a blog venturing into the mists of time
Welcome to Moonday Mania and my guest author, Angela Quarles. Angela is a fellow member of the Romance Writers of America and the Fantasy, Futuristic & Paranormal romance writers chapter where we delve into everything from wizards and witches to love in space. Her first book, Beer and Groping in Las Vegas, came out in 2012. Now she’s ventured into the world of paranormal romance and I’m thrilled to say readers are eating it up! Here she is talking about writing, life and her latest book, Must Love Breeches. Please welcome romance author, Angela Quarles!
- How long have you been writing? What is your main writing genre? Do you write in more than one genre and why?
I’ve been working on a nonfiction book since the early 1990s, but didn’t start dabbling in fiction until 2005 (except for a very brief attempt to write a romance in the 90s). In 2005, I started writing Jane Austen fan fiction, but didn’t really set out to write a novel until 2008. I completed my first novel in 2009, which is currently trunked 🙂 I wrote the first draft of Must Love Breeches in 2010 and set about revising it. I think writing fiction offers an opportunity for me to use my creativity and imagination in a way that was challenging enough to keep my interest. Plus, it allows me to use and fuse my interests in different ways and in different stories. It’s a way for me to “act” out other characters and personalities and to time travel 🙂 If there was one sub-genre under romance that would cover what I write it’d be paranormal. Mainly time travel, but also other types of romance where I can incorporate something a little out of the ordinary, whether it’s a wish-granting djinn, or steampunk, or meta fiction—a ‘What If’ that can’t actually happen in real life. Usually, though, it’s a little dabble that is inserted into the normal world, but has big consequences. In my time travel romance, Must Love Breeches, it’s a wish made on a calling card case that brings her back in time, but then that’s it as far as paranormal events. With Beer and Groping in Las Vegas, it’s an accidental wish made with a djinn, and except for little things they notice during the story, it takes place in our normal world.
- Tell us the story behind your pen name? Do you have more than one?
I definitely wanted to keep my first name to avoid confusion when someone might be calling out for me and I don’t realize it because I’m not used to the name. So Angela was a given. I wanted something for a last name that had some personal meaning and was also distinctive enough that I would be able to claim my pen name on the social media outlets and that didn’t have authors already populating Amazon and Google. Quarles fit that bill as it’s an old family name in Virginia. Some ancestors of mine there married into the Quarles family, so there you go!
- What theme or message in your book? Does it run through all your books?
In Must Love Breeches it’s about Home, specifically What is home? What makes a home for someone and how do you find it? It runs as a minor theme in my other books too. Probably the theme or message that is most prevalent is learning to love and accept yourself before you can find love and happiness.
- Pantser/Plotter/or both? Tell us how you work.
I’m a Plantser, a little of both, but that only came about after several books. My first two books were pantsed, which includes Must Love Breeches, but by my third full-length I realized I needed to get a little more organized to save myself a lot of revision work, and so with Steam Me Up, Rawley, my steampunk romance coming out in the beginning of 2015, I pre-plotted as much as I could stand and that was basically working out the world, the goals of the hero and heroine and a bit of their background, and the major turning points. Since then, I’ve been most comfortable that way. I can’t go as far as a full outline, because some things I can’t figure out until I’m actually wading into it, but I push myself to nail down what I can before I start.
- Do you get writer’s block and if so how do you get past it?
Sometimes. I’m a FastDrafter, meaning I try to write my first draft as fast as I can. I wrote the first draft of Steam in 14 days, but generally I take 30… This means I really don’t have time to get stuck, which is great as it forces me to go on. Before I started FastDrafting, I never completed my first novel because I was always suffering from Writer’s Block, which at that time was just pure fear. Now, when I do get it, it’s because I don’t know where the story is going and so I’ll stop and break for a day or two and type up all that I know about the characters and what’s happening, the plot points, etc.—generally all the things a Plotter would put down on paper before they ever started. Then I take out my notebook and a pen and just start writing out what I’m stuck on—literally. For instance, I’ll write out: “Okay, so such and such is doing this and that and I need to figure out why he’s doing this, what could be the reason…” and then I’ll just start bulletpointing ideas on paper and running with them until something comes out of it. That generally works for me.
- How do you research the time period, setting, plot specifics, character specifics?
First it might be figuring out what country or time period and then narrowing it down from there. For instance, with Must Love Breeches I vaguely knew I wanted to go back to the early 1800s and did some superficial research until I came across Ada Lovelace and I knew she had to be a character, so that narrowed down my research to a very specific time period. With Must Love Chainmail, I only knew it needed to be in the medieval era when mail armor was still worn before plate armor became popular. I nosed around on some forums talking about armor and a commenter suggested Wales might provide a fertile ground with the Edwardian wars there, so then I started reading general histories on Wales until a specific historical event spoke to me (Madog’s Rebellion in 1294) and then I narrowed my focus and even found the perfect castle to base the beginning of the story in. The next in the series, Must Love Kilts, I just started reading some general histories this week on Scotland (I’ve read many in the past, but not with plotting a book in mind) to see if a specific time period or historical event pops out for me and then I’ll narrow my focus. Going into this, I had a specific feud in mind between the Campbells and MacDonalds in mind, but I don’t know if that will work best or not, so I want to do this stage of research to see if anything else speaks to me more.
- What made you choose to go the indie route and what are some of the things you love about it? Challenges?
I started out on the traditional route with Must Love Breeches and queried agents in 2012 and ended up with three offers of representation. However, when it went on submission in early 2013, we had a tough time selling it. It did get as far as a second read with Grand Central as well as Berkeley Intermix, but ultimately it came down to two main problems: debut author + not-hot genre. If it had been a contemporary…. But it wasn’t, and publishing is a business and it was deemed too risky to take a chance on, and I understand that. It did get offers from two small presses, but ultimately, after much debate, we decided to turn them down and self-publish, as the risk and reward worked out better for me that way. I was just too worried about whether I’d get good editors, a good cover, etc., and in the end, realized that the potential risks weren’t worth it for what they could bring to the table–I wasn’t convinced that the extra readers they’d bring would offset that risk or the loss in revenue. So I took the scary step of vetting and hiring my own team of editors and a book cover designer, and fronting the cost for that and I’m so glad I did! I love the control over the product and the promotion, and once it all sank in, I scrapped my plans to seek a traditional home for Steam Me Up, Rawley and am putting it through the editing paces right now for a planned release in January/February.
- Did you have a scene that was particularly hard to write? Why?
Yes, her realization that she had gone back in time. I think because the idea of it is so farfetched and yet accepted in fiction, but I wanted to write it like how someone would realistically react to that, but how would you react? LOL. I just remember it being painstaking for me as I was also still so new to writing fiction then and I just worried that it wouldn’t ring true. Anyway, I slogged through it and came out the other end J
- Is this a series? Will there be any sequels to this book?
Yes, this is Book One in the Must Love Series. Book Two will be Must Love Chainmail, then Must Love Kilts, and then perhaps Must Love Buckskin.
- What are you releasing next, and when?
Next will be Steam Me Up, Rawley, a New Adult steampunk romance set in the Deep South in 1890. It’s a spin off from the Must Love Series, since the ramifications of Book One creates the steampunk world this is set in. I plan to release it in January or early February of 2015.
- Love that! Can’t wait. Thanks, Angela, for joining me today. Now here’s the blurb for Must Love Breeches!
She’s finally met the man of her dreams. There’s only one problem: he lives in a different century.
“A fresh, charming new voice” – New York Times bestselling author Tessa Dare
HOW FAR WOULD YOU TRAVEL FOR LOVE?
A mysterious artifact zaps Isabelle Rochon to pre-Victorian England, but before she understands the card case’s significance a thief steals it. Now she must find the artifact, navigate the pitfalls of a stiffly polite London, keep her time-traveling origins a secret, and resist her growing attraction to Lord Montagu, the Vicious Viscount so hot, he curls her toes.
To Lord Montagu nothing makes more sense than keeping his distance from the strange but lovely Colonial. However, when his scheme for revenge reaches a stalemate, he convinces Isabelle to masquerade as his fiancée. What he did not bargain on is being drawn to her intellectually as well as physically.
Lord Montagu’s now constant presence overthrows her equilibrium and her common sense. Isabelle thought all she wanted was to return home, but as passion flares between them, she must decide when her true home—as well as her heart—lies.
Must Love Breeches: Time Travel Romance
Release Date: Sep 3 2014
Length: Novel (98,000 words)
Ebook Price: $4.99
Google Play: http://bit.ly/MLBGoogle
Angela Quarles is a geek girl romance writer whose works includes Must Love Breeches, a time travel romance, and Beer & Groping in Las Vegas, a geek romantic comedy in novelette form. She has a B.A. in Anthropology and International Studies with a minor in German from Emory University, and a Masters in Heritage Preservation from Georgia State University. She currently resides in a historic house in the beautiful and quirky town of Mobile, AL.
Author Web or Blog Site: www.angelaquarles.com
Amazon Author Page; http://www.amazon.com/Angela-Quarles/e/B00ASR71P2/ref=ntt_athr_dp_pel_1