I’m thrilled to be hosting debut historical romance author Jennifer McQuiston on the blog today. I had the good fortune to read Jennifer’s work before she was published, and I immediately knew she was a talented writer who would be going places. Shortly thereafter, she sold to Avon Publishing. Let’s chat with Jennifer and find out about her and her new book, shall we?
You have what some might think is an unusual background for a romance novelist – you’re a vet and an infectious disease researcher. Did any of your scientific training help you in your new life as a romance novelist?
Well…it may have prepared me for things like research, deadlines, and peer review, but it certainly didn’t help me write a romance novel. My early attempts to write romance were called “stilted” by more than one well-meaning contest judge. I had to re-train myself to write creatively, as all those scientific journal articles had numbed my mind. I do think writing romance has influenced my scientific writing for the better… I recently wrote a book chapter in the new Rickettsiales text on rickettsial diseases that actually uses the phrase “strapping young lumbermen” in the Introduction.
Maybe if more people knew that, it wouldn’t be ranked #2,644,000 on Amazon.
During my first fumbling attempts to pen a novel, I at least attempted to incorporate some public health and infectious disease research into my writing, but that gradually became less of a focus as I improved as a writer. My first published book, What Happens in Scotland, is actually the fifth book I wrote, and it contains nothing of scientific reality in it. In fact, I am pretty sure some suspension of disbelief is necessary to enjoy it!
People love “the call” stories. Can you tell us about yours?
We had gone out on submission with three other books, so I was prepared for about 6 months of radio silence after we went out with What Happens in Scotland in March, 2012. No one was more shocked than me when an offer came in three days later… and then the amazing serendipity of getting more offers and moving to auction. Those days seem like one big blur for me. The coolest part about my call story was that it came the same day that my critique partner, Romily Bernard, got her call. We’d been struggling side by side with countless rejections, so to finally strike gold on the same day was surreal.
Tell us about your new book.
What Happens in Scotland is a rompish “she woke up married” story set in Victorian Scotland. Some reviewers have compared it to The Hangover, and I admit the movie *might* have inspired more than one plot element.
When recent widow Georgette Thorold wakes up in a Scottish inn with a wedding ring on her finger and lacking all memory of how she came to be there, she does what any well-bred lady with a modicum of sense and a distrust of marriage would do: she panics, clocks the wickedly handsome stranger in her bed over the head with a chamber pot, and runs.
James McKenzie, Esquire has either spent the evening protecting a very naïve, and—dare he say it—very drunk young lady from the advances of every disreputable character in the town of Moraig, or he has gone and married a pretty, scheming thief. Not that his own head is entirely clear on the matter, but when the woman in question repays his kindness with a knock on the head, the bill for her room, and the theft of his purse, an embarrassed James is determined to track her down and show her she picked the wrong solicitor to swindle.
As Georgette sets out to discover exactly what happened during her forgotten night, she uncovers a man that seems far more a hero than a rake. But when they finally meet, instead of sweeping her into his arms and kissing her senseless, he serves her with a summons, claiming she is a thief. Now the fight is on, and the only question is was it a night worth remembering? Or a mistake they would both rather forget?
What’s up next in your writing life?
I was fortunate enough to be given a 3 book deal, and so next out of the gate is book #2 in my series, Summer is for Lovers, which will be published September 24, 2013 (but is available for pre-order now). An unrequited love story set in the seaside resort of Brighton, Summer is for Lovers features a hero some might consider a villain, and an awkward young woman who is the last person he should want.
Thanks so much for being with us today, Jennifer! Folks, Jennifer is graciously giving away a copy of her debut book, What Happens in Scotland. To be eligible to win, just tell us what’s your favorite book made into a movie? One person who comments will win the book! And be sure to check out Jennifer’s website and also look her up on Twitter.