by Anna Campbell
Sara Bennett is a fellow Aussie and a fellow Avon historical romance writer. Not only that, but she writes great Victorian romances! Perhaps she and Donna could talk about the delights of writing about all that underwear! I'm delighted to welcome Sara as my guest today in the lair. Oh, and there's a giveaway - so get commenting, people!
Sara, you write historical romance as Sara Bennett and paranormal romance as Sara Mackenzie. Can you tell us something about the difference in your two personas? Are there yet more Saras inside you, yearning to get out, perhaps the Sara who writes chick lit or romantic suspense?
LOL, Anna. There probably are more Saras, but they’ll just have to wait their turn, at the moment I have enough to do. And don’t ask me to say which one I like the best, because I can’t. I just know how lucky I am to be writing my two favorite genres for Avon. Are they different? Yes, definitely. I like to think that my Sara Bennett historicals are lighter—they’re certainly easier to write, but I think that’s because I’m working within a framework of real historical events. The Sara Mackenzie paranormals are much darker in tone, and I have to create my own framework, my own world, so that makes it more difficult.
Can you tell us about your next release, HER SECRET LOVER, which comes out from Avon in November, 2008?
HER SECRET LOVER is the final book in my Aphrodite’s Club series, and a real page turner. It’s the kind of book that keeps you up all night. Briefly, heiress Antoinette Dupre, a practical heroine, has fallen into the clutches of a fortune hunter. Imprisoned at his country estate she makes the acquaintance of highwayman, Gabriel Langley, who also has his secrets, and sparks fly between them. The story moves to London and the Great Exhibition of 1851, where Antoinette and Gabriel must learn to trust each other if they’re going to defeat their enemy.
You’re clearly a huge fan of series. Can you tell us why you love to write interconnected books and why you think they’re so popular? Any hints to girls who haven’t yet written a series about the best way to go about it (um, not mentioning any names here!)?
When I wrote my first book, THE LILY AND THE SWORD, I didn’t start off planning it to be a series. No one made me do it. It just seemed like a good idea, because I had plenty of characters and I wanted to explore each of them in more detail. It also gave me an opportunity to revisit Radulf and Lily now and again. And I like writing series—there’s something very comfortable about dipping back into a world you’re familiar with, like visiting old friends. I think that’s why people like them. Any hints about writing a series? Mmm, I think you need to do all your planning first, because you’ll need plenty of characters—ie four books equals four brothers, or four friends, or four somethings. I like to have each book as stand alone as possible, but I also like to have a mystery or plot thread that runs through all of the books, as I did in the Greentree Sisters trilogy. I think writing a series is a bit like juggling and trying to keep all those balls in the air without dropping them—so what are you like at juggling, Anna?
You started out writing medievals but now write Victorians. What is the appeal of each period? I love a great medieval and regret that there are so few on the shelves these days. Would you ever go back to writing them?
I love medievals, too, and I’m sorry they no longer seem to be as popular as they were. To be honest, it was the current market that persuaded me to move into the Victorian time period. And I liked the idea of all that seething passion beneath the tight corsets and dozens of petticoats. The Victorians were so much about appearances and what was proper, and I just love my characters to break all those strict rules. But I do still hanker after those medieval alpha heroes, so who knows.
Can you tell us about your writing journey?
Mmm, can I remember that long ago? I suppose I was writing from a very early age—as a shy, introverted child I loved reading and make-believe, so it just went from there. I recently found a book of stories I wrote when I was seven and they weren’t half bad When I was a teen I had some short stories published in magazines and won some contests, then I had a book accepted by Mills & Boon in 1982. Later on I wrote Australian mainstream historicals, and in 2000 I began writing for Avon. I’ve been lucky, really, even when times were tough—and there have been a few tough times—I’ve learned to have an open mind and not to be afraid to try something new.
What’s next for Sara Mackenzie?
Sara Mackenzie has a new trilogy pending.The Dark Lords, who are linked to my first trilogy, Immortal Warriors, are even darker and more dangerous. These books have taken longer to write than expected because I’ve been concentrating on my historicals, but hopefully they’ll be ready next year. I also have a short story in THE MAMOTH BOOK OF PARANORMAL ROMANCE the Mammoth Book of Paranormal Romance, which will be published in June ’09, so watch out for that.
What’s next for Sara Bennett?
Sara Bennett has just finished writing the first book in her new series, to be published in June ’09. I don’t want to say too much yet, but it will be a five book series and tells the stories of five friends who decide not to be content with just any husband—they go after the men of their dreams.I’m really excited about the idea and the series, and looking forward to starting on book #2.
Sara has very kindly offered one lucky commenter a signed copy of her most recent Avon historical romance, A SEDUCTION IN SCARLET, which you can read about here. So she'd like to know - Victorian or Regency? Do you have a preference? Why? Do you think there's a difference between romances set in these two periods?