06 December 2009

Guest Author: Michelle Styles

Unusual Historicals is delighted to welcome back long time contributor Michelle Styles who is here to speak about her new novel THE VIKING'S CAPTIVE PRINCESS, which is Michelle's third Viking romance. She assures us that while linked, each is a stand alone adventure. Romantic Times gave THE VIKING'S CAPTIVE PRINCESS four stars!

"No one touches my woman. She bears my mark. I claim her."

Dangerous warrior Ivar Gunnarson is a man of deeds, not words. With little time for the ideals of love, Ivar seizes what he wants--and Princess Thyre will not become the exception to his rule!

Mysterious and enchanting, Thyre rouses Ivar's desire the moment he lays eyes on her. With Viking factions engaged in a bloody feud, Thyre is yet another captive this hardened warrior conquers--but to be king of Thyre's heart will entail a battle he has never engaged in before...

What inspired you to write THE VIKING'S CAPTIVE PRINCESS?

While I was writing TAKEN BY THE VIKING, I knew that I wanted to tell Ivar's story. Anyway, I happened to read Queen Emma and the Vikings, which is a biography of an 11th century English queen (wife to Ethelred the Unready and Canute) and peaceweaver. Her father was a Viking who settled in Normandy, and he met her mother when the mother took her sister's place in bed. And I thought what an interesting premise.

I did some more research and discover the whole concept of hospitality did extend to women sleeping with warriors. Several of the sagas mention it as well. And I knew I wanted to look at the relationship of Viken to its immediate neighbour to the East. Surprisingly this proved slightly more difficult to research, as really the only primary source documents covering the period had been well used by Tokien and Wagner to create their masterpieces. It would be difficult to have a king called Gandalf for example.

Was it easy to write, after all you already knew the time period and the characters?

THE VIKING'S CAPTIVE PRINCESS was an incredibly difficult book for me. I knew the story I wanted to tell but somehow I kept missing. My editors were very patient with me and believed in my ability to turn the story around. I think that faith and pushing paid off with the final story.

How long did it take you to write THE VIKING'S CAPTIVE PRINCESS then?

I write every single day and I try to write 2,000 words per day or thereabouts. However with THE VIKING'S CAPTIVE PRINCESS, I ended up taking a wrong turn to begin with or rather it wasn't a wrong turn, it just wasn't the right way to tell the story. And I realised this a few weeks after I turned it in. Once the revisions came back, I made sweeping changes and turned those in. However, my editor still was not happy, so I had to revise the ms again and again. All told it took about nine months. But there was waiting while I worked on another manuscript (COMPROMISING MISS MILTON).

And what can you tell us about the cover? It's lovely!

Isn't a great cover? I think it ranks up there with my favourite covers. I love the feel of it and the artist even managed to capture the fact that Thyre has a dimple in her chin. It is an important plot point and so I was pleased to see it there. Also I love the whole feel of the cover. It captures the mood of the book.

So Michelle, is the Viking time period popular and are you going to be writing any more Vikings?

Ah, the Viking time period is popular. My Viking books have been published all around the globe. It has always done well for HMB Historical and they are actively looking for new voices. I am just writing Regency/early Victorian at the moment and my editors think I am making a good contribution there and so they want me to concentrate on that. However, my editors are swayed by readers writing into them directly and I tend to follow editorial direction on which time period they would like. One of my great strengths apparently is that I am versatile and can bring a number of time periods to life. Also there are more publishing slots for Georgian/Regency/Victorian than there are for Unusual Historical. So if people want more Vikings from me, they will have to convince my editors who will then say in their very lovely voices--Michelle, you will write another one, won't you? Or at least a woman can dream!

On a more serious note, the editors, in particular Senior Editor Linda Fildew, are very committed to the concept of Unusual Historical and are looking for strong manuscripts in any time period. So if you have a good Viking, medieval, Australian western, Far Eastern, Egyptian that fits the Harlequin Historical guidelines, it is worth submitting. The bar is set high but it does happen. It is the first three chapters and a synopsis and you can submit via email. The short story line Undone has also expanded and is now publishing two stories per month, so they are actively looking for more stories there.

You are recently back from a research trip to Istanbul, will you be setting any Vikings there?

At the moment, I am researching a Regency set duet which has two cousins who were captured by Algerian pirates. But I know all about Varangian Guard in the Byzantine period. Carol Townend is currently working on something with Anglo Saxon warriors who were forced out after the Norman conquest and went to Byzantium. It all sounds rather wonderful and I can't wait to read it.

So what is next for you?

Next up is the February 2010 release of SOLD AND SEDUCED in the North American Direct market. This means it is going e-book (the Kindle edition, for example) and sold through the eHarlequin website.

After that, my May 2010 release will be COMPROMISING MISS MILTON. My editor sent through the blurb the other day and it reads like this:

Marrying the Governess!

Buttoned-up governess Daisy Milton buries dreams of marriage and family life in order to support her sister and orphaned niece. But maddeningly attractive Adam, Viscount Ravensworth, is one distraction that shakes Daisy's safe, stable existence.

Now ghosts from Adam's past in India threaten Daisy's future. Just what will it take to convince a tightly-laced miss to forgo society's strict code of conduct...and come undone in the arms of a reformed rake?

Thank you, Michelle, for visiting. Remember to leave a comment to be put in the draw for a signed copy of THE VIKING'S CAPTIVE PRINCESS. I'll draw a winner at random next Sunday. Void where prohibited. Michelle suggests answering the question: Does a good cover make a difference when you buy a book, or does the back cover copy sway you more? We'll be curious to hear your feedback!