think the main differences between m/f and m/m are in the character and power dynamics, and that’s why m/m romances appeal to me. In them, men can be more…vulnerable, I guess is the right word. You can see a different side of a man in a m/m relationship than in a m/f relationship. It’s hard to explain, but once you’ve read a couple m/m books, you’ll see the differences and they are not just physical differences (…get your mind out of the gutter!*g*) – it’s in the way the men relate to each other. I love the challenge of keeping my Ava heroes strong men who fall in love with each other, in the Regency era when such love was punishable by death.

But my first love was m/f historical romances, and I love to write m/f romances which aren’t quite as heavy on the sex. Hence why I have both Ava and Evangeline.

Jackie: What draws you to the Regency period? Are there any other historical time periods that interest you as settings for future books?

Evangeline: It’s hard to define exactly what draws me to the Regency period. Maybe it’s because the first batch of historical romances I ever read were regencies. I do adore the adherence to proper behavior coupled with the element of indulgence. I also enjoy reading medieval and Victorian romances, but I don’t think I’d ever write outside the Regency. For some reason, all my ideas for books and characters take place during the Regency.

Jackie: How and when did you start writing “for real”? I think all authors can divide their careers into “before I got serious” and “after.” When and how did you cross that divide?

Evangeline: When I joined my local RWA chapter. I had been writing in complete and utter ignorance for about a year, just scribbling in my notebook with the vague idea that I’d try to write a book, and then I discovered there was a local romance author group in my area, and from there discovered RWA. Talking with other writers about writing really gave me the drive to get serious about it.

Jackie: As an author who’s both epublished and NY print published, can you tell us what you see as the advantages (and/or disadvantages) of both? Do you recommend starting in epublishing as a step on the way to a print career, or do you see it as a goal in its own right?

Evangeline: I actually sold to Berkley before selling to Samhain and Loose Id – it was when I was submitting HLC to agents that I decided to try to write the Ava books. I truly see e-publishing as a goal in its own right. In fact, I see them both as very worthy avenues for an author’s career. It all depends on the particular author and where they want their career to go, and what fits best for them. Some authors use e-pubs as a step to a print career, some use them as their end goal, and others, like myself, would like their career to include both.

Jackie: Our readers may or may not know this, but it just so happens that we share an agent, Kevan Lyon of the Marsal Lyon Literary Agency. I’d love to hear how you landed her as an agent and also a little about your sale of Her Ladyship’s Companion to Berkley.

Evangeline: Quite honestly, I’m still amazed that as a newbie, unpublished author, I was able to land her as an agent. I sent her the first 50 pages and a query for HLC, and she replied back with a request for a full. Six weeks later I got a request for some revisions. We talked on the phone about the book, about the agency, about her and how she works – pretty much the conversation gave me a good feel that we’d work very well together. I revised a couple chapters and sent them to her, to make sure I was on the right track. And that evening I got an offer for representation. It was March 17th – yes, it was a very good St. Patrick’s Day! I, of course, accepted her offer and went back to work to finish the revisions.

Once those were done, Kevan gave the book another read and then she sent it off to editors. And on May 15th, I accepted an offer from Berkley. I know I’ve been very lucky to have landed an agent with the first book I ever queried, and to have made a sale with that same book. That’s why when asked to sum up my path to publication with one word, I always say ‘lucky’.

Jackie: What’s the best thing about being a writer? And what’s the worst?

Evangeline: The best part is coming up with new book ideas. I love mulling over concepts, fleshing out characters, plotting out books. I was one of those kids who could play with my Barbies by myself all day and be happy as a clam, so I love to just think up new books. I also love having written those books I was excited to write. But actually writing them…not always the height of fun. Weird, I know. I love writing, but I hate writing the first draft. Sometimes it can be painful to get the words to go onto the page the way I want them to. But once the words are there, it’s back to being fun again and I can edit and tweak and mold the thing into the book I envision it to be.


So, if you didn’t want to read Evangeline’s book before, I’m betting you do now! Lucky for you, she’s generously agreed to give away a copy to a random commenter. You have until next Monday (when I want the blog back because it’s release day…whee!) to post your comment and be entered into the drawing.

Also, if you have any questions of your own for Evangeline, rumor has it she’ll be around to answer periodically.

Winner of AHOW, and More Chances to Win Prizes

All right, it’s Thursday. The randomizer spit out Sara Hurt as the winner of the copy of A Hint of Wicked. Sara, please email me at jackie at jackiebarbosa dot com with your snail mail address, and we’ll get it out to you!

Disappointed that you didn’t win? Well, there’s still a chance to win more prizes.

  • Jennifer Haymore has an interview with me on her blog today and a chance to win a copy of Behind the Red Door.
  • I’m also being interviewed by the lovely Beverley Kendall. If you enter her contest, you could win a copy of my book or a $15 gift certificate to Amazon, Barnes & Noble, or Fictionwise (winner’s choice).
  • Tomorrow, Evangeline Collins, author of Her Ladyship’s Companion, will be here for an interview. She will also be giving away a copy of her book. You’ll be able to enter by commenting through next Monday. I’ll draw a random winner on Tuesday night and post on Tuesday.

Finally, official release day for Behind the Red Door is next Tuesday, but I am hearing rumors that it’s already appearing on bookstore shelves. So, in honor of the first books “in the wild,” I’m offering up a $15 gift certificate to my new favorite online and brick-and-mortar bookseller, Books A Million, to the first person who sends me a photo of Behind the Red Door on a shelf in a real, live bookstore. (I love their coupon deals!)

Also, since I’m currently in Dallas on business, I will give a $40 certificate to the retailer of your choice to anyone who can point me to a bookseller in/around downtown Dallas with copies on the shelves, as I will go there and sign stock tonight. You have to get to me by 5pm today, though, since I’m only here through tomorrow morning.

An Interview with Jennifer Haymore

hintofwickedToday, I’d like to welcome Jennifer Haymore, author of A Hint of Wicked, to the blog. When I first heard about this book a few months ago, I was instantly intrigued. The premise was just too unusual not to spark my interest.

Here’s the back cover blurb:

CAUGHT BETWEEN DUTY AND DESIRE . . .

Sophie, the Duchess of Calton, has finally moved on. After seven years mourning the loss of her husband, Garrett, at Waterloo, she has married his best friend and heir, Tristan. Sophie gives herself to him body and soul. . . until the day Garrett returns from the Continent, demanding his title, his lands-and his wife.

TORN BETWEEN TWO HUSBANDS . . .

Now Sophie must choose between her first love and her new love, knowing that no matter what, her choice will destroy one of the men she adores. Will it be Garrett, her childhood sweetheart, whose loss nearly destroyed her once already? Or will it be Tristan, beloved friend turned lover, who supported her through the last, dark years and introduced her to a passion she had never known? As her two husbands battle for her heart, Sophie finds herself immersed in a dangerous game-where the stakes are not only love . . . but life and death.

As soon as I read that hook, I was hooked. I just received my copy in the mail a few days ago and am itching to sit down and dive into it. In the meantime, I asked Jennifer a few questions about her book and writing in general. So, without further ado, here are my questions and her answers.


Jackie: Tell us a little bit about your upcoming release, A Hint of Wicked. What sparked the idea for the story of a woman who has remarried only to discover her first husband is still alive?

Jennifer: Way back in 2007, my husband and I were discussing plotlines for a new story. I told him how I love getting my characters into horrendous, impossible-to-solve problems and then helping them to figure out a solution, no matter how impossible it might sound. The upshot: The bigger the conflict, the more fun I have as a writer.

My husband thought about it a while and finally said, “What about a man returning from the grave to return to the woman he’s loved forever, only to find her with another guy?”

Hmmm…(I actually think my first verbal reaction was, “Hmmm…”) what an idea! I took it and ran with it, and haven’t looked back since. 

highlandobsessionJackie:  You’ve been writing under the pen name, Dawn Halliday, for some time, and have quite a few books out with Samhain and Ellora’s Cave, and NAL will be releasing a Dawn title soon. Could you tell us how your “Dawn” books differ from your “Jennifer” books?

Jennifer: The Dawn books, while being romances first and foremost, have a stronger erotic element than the Jennifer books do. My first New York title as Dawn, Highland Obsession, will release from NAL/Signet Eclipse in August.

[Editorial comment: Ooooh, hot cover. I’d like one to go, please :).]

Jackie: How do you write a book? Are you a plotter or a pantser or somewhere in between? Do you start at the beginning and write straight through to the end, or jump around and write scenes that are clear to you regardless of where they appear in the book?
 
Jennifer: I’d say I’m somewhere in the middle. Now that I’m contracting books on proposal, my editors want to see a complete synopsis before I finish a story. So I write synopses now, and I do find them to be a beneficial loose guide when I’m on deadline and working hard to finish a book. However, if the characters decide to take a radical turn, I usually hand them the reins and let them take the story where it needs to go. Characters often surprise me! So I still very much follow my characters’ leads as opposed to shoehorning them into a plot I’ve laid out in advance.
 
Jackie: What’s your favorite scene in A Hint of Wicked and why?
 
Jennifer: That’s a really difficult question to answer, since I like different scenes for different reasons! I’d have to say one of my favorites is when Garrett walks in on Sophie and Tristan in bed. It’s a painful scene for all of them for a variety of reasons—I think I’m a little bit of a sadist when it comes to torturing my poor characters! <grin>

Jackie: You know I have to ask this. Tristan or Garrett?
 
Jennifer: Um…both?


So, want to find out who the heroine of A Hint of Wicked actually chooses (since Jennifer is clearly too wishy-washy to choose for herself)? Well, you can! Jennifer has graciously offered to give away a signed copy of the book to one lucky commenter to be chosen at random. To enter, just post a comment below. Winner will be announced on Thursday at noon PST!

A Little Sneak Peak

As some of you may remember, I had plans to roll out a new website and blog on May 1. Obviously, that date has been a bit delayed, and I’m not even 100% sure when everything will be up and running under the new template, but I’m just so thrilled with how it’s coming together that I had to share a sneak peak of what Frauke at Croco Designs has worked up for me.

Gorgeous, isn’t it?

Anyway, I’m hoping to have everything moved over to the new template by the end of this week, but since I’m a bit of a newbie at WordPress, I can’t be 100% sure.

In the meantime, be sure to keep visiting We Heart Historicals every day and commenting for your chance to win.

We Heart the Historical!


All this month, Emma Petersen is hosting a slew of authors in a tribute to the historical. And not just the traditional historical, but every brand of historical from mainstream to paranormal to fantasy to erotic. There’ll be a new author every day, and lots of books will be given away, including fifteen copies of Behind the Red Door.

Want to know more? How about a list of the authors who’ll be visiting? I don’t have dates for everyone yet, but I’ll be posting over in the right hand column every day to let you know who today’s guest author is. So here (in alphabetical order by first name becayse, hey, it’s gotta have SOME organization to it) is a list of the authors who’ve so generously agreed to join the celebration:

Seriously, is that a list full of win or what? You know you want to enter and you know you want to win. So come early and come often.

Today’s guest author is Madeline Baker, and she’s giving away a copy of her recently re-released first book, Comanche Flame.

Winner of Blue Diablo (and other news)

(Drum roll, please…)

The winner of the signed copy of Blue Diablo with her heart-wrenching tale of economic woe is HockeyVampiress! Please email me at jackie at jackiebarbosa dot com as soon as possible with a snail mail address and I will pop it into the mail to you!

In other news, I’m over at The Romance Studio blog today talking about what’s behind the Red Door, and giving away another free copy. Don’t miss it!

Also, today my CP and best bud Emma Petersen launched We Heart the Historical month on her blog with a post from Dear Author’s Jane Litte. Don’t miss it and don’t miss all the other great authors who’ll be stopping by to guest blog during the month of May, including, but not limited to:

And there’ll be free books! What more could you ask?

Win A Signed Copy of Blue Diablo

A couple of weeks ago, the fabulously talented Ann Aguirre was in town for a book signing, and I got two copies of Blue Diablo, both signed, one for me and one for…one of you!

Now, I’m sure you’ve heard the “buzz” around this book, and it’s totally deserved. I gobbled it up in two helpings, half on a plane on the way to Philadelphia and half on the way back.

I’m the first to admit that I’m not usually a big fan of the urban fantasy genre, but because I loved the Sirantha Jax books so much (space opera is up my alley–hello, Star Trek fan!), it was a foregone conclusion that I had to give Blue Diablo a chance. And I am not sorry I did. Every element of this book is exquisite, from the way the setting weaves its way into scenes as if the places were characters themselves to the crackling tension between Corine and Chance. I loved this book and didn’t want it to be over!

So, you want a copy? All right, fair enough. Here’s the contest. In the comments, give me your best reason for why you haven’t yet bought Blue Diablo. On Friday, I’ll pick the best, most creative excuse…er, reason, and award my spare signed copy to that commenter.

Think hard. Your reason’s gotta be a good one!

And the Winners Are…

I used a random generator to draw names from the 16 eligible entrants and the winners of a copy of Behind the Red Door are:

  • Jeanne St. James
  • Savannah Chase

Please email me at jackie at jackie barbosa.com with your snail mail address, and I will get your signed copy in the mail.

And to all those who didn’t win, there will be more opportunities coming up. In fact, I’ll be doing another giveaway at the Aphrodisia Authors blog tomorrow, so be sure to check out my post there outlining the details. And I’ll be giving away a full fifteen copies during the month of May at the historical extravaganza on Emma Petersen’s blog. And there will be more even than that, so stay tuned for details.

On Monday, I’ll be opening a new contest for a signed copy of Ann Aguirre’s awesome urban fantasy, Blue Diablo. I read this book on the way to and from Philly, and loved it. And wept a little with envy. Ann is a freakishly talented writer whose books grab you by the throat and don’t let go…even when you’re finished reading them. I still can’t stop thinking about Corine and Chase!