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19 April 2012

Author Interview with Alyssa Everett

Hi, everyone. Today on the blog we have Alyssa Everett, Regency romance writer. Alyssa's first book, A Tryst With Trouble, is fantastic and Alethea and I both loved it. Unfortunately the publication has been postponed to to financial problems with its publisher. But we were so impressed with Alyssa that we wanted to get her on the blog as soon as possible. If you like smart, witty romances with great characters, then you'll want to read what Alyssa is writing. If you missed them, you can read our reviews of the book here and here. Now, on to the interview!

Hello and thanks for visiting Nite Lite, Alyssa. Let's start off with a brief intro. Can you tell us a bit about yourself and when you started writing?

I wrote as a hobby for years, when my children were toddlers and inventing characters on the page was the quickest way to escape to grown-up-land. I didn't get serious about finishing a manuscript until the youngest of my three children went off to school, though.

Why romance and why this era in particular?

I write romance because it's my favorite thing to read. Who doesn't enjoy a good love story with a happy ending? I chose the regency period because it's such a fascinating time, with one foot in the traditional, rustic English way of life and one foot in the industrialized modern world. Marriage was for life and gently-reared girls were expected to be virgins when they married, but at the same time, revolutionary ideas and romantic ideals were swirling beneath the surface of genteel society. Plus, the fashions are so wonderful--comfortable, flattering gowns for women, while men wore tailored coats, tight breeches and top boots. I wish both hats and boots would make a real comeback.

How did you come up with the idea for A Tryst With Trouble?

I wanted to write a bantering relationship like the one between Shakespeare's Beatrice and Benedick, so the story started out as a regency riff onMuch Ado About Nothing. Barbara is Beatrice and Ben is Benedick--and Lord Leonard is Leonato, Helen is Hero, Cliburne is Claudio, and John Mainsforth is Don John. Once I got past the opening premise that Helen's husband-to-be was mistakenly accusing her of unfaithfulness, though, the story went in a different direction.

One of my favorite things about Tryst was the incredibly funny and clever dialogue between Ben and Barbara. Was it difficult keeping the dialogue fresh and funny throughout the book? It seems effortless, but I am sure it wasn't (and if it was - wow).

I'm so glad you enjoyed that aspect of the book. To be honest, writing dialogue is always the easiest part of the writing process for me, while plotting is the part I labor over. Once the characters are fixed in my head, they tend to take on lives of their own, and the dialogue more or less writes itself. 

The book is told from dual first person POVs (Ben and Barbara). Why did you decide to write it this way? Did you always intend to write it from both their points of views or did it evolve?

I always intended to write it that way, because first-person narration allows a story to highlight when a character's actions don't match up with his or her inner thoughts. For example, in the opening scene, Ben privately notices that Lady Leonard's drawing room is hideously decorated and he speculates on the shade of purple Lord Leonard's face has become, but because thinking about decor and colors doesn't jibe with the uber-manly image he's determined to project, he pretends to Barbara that such thoughts would never cross his mind. Since Barbara can't see the insecurity behind the posturing, she takes Ben's macho act at face value and assumes he's shallow and unobservant. The reader knows better, because the reader can see inside both characters' heads, but Ben and Barbara have to find their way past each other's defenses.

I loved both Ben and Barbara's voices but did you prefer writing from one character's perspective vs the other and why?

I think Ben was easier for me to write, because he thinks of himself as practical and levelheaded even though, deep down, he's a complete pushover when it comes to his emotions. I identify with that. 

Tryst is also a bit unusual in that it brings up homosexuality during that time period. It handles it in a very thoughtful way and the situation seems very plausible. Was this just a plot device or something that you were interested in? 

I wanted to give Ben a reason to be constantly on the defensive, and the notion that someone might question his masculinity because of his parentage seemed a natural fit. But I am interested in regency attitudes toward homosexuality. Sodomy was a capital crime, and much of society practiced a kind of studied denial. When homosexuals were prosecuted, for instance, coverage of the trials typically used vague language like "for an unnatural crime," and in the 1811 Drumsheugh Gardens trial in Scotland of two female school teachers, Judge Meadowbank stated that lesbian sex was "equally imaginary with witchcraft, sorcery, or carnal copulation with the devil." It reminds me of Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad's contention that there are no homosexuals in Iran. Of course there are homosexuals in Iran, there have always been homosexuals in all parts of the world, but some cultures are more accepting of gay and lesbian citizens than others. 

Will we be seeing any more of Ben and Barbara? Seriously, I would kill for a novella or some deleted scenes. (crossing fingers)

I'm so flattered to be asked this question, I can't even begin to tell you! I'm working on an unrelated regency right now, but I would love to write a Ben and Barbara novella if there were enough reader interest. Perhaps the pair could become the Nick and Nora Charles of the regency.

What's the strangest food you've ever eaten? 

I've had octopus and alligator and escargot, but none of them was considered strange in the places where I ate them. Even my kids liked the octopus, and they're picky eaters.

Historical, paranormal or contemporary romance?

Historical. In terms of setting, it's the Goldilocks choice--more comfortably familiar than paranormal, more escapist than contemporary.

Burger with cheese or without?

Without. But extra cheese on pizza.

If you could go back in time and tell your younger self one thing, what would it be? 

You're only young once, so relax and enjoy it.

Cake or pie and what kind?

Cake. Chocolate cake, especially the Chocolate Shack Attack from Joe's Crab Shack.

Last book read?

Aristocrats by Stella Tillyard, a history of the Lennox sisters, the daughters of the eighteenth-century second Duke of Richmond. I didn't read it as research for a writing project, but just because my mother e-mailed me about the Duke of Richmond's true-life love story. At the age of 18, to settle one of his father's gaming debts, he was forced to marry a 13-year-old child bride, a girl so unprepossessing he burst out, "Surely they are not going to marry me to that dowdy!" He went on an extended Grand Tour, and when he returned three years later, instead of going home to his young wife he went to the theater. There he spied a beautiful young lady in one of the boxes. He asked a companion her name, only to discover the beauty was his wife. The couple enjoyed a remarkably happy and affectionate marriage. Sometimes life is as full of happy accidents as any romance novel.

Favorite guilty pleasure movie?

Galaxy Quest. It's a guilty pleasure because my enjoyment is in direction proportion to my nerdiness.
(Thuy's note: OMG I love that Alyssa said Galaxy Quest. Brilliant movie!)

One last thing - what's next for you/what are you currently working on?

My next regency, Ruined by Rumor, will be out from Carina Press on May 21. It's a marriage of convenience story about a vivacious beauty who's forced by circumstances to marry a shy, dutiful politician. And I'm currently working on a story about a girl who's orphaned during an ocean crossing and winds up marrying a fellow passenger, a mysterious and reclusive marquess who turns out to be strangely reluctant to consummate the union. 

Thanks so much for visiting, Alyssa. We can't wait until Tryst is available and are excited to read your next book!

Thanks so much, Thuy! I enjoyed your questions and I'm grateful for the chance to visit your blog.

Find Alyssa online at www.alyssaeverett.com and follow her on Twitter @Alyssa_Everett.

That's it, everyone. Hope you enjoyed this interview. Hopefully the book will be available soon and we can host a giveaway. In the meantime, only a month left until Runied By Rumor comes out and we can't wait!

1 comment:

  1. Fantastic interview Thuy! I loved this book so much, it's one of my favorite romances and I want to re-read it very soon!

    And Alyssa is one of my new favorite people. She loves Galaxy Quest. Oh, Alyssa. I understand!


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