Cate: I’m pleased to welcome Maggi Andersen to the Author Spotlight. Maggie, will you please share a short bio with us?
Maggi: Thank you for inviting me to guest on your blog, Cate. Hi everyone. I can’t remember not telling stories. As a child I stood on the garden wall and narrated them to anyone who’d listen. I began to write with a view to being published after the pressures of raising three children eased off a little. I studied for a BA in English, and then an MA in Creative Writing which was great because I wrote my first book, a murder mystery titled: CASEY’S LUCK. It took me quite a while to finish it as it’s set in England and I live in Australia, but I learned a lot writing it. It subsequently found a home with Wild Child Publishing. That was my first venture into crime (writing it) and I intend to return to writing it eventually. At the moment I’m enjoying writing romance. In my study among the rolling green hills of the countryside, with my champagne Persian assisting, I’ve penned several Regencies and a couple of Victorian and contemporary romantic suspense stories. My May new release with Eternal Press is another Regency intrigue novella, which I adored writing. I’m a big fan of Georgette Heyer. AN IMPROPER LOVER is a wild romp with an element of danger thrown in, which you’ll find in most of my books. I blame Mary Stewart for that.
Cate: Tell us about An Improper Lover and where it's available.
Maggi: AN IMPROPER LOVER is set in England in 1812. Lady Harriett Edgerton is visiting a cousin in Kent with her family. Harriett is out of favor with her mother because her first Season in London failed when she rejected a suitor. Mr. Ducksworth, a pink of the ton, was far too fond of poetry. When Harriett runs into Gerald, Earl of Foxworth, a gentleman farmer who’s all action and few words, her world turns upside down.
Cate: Please tantalize us with a story blurb or excerpt.
Maggi: Lady Henrietta Edgerton goes to visit a cousin at his magnificent manor house in Kent with her family. While there she falls in love with an unsuitable man, Gerard, Earl of Foxworth, and becomes embroiled in a dangerous mystery. Harriett decides that before she returns home to London, she will seduce Gerard and then become an old maid with a scandalous past. Gerard doesn’t seem to mind the idea, at first….
When the tea arrived, Harriett left her parents to their attempts at a civil conversation and wandered out into the grounds. She had played here as a child when Aunt Elizabeth was alive. It had been a very lively place then. She wandered along a path through the trees dressed in their summer green, recalling how she’d made up stories and narrated them to an audience of birds. A stately old oak tree she used to climb as a child caught her attention. She paused, remembering that Pendleton lay on a rise above a wide, green valley, and the tree offered a wonderful view all the way to the Channel from its topmost branches. She might see the French coast on such a fine day. She looked around. Finding no one in sight, she untied her bonnet and pulled off her taupe kid half-boots. She removed her stockings and tucked them into her shoes, then gathered her cream percale gown up around her knees. Placing a foot on a low branch, she began to climb. She had climbed a good way up and stopped to consider her way forward when a figure rose from the shrubbery below her. He stood examining something in his hand. He looked up and caught sight of her, then shoved it into his pocket. Whipping off his hat he stared up at her in surprise.
“Can that be you, Harry? It must be. Taller, but as skinny as ever.”
From her lofty perch, Harriett took a deep breath. “Gerard.”
“’Tis I.” He came to stand below her. “So, you can still climb that tree.”
“Why ever not?” She put a foot on a lower branch in an attempt to climb down without affording him a scandalous view up her dress but soon found it impossible. “Turn your back, will you?”
He gave a sly look at her bare legs before he turned away. “Are you sure you don’t require my assistance?”
“I’ll ask if I do,” she said waspishly. She reached the bottom branch and stood considering whether to jump and possibly fall in a heap at his feet. In the end she swallowed her pride. “You might help me,” she suggested.
Gerard turned around and put up his arms. She leaned over and rested her hands on his broad shoulders. He gripped her waist and lifted her down. For a moment, he held her close against his chest. “Not so scrawny after all,” he said with a grin.
“But you are just as outrageous.” Harriett blushed as his hard male body pressed against hers, his mouth close enough to kiss.
He set her on her feet and stood with legs spread and arms folded, studying her. “You always were tall for a girl.”
In her bare feet, Harriett’s head reached his shoulder and Gerard stood well over six feet. “Too tall for beauty, or so I’m told,” she said pragmatically.
His dark brows rose. “Beauty is in the eye of the beholder.”
Beholding Gerard, Harriett quite agreed. With his well-shaped mouth and the cleft in his chin, he was quite the handsomest man she had ever set eyes on. She bent to pick up one of her boots.
Her cheeks burned. “No. I have to put on my stockings. Would you turn your back again, please?”
“What gentleman would refuse?” He turned his back.
Harriett was securing her garter around her stocking when he turned. She hastily pulled down her dress. “You agreed not to look.”
He grinned. “I didn’t say I was a gentleman. May I assist with your shoes?”
He kneeled at her feet and took hold of her ankle. Harriett’s senses swam at the gentle touch of his fingers as he eased her foot into the shoe and fastened the lace. She almost lost her balance and had to resort to holding on to his shoulder. It felt broad and strong under her fingers, and she quickly let go.
When she placed her booted foot on the ground, he grasped the other.
He secured the boot with nimble fingers. Harriett released the breath she’d held. She still felt his touch on her ankle. “I’m not sure I should thank you. That was quite a disreputable thing to do.”
He rose to gaze directly into her eyes. “But you didn’t stop me.”
Cate: Loved it! What inspired you to write about the theme?
Maggi: My love for the Regency era developed over years of reading and re-reading Georgette Heyer. I’ve since moved on to read great contemporary Regency writers like fellow Australian, Stephanie Laurens and American, C.S.Harris. These two authors are polls apart, and that’s one of the reasons the era fascinates me. There are so many sub-genres within it, like mystery and romantic suspense. I’m a Scorpio and we make great detectives.
Cate: How do you develop your plots and characters?
Maggi: I’m basically a panster. I’ve tried to write a synopsis first, but it doesn’t work for me. I do like to have a general idea of where I’m going, and I think a scene through in a general sense before I write it. My characters are apt to surprise me though, wandering off and doing their own thing! Bit like my children really. But I always know where the story will end. Well, it’s a romance and must have a HEA. But how I arrive at that happy ending is part of the fun of writing for me.
Cate: Do you feel as if the characters live with you as you write? Do they haunt your dreams?
Maggi: Some of them can be pushy and annoying, not the handsome ones though, lol. I find dreams are a great creative source. Regency, RULES OF CONDUCT began with a dream. When a character doesn’t quite gel I mull over it as I go to sleep and sometimes wake up with a better understanding of what motivates him or her. It’s a mysterious process.
Cate: What's next for you?
Maggi: I’m working on a novel set during the French Revolution. It’s a swashbuckling romance with two sets of lovers. The title is HOSTAGE TO FORTUNE.
Cate: Any other published works?
Maggi: I have eleven novels, novellas and short stories out now. I have just signed a contract for a young adult novel with Eternal Press. Anyone interested can find out more about them on my website: http://www.maggiandersenauthor.com
Cate: Describe your writing in three words.
Maggi: Mystery, romance, suspense.
Cate: What’s the most challenging aspect of writing? Most rewarding?
Maggi: Rewriting and editing. They say it’s 90% of writing and it is! The most rewarding is seeing my work on the printed page, be it e-book or print. I love to hear from readers too.
Cate: What’s the most interesting comment you have received about your books?
Maggi: It came from HARLEQUIN UNDONE although they didn’t offer me a contract: You have a genuinely appealing, faintly wistful writing style which is truly compelling and keeps the reader turning the page - this is a real strength!
I was quite chuffed by this. I wished they’d picked up the book though.
Cate: What a wonderful compliment. Who are some of your favorite authors and books? What are you reading now?
Maggi: I loved M.C. Halliday’s I CAME UPSTAIRS and look forward to reading another of hers. I enjoy Gaelen Foley and Eloisa James, both historical novelists. Contemporary English crime writers too, as well as Elizabeth George, an American who sets her books in England.
Cate: Where can you be found on the web?
Maggi: My website www.maggiandersenauthor.com and my blog: http://www.maggiandersen.blogspot.com Good Reads, Twitter, Face Book, My Space, Book Buzz, Manic Readers, Books We Love and Classical Romance Revival, and too many yahoo chat groups to mention.
Cate: Is there anything you’d like to ask our readers?
Maggi: What attracts you to buy an e-book? Is it the cover, the title, the blurb, or all three? We all like a nice cover, but when you can’t pick up the book and browse through it, I personally think the title and the blurb need to grab a reader.
Cate: Readers, Maggi is giving away a copy of An Improper Lover to a random commenter... so start commenting. She'll pick a winner tomorrow night.
Thanks again for being my guest, Maggi! Best of luck with An Improper Lover.