Saturday, 11 August 2018

Interview with Sweet Romance Author Isabella Thorne

What got you interested publishing Sweet Romance books?

I’ve always loved romance. The very first “big girl” book I read when I was about eleven was Mistress of Mellyn by Victoria Holt. My mother gave it to me, and I remember sharing books with my grandmother too.  I read a lot of Victoria Holt’s books in the 70’s. Then I found Georgette Heyer! And never looked back. The pageantry and happily ever after, just captured me.

Nowadays, much of the romance market is erotica or at lease sensual.  I wondered what I would have read at age eleven if I had to choose now?  There are so few romance books I could trust.  This was before the “sweet and wholesome” category was created at Amazon.

I know my own daughters, I have three of them, moved into science fiction and fantasy, but I wanted to offer a fun romance series that mothers and grandmothers could share with their daughters and granddaughters.  My books contain kisses and some sexual tension, but no explicit detail.  They are books I could give my own daughters, or when the time comes, my granddaughters.

Then I realized that I liked my characters and I didn’t have to give them up like I had to do as a reader.  I decided to keep a few of them.

Tell readers a little about the Gentlemen of Regency Romance series.

This series is all short reads.  The truth is, I really started writing without  knowing anything at all about marketing.  I just wrote what I thought I may want to read.   That first book languished away at the bottom of Amazon’s algorithm.  Then I read a bit about marketing and realized Amazon loves short books. They put short books at the top of many lists: 30, 60,  90 minute reads.  I suppose this has to do with the fact that people are so busy these days. 

Anyway, once I realized that, I commissioned new covers and split my first book into 4 parts.  I clearly labeled it as a “serial” which were actually very popular in Regency times.  Most novels came out in serials, so I felt this was a good way to get noticed by Amazon.  I wrote a few short stories too, so The Gentlemen of Regency Romance series is the set of all shorts, so that people who want to read in convenient hour blocks can find books they can read, and finish, or at least have a convenient place to stop.  I did have a few people complain about cliffhangers, but really none of the books end on the sort of cliffhangers you see on TV these days. The “cliffhanger” is she met the man in book one and in book two will get to know him better.  In any case, this series if for people who like short reads. This series keeps me alive on Amazon.

Also, tell readers a little about the Heart of a Gentleman series. 

The Heart of Gentleman series is the novel series. These are longer reads for people who like longer books, even though Amazon doesn’t give novels the love it gives short reads.  I will probably eventually remove The Mad Heiress and The Duke’s Wicked Wager from this series and add more books which are similar to each of these. Perhaps I will write more spy books to go with The Mad Heiress and more hunt books to go with The Duke’s Wicked Wager. All of my other books are more or less in the same universe, although they can be read independently.  My latest book, The Deceptive Earl, is the story of Lady Charity Abernathy.  If you read some of my other books you know that The Duke’s Daughter is about Charity’s friend, Lady Amelia Atherton and The Baron in Bath is about Charity’s friend, Miss Julia Bellevue. In intend to write another related book about Julia’s sister Jane and perhaps one about Patience’s brother Reginald before I move on to the Spy books or the Hunt books.

If you could live the life of one of your characters, would you?

Oh dear, no.  I like warm baths too much!  It is interesting that most Regency novels tell of the main characters bathing, but bathing was a rather rare occasion in Regency times.  Basins and hip baths were used, but soaking in a tub every night, like we do in modern times was not the norm.

Some writers I know consider the history of the time as real historical Regency and what we lovingly call “planet Regency”.  Planet Regency is where women can take regular baths and gorgeous young dukes are a dime a dozen instead of rather old and probably married.

I do suppose one of my favorite characters is Charity, but that may be because I just finished writing about her.  Usually my favorite is the one I am currently living with, so the truth is, I do live the life of my characters, don’t you? I hope you do. That’s the whole point of writing, and reading.

What's your favorite character that you have published and why?

I do have a liking for Samuel Beresford.  He is just so irreverent.  I particularly liked the pub scene where he and his fellows, helped Captain Jack Hartfield basically Regency drunk text his love, Lavinia.  I think people have not much changed. We just have different ways of doing things, but our feelings are often the same. That is one of the things I hope to show in my books.
From a female point of view, I’d have to say, I like Lavinia. She really comes into her own in The Forbidden Valentine.  She makes the world dance to her tune and doesn’t take no for an answer.

Do you have any real-life stories that you have incorporated into one of your books?

I think every good book has a bit of real-life in it.  That is actually what makes it good.

Certainly Evelyn is my horse riding buddy. In Julia, I explored the part of me that felt left out at high school events. For whatever reason, we all have those moments.  I was not too tall, like Julia, but I am a bit shy.  In the Amelia Atherton story, I found my out-going side and used her to say all the things I was actually too shy to say or do.  With Charity, I relived that moment when I was tongue-tied because he’s just that hot.  I also exaggerated everything my mom ever said to me, because I hope, no one’s mother is as awful as Charity’s mom. 

On a sadder side, my parents are now in their eighties, so although I’ve never lost any of them at the opera, or a concert, like Charity did, I do have my issues with forgetful parents.  The scenes that Charity had with her father were difficult for me to write because they felt very real to me.  I found myself crying while I wrote because my own mother is almost where Charity’s father was….and then I wrote the musicale scene and laughed instead of crying, so I didn’t feel so sad.

If you had to choose a different career other than publishing, what would it be?

I have a Master’s degree in English and taught for a few years when I was younger, but the politics in schools bothered me.  I like to be independent. Then, I bought some race horses and never looked back. Since I was thirty years a Thoroughbred race horse trainer, I suppose that would be a choice, although at my age, I don’t ride much anymore.

What is your favorite book that you have ever published and why?

I have to say that my favorite is always “the next one” because it is still fresh and new.  In the book I am writing, I can still choose new directions. I find it very hard to pick a favorite.

What do you like to do with your time when you're not publishing?

What? There is time not writing?  I am retired, and race horse training didn’t give me much of a retirement fund. What it did give me is a lot of bumps and bruises that didn’t hurt when I was in my teens and twenties, but have come back to haunt me now.
 If I don’t get out the next book pretty quickly, I don’t get paid, so there isn’t a lot of time “not writing”.  I write every day. I do enjoy it, and count myself blessed that I can do what I love and get paid for doing it, but it is a way to keep body and soul together for me.  If I didn’t write every day, I’d have to get a real job.

I have two dogs I love, but they are lazy and would just as soon lay under my desk at my feet than chase a ball, so we understand each other.  I bake with my daughters when they are not too busy and then eat all those sweet goodies. Of course, I love reading. That is my favorite pastime: to take a good book to the beach, but I am just as likely to take my laptop to the beach and write.  It has been a long while since I have been to the beach.  Checks off calendar.  I should do that.
What's a fun fact that your readers might not know about you?

I have never been to England, and that is so on my bucket list of things to do. Now that I have almost 50% of my audience in the UK I think I could write off the trip!

What do you have in store for your readers next?

I have been working with the writers group that puts out the Regency Collection every few months. Last month we started something new with the Nettlefold Chronicles, so I may write a story set there. I will continue to write with the group, and a few of us have even tossed around the idea of a new series with a crocheted old duke who keeps all of his grandchildren in line.

I believe the next book will be Jane’s book.  It is sort of a prequel because she is older, but she has been pestering me, and Keegain is just such a funny fellow.  It should be a fun romp.

Then perhaps Reginald or I may go back to the Hawthorne’s and the Firthley’s.  Betty is such an adventurer.  Since she helped her older sister in her attempt to elope, I’m not even sure what will happen in her book. Something amazing I’m sure.

Long term, I do want to get back to the folks who like horses and perhaps write a whole series of hunt books.  My bestseller is still the first book, The Mad Heiress, so I may write some spy books too. After all, all that research I did on the Napoleonic Wars should be of some use.

Stop by my facebook page ( ) and say hi and tell me what your thoughts are. What book would you like to see me write next?

Buy Isabelle Thorne's Books right here

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