by Anna Campbell
This year, one of the big events in romancelandia was the adult romance debut of Sarah MacLean. Her first book for Avon, NINE RULES TO BREAK WHEN ROMANCING A RAKE, was everybody's favorite when it hit the shelves.
I read it when I was in New York last July and was wowed by Sarah's ability to combine deep emotion with sparkling comedy. And when I was lucky enough to meet Sarah at RWA Nationals in Orlando, I realized she was just the uproarious...ahem, DIGNIFIED kind of guest who would appreciate the elegant appointments here in the lair and I invited her here to sip tea with our pinkies extended!
Well, that's my story and I'm sticking to it until I've had my second margarita!
I'm really excited - Sarah's second book TEN WAYS TO BE ADORED WHEN LANDING A LORD (seriously, I think Sarah would give Lainey a run when it comes to the poetry stakes!) is out this month and I can't wait to read it. Here's the blurb:
Since being named “London’s Lord to Land” by a popular ladies’ magazine, Nicholas St. John has been relentlessly pursued by every matrimony-minded female in the ton. So when an opportunity to escape fashionable society presents itself, he eagerly jumps—only to land in the path of the most determined, damnably delicious woman he’s ever met!
The daughter of a titled wastrel, Lady Isabel Townsend has too many secrets and too little money. Though she is used to taking care of herself quite handily, her father’s recent passing has left Isabel at sea and in need of outside help to protect her young brother’s birthright. The sinfully handsome, eminently eligible Lord Nicholas could be the very salvation she seeks.
But the lady must be wary and not do anything reckless and foolish…like falling madly, passionately in love.
You can find out more about Sarah and read excerpts from her wonderful books on her website: http://macleanspace.com/romance.html
Sarah, a big warm welcome to the Bandit lair. Here, have a cabana boy! Oops, I meant have a margarita!
Mmmm. I love cabana boys . . . I mean “margaritas.” I should have known that you Banditas had code words for everything! What a warm welcome—I’m so so so excited to be here!
I loved your debut NINE RULES TO BREAK WHEN ROMANCING A RAKE so I’m desperate to read your latest TEN WAYS TO BE ADORED WHEN LANDING A LORD. Can you tell us about this new story?
Thank you, Anna! You know that I’m a total fangirl of yours, so it makes me all jittery when you say nice things about NINE RULES!
(Anna blushes in a becomingly Regency fashion)
TEN WAYS is the story of Lord Nicholas St. John (twin brother to the hero of Nine) who is totally blindsided when a London ladies’ magazine names him one of London’s Lords to Land.
He does what any good, red-blooded male would do in the situation. He flees. To Yorkshire, where, unfortunately, he lands himself in a household entirely populated by females. The mistress of the house, Lady Isabel Townsend, has too many secrets and too little money . . . and so begins our tale.
NINE RULES was phenomenally successful, hitting both the New York Times and the USA Today lists and receiving wide critical acclaim. Do you have any theories why your first adult romance struck such a chord with readers?
I’m still pinching myself over the incredible response to NINE RULES . . . it was completely unexpected.
I actually have two theories for why NINE RULES struck such a chord: First, I think there’s something about Callie (the heroine of NINE) that we can all connect with. After a lifetime of being too plain, too plump, too meek and biddable, she says, “Hang it all. I refuse to live like this any longer.” Who hasn’t wanted to do that (and score a hot marquess in the process!)?
She takes the leap that so many of us never have the courage to take—I sure don’t!
Theory number two? Pure. Dumb. Luck.
Nah, I don't think luck had much to do with it. You wrote two really great characters in Callie and Ralston! You also write young adult romance with a Regency setting. Is the Sarah MacLean who wrote THE SEASON different from the Sarah MacLean who wrote NINE RULES? Are you planning more young adult stories? Are there things you can do in young adult that you can’t do in your adult romantic fiction? Snicker, we know some of the things you can do in the adult stuff you can’t do in the YA!
This question is making me nervous. I’m wondering if maybe The YA Sarah MacLean and the romance Sarah MacLean should be different—I’d like to say that YA Sarah MacLean hangs out with the cast of Glee and texts Taylor Lautner all the time . . . but it’s just not true. She’s the same as romance Sarah MacLean, who is a bit of a cheeseball and addicted to Twitter and cupcakes and watches way too much reality TV and can recite whole scenes from The West Wing and is secretly in love with Anthony Bourdain in a borderline stalkerish kind of way (it all started with him naked, holding a well-placed leg of lamb. What can I say? I’m a sucker for a man with meat. *a-hem*
Note to self: *Try* to behave. This is a classy joint. They have cabana boys.
Anna's note to Sarah: Boy, have we got you hoodwinked!
Anna's second note to self: Now I'm pedalling Lamb Porn! Oy, what has become of me?
Anywho . . . There are definitely things that are OK in YA and not in Romance or vice versa – obviously there’s the biggie . . . a 16-page naughty bit is not going to fly in YA . . . but there’s also a keen awareness of readership. Teens are more willing to take risks as readers—they’re not locked into one or two genres as we are as older readers—which is why there is such an incredible variety of stories in the YA section of the bookstore. Off the top of my head . . . first person narratives, novels in verse and unhappy endings are things that teens are much more open to than adults.
I love YA, and writing for teens, so you’ll definitely see more books from me there.
What's coming up next?
In April of 2011, I close out the St. John siblings trilogy with the story of Nick and Ralston’s half-sister, Juliana, in ELEVEN SCANDALS TO START TO WIN A DUKE’S HEART. . . and then no more long, numbered, rhyming titles (which just might be the hardest part of writing these books)! Juliana’s smart mouth gets her into trouble with a very arrogant, very disdainful duke, and we get to watch as the sparks fly. It was very fun to write!
In Autumn 2011, I start a new series with Avon . . . my Fallen Angels series. It’s still historical, still set in the same world as NINE, TEN and ELEVEN. . . but a new batch of characters who I am very very excited to share with the world. I’d say more, but my editor has sworn me to secrecy!
Can you tell us about your writing journey?
I’ve wanted to write romance for as long as I can remember. Aside from a short time when I wanted to be a film director, this is really my dream job.
It did take me a half-a-dozen false starts and a kick in the pants from a great friend to finally set pen to paper and write my first full book, THE SEASON . . . and then, it was only a matter of days before I started working on NINE RULES . . . Callie popped into my head and that was that.
I have been incredibly lucky on the romance side of things . . . I’ve dreamed of publishing with Avon forever, and when my agent called me with the offer for NINE, TEN and ELEVEN on November 21 2008, it was the best day of my life.
Seriously. I giggled all day. Like a little kid. I still pinch myself when I show up to events and people like you and Eloisa James and Julia Quinn and Sophie Jordan and Susan Elizabeth Phillips actually speak to me.
Which brings me back to my overarching theme: Pure. Dumb. Luck.
Wow, Sarah, you sold your first completed manuscript? That's fantastic! Congratulations! Do you have any advice for unpublished writers?
When you read a book that comes from passion for the story and pleasure in the experience, it’s so obvious! Forget about what everyone is saying about market trends and who buys what and who reads what and what sells and what doesn’t and what readers want. Write the book you want to read.
Sarah, can you give us a question to start the conversation ball rolling?
So, I confessed some of my secret (not anymore!) weaknesses above . . . The West Wing and cupcakes and reality TV and Twitter and Anthony Bourdain . . . what are your secret weaknesses? The things that suck up your time and that you’re kind of afraid to admit to liking so very much?
Hey, guys, get commenting. Sarah has very generously offered TWO prizes today - each winner gets their choice of a signed copy of either NINE RULES or TEN WAYS and a signed copy of THE SEASON. Good luck!