24 January 2010

Guest Author: Michelle Styles

This week on Unusual Historicals, we're welcoming back Michelle Styles as she celebrates the US release of her Roman romance, SOLD & SEDUCED. Here's the blurb:

In just seven days, she will beg for his kiss!

Lydia Veratia made one mistake--and now her freedom is forfeit to the man who all Rome knows as the Sea Wolf. Sold into marriage, the one thing over which she still has control is her own desire. So when Fabius Aro offers her a wager--if she doesn't plead for his kisses in the next seven days, then she will have her independence--Lydia thinks it will be easily won.

But Aro is a dangerously attractive man. And Lydia is finding his lips more and more tempting...

Welcome, Michelle. When can we find SOLD & SEDUCED in the bricks and mortar bookstores?

You can't. Harlequin Historical has released it in their Direct programme, which means it is being released as an e-book everywhere (including Amazon's Kindle and B&N's Nook platforms), and as a print book only through E-Harlequin. So if you want a print version, you will have to order it from E-Harlequin.

Is there any reason why?

SOLD & SEDUCED was first published in the UK in 2007. It was also felt that in general the Roman period has not done as well in retail as the Viking period, so they wanted to give the time period a chance to grow rather than being hampered by net sales considerations etc. The intricacies of scheduling are beyond me and I am just delighted that it has finally been released in the US. I believe A NOBLE CAPTIVE will be released sometime this year in Direct as well.

Are you going to write any more Romans?

At the moment I am concentrating on writing my Regency/Victorians and am busily researching the Ottoman Empire during the Regency period. However, I have promised my editor that I will try to write an Undone featuring Piso, who is Aro's second-in-command. I am not sure if I can write short and so it will be an experiment. Then there is the question of what to do about the Vikings, as several people have written requesting Dagmar and Thrand's story.

Given that you were speaking about Plautine plots in your Unusual Historical blog on Wednesday, does SOLD AND SEDUCED have a Plautine plot?

No, the one with a Plautine plot was THE ROMAN'S VIRGIN MISTRESS. SOLD & SEDUCED has a Beauty & the Beast premise. Beauty & the Beast, of course, is the reworking of the first half of the Psyche and Eros myth. The second half of Eros and Psyche is when Aphrodite becomes the mother-in-law from Hades. This happens to be one of my favourite set-ups.

You seem to know a lot about plotting structure. Is it a subject you are interested in?

Plot structure fascinates me because I love folk tales and folk lore. I really enjoyed Joseph Campbell's The Hero with A Thousand Faces, as well as Chris Vogler's The Writer's Journey and Blake Snyder's Save the Cat! series. It is the whole concept of Jungian philosophy about archetypes and tribal memories being applied to plot. It is also why I use enneagrams and Myer-Briggs when creating my characters. And I think it helps, particularly as a commercial fiction writer to use such things in your creation as they can help people connect and understand the deep character. Of the books mentioned, Blake Snyder's is perhaps the most accessible.

How did SOLD & SEDUCED come about?

I had been to a RNA workshop in 2005 and was in the car with Presents author, Kate Walker. Kate was describing some of her problems with her then-editor and the book that was just coming out--THE ANTONAKOS MARRIAGE. Suddenly a light bulb went on in my head as she said that the heroine was having to marry because of something her father did. I thought--ah, this is Beauty & the Beast, and then completely misunderstood the rest of Kate's point as I suddenly started to think how I could use it in my work, particularly as I wanted to explore the different types of Roman marriage. I told Kate about my inspiration and she was very gracious about it. Then when I later read THE ANTONAKOS MARRIAGE, I realised I had completely misunderstood what she was saying. Anyway, that book remains one of my favourite Kate Walker's.

Any other inspiration?

As I was working, I kept listening to the song--SOMETHING GOT TO GIVE, and that provided the idea about the kissing wager. In order to get out of an old fashioned marriage--one where the husband controls the wife's property, rather than having her family control her property--Lydia wagers Aro that she can go seven days without kissing him three times. In Spain and South America, SOLD & SEDUCED was called Siete Dias sin Besos or "Seven Days Without Kisses." I thought the Spanish cover was particularly striking.

Thank you for being here, Michelle!


Michelle is giving away a print copy to one random person who posts a comment. As sometimes it can be difficult to think up something to comment on, Michelle suggests answering the question: What is your favourite fairy tale? We'll select a winner next Sunday. Void where prohibited. Best of luck!