Friday, November 30, 2007

Interview with Kathryn Meyer Griffith

I’d like to welcome our guest today, Kathryn Meyer Griffith. It’s a pleasure having you come visit us at Much Cheaper Than Therapy, where chocolate is plentiful and advice is free. So grab some chocolate and a lounge chair. Your therapy session has begun.

I understand you have a new release out called Egyptian Heart. Can you tell us a little bit about your fabulous new book?

Well, it’s a time travel romance…about an Egyptologist, Maggie Owen, who while on an archaeological dig uncovers Ramose Nakh-Min’s ancient tomb and a magical amulet hidden in his sarcophagus. It sends her back to his time…1340 B.C – where she falls hopelessly in love with him, the man she was destined to love. At first she’s mistaken for a slave, but she looks so different…pale skin, bright green eyes like a jinn…which is a sort of a demon. Ancient Egyptians were very superstitious and some believe Maggie is evil. Of course, that causes her a lot of trouble. She also finds herself in turbulent times with Pharaoh Akhenaton and Queen Nefertiti’s power waning and war about to break out with the Hittities. To make a long story short, Maggie ends up helping Queen Nefertiti and her daughters escape Egypt, she gets her man and she helps change history…for the better. I love a happy ending. The book is my first e-published, but my tenth published novel. It comes out today from The Wild Rose Press.

Egyptian Heart is a very interesting title. How did you arrive at that name?

I wrote it under another name, The Cursed Scarab; sold it as Of Another Time…but at the last minute I decided that the first sounded too much like a horror title and the second sounded too generic. I wanted the readers to know it was an Egyptian story. Egyptian Heart popped into my head. I thought it sounded more romantic since Maggie not only loved ancient Egypt but ends up giving her heart to an ancient Egyptian. The title and the beautiful cover created by The Wild Rose Press artist, Tamra Westberry, with the face, the pyramids and the camel, I think, help place it in ancient times.

Did you have to do a lot of research for the book?

Oh, my gosh, yes! I have a file folder three inches thick with notes and copies of photos. I spent many, many hours studying the history of that time and the people. Simply, everything in the book is basically historically correct except Maggie Owen and Ramose Nakh-Min…who never actually existed. They’re fictional characters thrust into a real time, real situations and with people that once lived. I think a lot of writers do that.

What character did you like writing about the most, and why?

Maggie. She’s like me in some ways – artistic and curious – but better. She’s fearless and adventurous. I find giving my heroine courageous traits I don’t have (I’m afraid of everything!) makes her an interesting character – and it’s great therapy for me. I have her do everything I can’t or won’t do. You know…like defy a soldier, face down a lion or physically defend the man she loves.

If your book was made into a movie, what actor would you like to fill your hero’s shoes?

Ah…funny that you should ask. There’s this new show on called Moonlight about a vampire PI. The actor is Alex O’Loughlin. He’s Australian. I’m hard to please and not many actors catch my eye and attention like he has. He’s…handsome and so charismatic. Got the dark hair and eyes, too, of my hero. Except ancient Egyptians were a little more tanned than he is. But he’ll do.

Do you have any authors that inspired you?

When I was a kid I read science fiction and historical romances. Mysteries. Anything spooky. I loved Ray Bradbury and Robert Heinlein. I had a lot of authors that moved me; too many to list. But Stephen King and Dean Koontz are two of my favorites.

What do we have to look forward to next?

I have two more novels (Winter’s Journey, a romantic suspense, and The Ice Bridge, a romance with a dose of murder mystery) and two ghostly short stories (In This House and Don’t Look Back, Agnes…to be a series) contracted with The Wild Rose Press. They should all be out in the next few months. You can get updates on them (and see my homemade book trailers with music by my musician/songwriter brother, Jim Meyer) at: or or

Buy Egyptian Heart at:

Trailer for Egyptian Heart

Thanks, Kathryn Meyer Griffith!

Bio: Kathryn Meyer Griffith has been making up stories since she was a child and has been writing for over thirty-five years. She was a graphic designer for twenty-three years; she’s a wife (husband, Russell), a mother (son, James) and a grandmother (grandchildren, Joshua and Caitlyn) and lives with her husband and two quirky cats (Cleo and Sasha) in an old house in a small town in Illinois. She’s had nine books* published and Egyptian Heart will be her tenth.

*Evil Stalks the Night, Leisure 1984; The Heart of the Rose,Leisure 1985; Blood Forge, Leisure 1989; Vampire Blood, Zebra 1991; The Last Vampire, Zebra 1992; Witches, Zebra 1993 & Pinnacle 2000; The Calling, Zebra 1994; Scraps of Paper, Avalon Books, 2003; All Things Slip Away, Avalon Books, 2006. Egyptian Heart, November 30, 2007 (paperback May 30, 2008); Winter’s Journey, early 2008; The Ice Bridge, early 2008; In This House and Don’t Look Back, Agnes, winter of 2007 or early 2008…all from The Wild Rose Press.

To find out more about Kathryn : or or

Wednesday, November 28, 2007

Enchanting the Lady

In the spirit of the season, and because Kathryne is a great author and this author can't wait to get my copy of Enchanting the Lady, I'm going to play along in her contest.
"The imagination of J.K. Rowling and the romance of Julie Garwood
all rolled up into one fabulous novel." Erin Grady, author of Whispers
Make sure you check back to see her author interview right here at Much Cheaper Than Therapy in January.

Friday, November 23, 2007

Interview with Kim Watters

I’d like to welcome our guest today, Kim Watters. It’s a pleasure having you come visit us at Much Cheaper Than Therapy, where chocolate is plentiful and advice is free. So grab some chocolate and a lounge chair. Your therapy session has begun.

Thanks for the chocolate and the therapy. I'm in definate need of both!

I understand you have a new release out called When Johnny Comes Home. Can you tell us a little bit about your fabulous new story?

It’s a reunion story with a different twist. For years, the heroine, Audrey, has masqueraded as her sister and written love letters to Johnny. Now, the man she adores is coming home to marry his pen pal, whose letters kept him sane and hopeful throughout the destruction of war. Because her sister has married someone else, Audrey is left to face the consequences of her deception, which turns out not to be a bad thing after all.

When Johnny Comes Home is a very interesting title. How did you arrive at that name?

I played it off that old song When Johnny Comes Marching Home, which is where I got the idea for the book a well as the hero’s name. Of course, the original song was written for soldiers fighting in the Civil War, not World War II, but I think the song is still inspiring as much today as it was when it was first written.

Did you have to do a lot of research for the story?

Yes I did. Since this is my first time period piece I went overboard. I was able to find books about that time period and found tons of stuff-especially images of the war letters on the internet. It’s amazing what you can find there. To get the cadence of how people talked (or Hollywood’s version), I remembered some of my favorite movies that were filmed back then like “It’s A Wonderful Life” and tried meld that into my character’s voices and mannerisms. Plus, I remembered stories that my grandmother used to tell of living in the Midwest.

What character did you like writing about the most, and why?

Since my shorter stories are all in the heroine’s point of view, I’d have to say her, though I absolutely loved the hero, Johnny.

If your book was made into a movie, what actor would you like to fill your hero’s shoes?

Well, if Jimmy Stewart were still alive, I’d pick the young version of him. Present day though, no kidding, Matt Damon. Absolutely Matt Damon.

Do you have any authors that inspired you?

Now that’s a question. Having read romances since the 70’s, there’s tons of authors that have influenced me over the years. But I’d say since I’ve started on the journey to publication, it would be all of my fellow Valley of the Sun and Desert Rose authors. I don’t want to list them for fear of leaving a special person out by mistake. Hugs to all of you and thank you. I wouldn't be here without you. Another special thanks to my critique buddies Shelley, Marion, Sandy, Carol, Kerrie and Linda.

What do we have to look forward next?
Another loaded question. The print version of Web of Deceit will be available on January 4th, 2008. I’m currently working on another short story for The Wild Rose Press as well as longer books for Harlequin/Silhouette and Avalon Books.

To celebrate her story release, Kim is offering a copy to one lucky commenter on today's blog.

Author Bio:

At twelve years old, Kim Watters fell in love with romance after she borrowed a romance novel from her older sister. An avid reader, she was soon hooked on the happily ever after endings. For years, she dreamt of writing her own romance novel, but never seemed to have the time until she relocated from Chicago to Phoenix. The rest, they say, is history. She’s a multi-published author with releases from Avalon Books and The Wild Rose Press. She’s a member of RWA, PASIC, NINC, Valley of the Sun Romance Writers, Desert Rose RWA, and the ACFW.

Author Website:

Buy Link:

Tuesday, November 20, 2007

Thanksgiving Treat

Just in time for the Thanksgiving Holiday. Here's a special recipe for those of you incharge of bringing the dessert like me.

Pumpkin Orange Mousse

1 envelope unflavored gelatin
1/4 cup freshly squeezed orange juice
4 large eggs
2/3 cup sugar
1 cup pumpkin puree
2 teaspoons cinnamon
2 teaspoons ginger
1 teaspoon freshly grated nutmeg
2 teaspoons freshly grated orange zest
1 cup very cold heavy creamwhipped cream (optional)

Place the orange juice in a heat proof bowl. Sprinkle the gelatin over the top and place the bowl in a small saucepan. Poor simmering water into the pan and halfway up the outside of the bowl. Stir the rum, and remove from the heat when the gelatin is totally dissolved. Remove the bowl from the pan and let cool to room temperature. Beat the eggs in a large bowl until the mixture thickens. Slowly add the sugar, beating constantly until the mixture becomes light and lemon colored (about 4 minutes). Mix in the pumpkin, spices, and orange zest. Add the gelatin mixture and mix thoroughly. Using clean beaters, whip the heavy cream in a separate bowl until stiff. Gently fold the cream into the pumpkin mixture. Spoon the mixture into individual dishes or cookies and refrigerate for at least 4 hours. Top with whipped cream before serving if desired.

Monday, November 19, 2007

The Neurotic Writer and The Black Eye

Welcome to another episode of

The Neurotic Writer


Therapist: “Suzie, what happened to your eye?”

Suzie Writer: (Pressing powder over the black and purple bruise.) “It’s nothing really, just another example of me sacrificing for my art.”

Therapist: “Exactly what happened?”

Suzie Writer: “It all started when I took the online class: Submitting to Agents. The instructor said we should appeal to the agent’s likes or interests. For example, if you know the agent likes horses, mention your heroine trains horses.”

Therapist: “What if there is no horse?”

Suzie Writer: (Guffaws) “You rewrite the story, of course.”

Therapist: “Did you fall off a horse? Is that how you got the black eye?”

Suzie Writer: “Of course not. I don’t have time to ride.” (Impatient sigh) “I asked my cousin Howard to look up Agent Studly. It only took thirty minutes for Howard to find his address.”

Therapist: “You what?”

Suzie Writer: “Don’t look so surprised. A good detective can find out anything. By the way, how do you like living in Chandler?”

Therapist: “What? How?”

Suzie Writer: “Focus. We are talking about me. I flew to New York and I followed Studly for a full week. He likes double espressos, club sandwiches, and leggy blondes.”

Therapist: “Stalking someone is not healthy behavior, Suzie. ”

Suzie Writer: “You’re telling me. I got a black eye and I still don’t know if he likes horses. I peaked inside all of his windows, but couldn’t find any collectables of any type. I needed to get inside.”

Therapist: “You didn’t…”

Suzie Writer. “Of course I did. I turned the knob on his back door, and out of nowhere, an overstuffed, smelly, garbage bag hits me in the face. Who knew Studly could swing a bag so hard?”

Therapist: “Suzie, you cannot continue to follow people.”

Suzie Writer: “You’re telling me. According to the restraining order, I can’t step foot in New York for another year. Luckily, Studly’s attending a conference next month, and I’m ready this time. I’m bringing my hockey mask.”


Friday, November 16, 2007

Interview with Shelley Mosley

I’d like to welcome our guest today, Shelley Mosley. It’s a pleasure having you come visit us at Much Cheaper Than Therapy, where chocolate is plentiful and advice is free. So grab some chocolate and a lounge chair. Your therapy session has begun.

Thank you for inviting me here today. Where’s my chocolate?

See Hans on your way out.

I understand you have a new release out called The Complete Idiot’s Guide to the Ultimate Reading List. Can you tell us a little bit about your fabulous new book?

There are many lists of the “best books” to read, and, as a librarian, I’ve seen patrons struggle through these as though they were on a death march. They’ve been brainwashed to believe that if they don’t read every single title prescribed by some “expert,” no matter how dry and dull the novel, they’ll somehow be woefully short of I.Q. points, and the world will label them as “culturally inadequate.” Guess what. Reading can be fun, and there are great books out there just waiting to be read. John Charles, Sandy Van Winkle, Joanne Hamilton-Selway, and I put together lists of our favorite books in the categories most requested by library users: romance, mystery/suspense, horror, science fiction, fantasy, chick lit, westerns, humor, true crime, inspirational fiction, inspirational non-fiction, popular fiction, literary fiction, history, biography, travel, science and medicine, and true animal stories. Our book is designed for people who read in a specific category as well as those who would like to try different genres, but don’t know where to begin. In the back of the book are lined pages for people to list more authors they’ve discovered along the way, books they want to read, or notes on titles they’ve finished reading.

Why did you write The Complete Idiot’s Guide to the Ultimate Reading List?

We were asked to write it, and it was something we thought we could do well.

The Complete Idiot’s Guide to the Ultimate Reading List is a very interesting title. How did you arrive at that name?

The publisher gave the book its name, which is usually the case. We actually had some other ideas for a title. Leah Hultenschmidt, for example, suggested Books for the Bedstand, which I really liked.

How did you go about pitching this book to an editor?

I went to the Society of Southwestern Author Conference in Tucson, where I met Mike Sanders, Editorial Director at Alpha Books, the company that publishes the Complete Idiot Guides. He seemed like a really nice guy, and I thought he’d be easy to work with. (It turns out I was right on both counts!) Anyway, I pitched The Complete Idiot’s Guide to the Library. Mike said it wasn’t “sexy” enough, but he did have a project he thought I could do. That project was the Complete Idiot’s Guide to the Ultimate Reading List.

How did you convince your writing team to work on this book?

John, Sandy, Joanne, and I were all pretty exhausted from writing Romance Today: An A-Z Guide to Contemporary Romance Writers, which took something like four years to complete. Plus, John and I were writing The Suffragists in Literature for Youth: The Fight for the Vote at the same time. To top everything off, John and I were reviewing for Booklist and Library Journal and writing for What Do I Read Next? John was writing a column for the Chicago Tribune, and I was writing romantic comedies with Deborah Mazoyer. Sandy started writing children’s books. Despite the tight deadline and our heavy writing workloads, John, Sandy, and Joanne agreed to join me on the Ultimate Reading List project. For librarians, getting the right book to the right person is almost a holy mission. To have a chance to list what we considered the best of the best books--what an opportunity! What troopers the members of “Team Mosley” (as John has named us) are!

Did you have to do a lot of research for the book?

We did extensive research. We interviewed dozens of writers, readers, librarians, and people in the publishing industry and asked them what their favorite books are. We pored over lists of award-winners. We read or re-read many of the books that we eventually recommended (and there are over a thousand of them!) Lastly, we drew on a total of 75 years’ library experience--we’ve done a lot of reader’s advisory work over the years! We also had to learn all of the protocols necessary to format a Complete Idiot’s Guide.

What kind of deadlines did you have for this book?

Deadlines were tight. There were six months from contract to finished book.

Is there anything about The Complete Idiot’s Guide to the Ultimate Reading List that you would change? Any roadblocks?

No writing project is perfect. We had a good team and an excellent editor, but six months isn’t much time to complete a book like this, especially with the massive research involved. We’ve written an article about our experiences, “Six Months, Five Revisions, Four Authors, Three Editors, Two Meltdowns, and One Book.” You get the picture! With four of us, we had four different ideas about what books should be in the Ultimate Reading List. One…um…enthusiastic discussion lasted six hours.

The only real roadblock to our book was when we got the galleys to review, and it was the same time the book went into production. We were unable to correct our errors. Fortunately, there aren’t many, but one of the bloopers is Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Apprentice instead of Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone. If our book goes into a second printing, these errors will be corrected.

Would you ever do another Complete Idiot’s Guide?

You bet!

Do you have any authors who inspired you?

The other night, when I saw Nora Roberts get the Quill Award for the best romance for her book Angels Fall, I really wasn’t surprised. The woman is a publishing phenomenon. But when she won for best book of the year, too, it occurred to me that here’s a person who’s taken a much-maligned genre and earned the respect of everyone, even those who hate romance novels. If that doesn’t inspire all of us, I don’t know what does!

What do we have to look forward next?

On the non-fiction, reference side, the Crash Course in Library Supervision, which I co-authored with Dennis C. Tucker, will be out any day now. It can actually be used for supervisory situations outside of the library world, too, and focuses on using the Golden Rule as your philosophy of management, and treating your staff as though they are fellow human beings. (Hasn’t everyone worked for someone who was a bully boss and/or acted as though he or she was superior to the employees?)

As far as fiction is concerned, Deborah Mazoyer and I have a romantic comedy, tentatively titled Marriage 101, coming out from Avalon in June. It’s written under our pseudonym, Deborah Shelley. Marriage 101 is about Rachel Levin, a young teacher who gets her graduate degree in human relationships, considers herself an expert, but has never had an actual relationship of her own. Her first job, of course, is teaching Life Skills (a.k.a. Marriage 101) to a class of high school seniors. The hero, Danny Ricucci, a commitment-phobic high school coach, is blackmailed by the students into going through the class as Rachel’s “husband.” Soon, the lines between their hypothetical romance and a real one begin to blur. Of course, Danny’s family, including his sister, the stealth nun, feels obligated to become involved.

Thanks, Shelley!

Thanks for the interview, Ladies of Much Cheaper Than Therapy! This was fun!

Check out author’s website at

Buy The Complete Idiot’s Guide to the Ultimate Reading List at

Bio: Shelley is a retired library manager and a full-time writer. She’s co-authored several non-fiction books: The Suffragists in Literature for Youth: The Fight for the Vote; Romance Today: An A-to-Z Guide to Contemporary American Romance Writers; The Complete Idiot’s Guide to the Ultimate Reading List; the What Do I Read Next? series and Crash Course in Library Supervision. Shelley has won two Romance Writers of America’s Veritas awards and was RWA’s 2001 Librarian of the Year. She reviews books for both Booklist and Library Journal. As half of the romance writing team of Deborah Shelley (the other half, Deborah Mazoyer, is the Director of Building Safety for Glendale, AZ), Shelley has written four romantic comedies. Their newest novel, tentatively titled Marriage 101, will be out in June, 2008, and will be an Avalon hardback. Their novels have been translated into Dutch, Danish, French, Russian, Norwegian, and Portuguese. Shelley has just signed on as a writer for Novelist. She likes cats, chocolate, and all things Disney.

Wednesday, November 14, 2007


What do we look for in our characters as writers or readers? I know when I read a book, I’m always attracted to the one person who sacrifices something they deeply care for to save another person or crucial situation.

I thought I’d take a look on the net and search for everyday heroes. Some might spur me on to write about them as characters in a new book, but some might just make me grateful that there are people out there who are willing to make deep sacrifices for someone other than themselves.
I decided to celebrate those everyday people by finding a Hero of the Month. I’ve stumbled upon far more people than I ever thought I would, so it was very difficult to find that special person until I read about a man in New York City:

A teenager fell off a subway platform right onto the train tracks with an oncoming train fast approaching. A man saw what had occurred and at first thought he might be able to pull the teenager up off the tracks, but then realized he didn’t have time. So instead he dove on top of the teenager and pushed him down on the track.

According to reports, the train’s operator saw them and applied emergency brakes, but not quickly enough. Two cars passed over both men with only a few inches to spare.

I don’t know about you, but to me that truly is a heroic act. Thank you, Wesley Autrey.

Until next time.

Friday, November 9, 2007

Agent Interview with Lois Winston

I’d like to welcome our guest agent today, Lois Winston of the Ashley Grayson Literary Agency. It’s a pleasure having you come visit us at Much Cheaper Than Therapy, where chocolate is plentiful and advice is free. So grab some chocolate and a lounge chair. Your therapy session has begun.

Can you please give us a little information about your publishing background? Who many clients do you have? How many agents? And how many of those agents represent romance? What other genres do you represent?

I began my association with the Ashley Grayson Literary Agency as a client. Carolyn Grayson is my agent. Two years ago Ashley and Carolyn invited me to join the agency as an associate. I began as a reader and am now an agent and still a client.

The agency has been around since 1976. There are four agents. Carolyn Grayson and I represent all the sub-genres of romance, women’s fiction, and mystery. Carolyn also handles women’s oriented fantasy, horror, and children’s books. Ashley Grayson handles literary and commercial fiction, historical fiction, dark fantasy, mysteries, thrillers, young adult, and humorous or edgy children’s fiction. Denise Dumars handles horror and dark fantasy fiction, offbeat literary and women’s fiction, and multi-cultural fiction. The agency also handle some non-fiction.

The agency represents approximately 100 authors.

What fees (if any) does your agency charge? What is your agency’s commission rate?

The agency does not charge any fees. Agency commission is the standard 15% for domestic sales and 20% for sales to international publishers.

What’s your response time for queries, partials and full manuscripts?

I try to read queries the day they come in. Most are read within a week. Partials, up to 6 weeks; complete manuscripts, 3 - 6 months.

What new author have you recently signed?

In romance the agency has recently signed and sold Jill Myles (Pocket), Michelle Willingham (Harlequin), and Nicole North (Red Sage).

What new project made you grab for that hidden piece of chocolate in your pencil drawer?

I fell in love with the voice of an author who pitched to me at RWA. She’s not quite “there” yet when it comes to plot and character development, but I see a lot of promise in her writing. Although she’s not a client at this point, I’m hoping she’ll be able to take her work to that next level where we can eventually offer her representation. To that end, I’ve been working with her and encouraging her.
What can an author do to grab your attention?

Write a compelling, unique story in a captivating voice. And if you can also make me laugh, that’s a definite plus.

What houses have you recently sold to?

The agency has recently sold romance, women’s fiction, urban fantasy, and mysteries to Pocket, Harlequin, Grand Central, St. Martin’s Press, Red Sage, and Dorchester, and children’s books to Little Brown and Feiwel & Friends.

What do you love/hate most about being an agent?

I love discovering new talent; I hate that there are not enough hours in the day to accomplish all that I’d like to accomplish, and I really wish I could read faster.

What trends do you see for the future of publishing?

Trends are cyclical. Not too long ago authors had a hard time selling paranormal manuscripts. Right now paranormal, erotica, and erotic paranormal are the hot sub-genres. Eventually, there will be a glut of these books on the market. I’m already hearing editors say they’re not interested in seeing any more vampire books, but they’re still looking for non-vampire paranormals. Urban fantasy is hot. There also seems to be a lot of interest in romantic fantasy; dark, sexy thrillers; historical fiction (as opposed to historical romance); and emotional women’s fiction.

Any other chocolate nuggets you can give authors looking for representation?

Don’t try to write to the market. Unless you can write so fast, something that is so perfect for the market, by the time the book is written, the trend may be waning, and your manuscript will be a hard sell. Don’t forget: the books you see on the shelves today may have been bought by editors two years ago. If you write a book that really pushes the envelope to break out, you might just find yourself at the forefront of a new trend.

Thanks, Lois!

The Agency website is under construction; in the meantime, check our page at Publishers Marketplace:
Authors can query me via email at:

Tuesday, November 6, 2007

Recommended Read - The Complete Idiot’s Guide: The Ultimate Reading List

The Complete Idiot’s Guide: The Ultimate Reading List by Shelley Mosley, John Charles, Joanne Hamilton-Selway, and Sandra Van Winkle is a comprehensive list of recommended reads. It’s perfect for someone who wants to try a new genre but doesn’t know where to start or if someone has read all the bestseller’s in a certain area but wants to delve deeper. It is also obvious these authors’ have done extensive research in coming up with such a comprehensive list.

The table of contents is clear and concise with each chapter on a different subject or genre. From true-crime, historical fiction and humor to romance and horror. Each section has a list of the classics and then recommended reads, and under each recommended book is a brief synopsis.

I dove into the romance section. The picks were perfect. French Silk by Sandra Brown. I loved that book, and of course Whitney, My Love by Judith McNaught was listed. Actually, if this title had been missing I would not be able to recommend this book.

Other authors in the romance genre I hadn’t heard of. Examples are Eve Silver and her book Dark Desires and Date Me Baby, One More Time by Stephanie Rowe. Both books are on my must read list now.

I also spent tons of time in the horror section. I was glad to see so much more than Stephen King and Dean Koontz. I was pleased that Dead Until Dark by Charlene Harris was included under ‘More Great Reads’. Harris was one of my favorite new authors I discovered a couple of years back.

The only downfall to the book is that it is too short. I would love for the authors to have a book on each genre—one on romance, one on history, etc.

I do highly recommend this book. The authors have great taste, especially when I can’t really argue much with their recommendations. Who better to give advice than these authors who are all librarians with 75 years of combined experience? I don’t think anyone can top their wealth of knowledge on what people read and enjoy.

Thursday, November 1, 2007

Interview with Jennifer Ashley

I’d like to welcome our guest author today, Jennifer Ashley. It’s a pleasure having you come visit us at Much Cheaper Than Therapy, where chocolate is plentiful and advice is free. So grab some chocolate and a lounge chair. Your therapy session has begun.

Thanks! Love the chocolate. Godiva extra dark chocolate truffles for me, please.

I understand you have a new release that came out last month called The Queen’s Handmaiden. Can you tell us a little bit about your fabulous new book?

The Queen’s Handmaiden is a historical novel set in Elizabeth I’s childhood up through the time she takes the throne. It’s told from the POV of a young woman who becomes Elizabeth’s seamstress. My character tells the tale of Elizabeth’s struggles to regain her title as princess (she was declared illegitimate and out of the succession at one point), and then the incredible intrigue surrounding Elizabeth as she grew to womanhood.

Plots abounded both to put Elizabeth on the throne and to keep her from ever getting there. My heroine finds herself in the thick of things, and she also finds romance along the way with one of the conspirators.

The Queen’s Handmaiden is a very interesting title. How did you arrive at that name?

Elizabeth I had a governess, Katherine Ashley, who was probably the woman who loved Elizabeth best. Kat pretty much raised her, and Elizabeth never forgot that, even when Kat got herself into trouble (she was thrown in the Tower at one point, in Fleet Prison at another). Kat was Elizabeth’s right-hand woman, at least emotionally, and I thought The Queen’s Handmaiden would be a good title to reflect this. The story is told from the POV of Kat’s niece, the seamstress (who is a fictional character), who also becomes a “handmaiden.” My editor liked the title, so we stuck with it.

Did you have to do a lot of research for the book?

Oh, my yes!!!! There is very little written about Kat Ashley, so it was a challenge to find that information. I read every biography of Elizabeth I could get my hands on, plus background material on the age (food, clothes, architecture, way of life, drink, dance, etc.). I read bios of the secondary characters in the story (Mary I, Jane Grey, Robert Dudley, Thomas Seymour, Catherine Parr, and many more).

I also read Elizabeth’s letters and documents about Kat Ashley’s interrogation in the Tower. I got a wealth of information from those letters, and I quoted some of them in the book. It was a fascinating window back into another time.

What character did you like writing about the most, and why?

I loved writing my POV character, Eloise. She is born at the same time as Elizabeth and grows up with her. Eloise is fictional, so I could do what I wanted with her.

Eloise observes everything around her with a dry wit, and she helps Elizabeth through some tough spots. She’s smart and funny, but she has a romantic streak. She falls in love with one of Elizabeth’s gentleman, who is in thick with conspirators against Mary I, and who has a dark secret of his own.

If your book was made into a movie, what actor would you like to fill your hero’s shoes?

Gosh, hard to say. I don’t watch many movies, so I’m never up on who the hunk of the day is. When I visualize my characters I never think of an actor or actress, because they’ll never look quite right to me. So readers are free to put whatever actor and actress they picture into my book. For Elizabeth I of course—Cate Blanchett!

Do you have any authors that inspired you?

I’ve been inspired by many authors through the years, and I continue to find new ones to inspire me. Authors I think have influenced me most are: Elizabeth Peters, Barbara Hambly, Terry Pratchett, Mary Jo Putney, Charlaine Harris, Amanda Quick, Judith Merkle Riley, Barbara Samuel. These are authors I go back to over and over again.

What books do we have to look forward next?

A slew of books! In November, The Black Dragon, book 2 of my Dragon series as Allyson James will be out from Berkley Publishing. Next year, I start off with Highlander Ever After, the third book in the Nvengaria trilogy by Jennifer Ashley (historical paranormal). And then, more of the Immortals series. Immortals: The Redeeming will be out in Sep. 2008. I will also appear, as Allyson James, in an anthology called Private Places with Robin Schone and two other wonderful authors in August.

Thanks, Jennifer!


Jennifer Ashley has lived all over the world, including Europe and Japan, with side trips to China and other exciting places. She is the USA Today and award-winning author of romances, mysteries, and mainstream fiction under several pseudonyms.

Check out Jennifer’s website at

Check out Jennifer's blog at

Buy The Queen's Handmaiden.