The Moonstone Marquess is out tomorrow! Meara was kind enough to answer some questions for us.
You can get your copy of this delightful historical romance HERE!
Did you always know you wanted to be an author?
Not at all! I did not start writing until I was almost forty years old. That was a point when I had read about five historical romance novels in a row that were just awful. My husband would listen to me complain, and after the fifth book, he finally told me to write one myself. I laughed it off until an amazing thing happened shortly thereafter. I was attending a business conference at the Marriott in NYC and a Romance Writers of America conference was going on at the same time. I really thought, oh neat. I wonder if I might see any of my favorite authors. That evening I was dressed for a dinner function when I got on the elevator with a woman who happened to be wearing the same dress. We laughed about it and rode down to the lobby. As I got off the elevator, I saw a giant photo of her – it was Nora Roberts. That was all the sign I needed to give writing a try.
What is the first story you remember writing? How did you get from there to where you are today?
I have loved and read historical romance since I was a teenager, particularly medieval romances. So my first attempt at writing was a medieval romance that I guarantee will NEVER see the light of day. In fact, I am afraid to read it now because it will prove to be awful. But after that story, I began to find my voice in Regency romances. The first Regency romance I wrote won the Golden Heart award, a contest I had entered just to gauge whether readers thought I had a decent Regency voice. Well, I guess they thought I did. After that, I wrote the Farthingale series. My Fair Lily was my debut book and was an instant success around the world. I attribute it to my hero’s dog, Jasper, who instantly fell in love with Lily and provided laugh out loud moments in that story. The Farthingale series is filled with humor, as is my Book of Love series which also became hugely popular and I’ve had a wonderful time writing these Book of Love stories for Dragonblade.
What are your favorite kind of characters to write? Do you have a specific trope that you’re drawn too?
The writing process is one of my favorite topics, especially when talking about characters. My heroes are alpha males, worldly, experienced, protective, hard-edged, and I match them with innocent heroines who are smart and spirited but clueless about men and have a penchant for getting into trouble. Matching each couple is the most important thing I do in every book, and my characters will yell at me if I attempt to match them incorrectly. I always go by what they say because they know who they want. Once they are matched correctly, it is very easy for me to tell their story because their personalities will also reveal what conflicts will arise. I love so many tropes: heroine/brother’s best friend, rake/best friend’s sister, road trip romance, marriage of convenience, beast/beauty, heroine in danger/hero bodyguard. Of course, reversing those tropes is also fun and I’ve done those, too. In Tempting Taffy the heroine was the bodyguard assigned to protect a duke and his son.
Where is your favorite place to write? Does it change depending on where you are in the process?
I can pretty much write anywhere that is not too noisy. Now that my daughter is grown and out of the house, I use her room as my writing office. But I’ve written on trains, planes, and automobiles (not while I’m driving). Some authors like to write to music, but I need quiet. If someone is singing, that throws me off.
Which comes first for you: the plot or the characters?
The characters always come first for me. That’s just my process. Once I figure out who the hero and heroine will be, I flesh out their personalities to figure out in what ways they are compatible and in what ways they will clash. I’ll also figure out what strengths and weaknesses each has and how they will balance each other out. I love wallflower/bluestocking heroines so I will match them with hard-edged heroes who are sexy as heck, and let the attraction bubble, often amid looming danger or sometimes simply a romance brewing in a ballroom or house party setting.
Do you know where the story is going before you begin, or does it come to you as you write? Do scenes come to you fully formed or are you as surprised as the reader?
I don’t write outlines for any of my stories, but I do know pretty much the arc of the story before I start writing. So I’ll have the opening scene where the H/h meet, and you’ll get their personalities right up front and how each is going to react to the other. I also know what scenes need to be written to create the conflict, the moment one of them confesses their love, and the resolution scene. But I let the characters give me the words, which they always do, and they will also tell me if I am trying to get them to do something they simply would not do.
Does your writing process include any kind of ritual? Story specific playlists, tea, or candles, for example?
Absolutely no ritual involved other than parking my rear end on the chair and writing. However, before I start writing, I will reread the prior two or three chapters to get me into the flow of the story. That’s the closest thing I have to a ritual.
Do you write better in the morning or evening? How do you handle the distractions of working from home, especially if you’re sharing the space with others?
I am definitely a morning writer and love getting up early and hitting that keyboard so that I can get two or three solid hours of uninterrupted writing done before the phone begins to ring or my day job starts – although I have slowly been trying to quit that day job so that I can devote more time to writing.
From all your books, who is your favorite hero and why?
I have now written about sixty books and I have to love a hero or else that book doesn’t get written. But I do have some standouts among them, a few who really stuck with me, namely Ewan, the arrogant Scot who fell in love with Lily in My Fair Lily. Then there was Ian, the duke who fell in love with Lily’s identical twin sister, Dillie, in The Duke I’m Going To Marry. I also adored Thad, another irreverent Scot (yes, I love those Scottish heroes) who fell in love with Penelope in The Taste of Love. But my latest, and I am wildly in love with this one, is Cormac, the very sexy, wounded hero in The Moonstone Marquess, who is just going to fall hard for Phoebe, the sweet heroine he calls his little lioness.