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Friday, January 11, 2013

Author! Author! Interview with: Emma Locke

By the way, how do you like the new graphic?

Today I am happy to have author Emma Locke on the blog answering a few questions AND a copy for The Trouble with Being Wicked up for grabs. So without further ado, here's a bit about Emma first:

Emma Locke is a writer and engineer living in the Pacific Northwest, where she loves hiking with her dog, hot yoga and riding out the annual 330 days of rain. Hiking and yoga give her time to plot, the lack of sun makes for perfect writing weather, and as for her day job, the dichotomy seems to work: her analytic side ensures her passionate, satisfying love stories don’t mulch under her bed, and her author side forces her to keep writing more.

Facebook Author Page: https://www.facebook.com/AuthorEmmaLocke


Hi Emma! Thank you for taking the time to answer a few of my questions, I really appreciate it! I hope you don't find my questions too tedious.
Not at all! These are great questions. I’m kind of looking forward to learning some of the responses, myself!

For those who haven't heard of it (yet), can you tell us a little bit about your book, The Trouble with Being Wicked?
The Trouble with Being Wicked is a Regency-set historical romance about Celeste Gray, an unapologetic courtesan who was raised by her mother, who was also a courtesan. Because of her childhood, being a courtesan is simply who she is. She’s never seen herself as a fallen woman or an object to be pitied…until she meets Ashlin Lancester, a very proper lord who has a stringent definition of morality. Then her entire being comes into question.

I love courtesan stories, but oftentimes the heroine has just become a courtesan at the start of the book—maybe she is desperate and forced into it because she sees no other option. She may even be a virgin. I wanted to write a different story. Celeste has a very salty backstory, and she doesn’t pretend otherwise. But what she’s done in her past isn’t really part of Wicked. Celeste must learn that it’s not who she has been, but who she is that matters. For Ash, this is a lesson he must also learn, and not without extreme difficulty.

* I definitely got that about this book. Celeste is such a warm and selfless person, she hasn't become jaded like other courtesans.

You acknowledge quite a few people, including other romance authors like Tessa Dare (who is one of my favorite authors) and Delilah Marvelle (and I do apologize for misspelling her name in the original question document I sent you Emma), how important do you think it is to an author to have not only the support of their family and friends but from other authors, particularly those who have been writing for quite a while?
There are a lot of people who helped me with Wicked over the years! I can honestly say that there wouldn’t be a book if it weren’t for the support of my author friends. I would have given up a long time ago if I didn’t have the role models I have. Romance authors are a pretty tight bunch, and it seems like most of us know each other because of conferences and so on, but I feel like I came into writing romance novels at a very fortuitous time. Many of my fellow aspiring authors have gone on to have major success with their careers, most in a relatively short time frame. (A large group of us started writing and working together following Avon’s FanLit contest in 2007. In a way, we developed a sort of freshmen bond because of that contest.) I do think everyone can find people who inspire them and can offer advice. Authors are so generous, and really want to see others succeed!

Having friends who are successful is also important for me because it has really helped me believe in my dream. Within my critique group, Erica Ridley was the first of us to be offered a contract. We were able to celebrate with her as she released Too Wicked to Kiss and Too Sinful to Deny (to rave reviews!). Seeing her books come all the way from a wisp of an idea to being turned into a printed book that was very well-received was a magical feeling. Then Darcy Burke became a finalist in the Golden Heart, and the next year Máire Claremont won that prestigious award. These were books that Darcy and Máire poured themselves into, but I had this feeling that if they could do it, I could, too. It is that inspiration of watching my friends succeed that has really kept me going.

Courtney Milan, Tessa Dare, Leigh LaValle and Delilah Marvelle are other authors who I’ve known since before they were published. It’s thrilling to see what can happen when you put your mind to it. Every time one of them wins an award, I feel chills. I think being able to see on a daily basis that success isn’t something that is magically bestowed upon people, but is instead a reward people earn through hard work and perseverance, has been the best part about having so many talented author friends.

*I've also noticed, with surprise I might add, that a lot of romance authors are tight. They have a bond that just mystifies and astonishes me because I think it's so rare for people to be genuinely happy and supportive of one another in that way.

What were some of the challenges you faced while writing The Trouble with Being Wicked?
When I first came up with the idea for The Trouble with Being Wicked, it was to write a “booty call historical romance.” I really wanted to bring alive the sense of hopelessness a woman feels when she finds herself in an impossible situation with a man who is able to compartmentalize her into a corner of his brain that he only seems to access at 2AM. But to do that, I needed a hero who the reader could sympathize with even when he was behaving less-than-heroically. Getting Ash’s character right was a major challenge, in that respect. Some readers still don’t like him, but I’ve also had readers who absolutely love his transformation. That makes me happy!

*Ash's reactions to Celeste are less than gentlemanly but totally understandable given the time period and circumstances, but he isn't an awful guy.

What has been the most rewarding part (so far) of being a published author?
It’s still new yet, and very surreal to know people are reading my book! Especially this one, because it’s so close to my heart. But the best part is related to the last question. I love that reviewers have commented on Celeste’s and Ash’s emotional turmoil when it comes to being in (what seems like) a hopeless relationship, because I did work very hard to bring that feeling to the page. I always hear the lyrics to the country music song Tomorrow by Chris Young when I think of The Trouble with Being Wicked because I listened to that song a thousand times while writing the book. We're like fire and gasoline / I'm no good for you, you're no good for me / We only bring each other tears and sorrow / But tonight, I'm gonna love you like there's no [Tomorrow]

This probably isn’t the most happiest-sounding plot for a romance novel, and I promise that the book is much lighter than that, but I loved writing a Happily Ever After for the two anguished lovers in that song.

*Huuuuuge country music fan here so I've definitely heard that song, and for those who haven't, here's the video on YouTube

If The Trouble with Being Wicked were to be made into a movie, who would be your perfect cast?
This is a tough question because I’ve never thought of it! I borrowed the idea of a shameless courtesan from the movie Dangerous Beauty, based on the story of real-life shameless courtesan Veronica Franco. I could easily see Catherine McCormack playing Celeste. As for Ashlin, I imagine someone who can look very buttoned up and also does a great “torn” expression, like Matthew Macfadyen in the recent Pride & Prejudice. For Celeste’s friend Elizabeth, hands down she would be played by Angelina Jolie (with Angie’s best British accent, of course). Likewise without a thought, Roman Alexander would be played by Alessandro Nivola.

* I saw Dangerous Beauty and it sparked my interest in courtesans and unlike a lot of people I prefer Matthew Macfadyen as Mr. Darcy. I had no idea who Alessandro Nivola was so I googled him. I liked what I saw :)

The Trouble with Being Wicked is the first book of The Naughty Girls series and I saw on your site you have two more books scheduled for release, will there be more books in this series or do you plan on making it a trilogy?
The Naughty Girls is a double trilogy, meaning there will be a total of six books organized into two themes. All six stories are closely linked through the Alexander family. The Trouble with Being Wicked, The Problem with Seduction and The Art of Ruining a Rake are the three books in The Courtesans trilogy. The Trouble with Being Wicked is available now and the other two Courtesan books will be out early this year.

Then there will be three more books in The Naughty Girls Series, because who can resist all of those yummy Alexander men? The heroines of the second trilogy will be hoydens, rather than courtesans, so I’m calling that trilogy The Hoydens. We meet Roman, the first Alexander brother, in Wicked. Roman is quite possibly my favorite character ever, so it’s been a lot of fun getting The Art of Ruining a Rake ready for you all to read.

* Let me just make this very clear Emma, I am DYING to read The Art of Ruining a Rake. 

Why make the heroines of the first two books courtesans?
I didn’t initially set out to make them both courtesans, so it’s funny you should ask that. When I wrote Wicked, I knew Roman and Lucy’s story would be the third book. But I didn’t have a second story, even though I knew I wanted a trilogy. The only other character in Wicked who could be followed into their own book was Elizabeth. I didn’t think I could write her story and make it saleable to New York, at least not as a debut author. You may have noticed that Elizabeth’s life is left in a bit of a train wreck at the end of Wicked.

But I literally didn’t have anyone else to write about. I brought this up to my Plot Sisters and they were actually heartily in favor of my writing Elizabeth’s story, much to my surprise. We came up with a great plot that I was really excited to write. I was so enthusiastic about the unusual plot, actually, that I never even tried pitching it to New York. Instead, I decided to self-publish, primarily so that I could write Elizabeth’s story without anyone to tell me that an historical romance novel had to be one way or another.

Is there anything you'd like readers to know about you or your books?
I like writing slightly more mature, experienced heroines because I’ve been having fun playing with the concept of dating back in 1814. Dating in 1814?! I hope that got your attention!

*Dating in any time period is scary but I can imagine it was even scarier in 1814 with all those rules and a severe lack of "dating" in the way we think of it nowadays.

Since there wasn’t “dating” back then the way we think of it now, most Regency-set romances deal with a very different way of falling in love than we have today. (Arranged marriages, marriages of convenience, etc.) My books are Mars and Venus On a Date meet Jane Austen. I hope when you read The Naughty Girls Series, you are reminded of your own twenties and early thirties. Back when you were just starting to be ready to settle down but you still had the baggage of bad boyfriends and foolish decisions to overcome before you could really own being a wife and mother. I look forward to hearing what you think about that!

Thank you so much Emma for the chance to ask you a few questions and for providing readers a chance to get to know you!
Thank you so much for having me! I’ve really enjoyed this interview.

Whew, I'm so glad I didn't bore you with my questions Emma! You all can check out my review of The Trouble with Being Wicked HERE.

Now that you're curious about The Trouble with Being Wicked, you have a chance to win a copy of your very own! Just fill out the rafflecopter form for a chance to win!

He Put Her On A Pedestal...
When Celeste Gray arrives in the sleepy village of Brixcombe-on-the-Bay, she thinks she's one step closer to leaving her notorious past behind. She even suspects the deliciously handsome—if somewhat stuffy—viscount next door is developing a tendre for her. That is, until the day Ashlin Lancester learns she's not the unassuming spinster she's pretending to be.

Now She Has Farther To Fall
After a decade of proving he is nothing like his profligate father, Ash is horrified to have given his heart to a Cyprian. He launches a campaign to prove his attraction is nothing more than a sordid reaction he can't control. But he soon learns that unlike his father, he can't find comfort in the arms of just any woman. He needs Celeste. When he takes her as his mistress, he's still not satisfied, and the many late nights in her arms only make him want more... 

Purchase Links:
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a Rafflecopter giveaway


  1. Yay for Alessandro Nivola! I remember his break-out role in Face Off! :-)

    For Emma: Congratulations on the new release!

    I like that you are showcasing more mature women in a Regency setting. It would be nice to read about courtship and love from a different point if view. :-)

  2. Pretty cover :)
    I like that the heroine isn't perfect and has a past. That always makes things interesting.

  3. Adria, I loved your inline comments! I think I'll do my next blog post on that song and how and why it inspired me.

    @Tin and @Fiery Na: Thank you! I had no problem reading younger heroines until I started to get more mature, myself, and then I started to wonder what kinds of stories would be appropriate for young women more like me. I think there are more books published these days with mature, imperfect heroines, and that's great for the three of us :)


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