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: www.janetmullany.com
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 naïve 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!