Inteviewed by Joyce Greenfield for Reader To Reader
Sarah MacLean is a relatively new voice in the historical romance field, and her novels are well respected by critics and scores of romance readers alike. Her love of history led to college degrees from Smith College and Harvard University, and that fondness of all things historical has led to her novels being well researched, with historical details and social norms interwoven flawlessly with breathtaking characterizations.
MacLean's novels have landed on the New York Times and USA Today bestseller lists, numerous romance novel awards lists, and the Amazon.com bests romance novel of 2011 award, just to name a few. We're happy to have Sarah with us to talk a bit about her newest novel, A Rogue by Any Other Name.
Michael Bourne, the hero of A Rogue by Any Other Name, is a "bad boy" with an appealing vulnerability that will make readers fall more than a bit in love with him! Your male lead characters always have that hint of susceptibility that is recognized and appreciated by the women who adore them. How do you find the balance between that vulnerability and the strong invincibility typically required of a romance novel hero?
I've always been a firm believer in the idea that there's nothing exciting about a perfect man. Sure, we say we want someone with all the right characteristics . . . he's strong as steel and tough as nails and he loves us at first sight. He'll take on the world for us, hold the wolves at bay, wrap us in his strong arms and leave us never ever feeling self-doubt again.
Let me tell you something. That guy is a crashing bore. Sure he's sexy and he's fun to have around when you're being mugged or stalked, but the guy you fall for with isn't perfect. He's perfectly flawed. And its in the flaws that we find love. When that invincible guy lets down his guard and shows you just how broken and vulnerable he is, that's where romance lives. That's where we see not just the One, but the One For Us—and isn't that infinitely better?
Your "Love by Numbers" series was a big hit with readers, and A Rogue by Any Other Name is the first in the new Rules of Scoundrels series. Do you set out to write a series or does it just evolve naturally as you write?
My ideas are never just about heroes and heroines. Invariably, the stories are peppered with (and sometimes revolve around) secondary and tertiary characters, all of whom have vivid pasts and—I like to think—bright futures. So, I can't help but think in terms of series. In fact, every one of my books (even the YA I started with), has interconnected characters. Sometimes they dance by in ballrooms, sometimes they share a meal, and sometimes, the jilted fiancée in one becomes the heroine of the next. That's what happened with A Rogue By Any Other Name.
Rogue by Any Other Name concludes with a teaser involving Bourne's partner, Cross. Is Cross's story next, and when will it be released?
Cross's story is next! One Good Earl Deserves A Lover is due out in December 2012.
Has your research into the gaming world in 1800's London turned up any surprising information you can share with our readers?
The pre-Victorian era of the mid-1820s and 1830s was the era of the Gentleman Gambler, and there are dozens of amazing stories of men wagering away fortunes in one night. I became fascinated with these crazy antics—be prepared for some wild tales as you read the Rules of Scoundrels series—but one of my favorites is about Lord Albert Denison, who would eventually become Earl Londesbrough who, on the eve of his wedding, was fleeced out of £30,000 (nearly £1.5 million in today's currency) by his best friend who, upon receiving his friends' marker, escorted him around the corner to St. George's, Hanover Square, for the wedding. It's like The Hangover, Regency-style!
I love this story because of the way it so easily depicts the excess of the time—the way gambling was rampant and fortunes could be made and lost in an instant. The premise of A Rogue By Any Other Name hinges on this historical truth, and what happens after a man loses everything.
You have an active presence on Facebook and websites, etc. How does this connection with your readers help (or hinder) you as a writer?
There's no doubt that being on Facebook and Twitter helps me connect to my fabulous readers. I am always so happy to hear from readers who tell me that they've just read my book, or who ask me questions about a nuance in a book, or about a character they loved, or about my own life. It's one of the best parts of being a writer.
But there's also no doubt that being of Facebook and Twitter keeps me from writing when I absolutely should be! Luckily, I have a fabulous piece of software on my computer that locks me out of the Internet for preset amounts of time. It's aptly called "self-control." Which is great, because I have very little of it myself.
It is clear that you must read a lot for research purposes. What do you like to read for relaxation?
I read plenty of romance . . . I still love the genre as much as I always did. But I also read a lot of classical literature and a ton of nonfiction. You never know when the idea for your next book might pop up . . . and I find mine usually come from non-romance reading. So I try to keep at least one piece of literary non-fiction on my bedside table at all times.
How may readers get in touch with you?
Between Facebook, Twitter, my blog and email, I've probably heard from a few thousand readers over the last three years. I've loved every interaction, and can't wait for more!
Thank you so much for stopping by to visit with us.
Thanks for having me! It was fun!