Wednesday, September 2, 2009

A Most Amusing Comedy

by Anna Campbell

I'm utterly delighted to introduce a fabulously funny writer to the lair. Janet Mullaney writes Regency comedies of manners (naughty ones!) and when she's not busy there, she blogs with the Risky Regencies. For more information on Janet and her books, please visit her website.

Janet's latest Little Black Dress book, A MOST LAMENTABLE COMEDY, is available from the Book Depository in the U.K. The Book Depository will post any book anywhere in the world with no postage!

For more information on Janet and her sparkling stories, please visit her website:

Janet, welcome to the Romance Bandits. You and your madcap stories should fit in really well here with our wild cabana boys and Sven the masseur, not to mention our wonderful Bandits and Bandita Buddies. I recently read your latest Regency romance, A MOST LAMENTABLE COMEDY, and nearly strained something I was laughing so hard. What a fabulous read. Can you tell us something about this book?

Thanks for inviting me into the Bandit Lair and for your kind words about the book! After I wrote THE RULES OF GENTILITY (HarperCollins 2007) I realized I might have to prove I could do something similar, but I didn’t want to write about another babbling na├»ve fashionista like the heroine of that book, Philomena Wellesley-Clegg. For one thing, I’d made this loud public vow never to write about virgins prancing around drawing rooms, and had a red face. And I thought I’d like to write about a bad girl, a bad girl—not one being a bad girl for a worthy cause.

So I found a girl behaving badly in Rules—the only function she had in the book was to show that the hero was a naughty man and to snap up the catch of the season (not the hero). HarperCollins wasn’t interested, but Little Black Dress (UK) who bought Rules offered me a three-book contract that I accepted when the dollar was at an all-time low against the British pound. By the time I got my first advance the dollar had rallied. I think I got that the right way round—I mean I made a lot less $$ than I originally anticipated. But, heavens, I’m not that mercenary. I hope. Now I sound like my heroine Caroline, who is that mercenary. And worse.

And I have a hero who’s this gorgeous, exploitative con man. They manage to persuade each other that they have money and they’re both broke and lying through their teeth. Then she becomes a Duke’s mistress because, well, it’s almost a rite of passage for romance heroines at the moment. And there’s a dancing bear called Daisy.

It's such a cool premise. Actually it reminded me of a rather obscure and very old Marlene Dietrich film called THE MONTE CARLO STORY. It' modern (well, 50s) and they're two con people who end up falling in love. What’s coming up next for the fabulous Janet Mullany?

Killing the mosquito that’s eating me, but after that … I’m currently working on the first of two books for HarperCollins, a paranormal-alternative historical about Jane Austen, a French invasion, and vampires. I call it "Blood Bath" because it’s set in Bath, but they’ve already told me to forget about that as a title and "Austen Powers" (my brother’s suggestion). It should come out next summer which is sort of scary. I have another Regency chicklit (written, whew) that may be called "Improper Relations" coming from Little Black Dress in spring (probably) of 2010.

I’m also contracted to write contemporary erotica for Harlequin Spice as Liz Diamond. Despite my whining that I don’t have a contemporary voice, my agent, who takes a firm hand with me, insisted I did and sold two books to teach me a lesson. So there. So I’m busy, and yeah, I’m complaining (a bit) but I’d be complaining more if I wasn’t.

Hey, fantastic! Here in the lair, we love call stories. Can you tell us yours? And I’d love to know a bit about your writing journey.

(Whining) When do I get the massage? Oh, OK. I was unemployed, unshowered, and had a broken phone that disconnected three times during the call. That was my first book, DEDICATION, which I’d written purely out of exasperation and deciding to write a book I wanted to read. I sold it to the now defunct Signet Regency line (of the famed polyester gowns and interchangeable heads covers) and the editor asked me to cut 20,000 words and I said "OK, but the sex has to stay." I thought it might be a deal breaker but she said it was fine. I put STET in huge letters on the galley when the editor tried to change 'cock' to 'manhood' but they let me leave in all the grown up sex and rude terms—my h/h both knew what they were doing.

I’d been writing fiction about three or four years then, and while I couldn’t and can’t say that I’m a massive romance fan I thought I could write what I wanted to under the romance umbrella (exactly what sort of weather do you have when you pull out the romance umbrella?). It is, after all, a huge and diverse genre. And I thought the romance writers I met were extremely cool, and Chris aka Christie and I were in the same critique group. After DEDICATION, the line folded (I am not responsible for the demise of the trad Regency even though my book had that nasty sex stuff in it), my editor left, and … oh, publishing biz as usual.

Sven hasn't been himself since we featured him in a blog. Sven? Sven! I think it was Oscar Wilde who said “Dying is easy, comedy is hard.” If it wasn’t OW, it should have been! You have one of the most sparkling and original comic voices I know. Can you give us some advice about writing funny?

It does sound like OW, but I became curious and looked it up--it was an English actor called Sir Donald Wolfit who may not be remembered for much else now. As for writing funny, I think either you have it or you don’t; I think it’s partly voice. And, uh, I don’t find it that hard; in fact I have to restrain myself. A lot of what I do is surprise comments, when a character pulls back from a situation and makes an observation. I also love physical humor and I’ve just spent some time unsuccessfully trying to find a guest blog from a couple years ago where I rewrote Elizabeth/Darcy’s first proposal in PandP and introduced a whoopee cushion as an example of how to write humor. I think you get the idea.

Can you tell us about your writing day?

How old are those cabana boys? They look very … youthful. My writing day is tedious and disorganized and I don’t want to depress anyone by describing it. I have a day job that gives me some contact with the real world (as much as working for a baroque music ensemble will) and gives me a steady but laughable income and a structure.

VERRRRRY young, Janet. That's how we like them. Bwahahahahaha! I notice you write erotic stories under the pen name Jane Lockwood. Can you tell us about your alter-ego?

Jane’s having a bit of a lie-down after too much excitement (FORBIDDEN SHORES, 2007), and the sparkling Liz Diamond will burst on the scene with a Harlequin Spice that may or may not be called "Red Light" in 2011. I love writing erotic historical romance (the clothes! The lack of underwear! The lacing and rules and stuff! The jiggly carriage rides!) and I hope to get back to it sometime.

By the way, I burn really easily and I think I’d better get a cabana boy to help me with the sunscreen, but before I go, here’s several questions to ponder: I always wonder what makes a reader stay with a book to the end. Is it really all about the story? The characters?

I love the covers both HarperCollins and Little Black Dress gave me. But it’s not just the cover … what makes you decide to buy a book?

Do you think I’m right in saying that humor is something you have or don’t have? Do you think humor is appropriate in a romance or is love serious business?

Janet has very kindly offered one lucky commenter a signed copy of A MOST LAMENTABLE COMEDY today! Get commenting, people, I thought this was a fabulous read and so funny!


limecello said...

Hi Janet,
Thanks for visiting with us today! Great post :D

As for your questions... it's 3:25 AM so I don't know how great my answers will be. What makes me buy a book? The author, first off, and next, the premise of the story. There are certain tropes I'm a sucker for. And then, if the story is something unique. I... :X admit to getting sick of trends rather easily.
Book blurbs, and excerpts are even more important to me, so I like reading those on an author's website.

The story is important to me, but in the end, it's all about the characters. (And of course for romance, the development of their relationship. I love that.) If the plot is so bad/weird/off that it distracts from the characters... well that's bad- but I'm willing to suspend rather a lot of belief for the story, as long as the characters are very believable.

Anna Campbell said...

Hey, Lime! Another day with the chook! He's definitely revisiting old haunts. Hey, weren't you going to start going to bed early?

I'm with you about the characters! They make or break a romance for me.

Anna Campbell said...

Janet, there's some charming and very clever parallels to A Midsummer Night's Dream in your story (not just the title!). Do you want to tell us a bit more about that?

PinkPeony said...

Hola Duchess! Hello Janet!
Wow...Janet, your books sound fantastic and right up my alley. I love the name Philomena and if you ever find that blog piece on physical humor, I'd very interested in reading it.

What makes me buy a book? I've been misled by covers so a nice cover doesn't do it for me anymore. I tend to avoid dumb or overly cutesy covers too unless it's an author I've read before. It's probably the blurb on the back that's the deciding factor. I've seldom stopped reading a book because it's bad. I keep hoping the story gets better and I must like/empathize with the characters...and the plot and character's motivation must be believable, no matter how crazy the storyline is, the manner in which the heroine digs herself out must be plausible.
Congrats Lime =:-)

mariska said...

Hi Janet,
nice to read your interviews.
What makes me buy a book? It always the blurb on the back of the cover. I happened to read blurbs from about 10 books on a bookshop last weekend. As i only permitted to buy one book (financial cause) so i was carefully read the blurbs one by one :) It's seldom for me to see the cover when i buy a book.
If i found the first part of the a book was bad. I just keep reading it till the end coz i've to finish what i start :)

Luv2read/Deb said...

What a great interview, Anna and Janet. I had fun reading it. I know Anna has a great sense of humor, and it seems you have one to match, Janet.
I'm guilty--I look at book covers and how titles are placed on the front. That certainly isn't the reason I buy a book. Number one is usually the author. If I don't know the author, then I read through the back description as well as thumbing through the first few pages to get a feel for the story. The second reason I buy a book is because I have a little bookstore I haunt and the owners know exactly what kind of stories and authors I like and are always having me try new books/authors.
I like humor in a romance as long as the storyline is plausible. Romance can be fun and funny.

Helen said...

Congrats limcello have fun with him

Great interview Ladies I do hope you enjoy the sunscreen rub Janet.

I loved Rules of Gentility I don't think I have ever laughed so much reading a book and your new book has already been added to my must get list I am so looking forward to reading it.

What makes me stay till the end of the book the characters the story line and the love scenes and of course the HEA.

Usually I buy a book because of the author or discussions around the blogs and the cover can sometimes make me buy them but more so the blub on the back.

Yes I think some people just have that humour in them and I do love a romance that makes me laugh and cry and just not be able to put the book down where I feel close to the characters.

Thanks Anna for inviting Janet today

Have Fun

Kandy Shepherd said...

Very entertaining interview thank you Janet and Anna!

Janet Mullany said...

Morning (and it's early!), limecello, Jen, Mariska, Deb, Helen, Kandy!

And hi Anna again, thanks for having me here. Yes, the Midsummer Night's Dream thing--the houseparty where the first part of the book is set is involved with an amateur production of the play, and it affords great opportunities for bad behavior! And there's the element of mistaken identities and pursuit throughout the book. I had fun with it.

Anna Sugden said...

Hi Janet! Welcome to the Lair and thanks to Fo for enticing Janet into our midst.

I tend to buy books based on the author. I rarely buy based on cover - it has to be really interesting to catch my attention for a new author, and then, I'll check out the blurb and see if it appeals. Maybe read the first page.

That said, I'm not a huge fan of the LBD covers - I've been known to buy the US version of Rachel Gibson's books because I don't like her UK covers. Ditto with Deanna Raybourn. My great friend Julie Cohen has been lucky with her LBD covers, so they're not all bad *g*.

Bad characters can switch me off a book really quickly, although if the author is a fave I'll stick it out as long as I can. Poor plots just make me want to throw books at the wall, though again, if it's a fave author, I'll try my best to stick it out. I'll put up with a weak plot for great characters.

Honestly, though, these days, with so many great books to read and a TBR mountain that is threatening to take over my office, I must admit to being tough on poor books.

Anna Sugden said...

ps forgot to say that I think there are too few great humorous romances out there these days. I love them (I've added your two to my order list!) and wish publishers would understand that not everyone likes dark (or dark paranormal!).

Writing humour is something I think you either have or don't have. I certainly don't have it. I can do one-liners and zingers, but I don't have the ability to write funny. Especially not situational comedy.

I think it's kind of like stand-up comedy - the observational skills and timing are something that have to be inside you!

Annie West said...

Hi Janet,

Anna recommended your book 'The Rules of Gentility' to me some time ago and I'm so looking forward to rescuing it from my tbr pile.

I absolutely think humour and romance can go together. It's a gift to be able to write that way. I love giggling my way through a book!


AvonLadyJerrica said...

Wonderful interview, Janet! I absolutely adored Rules of Gentility! It combined my favorite genres, and I had to read it at home because I was getting looks on the subway for laughing out loud! I can't wait to read A Lamentable Comedy :)

As for humor in a romance, it's pretty much a must. Being able to laugh with my husband is one of the most wonderful, romantic things for me. And not taking ourselves too seriously is uber important. I definitely gravitate to books with lighter plots and lighter covers...unless, of course, I'm in a paranormal mood :) And as for what makes me stick with it: a good story and good characters is really all it takes :)


Joan said...

Welcome to the Lair Janet. If those cabana boys are being lax (and Aunty WILL punish them later for that) my gladiators stand at the ready to offer their assitance....

How do you feel about shield sledding?

I think humor is a wonderful aspect to romance stories. Very dependent on the nature of the character which are what keeps me involved in a story.

As to covers, I very much enjoy the lovely torso of the hero...that will catch my eye as well as vibrant colors..but as Pink Peony says, I've been misled...

So the cover catches my eye but then I read the back blurb. If I still have doubts, a few pages midway of the book...

And already love your voice when, while reading the post, you are chatting along about your H/H and pop in "a dancing bear named Daisy"

Made me laugh.

Christie Kelley said...

Okay, I'm crawling out of the cave to wave to Janet!! So, I talk to her last night and does she even remind me she's going to be here today? NO!

Does she know I'm in deadline h#ll, yes! Does she remind me? NO!

But I'm not bitter :)

And while I don't consider myself a humor writer, I do love to add a little humor to break some of the tension.

Really can't wait to read the book, Janet. Maybe you can bring a copy for me tomorrow? See you then!

katsrus said...

I love a bit of humor in a book. I do book books without humor too. If the books sounds good to me I will usually read it. And yes I think you either have some humor in you or you don't.

Gail Hart said...

Hi Janet! I find it most lamentable that the Comedy isn't available in the U.S., and am happy to hear about the Book Depository!

Lynz Pickles said...

Hi, Janet! I've been dying to read this book since Mrs. Giggles reviewed it, so it's great to learn more about it.

Speaking of comedy, your ad for this book was HILARIOUS. "She wants to fondle his huge rent roll"? CLASSIC. Anyway, I believe you either have it or you don't. My grandmother has the slowest sense of humour I've ever seen. It usually takes her at least one minute to get a joke, so after eveyone else has stopped laughing and moved on, she'll suddenly start again. It's hilarious. I had dinner with her the other night and mentioned your ad, and after five minutes of explaining, she still didn't get the rent roll line. *sigh*

What makes me keep reading? A combination of the characters, the prose, and the plot. I also want some accuracy from my historicals, though I'm willing to suspend my disbelief up to a point. But mainly, it's about whether or not I can emotionally connect with it. For example, Elizabeth Rolls' His Lady Mistress, The Dutiful Rake, and The Chilvalrous Rake are all littered with Big Misunderstandings, but I love them anyway because the emotions in them are so real, and so well-written.

Buying the book... the cover plays an important role. I've bought books (they were on sale, though) for the cover alone. Knowing the author helps, the back cover blurb helps, and reading online reviews helps, too. If I'm still not sure, I'll read the first couple of pages.

And yes, humour and love go sooooooo well together. There's a reason why romantic comedies are so popular! Plus I'm sick of dark, angsty characters, so what a welcome change.

Donna MacMeans said...

Hi Janet - Welcome to the lair! Loved your blog. I think we'd have a grand time snookered at a bar somewhere (grins).

I have tried to write serious angsty stuff and it just doesn't work for me. I think you have to write what you write and if you force the humor - it reads as strained. At least that's my view this morning, it might change by afternoon.

Jeanne (AKA The Duchesse) said...

Okay, I'm going to pout right off the bat because Banditas can't win. So: *POUT*

There, got that out of my sustem. :> Janet, Welcome to the Lair! Its a lovely place to be on a sunny day. And yes, do get that soft touch of...sunscreen before you burn. Grins.

Love, love, love your humor and love the idea of this book. Can't wait to get my hands on it.

Anna, great interview, as always.

I have to say, that, like Limecello the Chook Mistress (Grins) I'm willing to suspend "rather a lot of disbelief" for geat characters. And an intruiguing story premise will find me willing to give even questionable characters - including virgins prancing in ballrooms as Janet so funnily put it - a lot of leeway.

If I don't know an author, a cover WILL influence me, but back cover copy influences me more. That and the first ten pages which I always read before buying. Ha!

Okay, you two tempted me out of the cave, but I must hie myself back...Again, Janet, WELCOME!!

Pam Rosenthal said...

Great interview, ladies.

I read LAMENTABLE during the recent RWA National Conference, when I stayed in Janet's spare room and woke the author one morning with my entirely unsolicited snorts and giggles.

chey said...

What makes me buy a book? When someone I know recommends it to me or if I like the blurb and excerpt. If there is one. If there isn't at least a blurb on the back of the book, I skip it.
I don't pay much attention to covers as I have also been misled by them. A title might catch my interest, but I'll at least read the blurb before I buy it.
I enjoy humour in romances.

Janet Mullany said...

Hi again everyone! This is fascinating, hearing why everyone buys books. I guess I’m sold on the back cover blurb and if I know the author, too. Not covers so much because they can be entirely misleading.

Mariska, you have real stamina. Like Anna, (hi Anna!) if I don’t like a book I stop reading there and then unless I have no other material to hand, or I flip through and find the sex scenes. Yes, I admit to it and I don't believe I'm the only one.

Deb, I envy you having an indie bookstore where you know the owners—I think it’s every reader’s dream. Every writer's dream, too.

Helen, the sunscreen rub was very stimulating, thank you, and thank YOU for your kind words about Rules.

Annie, hope you enjoy Rules.

Jerrica, I love stories of people being embarrassed by laughing aloud at my books on public transport. It happened to Anna too! I tend to rate books by how likely they are to make me miss my stop or, one on occasion (Pam Rosenthal’s The Edge of Impropriety, great book) made me take the wrong line altogether and not notice for fifteen minutes. Generally I’m only embarrassed by glowering mantitty covers.

Joan, I love spanking cabana boys. And gladiators. I’ll be happy to help. Shield sledding… some sort of euphemism I’m unfamiliar with?

Now Christie, stop pouting! (I forgot). If you bring me yours, I’ll bring you mine tomorrow. Do we have a deal?

Katsrus hi! Gail, I love I find the bit of the site where you can watch people buy books absolutely addictive and strangely relaxing—better than tv.

Lynz, I wish I’d used the rent roll line in the book. It came to me too late. My mum was one of the funniest people I know, but inadvertently. She also took a long time to get a joke and she was always surprised when people fell around at her comments. I took her on a sightseeing tour of Georgetown, the historic part of Washington DC, and she said “It’s quite nice but in England they would have knocked it down.” I laughed immoderately and I’ve been quoting it for about 20 years.

Hi Donna and Jeanne, thanks for the warm welcome!

And I’ll be back… have to do some work now.

Barbara Monajem said...

Usually I buy a book because I've heard about the author or the book. Apart from that, a cover might make me pick up a book, and the blurb on the back might make me open it and read a few pages, and the first pages might convince me to buy...

I adore humor in romances. I think it's probably something you have or don't have - a humorous mindset that can't help but leap onto the page.

Janet, I don't know why I've waited so long to read one of your stories! Dummy me. Heading straight over to the Book Depository now.

Beth said...

Welcome to the lair, Janet! Your book sounds fabulous. I love the premise *g*

Covers don't do it for me as I usually pick a book based on the author or the back cover blurb.

And like Anna, I'll put up with just about anything for great characters :-)

Minna said...

what makes me decide to buy a book? Cover makes me take a look at the book. What makes me buy it:
familiar author -there are some authors whose books I buy no matter what they write.
Interesting blurb.

Genella deGrey said...

Hi Janet!

I remember a time when some frowned on comedy in romance.

I'm so pleased they've packed up and taken the coach and four elsewhere.


Blodeuedd said...

Hi janet,

Oh I love covers, those and witty titles makes me take up a book. A good blurb makes me buy it. It comes down to the blurb then, and what I have heard

Anna Campbell said...

Jen and Janet, I'll go for a nice cover or a good blurb. Strangely, and I'm not sure why, I don't try before I buy. I know a lot of people read the first page in the bookshop but I never do.

Mariska, I'm a book finisher too although these days my reading time is so limited I'm dragging myself kicking and screaming to skimming the second half of a book if I'm not engrossed at that halfway point. Hurts! ;-) Hope the book you chose was a beauty!

Anna Campbell said...

Deb, that's one of the beauties of a really good bookseller, isn't it? When I started buying a lot of romance, apart from Harlequins which are readily available here, it wasn't that easy to get in Australia and it was before there was a big romance internet presence. Malvina ran the specialist romance bookshop in Sydney, which sadly isn't there any more. She introduced me to some amazing authors who are still among my favorites. I remember that's where I bought my first SEP, Jennifer Crusie, Linda Howard. The list just goes on and on.

Anna Campbell said...

Helen, so glad you enjoyed the interview. It was a lot of fun to do. And I'm delighted you really enjoyed the Rules of Gentility.

I actually did a rave about it on my website at the end of 2007:

Anna Campbell said...

Hey, Kandy! You'd LOVE Janet's stuff - it's got that wonderful English humor that appeals to you. Thanks for popping by!

Anna, I'm interested to know whther by 'bad' you mean badly written. Or do you mean unsympathetic? Personally I don't mind someone unsympathetic as long as they're interesting and they make some sort of change by the end of the story.

Anna Campbell said...

Anna, check out Kandy's Love is a Four-Legged Word. It's really funny, like a screwball 1940s comedy. Lovely!

Annie, I know some of your favorites have a lot of humor. The Lindsey Davises and the Georgette Heyers and the Elizabeth Peterses. Hmmm, too many last names ending in 's' in that lot. You'll love TROG when you get to it! And now I have an urge to sing Wild Thing!

Pat Cochran said...

Hello, Anna and Janet,

Humor is appropriate in most areas
of literature, well, maybe not in a
tome denoting the wonderful world of the funeral director! LOL. I myself look for that bit of humor that, to me, enhances the story. I love to say I laughed, I cried, I loved the book!

As to aids in choosing a book, I
"read" the cover, the blurb, the
reviews, the excerpts, and trust
my favorite authors. I also trust
sites like this one where authors
and bloggers recommend new-to-me

Pat Cochran

Becke Davis said...

I love these book covers! I don't often buy a book because of the cover, but these would have definitely caught my attention. Lovely to meet you, Janet -- I'm looking forward to reading your books!

Anna Campbell said...

Jerrica, I know exactly what you mean about laughing in public about these books. I was much more cautious with A MOST LAMENTABLE COMEDY. Read it in bed! Nobody therefore threatened to put me off the train for causing a ruckus!

Janet, I hope JT has coaxed both gladiators and cabana boys out to entertain you! Here, have another margarita! You'll start seeing double soon and that's a GOOD thing when cabana boys are involved!

Anna Campbell said...

Christie, that's just WRONG that Janet didn't tell you she was visiting today! Honestly, she owes us three jokes and a cancan with Sven before we're letting her out of the lair. Good luck with your deadline.

Katsrus, I adore your avatar! Here, kitty, kitty, kitty!

Anna Campbell said...

Gail, the Book Depository is brilliant. I get most of my books from there these days. They have pretty much all you'd want, all the new releases definitely, and as you pointed out, some wonderful stuff that isn't available outside the UK.

If anyone wants that website addy again, it's:

They're great for some of the Harlequin Mills and Boon lines that aren't available in the US either like the wonderful Medicals.

Anna Campbell said...

Oh, and for anyone wanting to buy Rules from Amazon, all you need to do is click on the cover and it takes you right to the page. We make it easy here on the lair. No, I said "MAKE it easy!" I didn't say we were easy!!!!

Anna Campbell said...

Lynz, love the rent roll line too! That's the stuff that got me in trouble with Queensland Rail!

Donna, you write wonderful humor because that reflects you - you're such great company!

Jeanne, thanks for sticking your nose out of the deadline cave. I hope I left it tidy for you. It was looking rather disgusting after my lengthy stay! Thanks for saying you enjoyed the intervew. You'd love this book!

Anna Sugden said...

If it's badly written, Anna, I don't bother with a book for very long! If the character is unsympathetic, I stick with it as long as I can bear. But, if I get too annoyed with them ... I ditch 'em.

The key, I think, is the growth of the character - to have an unsympathetic character, I need to see strong development as the book progresses or I wonder why the 'other half' bothers!

I had this in a book recently by a fave author. I didn't care for the characters at the beginning of the book, I didn't care what happened to them as the book progressed - I only stuck with it in the vain hope that something good would happen and because I loved revisiting the secondaries, who'd been in previous books!

Anna Campbell said...

Pam, isn't Lamentable a hoot? Janet wrote that heroine's voice just pitch perfect. The sort of world-weary, perfecty honest, willing to walk a fine line between ethically dodgy and absolutely awful. Loved it. And the hero was such a gorgeous creature too!

Chey, a good blurb will do it for me too. These days, too, I hear about the good stuff because of the internet. There's generally a lot of buzz about things that get readers excited. A bit like our gladiators...

Kit Donner said...

Oh darn, other people left comments. More competition for me. :( I read an excerpt of your book online and thought, well darn again, here's an original and funny voice and a new twist on regency. Loved it! Now why didn't I come up with that idea? It must be because you're British? You are British, aren't you? If not, then you must be extra smart or something. To change the subject, I'll read a book because it's been recommended or because someone I know wrote it. I'll buy humor any day. Thanks for a great interview Janet and Anna!

Anna Campbell said...

Janet, love the Georgetown line.

For some reason, it reminds me of a famous John Gielgud quote. Apparently he was famous for being horrible untactful. Someone asked him about Hamlets he'd seen and he said the best Hamlet he ever saw was an actor called Claude Raines who was utterly brilliant in the role. Fine until JG went on to say. "I don't know what happened to Claude Raines. I have a feeling he went to America and failed." Makes me roll around the floor every time I think of it (yeah, clearly I need to get out more!).

Anna Campbell said...

Barbara, you've got such a treat ahead of you. Although I should stop saying that. Am I the only person who finds it's death to a comedy if people keep saying how funny it is?

Ah, Beth, clearly we're reading sisters! I'm going to read your latest as a reward for getting my book in. Yum! Love diving into the TBR pile.

Anna Campbell said...

Minna, absolutely I agree with you that that author name is the clincher. But I still like to give someone new a go. I mean, I was new - I hoped people would give me a go too!

Genella, cute answer! No neigh sayers here!

Anna Campbell said...

Blodeuedd, sounds like you're a blurb girl too!

Pat, I've worked out a few sites, Bandits is one, where I know my tastes coincide with the bloggers'. I've picked up some amazing books thanks to our guests here.

Anna Campbell said...

Hey, Becke, have I ever steered you wrong? ;-)

Oh, Anna, what a pity about the disappointing read! Mind you, with a favorite, I'll always go back and give them another chance.

Well, darn, it's Kit! Kit, congratulations on the release of your debut historical THE NOTORIOUS BRIDEGROOM! Thanks for swinging by and grab these books, they're great!

cheryl c said...

What makes me buy a book? The author, the cover, the blurb on the back, reviews on blogs, and reader comments. All of these work together for me.

I do like humor in a book. It is delightful to read a book that has a nice blend of drama, romance, and humor. Some authors that do a great job of using humor are SEP, Jennifer Crusie, Julia Quinn, and Kristan Higgins.

Janet, your books sound like fun reads!

Becke Davis said...

No, you've never steered me wrong, Anna, but you've added to my TBR pile considerably!

Anna Campbell said...

Cheryl, great list of authors!

Becke, no gain without pain ;-)

Buffie said...

Hey Janet!

You had me giggling through out your entire post. Thanks for giving me a smile today! I've been home with a sick child, so any humor I can find really makes my day!

The characters and the storyline are what make me stick with a book to the very end. I have to feel the connection between the h/h, and I must feel vested in the story.

In regards to what makes me buy a book. Usually it's an author I have already read, or maybe an author who I have been introduced to by other romance fans or blogs, which as this lovely sight. But I have been known to pick up a book purely on the look of the cover. Something catches my eye and I plop my money down. Sometimes I find a fantastic new author and other times it is a disaster. But at least I go for it!

Pam Rosenthal said...

I'll buy just about anything that gets me to page 2 while I'm standing in a bookstore--it's one of my favorite forms of seduction.

Covers? Nah. But I'll read just about anything Laura Miller recommends at

And I've learned to ignore Janet Mullany's recommendations at my peril (can't imagine where I'd be without Mrs. Gaskell's Wives and Daughters -- well, without one of my favorite scenes in The Slightest Provocation, for starters, but I'll never tell which one).

catslady said...

I want some humor with all my stories. My favorite crime shows are NCIS and CIS Las Vegas because as dark as their subjects, they always have humor. Same for books. Anyone that takes everything too serious usually has no friends lol.

I love the characters and then the plot follows. There isn't a plot that can save a story if I don't like the characters.

A cover or title may lead me to a book but the back blurb (or a known author) does the selling.

Anna Campbell said...

Buffie, I love your attitude. I agree with you on giving someone new a go. I mean our faves were all new once, weren't they? Hope the sick offspring gets better fast! I agree with you about something funny being needed at times like that!

Pam, I've never read Wives and Daughters. Never read any EG! I must remedy that immediately. I adored North and South. And no, snickering Bandits and Buddies, not just because Richard was purty!

Anna Campbell said...

Catslady, that's interesting about the darkness alleviated by humor thing. I've recently become a devotee of Bones and it has that same dynamic. The crimes are generally REALLY dark (although sometimes they do a tongue in cheek one, although there's never really enough flesh for that!) but the interaction between the characters bristles with this wonderful sarcastic humor.

flchen1 said...

Hi, Janet! I have to agree with Limecello--it's mainly about the characters. If you get me to care about them, if I can feel a connection, then I'll more than likely read to the end, even through a possibly goofy plot or implausible twists. If I'm annoyed with the characters, I'll skim or worse, put down a lackluster book.

What makes me buy a book is a combination of blurb, author, and excerpts. Also getting to "meet" an author through blogs or chats tends to increase the likelihood I'm off to buy her books. If I like one, I tend to glom like crazy after that.

As for humor, definitely appropriate in romance! I love when an author can use it even in a story that might be serious overall--a little laughter breaks extreme tension and gives me a chance to see a different side of the characters.

Thanks for visiting today!

And congrats on the GR, Limecello!

Becke Davis said...

Anna - after a package of Tim-Tams mysteriously disappeared from my house, I'm blaming the "gain" on you in more ways than one!

Anna Campbell said...

Fedora, as a woman of officially exquisite taste (I'm just about to crown you as such on Facebook), believe me, you'd love Janet's books!

Becke, I think you need Sherlock Holmes on that mystery. It's absolutely bewildering! Tim Tams NEVAH disappear from my house, snort! The other big mystery is why I keep having to go up an underwear size!

Janet Mullany said...

Sorry I was away for so long, ladies. Although I'm pretty sure the sun doesn't shine in some of the places he found, Sven insisted on another very extensive sunscreen application, and as you can imagine, it took some time. We've also been working up our can can routine--I had no idea there were so many positions!

Hey Pam, thanks for dropping by! And Beth, Minna, Genelle, Blodeuedd (how DO you pronounce that?), Pat, Becke (ooh, Tim Tams...), Kit (yes I'm English and I don't know about supersmart but I've read a lot of books!), Cheryl, Buffie (sorry about the little one, hope s/he gets well soon), catslady, flchen1.

Anna, I love that Gielgud line, and thanks for keeping the chat going while I was otherwise engaged. Do read Mrs. Gaskell. I personally feel N&S is rather heavy going, life isn't all Richard Armitage all the time, you know; I love Wives & Daughters--it's the most wonderfully romantic book and at the same time so astute about families and class, and the BBC adaptation was terrific.

I have this sneaking feeling in the back of my mind that we're all really manipulated by publishers' marketing departments ...

Lois said...

Hiya in this neighborhood! :) I burn easily too, but I think even if we burn, we have lots of help with the guys around. So it all works out in the end. ;)

I think in the end, it depends on the book for what keeps us going. Some it's the story. . . some, we might like the characters even though the rest of it we aren't getting into. . . if as a whole the book isn't our thing, sometimes you just get into it enough that you just have to know what happens, even if you're reading a little faster to get there. So I don't think there is any one answer, but it depends on what the particular book is.

Covers don't make me buy a book, unless I'm browsing and see a guy in a cravat and a woman in an empire gown, then it might make me see what it's about. A cover like that, obviously tells us it's a historical, and I rather like those, so it might be interesting. But other than that, covers really don't bring me in. It's that all important blurb. :)

Yep, pretty sure humor is something that not everyone has. . . at least, it sure seems like it! :) And hey, love is funny and serious, so we have room for both. Heck, we have room for both in the same story! :)


Nancy said...

Limecello, congrats on taking home the rooster!

I like plot and character to mesh, too, but I read SFF and mystery, which are more plot-oriented and often less character-driven, and am perfectly fine with that. I think it's a question of what I go into the story expecting.

Nancy said...

Hi, Janet--

Welcome! Your books sound like great fun.

What makes me buy a book--if it's part of a series and I've read the others and liked them, I'll usually just buy the next. The geek in me hates shelving by alphabetical title order in bookstores. I want to read in order of publication.

If it's an author I've read before and liked, I'll either buy it outright, read the blurb and decide, or read the blurb and then part of the inside, depending on how much I liked prior books.

For a new author, I read the blurb, read the opening, and read part of the inside to make up my mind.

jo robertson said...

A hearty welcome to the Lair, Jane! I adore writers who can do comedy because I think it's a really trickly thing to pull off. I can write witty and clever maybe, but straight-out, hilarious comedy, nah!

Your books sound delightful. I'll be sure to add them to my TBR pile!

Virginia said...

Hi Janet, great post! I buy a book because of the story line, sometimes because of the author but the covers is what draws my eye to the book. I do think humor can be put into a romance book if done write because romance is not alway serious. I usually finish all of my books but its the story line and characters that make me want to finish the book.

PJ said...

Hi Janet! It's lovely to have you here. I've been reading such wonderful things about "A Most Lamentable Comedy" lately. I'm looking forward to reading it.

I love humor in books just like I love humor in life. I think laughter is the sweetest music on Earth.

Most of the books I buy are because I already know and like the author's work or because of a recommendation. I rarely buy one solely due to the cover but there have been a few exceptions. I discovered Robyn Carr because the cover of Virgin River caught my attention and discovered Kristan Higgins because of the dog on the cover of her first book. A dog on the cover of a book will always draw my attention. :)

I'll forgive a weak storyline if the author has made me care about the characters but if I don't like the characters it's really difficult for me to enjoy a story.

Louisa Cornell said...

Putting in a late appearance and sneaking away from the writing cave for just a moment to wave at the Banditas and Buddies! And to say "hello" to Janet, one of my favorite writers, especially of the naughty bits sans nubs !

I buy most of my books based on authors I have read before. If I read something new it is usually because a friend whose opinion I trust has suggested it. That is how I got hooked on the Sebastian St. Cyr series (thanks La Campbell!)

If I am shopping "blind" so to speak, a nice cover might make me pick the book up, but I need a great hook in the cover blurb to make me put my money down.

Once I am into the book I really do love a good story, but I will stick with it to the end if I truly care about the characters OR if the characters are so damaged or bad that I HAVE to see what happens to them.

Crawling back into the cave now.

Louisa Cornell said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Trish Morey said...

Hey Janet, popping in late to say g'day and thanks to you and Anna for the fab interview. I adore - my latest shipment arrived just today - and I'm about to head straight back to snaffle up Lamentable. Definitely a must have book!

Janet Mullany said...

Hi Lois, Nancy, Jo, Virginia, PJ, Louisa, Trish, thanks for stopping by.
This has been such fun! You all (not to mention Sven and the cabana boys) have tired me out so I'm going to bed now.

Thanks so much, Banditas, for luring me to the lair, and may the best woman win the book!

Anna Campbell said...

Janet, I'll have to get the DVD of W&D. I love those adaptations. They recently had Cranford on here which I thought was lovely - although friends of mine thought it was mind bogglingly depressing. When they said that, I suddenly thought, "Hey, at least one major character died in every episode!" Fantastic acting, though.

Lois,long live historical enthusiasts like you!!!

Anna Campbell said...

Nancy, it's odd - for me, the main weight is character. I really don't care how good the plot is if I love the characters. Having said that, though, a real classic has everything, doesn't it?

Jo, I highly recommend Janet's books! They're smart!

Anna Campbell said...

Virginia, you're another finisher, I see!

PJ, should have known you'd be with me on the characters! We're such reading sisters!

Ha ha, Louisa! People will think I'm nothing but a dirty, rotten book pusher if this keeps up. Aren't Janet's books fun? I just love them! Good luck with your writing cave!

Anna Campbell said...

Trish, lovely to see you! And lovely blog about heroes over at Tote Bags 'n' Blogs Some seriously yummy eye candy there, my friend!

Anna Campbell said...

Janet, Bandits and Banditas, thank you for a great day in the lair! Although I think Janet may have taken Sven and the CBs home with her. Has anyone seen them lately?

Don't forget to check back to see who won the wonderful A MOST LAMENTABLE COMEDY!!!

donnas said...

Sounds like a great book.

I think its all about the characters. If you dont care what happens to them there is no reason to keep reading the book.

The story makes me buy the book but if I dont like the characters after I start it I wont read any more.

Humor is always appropriate. And needed.

Anna Campbell said...

Donna, another character fan! Yay!

Miranda Neville said...

Hi Janet. Sorry I am so late to this party. Humor is my very favorite thing which is why I love your books. Can't wait to read Comedy.

And I saw Donald Wolfit as Long John Silver at the Mermaid Theatre when I was about 10.

MsHellion said...

YEAH--and Dangit, I'm so sorry I missed this blog (dang my faulty internet and dang my tires taking all day to do!)--

1.) Humor is imperative in a romance. Love is absurd and should be made fun of as much as possible. I think if Romeo & Juliet had been mocked appropriately, we wouldn't have had that ridiculous suicide at the end. Don't get me wrong--you should have some serious bits--but you should never take yourself too seriously.

2.) I love titles. That will usually make me pick up a book first--and by the way, I think the title "Blood Bath" is hilarious. Too bad they won't let you use it. *LOL*

3.) What keeps me reading till the end? The author's VOICE. If I fall in love with the author's voice, I will read whatever they want to write. Whereas if I pick up a book that has all my "favorites" but the voice isn't engaging to me, I won't read past the first five pages. It's like chemistry. There are authors my friends rave about who I can't stand reading, and I have faves that they don't get.

Anna Campbell said...

Ha ha! Miranda, I would NEVER have guessed you like comedy!

Actually the only thing I really know about Donald Wolfitt is that he's the actor the play/movie The Dresser is based on.

Anna Campbell said...

Dangit? None of your salty pirate language in the lair, Hellion! ;-)

Actually, Hellion, I think, having spent the entire blog touting characters, you're right about voice. I know some writers who I would buy if they'd redone the phone book. And that's not an exaggeration.

ddurance said...

I think there are different types of humor and it's nice to break from the sexual stuff for a little comedy. Love is not always serious.