Frequently Asked Questions

Frequently Asked Questions

I loved, loved, loved to read.  In particular, I enjoyed action, adventure, romance, history, and happy endings.

Since I grew up in farm country and knew no writers, it never occurred to me that I could become a writer myself.  But I always had stories in my head, and when I got my first computer, I realized that I had the perfect writing tool because when you fixed mistakes, they stayed fixed.

It turned out that I had good story telling instincts and a feel for Regency romances, so three months later I was offered a three book contract based on a partial manuscript of my first book (The Diabolical Baron), and after that I never looked back.

Partly because my publisher wanted a new series to promote. <G>

Since I still had Lost Lords characters that I wanted to write about, I proposed a spin-off series, the Rogue Redeemed, which takes place in the same world and has some of the same characters, but is based on the friendship of five men who bonded as captives in a Portuguese cellar as they awaited execution at dawn.

The heroes have a variety of backgrounds and the stories are on a wider canvas, but the tone is similar to the Lost Lords.

Actual writing time is usually six to seven months, but time for thought, recovery, research, and revisions has to be factored in, so I usually produce a book about every nine or ten months. Over the years, my writing speed has been very consistent, but publishers’ schedules are more variable.
Ideas are everywhere—in the newspaper or magazines, in other books, on television or in the movies, or sometimes they just appear in the mind. The hard part is actually turning them from ideas into real books!

Thunder and Roses  (Nicholas)
Petals in the Storm  (Rafe—revised and expanded from The Controversial Countess)
Dancing on the Wind  (Lucien)
Angel Rogue   (Robin—revised and expanded from The Rogue and the Runaway)
Shattered Rainbows  (Michael)
River of Fire  (Kenneth)
One Perfect Rose (Stephen)

All of my books are written as complete romances with a beginning, a middle, and an end, so it isn’t necessary to read them in order.  However, some of the books are more closely linked than others.  I’d suggest starting with Thunder and Roses.  Ideally, Petals in the Storm would be read before Angel Rogue, and Shattered Rainbows before River of Fire and One Perfect Rose.

The Fallen Angels books are currently out of print, but my new publisher, Kensington, has bought the rights to reissue One Perfect Rose, which will be out in early 2010.  If all goes well, they will eventually reissue the other books in the series.

Probably not.  Very often my characters have experienced difficult childhoods and part of the story arc is their struggle to heal and build a better life.  Since my Fallen Angel characters are all exemplary parents who will raise healthy, happy children, I’d have nothing to work with in their children’s stories!

The one exception to this is Amy Melbourne, daughter of the heroine in Shattered Rainbows, who became the heroine of The Bartered Bride.  Because I knew that her stepfather, Lord Michael Kenyon, would protect her from any harm in Britain, I had to send the poor girl to the other side of the world in order to get her into enough trouble for a strong story.  <g>

Actually, that is a choice made by the publisher, not the author.  Being in hard cover means that books can go into libraries and they get more review attention than paperbacks.  Also, some readers who won’t pick up a paperback will buy hard covers.  I regret that my long-term readers were inconvenienced, but the hard covers were all be reprinted as paperbacks a year later.

However, since romance is primarily a paperback genre, I’m happy to be back doing mass market paperbacks for Kensington.  It’s good to be affordable. <G>

While I would never say never, I have no more contemporaries under contract and I don’t know if I’ll ever write any more. While I’m proud of the three contemporaries I wrote for Berkley, contemporary is not really my natural voice, so they were much harder for me. That combined with stresses in other areas of my life made me decide it was time to simplify, which meant no more contemporaries. Still—who knows what the future may bring? Maybe some day I can write novellas for the other two members of the Circle of Friends.

I doubt it. I think that the trilogy (A Kiss of Fate, Stolen Magic, and A Distant Magic) worked very nicely. But I do like the Guardian world, and I’ve written several short stories and novellas set there. As a lifelong reader of science fiction and fantasy, I love blending fantasy elements with history and romance. I hope to do more of that in the future.

The answer is yes and no. I’ve changed publishers, and my new house wanted straight historicals and a fresh series. So I came up with a new origin story for a group of male friends and removed the magic, but used the secondary characters from The Marriage Spell, with slight name changes. (I’ll miss the magic, but I have a mortgage to pay!)

Read, read, read, then write, write, write.  Since talent isn’t uncommon, the defining characteristic of a successful writer is a burning drive to tell stories.  (This is another way of saying it helps to be a little bit crazy.)  For practical aid, join the Romance Writers of America ( ) if you aren’t already a member.  The organization supplies all kinds of help, including local and specialty chapters, a monthly magazine, and numerous regional and national conferences.  All of these resources offer abundant information on the art and business of romance writing.

Also, my friend Laura Resnick has set up a fabulous resource page on her website.  Go down the left column of her homepage and click on “The Writer’s Resource Page.”  She suggests books, articles, websites, organizations, and much more of value to an aspiring writer.

Connect with Mary Jo!