Susana, thank you so much for having me on Susana’s Parlour, a particular thrill for me because I’m a fan and often peek in to learn more about my favorite authors. For those who don’t know me, I’m Meara Platt and I write Regency-era historical romances. Some of your readers may know me from my Farthingale series; all three books released to date have been Amazon international bestsellers, and I’m looking forward to the release of Book 4 in the series, A Midsummer’s Kiss, scheduled to release this week!
Also scheduled to release this week is a box set called Once Upon A Regency: Timeless Tales And Fables, a set of nine Regency romance novellas inspired by fairy tales. My story in this set is Wish Upon A Kiss based upon Sleeping Beauty. Samantha Grace, Sue London, Ari Thatcher (she also writes as Aileen Fish), Amanda Mariel, and others—all have stories inspired by one of their favorite tales or fables: The Little Mermaid, Beauty and the Beast, Little Red Riding Hood, Alice In Wonderland, etc. It has been so much fun working with them and I look forward to more collaborations in the future. Our Once Upon A Regency launch party is February 5th. We’d love to see you there.
I also have a gift for all who stopped by my guest blog today. Please read through to the end and you’ll find a thank you from me as well as a contest where I’ll be giving away a prize.
Susana: What inspired you to start writing?
Meara: Actually it wasn’t inspiration, but a matter of chance. I’ve always loved historical romance, then several years ago I read a string of bad Regency romances, and after grumbling and tossing aside book after book, my husband suggested that I stop whining and write one myself. So I did, and it was AWFUL! Fortunately, I was not so deluded to think it was a masterpiece. I knew I needed help, lots of it. So after bumping into Nora Roberts in a NYC elevator – and by chance we happened to be wearing the same dress, which is what got us briefly chatting – I took it as a sign that I had to start writing. She was there for a Romance Writers of America conference, so I lurked and poked around and realized this was for me. I joined and am a member to this day. I also joined my local RWA chapter, went to all the monthly meetings, took workshops, went to conferences, and absorbed as much knowledge as possible. The ability to write an engaging story comes naturally to some of the lucky few. That wasn’t me. English is not my native language, but that was the least of it. I didn’t understand the concept of writing a tight story, had no clue what plot or conflict really were, and didn’t realize that by giving my hero and heroine certain strengths and weaknesses, I could create their goals and motivations to propel their story. Hopefully, I finally got those details right with the Farthingale series. The stories aren’t just love stories, they’re also about family, and the chaotic humor and character of this large family is as much a part of the romance as the compelling love story for each sister as she falls in love with (and creates heaps of trouble for) the man she’s destined to marry.
Susana: What is the best advice you can give to other writers?
Meara: The best advice I can give writers is to learn as much as you can about story structure, characters, conflict, and goals, and then take that knowledge and write from your heart. Write with affection and respect for your characters whether they’re good or evil, make them as real as they can be, and also respect your readers. Be honest about what you’re giving them. Don’t design your covers or write blurbs to entice a reader, then fail to deliver. Also know your strengths and weaknesses. Even though I may give my characters some difficult emotional baggage, as I did for my hero, Ian, the Duke of Edgeware, in The Duke I’m Going To Marry, I don’t think I’m capable of writing a dark story – so no matter what I throw at my hero or heroine, it’s done with a gentle hand and liberal use of humor to soften whatever pain they’re experiencing. My readers know they will always get strength and optimism in my stories as well as (hopefully) some laugh out loud moments as my alpha hero is brought to his knees in surrender by the clueless and innocent Farthingale sister who will steal his heart.
Susana: What happened when you got “the call”?
Meara: When I got “the call” it came after many rejections and very close calls and lovely revision letters, but the timing was right for me. Any sooner, and I would not have understood my strengths and weaknesses as a writer, or found my natural voice. You know the saying, when it rains it pours? The offer from my publisher came as I was about to receive an offer from another publisher. My publisher offered a generous multi-book deal and their business model was a perfect fit for me, so I accepted and have not regretted the decision. I also must add that this book deal came about because I knew a writer who had just published with them and she recommended me – it came out of the blue and the publisher acted fast because of the recommendation. She put her reputation on the line and would never have recommended someone she thought would make her look bad. As much as we write the books of our heart, this is also a business. Others rely on you to get your part done on time and to work with others from editing to cover art to promotions, and with other authors on boxsets or other collaborations. While artistic temperament might inspire a writer to create, that unreliable temperament will be viewed as toxic to others. So I’ve cleaned up a favorite saying of mine, a great line from a good friend of mine. It’s a simple bit of caution that applies to all we do – don’t be a jerk. Your position is never elevated by stepping on others.
Susana: How do you deal with writer’s block?
Meara: That’s best answered by talking about my characters. I may have trouble writing a scene or figuring out an ending that readers will remember, but I don’t really have writer’s block. I have diarrhea of the mouth (or typing fingers) and have so much in my head that I hope I’ll have the time to get it all out! After years of trial and error, I found that what works best for me when starting a book is to decide upon the characters first and figure out what they need the most and what they want to avoid at all costs. My heroes especially will spend their entire story avoiding what we all know is best for them. For example, in my debut book, My Fair Lily, I knew that Lily Farthingale had to be a spectacle-wearing bluestocking who is gorgeous – dark hair and vivid blue eyes – who knows everything about books and nothing about men. I paired her with Ewan Cameron, an irreverent Scot, a man of action, who detests all things English and only comes down to London because of a deathbed promise made to his father. He’s brought along his shaggy, loveable but clumsy sheepdog, and his dog falls in love with Lily at first sight. So does Ewan, but he’s too stubborn (just like a Scot) to admit it to himself. Lily has an identical twin, Daffodil, and her story is The Duke I’m Going To Marry. I paired Daffodil, a girl with a big heart and lots of love to give, with Ian Markham, the notorious Duke of Edgeware, a man who has sworn he’ll never marry or fall in love. Most think he’s just arrogant and independent, but it’s really because he’s harboring a dark secret. It takes Daffodil’s strength, her intelligence and sharp wit, and her ability to love, to finally convince Ian to open up his heart to her and allow himself to find happiness. In Rules For Reforming A Rake, Daisy Farthingale enters her debut season with a slight tarnish to her reputation. To regain her respectability, she’s decided to marry the most respectable man she can find. Of course, she falls in love with Gabriel Dayne, London’s most notorious rakehell. What is Daisy to do? She sets about reforming him, of course. The right match helps the story to tell itself. In my upcoming release, A Midsummer’s Kiss, Laurel Farthingale accidentally runs down Graelem Dayne while riding her horse, and amid the chaos, Graelem’s leg is broken. Graelem has to find a girl to marry by Midsummer’s Day or he’ll lose a vast inheritance. When a remorseful Laurel gives her sacred promise to do whatever it takes to make it up to him, he accepts and tells her that she can make it up to him by marrying him. Graelem is another stubborn Scot (I love those heroes) and Laurel is hot-tempered, independent, and will only marry for love, not some sham betrothal that she agreed to because she gave her word. Graelem has only thirty days – and while hindered with a broken leg – to convince Laurel that they’re meant to be together.
Susana: Tell us about what story you’re currently working on.
I’d like to talk a little about Once Upon A Regency and my contribution to it, Wish Upon A Kiss for several reasons. The first is that it is a new release, so I’m excited to talk about it. The second, and most important reason, is that it is a collaborative effort with authors I admire and with whom I’ve since become friends. It is this bond of friendship that is as important to me as any book I’ve written. The same amazing thing happened with the talented authors who, along with me, were a part of Kathryn Le Veque’s Kindle World of the deWolfe Pack launch. We’ve all become as close as sisters and chat every day. My contribution to the deWolfe Pack world is Nobody’s Angel – another story about the power of love to conquer all, and how miracles can happen. But back to Once Upon A Regency and my Sleeping Beauty inspired story. Obviously, it is about Winnie, my heroine who is raised by her three ditzy godmothers. She lives quietly in the Lake District countryside and doesn’t know her true identity. The hero, Ardaric, comes upon her and is drawn to her from their first meeting. He insists on remaining to protect her when her life is suddenly threatened. As in Sleeping Beauty, he defeats evil to save the girl he loves. Winnie is a strong heroine in her own right and worthy of Ardaric’s love. What is the secret that I am about to reveal only to readers of Susana’s Parlour? As I finished the story, my nephew’s wife gave birth to their first child and they called him Ardaric. I fell in love with the new baby and his name – so STOP THE PRESSES! My hero’s name became Ardaric. So this story has special meaning for me beyond pride of authorship of this story!
In my books, family plays a big role. In this, I feel my childhood influenced much of my writing. I was born in Cairo, Egypt and spent most of my childhood moving from country to country before my family finally settled in the US. So we’ve lived in Egypt, France, and Australia until finally reaching the US. Although having to leave Egypt led to some very difficult times for my family, I can look back with happiness on the time I spent there. We spent only a short time in France, but several years in Australia (loved, loved, loved those wonderful years in Sydney, Australia) before leaving to join the rest of our family in the US. To me, Australia was paradise, and I was sad to leave. My twin sister and I still have the stuffed koala bear toys we were given as gifts from our friends and we treasure them to this day. Amid all the upheaval, the one constant in our lives was love of family and deep appreciation for the friends we made along the way. When I write about the power of good over evil, it has a very real meaning to me and I hope it will also have meaning to many readers who have faced hardships in their lives. My stories are also messages of hope – to stay strong, be kind to others, and good things will come to you.
Susana: Tell us about your favorite authors.
Meara: I’m an avid reader and enjoy reading many genres, but Regency is my favorite. A close second are the other historical (medieval, highlander, Viking, Victorian) romance genres. I also love a good cozy mystery or fantasy/paranormal tale. I don’t like stories that are dark and painful or about evil, twisted characters or selfish characters. I’m a hobbit in real life – I like warmth and comfort and don’t do well with nasty adventures that make me late for dinner. When I read, I want to feel good and cheer for the heroines as they find love with their worthy heroes. Judith McNaught is my all time favorite historical romance author. Today, I read Christi Caldwell and Julie Johnstone – love their books. I’ve also read Victorian romance author Amanda Mariel and love her stories. I also highly recommend the authors in the Kindle World of the deWolfe Pack – they’re all best sellers in their genres and are most deserving of the glory.
Susana: What are your writing plans for 2016?
Meara: There are more stories coming from me in 2016. Along with the Regency romances, I’m also launching a paranormal Regency series – an ambitious 4-book series that may grow into more books. I’ve always been a fan of fairy tales and fairy lore, so several years ago I decided to create a Fae world that exists in Regency times – in the Lake District, which is a favorite place of mine – and as we know, faeries and faerie lore were very popular in the 1800’s. Faeries (unlike Tinkerbell depicted in Disney’s version) are a form of demon. So are dragons and, ahem, hunky alpha dukes who happen to be able to shift into dragons, and protect England from those really, really evil demons of the underworld who intend to wreak havoc on the British subjects. There’s a Fae prophecy involved and everyone is searching for the Regency lass who is the only one who can save Fae and humans from domination by these underworld demons. Lots of fun, chaos, and Regency heroines who are strong enough to conquer demons even though they don’t know how to wield a battle sword, much less be able to lift one. No matter how dire the circumstances, there may be death and destruction, but in any Meara Platt book, there will also be laughter and happily ever after endings.
Susana, I’ve enjoyed my visit to your parlour so much! I hope those who joined us enjoyed this chat as well. I’ll be giving away a Farthingale ebook of choice to one winner. To be eligible, just leave a comment answering this question:
Would you read a Regency romance with paranormal elements and – strictly optional – let me know what you like about them?
For all who joined me in Susana’s Parlour, here’s the link to my newsletter where you’ll find the freebie Farthingale novella as a gift from me to you. It’s called If You Kissed Me. http://bit.ly/FreeRegencyNovella. If you would rather not sign onto my newsletter, just email me at firstname.lastname@example.org and I’ll email you the novella.
About A Midsummer’s Kiss
Sometimes love happens at the most unexpected times and in the most unexpected places. Sometimes it quietly sneaks up on you, and sometimes it knocks you over on a London street, just as it happens to Lord Graelem Dayne when Laurel Farthingale’s horse runs him over and breaks his leg. Graelem has until Midsummer’s Day, a mere thirty days away to find a wife or lose a large inheritance, so when a remorseful Laurel begs his forgiveness and promises to do anything, anything for him, he takes her up on that promise and insists that she marry him.
Laurel Farthingale has no intention of becoming Graelem Dayne’s biddable bride and is furious that he’s tricked her into a betrothal. She plans to marry another, her long-time friend and childhood infatuation who is now in London to propose to her, for she’s a Farthingale and everyone knows that Farthingales only marry for love. But as she comes to know Graelem, she realizes that he may very well be the man she’s destined to love. Can he ever love her above his desire to secure his baronial fortune?
A Midsummer’s Kiss (Book 4)
Once Upon A Regency: Pre-order for 99 cents
“Blessed Scottish saints,” Graelem said in a husky murmur. “Are you saying that I’m the only man who’s ever kissed you?”
“In that crude and plundering way. Yes.” In that wonderful, fires-of-hell-take-me-I’m-yours way that still had her blushing and wanting to rip the shirt off his body and run her hands along his hot, golden skin? Laurel cleared her throat. “In any way at all? Yes. You’re the first.”
A solemn quiet came over him, but he shook out of it quickly. “Laurel, lass.” He spoke with a gentleness not present before. “You can’t possibly love him.”
“I knew you were going to say that.” She curled her hands into fists and returned his gaze with a scowl of exasperation. “I do love him. I don’t love you. The kiss we shared was a mistake. I wasn’t myself. I was distraught and uncertain.”
She paused a moment and swallowed hard. “But thank you for not taking advantage of me. Had you tried, I think I would have let you.” Because she was crazed and hurting. No other reason. Certainly not because she felt any desire for the oaf.
Goodness and mercy! Why would she feel anything for him?
“I know, lass,” he said with a nod. “But I gave you my promise that I wouldn’t touch you against your will and I’ll keep to it. You wanted the kiss and it was harmless enough.” He leaned closer still. “Granted, you wanted more. But I will not have you shamed or living with regrets for your actions on one of the most difficult days of your life. When you marry me—”
“If I marry you. Which I won’t.” Drat! The words sounded uncertain even to her ears.
“I’ll make you a bargain.”
She shot to her feet, instantly wary. “What sort of bargain?”
“I’ll agree to attend these bloody teas and musicales if you stop dismissing the idea of our marriage.”
She nibbled her lip in thought and noticed that Graelem’s eyes darkened as he watched her. Honestly, why did the oaf have to be blessed with dangerously seductive eyes? They should have been watery or rimmed in red. They weren’t. His eyes were clear and magnificent. “No more dismissing the idea of our marriage? I’ll agree not to mention it when we chat”— but I’ll still think it— “so long as you don’t dismiss out of hand the young ladies I plan to invite to said teas and musicales.”
“Agreed.” He gave her a heart-melting smile. “Care to seal it with a handshake?”
No, she’d much rather seal it with a kiss. A lips-locked, tongues-plundering string of kisses to be precise. “Blessed Scottish saints,” he said in a hoarse whisper and rose from his chair to stand beside her. “Don’t look at me that way, lass.”
“What way?” She felt her heart beating faster and the heat in her cheeks was now spreading through her body, blazing a fiery trail through her veins. Graelem stood too close. She put her hand on his chest to nudge him back, but somehow her hand curled against the front of his shirt and she found herself tugging his big body closer instead.
Oh, dear. The wrong way.
“What’s it to be, lass?” His mouth felt feather soft against her ear. “Do we seal our bargain with a safe and proper handshake?” His cool breath sent very hot tingles up and down her spine. “Or would you rather we seal it with a dangerously improper kiss?”
She let out a soft gasp. Did the man have no shame?
About the Author
Meara Platt is happily married to her Russell Crowe look-alike husband, and they have two terrific children. She lives in one of the many great towns on Long Island, New York, and loves it, except for the traffic. She has traveled the world, occasionally lectures, and always finds time to write. Her favorite place in all the world is England’s Lake District, which may not come as a surprise since many of her stories are set in that idyllic landscape, including her Romance Writers of America Golden Heart award winning story to be released as Book 3 in her paranormal romance Garden series, which is set to debut in 2016. Learn more about bestselling author Meara Platt by visiting her website at www.mearaplatt.com.