I have to start by saying I've known Janet for about 8 years now. She is one of my critique partners and one of my favorite authors. Because of deadlines, I didn't have the chance to read her February release, IMPROPER RELATIONS, until a week ago. But once I started the book, I couldn't put it down. I ended up reading it in one day. That pretty much never happens for me any more.
Please welcome Janet to the lair!
What can you tell us about your latest book, Improper Relations?
It’s my latest Regency chicklit, the subgenre I may or may not have invented (I think to truly be a subgenre there has to be more than one of us writing it!). I started off with the title and the first line, My story begins with a wedding because I thought that was such a great opening, and I knew I wanted to write about women’s relationships and family ties. It’s not nearly as dreary or as lit-fic-y as it sounds. There are many inappropriate jokes.
I would consider Improper Relations a bunch of misunderstandings but it truly works in this book. Did you set out to write the misunderstanding, or did it just happen?
Absolutely I meant to, because the misunderstandings result from deep within the characters and create the conflict in the book. Charlotte, the heroine, has tremendous loyalty to her best friend Ann, even when Ann behaves badly; and Shad, the hero, is ruled by duty to his family and honor (he’s a retired naval officer). They’re both shaken by falling in love despite themselves, and unexpectedly great sex—not what your typical Georgian expected to find in a marriage, particularly a marriage of convenience. Yes, there’s sex in this one, sort of. I’ve always thought it funny that people regard my Regency chicklits as being squeaky clean. They have a very strong sexual subtext.
Will be seeing any more of these characters in other books?
I like the idea of visiting couples after the happily ever after, so yes, and I’m playing around with some ideas.
We love call stories in the lair, so could you tell us yours?
My significant writerly phone calls always seem to involve disasters like low batteries, broken phones, and other mishaps. When my agent called me to tell me that Little Black Dress had made me a three-book offer (a call but not The call which happened in 2003) I was at home with a really horrible sinus infection that made me talk like a baritone and my nose looked like a banana (swollen, not yellow), and it was my birthday. The phone was turned off. On my next birthday I was mugged on the way home and got a horrendous black eye (nothing was stolen because I screamed obscenities so loudly they ran away). It keeps things in perspective.
Who are some of your favorite authors?
In no particular order and off the top of my head, Jane Austen, George Eliot, Nick Hornby, Hilary Mantel, Pam Rosenthal, Anna Maxted, Jasper Fforde, Julie Cohen, Kate Ross, Terry Pratchett.
You have written in both 1st person and 3rd person, which do you prefer? And why?
It depends upon what I’m writing. First person works really well with the funny stuff, I find, because there’s an enormous amount of author dabbling going on behind the scenes and that works well when a certain amount of choreography is required. It’s much easier to orchestrate a half dozen people behaving badly in first person. With third person I tend to be a bit more serious, although I’ve never really that books have to be either funny or serious, and the ones I enjoy usually have both elements.
Do you find writing comedy difficult?
Not at all. I know I should suffer massive amounts of angst and sweat blood and all the rest of it but I don’t. And I can’t tell you how it happens because I really don’t know, although certainly elements of surprise, subversion, and timing are important. I think either you have a facility for comedy or you don’t, and I don’t know whether it can be learned. There is a certain amount of seriousness behind Improper Relations but it would be incredibly pretentious of me to claim it’s anything other than entertainment. There is one scene that made me cry when I wrote it, and I love to balance that turn from comedy to tragedy and back in only a few words; that, for me, is the hard, crafty part of it. Love is a serious business. It deserves the strategically-placed banana peel or whoopee cushion.
What’s next for Janet Mullany?
This year is a huge writing/publishing year for me. I have an e-novella coming out next month from Loose-Id, Reader, I Married Him, which is a dirty riff on Jane Eyre. In October, I have Jane & the Damned, a sort of speculative historical paranormal about Austen, vampires, and a French invasion (HarperCollins) and a novella in an anthology called Bespelling Jane, headlined by Mary Balogh (Harlequin). Mine, Little To Hex Her, is a contemporary based on Emma, about a dating agency for the paranormal population of Washington, DC. So essentially I’ll piss off all the Jane Eyre and Austen fangirls.
Here is the backcover blurb to get you all excited about the book!
Must a lady always put her husband first?
After losing best friend and cousin Ann Welling in marriage to the Earl of Beresford, sharp-witted Charlotte Hayden is even ruder than usual to potential suitors. Introduced to Beresford’s wayward cousin, Shad, Charlotte may have met her match in witty repartee–but he’s hardly husband material. Caught in a compromising situation, Charlotte and Shad are forced to wed, resigning themselves to a marriage of convenience. And they aren’t the only ones with marital problems… Have both Ann and Charlotte married in haste to repent at leisure? And where do their loyalties really lie? With their husbands, with each other, or somewhere else entirely?
IMPROPER RELATIONS is published by Little Black Dress but is available through The Book Depository http://www.bookdepository.com/browse/book/isbn/9780755347803/ref/janetmullany.aff
More fun things can be found at Janet's website (there’s a contest and soundbites of Janet reading bits of the books): http://www.janetmullany.com
Janet's question for the Bandits: What do you find funny? Tell us a joke or share something, a book or experience, that has made you laugh out loud.
Janet is giving away a copy of Improper Relations to one commenter!