Welcome readers to another Author Feature! This week I am so excited to be joined by romance author extraordinaire, Margaret Locke! She was gracious enough to stop by to discuss her latest novel, the regency time travel romance, A Matter of Time. Shall we adjourn to the metaphorical drawing room to learn more?
TNK: Thank you so much for stopping by the blog, Margaret! It’s been quite the whirlwind year for
you. First, you published your debut novel A Man of Character and now its sister novel A
Matter of Time has graced the markets as well. How long have you wanted to be a romance
author? And how does it feel now that the dream is a reality?
ML: I’ve wanted to write romance for nearly as long as I’ve been reading it – and considering I, er, picked up my first romance novel at the age of ten (sorry, mom), that’s been a long, long time. It was a dream I set on the back burner for a number of years as life changed and evolved, but now that I’m here, doing it, I feel as if I finally found what I’m truly supposed to be doing. It makes my heart happy. It makes me feel hopeful in a world that’s often too frightening for me, and it’s that hope and happiness I want to spread to others. (TNK here, Margaret definitely succeeds in spreading that hope and happiness to those of us in the Shenandoah Valley writing community!)
TNK: In A Man of Character you introduced us to your heroine Cat’s best friend, the lovely, quick-witted, but unfulfilled Eliza James who goes on to star in A Matter of Time. When you were writing AMOC, did you always know that you would tell Eliza’s love story next, or was that something that developed along the way?
ML: I love reading series with interwoven characters, so I’ve always known writing such a series was the way I wanted to go, but Eliza’s involvement truly was a bit of an accident. When brainstorming Cat’s story, it occurred to me she ought to have a friend, a sidekick, to help her understand and evaluate the strange goings on in her life. It also occurred to me I was going to have a hard time connecting this first contemporary romantic comedy with the Regencies I’d always intended to write – and I definitely wanted to connect them. And voila, Eliza’s obsession with Jane Austen and subsequent character arc was born!
TNK: I have to say, I’m not usually a romance reader. Yet, I find your work so engaging that from the very first time I read both A Man of Character and A Matter of Time, I could not pull myself away. From talking to other readers and looking over your glowing reviews, I know I’m not alone in this. What do you think makes your stories appeal to both the romance loyalists and the skeptics like me?
ML: Oh, you are so very, very kind, Taryn! The positive responses to A Man of Character stunned and delighted me (and still do), and I only hope to be so lucky with future works. I’d like to think that perhaps there are two angles to this:
1) People have preconceived notions about romance and assume they won’t like it – until they read it and realize romance speaks to human truths, the questions that we all ask – Who am I? What do I stand for? How do I fit into my world? And how do the people around me impact my understanding of my own life’s purpose?
And 2) Wait…I think my 2 is the same as 1: I try to write about issues we all face, in romance and otherwise, so I’d like to believe that even if people don’t give a hoot for the romance, they can relate to the search for understanding, for wholeness, for self-discovery. Either that, or y’all are just indulging me.
TNK: A Matter of Time is your first novel set in the Regency era. It must have been very overwhelming knowing all that research lay ahead of you when you began writing. Any advice for those who may be interested in writing historical fiction, but aren’t sure if they will be able to “get it right”?
ML: I’m pretty sure there’s lots of stuff I didn’t get right. In fact, I’m darn nervous about that, even though I researched and read books and blog posts and asked questions of the experts from The Beau Monde. I’m positive I still fudged stuff up and that I’ll hear about it. I guess that’s part of the learning process, right? I’m actually trained as a historian – I did everything but write my dissertation for my doctoral program in medieval history, though that’s twenty years in the past. I was hoping that would make it easier, but I wonder sometimes if it doesn’t make it harder, knowing how much I don’t know, and how much I’m likely missing! Bwah ha ha. Here’s my advice: yes, read the history. Learn the basics. Learn a little more than the basics. Ask questions of experts. Try to get it right. But also write your story. You can tweak the details as you go, big and small, but don’t let that fear keep you from writing. Nobody gets it perfect.
TNK: All right, now for the really fun stuff. Tell us about your hero, the brooding and undeniably masculine Deveric Mattersley? Should we be prepared to fall in love alongside Eliza?
ML: I sure hope so! I needed a Darcy-esque fellow to suit the Austen-loving Eliza, and I darn well think I found him. Deveric has a number of rather trademark romance hero characteristics – the slightly brooding nature, intense passions, and the like. But I hope I grounded them in believability, in giving him a back story that goes a long way to explain why he is the way he is – and why he needs someone like Eliza James, with her optimistic, bubbly personality, to heal him. I’m rather fond of him, at least – particularly in the bathtub scene, which makes me giggle every time. And I wrote the darn book! (TNK again, I can confirm that Dev had just the right balance of “Darcyness” and realism to make him oh so lovable!)
TNK: It’s only been a year and we have already been lucky enough to get two “Matters of Love” novels, can you tell us a bit about your next project? Whose story can we expect to hit the shelves next?
ML: I actually have a draft of Deveric’s sister Grace’s story, a non-magical (!) Regency, completely written (thank you, National Novel Writing Month [NaNoWriMo] 2014), but then decided as A Matter of Time evolved that it’s Deveric’s oldest sister Amara whose story needs to come first. So that’s what I’m currently working on – Amara’s tale in A Scandalous Matter. However, it’s one big NaNoWriMess at the moment, so it’s gonna take a while to whip it into shape. I’d like to promise two books for 2016, as well, but only time will tell…
I also have a short story or possible novella in the works giving us the origin story of Cat’s magical manuscript, so hopefully that will find its way into the world in the next year. And then… People have asked for certain characters’ stories, I’ve had some stories in mind for several years, and then new ideas pop into my head as new characters make themselves known. I could be writing elements of this series for a very long time – so here’s hoping people continue wanting to read my work!
A Matter of Time is available in e-book and paperback format now! Here’s a little teaser:
Nobody would blame widowed twenty-nine-year-old doctoral student Eliza James for giving up on the idea of Happily Ever After. After all, she’s suffered more loss than most people do in a lifetime. But Eliza’s convinced her own hero is still out there, waiting for her, just like in the beloved romance novels she devours. Every girl deserves a Darcy, right?
Only Eliza doesn’t dream of a modern-day prince: she wants the whole Regency experience. She can’t imagine anything better than waltzing in the arms of a duke at a grand ball before being whisked away for a tete-a-tete in a corner of a garden, or the very private seat of a well-sprung carriage. However, finding herself thrust back two hundred years into the arms and life of actual duke Deveric Mattersley—thanks to a magical medieval manuscript—has Eliza realizing some fantasies aren’t all they’re cracked up to be, especially when her prince proves himself less than charming.
Deveric Mattersley, Duke of Claremont, has no interest in marriage, not after convincing himself he’s at fault in the death of his first wife. Determined to atone for his sins, he decrees himself content to focus on the running of his family’s estates, and on raising his son–until the mysterious Mrs. James appears. Who is she? What does she want? And why does she make Dev’s blood run hot in a way no woman ever has?
A bit more about Margaret:
A lover of romance novels since the age of ten (shh, don’t tell mom!), Margaret Locke declared as a teen that she’d write romances when she grew up. Once an adult, however, she figured she ought to be doing grown-up things (such as earning that master’s degree in medieval history), not penning steamy love stories. Yeah, whatever. Turning forty cured her of that silly notion. Margaret is now happily ensconced back in the clutches of her first love, this time as an author as well as a reader.
Margaret lives in the beautiful Shenandoah Valley in Virginia with her fantastic husband, two fabulous kids, and two fat cats. You can usually find her in front of some sort of screen (electronic or window; she’s come to terms with the fact that she’s not an outdoors person).
Margaret loves to interact with fellow readers and authors! You may find her here:
Thanks for reading!