September 30, 2009
Chatting with Donna Lea Simpson
Donna, thank you for taking the time to answer a few questions for Psychotic State.
Well thank you!
First, let’s talk about your new series, Lady Anne and the Howl in the Dark. How did you come up with the idea?
Truthfully, the idea for Lady Anne and the Howl in the Dark (April 2009 – Sourcebooks Casablanca) came to me in response to the proliferation of paranormal series, to which I had added with my own werewolf series, beginning with Awaiting the Moon. But when you scratch the surface of this paranormal writer you’ll find I’m a skeptic, which meant that I figured my first reaction, if I heard about a werewolf, would be to grab the kibble bag and Pupperoni treats and go hunting for a hound. Lady Anne comes from that part of me, the skeptic.
A lot! A whole lot. A mega-lot. I have written many books set in the Regency era, but the Lady Anne series is set in 1786, years before the Regency, and much was different, especially the clothing. I spent a hours online looking at old paintings and costume sites, as well as boning up on the history of the era. Believe it or not the HBO series John Adams, even though it is American and set in the United States, was a lot of help!
Did you originally envision it as a series?
Absolutely. The Lady Anne books had to be at least a three book series! I wanted to do a romantic story arc that would carry over three books. Sometimes I feel like a romance is rushed to get to the HEA ending in one book. When I created Lady Anne, a lady who has little incentive to marry, even when she meets someone as overwhelmingly attractive to her as Lord Darkefell, I knew she was not going to easily change her mind. She was going to make a man work for her affections! She is wealthy and has an indulgent father who lets her be independent, so marriage will actually take away some of that freedom. Women of 1786 became their husband’s property upon marriage, and Lady Anne doesn’t like that idea one little bit. It was going to take at least three books to make her see that the Marquess of Darkefell – ‘Tony’ as she learns to call him – is the man for her, someone who can truly appreciate how special she is.
Can you give us any hint of what we have to look forward to regarding Anne and Darkefell in the upcoming Lady Anne books?
Oooh, hints? She’s a passionate woman, and Darkefell attracts her in every sense, intellectually, sensually, aesthetically. What do you think will happen with a couple who are falling passionately in love? He pursues, she withdraws, but eventually they will come together. In Lady Anne and the Howl in the Dark the fuse was lit. In Book 2 – Lady Anne and the Ghost’s Revenge (Autumn 2010) - the fireworks explode, and I mean that in a literal as well as figurative sense. So in Book Three – Lady Anne and the Gypsy Curse (Autumn 2010) they… well… I’ll leave that for now. It is a very ‘satisfying’ ending for all involved!
You have written and published 28 novels and novellas - - if you could offer one piece of advice to an unpublished author, what would it be?
Persistence. Hard work. Luck. Manage those three things in any combination and you will likely get published sooner or later, but to do it you will have to learn to be severely thick-skinned to rejection and unsentimental about your words.
Out of those 28 novels and novellas, which work is your personal favorite and why?
Noooo! I can’t - won’t! – choose a favorite.
Do you have any favorite authors that you enjoy reading or that inspire you?
Every successful romance author can point to a number of authors whose work they admire. With me, my list includes Mary Balogh, Jo Beverley and Mary Jo Putney, the 3 Queens of Regency historical romance.
Can you take us through a day in the life of Donna Lea Simpson?
It’s all about the work, baby! I’m up somewhere between 5:30 AM (this morning) and 7 - 7:30 AM (most mornings). I’m always torn over what should take precedence, writing or readers (answering email, Facebook updates, interviews, etc.) Usually – accompanied by about three or four cups of coffee and a chorus of cat meows - I answer email, make some blog rounds, then get down to work. The actual writing is what readers think of when they think of novelists, but there is a lot of work involved that isn’t strictly defined, writing. Planning a book or series takes a lot of time and research, and there’s more research once you sit down to write.
Once I begin writing a book, I try to aim for a half chapter a day, that’s about two thousand plus words a day. But even while writing a book, there are all kinds of other tasks that have to be fit in: promo for new releases, providing info to the publishers for future releases, edits to be checked, that kind of thing. Usually just when you think you’ve cleared your schedule for some uninterrupted writing time, something else will crop up! I work until mid-afternoon and then comes all the other things that every person has to do; family and cleaning and cooking etc, and if I’m lucky a little reading.
Lastly, if you could change place with any one person for a single day, who would it be and why?
Nora Roberts; then I’d be inside her brain, steal all her ideas and run!! Kidding, I’m kidding! But really, if I could be one person for a day I suppose it would be someone like Oprah Winfrey, who seems to make so much of every second of her life. But in truth? My philosophy has always been I wouldn’t want to be anyone else because we all have our joys and our sorrows, our strengths and our weaknesses, and I’m happy being who am.
Donna, again, thank you for taking time out of your busy schedule to give us some insight into your writing, your average day and what makes you tick!
Thank you so much, Lori, for a fun and fabulous interview!
To read my review of Lady Anne and the Howl in the Dark by Donna Lea Simpson, go here.
Donna Lea Simpson contacts:
Website url: http://www.donnaleasimpson.com/