Give us a little bit about your background and when you first started publishing.
I wrote my first romance novel when I was 17 years old, and the mailman came to the door with the first rejection letter and the whole manuscript back on my 18th birthday. I spent many years on the other side of the publishing desk, as an editor, and then in 2012, since I had a book or two written and sitting on my hard drive, I decided to self-publish. I had tried my hand at contemporary romance, but when I put my English and history degrees together with my research skills, I found my writing flowed best with historical romance. My first book, An Improper Situation, started the Defiant Hearts series, which ended up going for six books.
Historical Setting Related:
Have you visited the places you’ve written about or just read about them?
- I have visited most of the places, or at least the countries, I write about. My parents are British, and my extended family is still in England. We used to go over every summer from our home in California, until I graduated from college. I was fortunate to travel through most of the British Isles and to the Continent, too.
What interesting settings have you used (homes, battlefields, events in history, etc)?
- I think one of the most interesting settings was for my pirate book, Lord Corsair. I had never researched Asia in the 1850s before, but there weren’t a lot of pirates by the mid-19th century in other parts of the world, and I wanted a Victorian setting with pirates. Thus, that book starts out in the South China Sea and touches on the Opium Wars and the relationship between Queen Victoria and the Chinese leaders.
Why did you choose the particular period you write in? What is it about that era that speaks to you?
- I am a period-jumper. I wrote a Victorian American series set in the 1880s. I love how modern those folks are and how much they enjoyed their innovations. My Victorian English series, the Beastly Lords, is set in the late 1840s and early 1850s. Beautiful time period, not only the clothing but the home décor, too. I’ve also co-authored a couple medievals, and written a Georgian-era novel. As long as I have time to do research, I’m happy writing about the past. Oddly, my undergrad history degree has a concentration in Tudor and Stuart England, and my graduate degree has a concentration in Romanticism. None of those time periods are featured in my books. So far! Next, I’m thinking of a Regency series.
What inspires you to create a certain character (give example)? Have you ever changed the character arc because it didn’t work with the storyline?
- I am a character-driven writer, and I usually create a character before a story, certainly before the plot. Anything I encounter can spur a character’s creation. Sometimes, a song inspires me to develop a character. That was certainly the case with Lord Despair. (It was an Imagine Dragons song, “Demons.”) So, for me, it is the character’s arc that determines his or her story, rather than a plot which demands certain characters.
Do you have a certain quirk in your writing process? Do the stars have to be aligned or do you have to have your favorite tea? Where do you do your best writing?
- Nothing too quirky except I start every day with a strong cup of Irish tea with milk and sugar at my desk, no matter how hot the temp is outside. My dog, Perry, is always under my desk, and the cat wanders in periodically. (I had a chocolate supply handy, too, but it brought ants.) I have a desk that converts to standing, so I can switch it up during the day, and I have a saddle chair to stave off sciatica pain. I type on a mechanical split keyboard, which has cured my carpal tunnel and tendinitis. I don’t have a laptop, so I always write at my desk, except for when I take a pad of paper and my favorite pen and brainstorm out of my office. I write on and off all day long with some serious procrastination techniques feathered in. And sometimes, if I’m stuck, I put on classical music to draw me through a scene.
From all your books, who is your favorite hero and why?
I love Charlotte and Reed from my first published book, An Improper Situation, because I lived with them for so darn long, tweaking and rewriting that book. I haven’t spent so long on any other book. But even as I say that, I could as easily say I love Thaddeus and Eliza, and Sophia and Riley, and Simon and Jenny, and … you get the idea. I really do love all my characters like family—all of them.
Outside of your own genre, what’s your favorite genre?
- I read a lot of fantasy growing up. I still love the magic of Charlotte’s Web, James and the Giant Peach, Charlie and the Chocolate Factory, and more recently, the Harry Potter series.
We hope you enjoyed learning more about Sydney, check out her new book titled “Lord Misery” Book five in her “Beastly Lords” series available now on pre-order and releasing 08/22/2019.