Welcome Stephanie. It’s a real treat to have you visit us at the Word Wenches, especially when you have a new novel out – the second part of the Black Cobra series, The Elusive Bride.
Stephanie, I’m tempted to fill this blog with a account of your very interesting life, but I’ll satisfy myself with saying that though you live in Australia, and have done so for most of your life, you’ve traveled widely and lived in a number of countries, including England. And that you were a very successful research scientist before writing a romance novels. I’ll let people read the rest of the story on your web site here. I recommend it.
Your first novel,Tangled Reins, — that one you wrote for your own entertainment because you’d run of out new ones to read — was published in 1992. How do you think your writing has changed between then and now, and what do you think has remained constant?
Stephanie: The stories themselves have remained constant, but the telling has altered and evolved. My first novels were written for Harlequin Mills & Boon in London, and so reflected more the British sensibilities over how historical romances were told. They contain more detailed description, a less close point of view, and the love scenes are less explicit.
Yet even in the 8 novels I wrote for the British market, my style clearly continually evolves toward what it would become when I crossed the Atlantic and started writing for the US market. The truth is, my “telling” is constantly evolving, just as the readership constantly changes its expectations of how it wants its stories told.
Jo: You began your love of romance with Georgette Heyer, as I did, though in my case it was Powder and Patch and in yours These Old Shades. (That's my original copy of P&P. The age is obvious, if for nothing else, for the line on the cover "A gay romance of the 18th century.")
Both those are Georgian, however, not Regency, but my first book was Regency, as was yours. Is there a reason you didn’t plunge into the 18th century in 1992? Also, you have an interesting chronological listing of your stories, from 1776 to 1835. How do you choose exactly when you set your books?
Stephanie: Hah – because of your question I just realized why. The first 8 novels, being written for the British market, were Regencies because that was the time frame everyone wanted, and so did I at the time. However, subsequently, many of my heros, with few exceptions, are warriors returning from war and having to learn how to fit into civilian life.
Captain Jack, the first six Cynsters, all the Bastion Club guys fit that pattern. So mostly I’m writing in the years following Waterloo – 1816 for the Bastion Club, 1818 onward with the Cynsters. Captain Jack was 1812, but that was because he was called back to serve undercover in England. Those books are the anchors for the majority of my works, so the timing of other books is dictated by them.
Jo: An excellent reason. You live in Australia. Do you find this affects your writing or publishing? If so, how?
Stephanie: If the writing is affected at all, it’s for the better, because there’s far less writerly distraction around. It’s relatively easy to disappear into my cave and not emerge until the book is done. As for publishing, the only effect is that you have to plan your phone calls to editor and agent to allow for the time difference. That’s about it.
Jo: If you had to move and live somewhere else, where would it be?
Stephanie: Ooh, a difficult one. I could honestly move to anywhere that had peace, tranquility and some degree of striking natural beauty, and good availability of fresh food. And I suppose for my husband it would help if it had a café culture and good coffee! Beyond that, an internet connection is all I need, and that’s pretty universal these days.
Jo : If you could take just one of your fabulous heroes out to dinner, which would it be?
Stephanie: Royce, Duke of Wolverstone (from Mastered by Love), or the hero coming up a few books from now, who thus far is known to readers as Neville Roscoe (from The Edge of Desire). I know that’s not his real name and I know a little about him, but he’s a highly mysterious character and I want to—need to—know more!<
Jo: So you, too, discover your characters as you write! I'm tempted to pursue that, but I want to know more about Black Cobra and your latest novel, The Elusive Bride.
Stephanie: The Black Cobra Quartet came about through wondering what happened to the rest of the heavy cavalry troop who fought with the Cynsters at Waterloo.
The answer that popped into my mind was that five of them went to India, and were officers in the British Army there, which at that time was under the command of the Governor-General of India, who was appointed by the East India Company and was essentially in control of all company activities there. From that, the story of the scion of an English noble house setting up a villainous cult for his own gratification grew—and of course our heroes were drafted in to stop him.
How they achieve that is the story told in the quartet. It’s been something of an experience writing four books that more or less run concurrently, and The Elusive Bride is the second volume, in which Major Gareth Hamilton journeys home via Arabia, Egypt, Malta, Tunisia, and France to complete his decoy mission and reach England, running a gauntlet of Black Cobra cult attacks along the way.
Jo: That sounds like great fun!
Stephanie: It’s very much in the vein of Errol Flynn meets Jane Austen—lots of dashing derring-do grounded by a healthy dose of feminine common sense.
Jo: Errol Flynn meets Jane Austen. Now that, I'd like to see. 🙂
Everyone, you can learn more about The Elusive Bride by clicking here. There's an excerpt and a fun video trailer.
Now, over to you. This is your chance to respond to Stephanie's comments above and ask new questions, and one commenter will be picked to win a very special book, one of Stephanie's hard-to-find hardcovers, The Promise In A Kiss.
Which of Stephanie's heroes would you like to take to dinner?
Which of her heroines do you think could be a friend?
How do you think it'd go if Jane Austen encountered Errol Flynn?
Out now, The Stanforth Secrets.
My second novel, set in my native area, Morecambe Bay, Lancashire.