I’m delighted to have Stefanie Sloane here today to talk about The Scoundrel Takes a Bride, the latest release in her Regency Rogues series. Stefanie burst upon the historical romance scene with 2011’s The Devil in Disguise, which was nominated for the Romance Writers of America’s RITA award for best first book. Her historical romances have witty dialogue, strong heroines, and lots of intrigue. I was lucky enough to have my Christmas novella collected alongside Stefanie’s in the Naughty and Nice Christmas anthology.
But enough about me and Stefanie. Let’s talk about Nicholas. So. Nicholas, your hero … he’s quite the hot mess, isn’t he? Can you tell us a little about him and the state we find him in at the story’s beginning?
Hot mess? The man is a raging inferno. He’s a second son, which is never a good thing in Regency England, as there’s very little in the way of cache or funds that go along with the position. His older brother, Langdon, is absolutely everything a noble young man of the ton should be. Nicholas is not. Not even close. He’s in love with his brother’s intended bride—always has been, always will be. And then there’s his drinking problem, though Nicholas would never use the word “problem.” He is, for the most part, a maintenance alcoholic, drinking just enough to dull the pain. But there are times when he finds it necessary to not simply dull the pain, but beat the menacing concoction of self-loathing, insecurity, and raw, hot anger into oblivion.
The opening of Scoundrel finds Nicholas sleeping off such an occurrence. The one man Nicholas felt sure would lead him to salvation is gone. No clues left behind. The trail grown icy. Naturally, brandy is in order. And lots of it.
Naturally. I do love a good screwed-up hero, especially in a Regency romance, where there’s such a fine tradition of wounded noblemen.
This is the fifth book in your Regency Rogues series. Did you ever plan for the series to carry on so long? Have their been any unexpected gifts or challenges in writing such a long series?
I wouldn’t say I set out to write a long series, though I did play around a bit with numbers while plotting the first three. As a reader, I love a good series. It gives you the opportunity to truly invest in the characters—or the organization, as is the case with the Regency Rogues. But as a writer, there are certain challenges to writing a continuing series—ones I’d not considered before I set out on my Young Corinthians adventures.
A big one? Keeping all of the facts straight! I really should have created what we authors call a bible for the series from the beginning. But I was pressed for time—and, more than likely, too confident in my ability to remember the important bits. Character names and titles, locations of crimes and important goings-on, the order in which clues appear in past books—every last little detail is key when writing a romance with mystery elements. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve gone back and thumbed through my books in search of such things.
The other big one? Writing myself into a corner. If, by the time I get to book three, I no longer see my heroine as someone motivated by past tragedy, too bad! The character I introduced in book one must match the person you meet in book three. So there’s not the measure of flexibility you find in a one-off.
Interesting! I’d never thought about that before — whether your idea of a character might evolve, while you remain constrained by your original depictions of her.
Speaking of constraints, your heroine in this book, Sophia, is engaged to the brother of this book’s hero, Nicholas. How difficult was it to write a romance within this constraint? Talk about built-in conflict!
My initial response to this question was “no more difficult than any other book has been to write.” But the truth is, I went over and over—and over and over—Scoundrel more than I have any other book. And thinking back on the process now, a lot of the fussing had to do with making sure that both Nicholas and Sophia didn’t come off as awful, selfish people.
As I mentioned in question one, Nicholas’s brother is a great guy. He’s the guy every man wants to be and every woman wants to marry. It needed to be nothing less than pure torture for Sophia and Nicholas to recognize that their feelings for one another were valid and entirely acceptable despite this.
Lots of finessing was necessary. I’m a writer who finds power in subtlety. Much can be conveyed in the smallest of scenarios. But I’m also a writer who needs to tinker with the entire book, then reread, make note of where further adjustments must be made, and start all over again.
So, I guess my answer is yes, it was a difficult constraint. What was I thinking? Oh, that’s right, I wrote myself into a corner with book one (see answer to question two) and had no choice. Ah well, it’s still a pretty awesome job.
It is, isn’t it? Thanks for dropping by, Stefanie!
Leave a comment (including your email address) to enter for a copy of Naughty and Nice, along with either Stefanie’s latest release, The Scoundrel Takes a Bride, or the first Regency Rogues book, The Devil in Disguise (because some of us need to start reading from the beginning).
Contest will remain open through Thursday, January 10, with winners to be announced on Friday, January 11. Please put your email in the body of the comment so I can contact the winner. Winners may request print books or ebooks.
Oh, and p.s.: Stefanie is giving away a Kindle e-reader and a $50 gift card to celebrate the release of The Scoundrel Takes a Bride! Visit this page to enter. Contest ends Tuesday, January 8.