by Anna Campbell
It's my great pleasure to introduce Vanessa Kelly to the lair, not that she needs much introduction to our discerning readers.
Here's the official lowdown:
Vanessa Kelly writes Regency-set historical romance for Kensington Zebra, and was named by Booklist as one of the new stars of historical romance. You can find her on the web at: http://www.vanessakellyauthor.com. She also writes contemporary romance with her husband for Carina Press, under the pen name of V.K. Sykes. You can visit her at: www.vksykes.com.
Vanessa's current release MY FAVORITE COUNTESS is getting rave reviews. RT Book Reviews gave it 4.5 stars and called it 'captivating' and 'memorable'. Booklist gave MY FAVORITE COUNTESS a starred review and called it 'sublimely sensual'.
Here's the blurb:
Spirited, stubborn, and entirely irresistible...
She is difficult, demanding, and at times, quite fierce. And Dr. John Blackmore can't take his eyes off her. The Countess of Randolph is the most striking woman he has ever seen...and the most infuriating patient he has ever tended. Mired in responsibility, Bathsheba doesn't have time to convalesce in the country. She should be in London, hunting for a wealthy new lover to pay off her late husband's vast debts, not dallying with a devastatingly handsome doctor. But it is only a matter of time until the good doctor and the obstinate countess will have to contend with the sparks that fly between them. And once their bodies surrender, their hearts may follow...
Vanessa, your latest book is MY FAVORITE COUNTESS and it sounds like such a delicious romance across the class divide, with your aristocratic heroine and your doctor hero. Can you tell us about the story?
Hi Anna! Thanks for hosting me on the Bandits, one of the best spots to hang out in the romance blogosphere!
As you point out, MY FAVORITE COUNTESS is a romance across the class and money divide. My hero, Dr. John Blackmore, comes from a respectably landed family in the north of England—he’s a gentleman’s son in the way Elizabeth Bennet was a gentleman’s daughter. My heroine, Bathsheba, is the daughter of a viscount and the widow of an earl, so she’s clearly higher up the social scale. She’s a bit of a snob, too, although she’s very strapped up for cash, which is why she needs a rich husband. Not that a little debt (or a lot) ever stopped your average aristocrat from lording it over everyone else!
John, on the other hand, does very well for himself as a physician to the ton, but he works for a living. Oh, the horror! Even worse, he insists on risking his life by going into the slums to doctor poor women and their babies. That freaks Bathsheba right out, although she can’t help but admire his courage and dedication. But the thought of giving up her elevated social standing to be the wife of a physician—especially one who takes so many risks to help poor people—is something she really has to struggle with.
But Bathsheba isn’t totally selfish. She really does have a compelling and understandable reason for finding a rich husband, although she has to keep that reason a secret from everyone she knows.
Sounds fantastic! Did you come across any surprising facts as you researched this book?
Lots of interesting research tidbits for this book. My hero is not your garden variety physician. He’s an accoucheur, which was the Regency version of an obstetrician. One thing that surprised me was how skilled and knowledgeable some of the doctors and midwives were, even by today’s standards. You can imagine, though, how utterly desperate childbirth could be during this era. In fact, the climax of my book involves one of the secondary characters going through a difficult and possibly life-threatening labor. I bet you can guess who saves her!
Here’s one bit I found really fascinating – forceps were developed as far back as the early 17th Century by the Chamberlens, a French Huguenot family who emigrated from Paris and specialized in midwifery. The family kept the instrument a secret for decades, handing it down from father to son in a long line of surgeon specialists. It helped them make their fortunes since the Chamberlens were obstetricians to the Royal family. Part of their success was very likely due to the use of their “secret” instrument. Eventually, the secret got out and various designs of the instrument gradually appeared. The use of forceps was actually quite controversial, though, as physicians argued for years over its safety and utility. A lot of politics came into play in the birthing business, as mid-wives, surgeons, and physicians all competed for a slice of the pie. It’s a fascinating and complicated topic of study.
That's fascinating! What’s next for Vanessa Kelly?
I’m working on my next book, which is the wrap-up to my series and is a Christmas book. The hero is introduced in MY FAVORITE COUNTESS. His name is Major Lucas Stanton, and he’s a career army officer who’s forced to give up his commission in order to take on the ramshackle estate he’s just inherited. He’s not very happy about it, but the Christmas season (and a Christmas bride!) has a way of making things work out.
Since that book won’t be out until Oct. 2012, I’m writing a Regency novella which I’ll be publishing in e-book form in the early spring of 2012.
And I’m also continuing to write contemporary romances and romantic suspense novels with my husband, under the pen name of V.K. Sykes.
What made you choose the Regency as your setting? You obviously have a passion for early 19th century Great Britain!
I became interested in the Regency era the same way many romance writers did – through the novels of Georgette Heyer. From there I moved on to Jane Austen, which pretty much sealed my fate. In graduate school I studied British women writers of the Regency period, especially Fanny Burney. Her diaries are a fascinating account of life in artistic circles and at the court of King George III.
I guess what I love most about the period is that combination of glamour and grit, wit and crudity that seemed to exemplify life in Regency England. The beauty and culture of Mayfair was only a few blocks from the worst slums in London. But those worlds so often intersected in a strangely democratic way in places like Covent Garden and Vauxhall.
You’ve been published now for a little over two years which makes you an old hand at the publishing game! LOL! Can you share some highlights? Have there been any surprises along the way?
The most surprising thing to me about the publishing business is how fast everything is changing. When I first started writing, e-books were considered to be a niche market and being self-published was akin to existence in the Third Circle of Hell. Now, e-publishing is growing at an astonishing rate and self-publishing is a respectable and sometimes very lucrative alternative. When a first class romance novelist like Connie Brockway decides to go the way of self-publishing, you know the revolution is upon us.
Can you take us through a typical Vanessa Kelly day?
I don’t think I have a typical day. I do spend too much time on the internet, so it’s a battle to keep that under control and stay focused on writing. But I generally do email in the mornings—along with the chores that come from daily living—and write in the afternoon. Evenings are free time to read or watch TV. I get brain burnout if I try to work longer than that.
Vanessa, is there anything you'd like to ask the Bandits and Bandita Buddies?
The hero of MY FAVORITE COUNTESS is neither earl nor duke, nor even a viscount. Do you prefer your Regency heroes aristocratic, or does the idea of a different kind of hero (like a doctor!) appeal to you?
Vanessa has very generously offered commenters today the chance to win TWO copies of MY FAVORITE COUNTESS. Good luck!