05 December 2010

Guest Author: Michelle Styles

Harlequin Historical author and longtime contributor Michelle Styles is back to talk a bit about her new releases--three books and a free online serial. The online serial, HIS STAND-IN BRIDE is set in Tyne Valley, the same place as her North American releases: A QUESTION OF IMPROPRIETY and IMPOVERISHED MISS, CONVENIENT WIFE. Her UK release is the THE VIKING'S CAPTIVE PRINCESS. Join us on Sunday for an interview with Michelle as well as a chance to win all three books!

The following extract is from A QUESTION OF IMPROPRIETY. The blurb reads:

A very improper seduction...

Diana Clare has had enough of London--the balls, the rakes you can never trust... Now, having returned home in disgrace, she is trying to forget what drove her from the ton.
But rake and gambler Brett Farnham, Earl of Coltonby, seems intent on making Diana remember exactly what it was like to be whirled around the ballroom and seduced by the glint in your partner's eye...

But Brett has 'mistress' rather than 'marriage' in mind, and Diana is not sure her reputation can stand up to another scandal...
Three releases in two months, plus an online serial. Michelle, how did you manage that?

It is all down to scheduling rather than superhuman feats of writing. Last year, THE VIKING'S CAPTIVE PRINCESS was out in the US, and the duo A QUESTION OF IMPROPRIETY and IMPOVERISHED MISS, CONVENIENT WIFE appeared in the UK in November 2008 and April 2009. However to help celebrate that duo's US publication, in September I was asked to write an online serial, HIS STAND-IN BRIDE. It is e-Harlequin's free weekly serial, which started on 15 November. The last segment goes out on 3 January. HIS STAND-IN BRIDE takes place in the Tyne Valley several months before the start of A QUESTION OF IMPROPRIETY and gave me a chance to revisit the world I had created. You can read the result here. The blurb reads:
Tyne Valley, 1813

When her sister eloped with someone other than her betrothed, Lady Anne Dunstan knew two things. One, that she completely supported her sister's making her own choice about who she would marry. And two, that Anne--the responsible one--would have to clean up the mess.

What she didn't know was how her sister's intended, Jason Martell, would take the news. Or how Anne would respond to the force of his presence, his rugged good looks, his less-than-gentlemanly advances.

Or to his proposal of marriage.
How does writing a serial differ from say writing a short story?

When my editor called and asked if I would write it, I knew I couldn't refuse even though the two week deadline was very tight. But it was only when I put the phone down, I thought--oh help! What have I done now? Particularly as I had just signed a new contract for four books which also has tight deadlines.

A serial has its own demands. Each chapter or segment must be a specific length and end with a definite hook or cliffhanger. Because people might start the story in say chapter four, it has to always be comprehensible. And the story needs to be able to stand alone and also be fully developed.

Did you enjoy writing it?

After I overcame my initial terror, it became quite fun. I was able to really concentrate on delivering a punchy story. Thankfully during the Unusual Historical panel at RWA Nationals in July, Carrie Lofty said that I tend to write self-made men. I knew when she said those words that they were my favourite type of hero. Part of my core story, if you will. And so I knew I had to take the opportunity and write a self-made man. And because of that, the story fell into place. I am happy to say that thus far I have met all my deadlines.

Core story?

Just before the Unusual Historical panel at the RWA Nationals, Jayne Anne Krentz gave an inspirational speech about her career. One thing she said was to know your core story. Know why you like telling a specific type of story. So I spent the afternoon wondering and then Carrie said the magic words and I knew.

So you write self-made men?

I am not really comfortable writing about men who have lived a life of privilege and have never had to struggle, who are merely caretakers of inherited wealth. Even the hero of A QUESTION OF IMPROPRIETY, despite being born into the aristocracy, has to struggle and has earned his own fortune. Some of the tension between Brett and the hero of IMPOVERISHED MISS, CONVENIENT WIFE, Simon Clare, is that neither recognises the other's struggle. All of my Vikings, including Ivar, the hero of THE VIKING'S CAPTIVE PRINCESS, have had to earn their place at the top table.

What's next for you?

After these three, my Roman Undone "A PERFECT CONCUBINE" is released in February. It is my first Undone and gave me a chance to revisit the world I created with SOLD AND SEDUCED. It was tremendous fun to write. Again the hero is a self-made man. (And it was written before Carrie gave me the insight!)

I am currently working on the first part of my early Victorian duo about two sisters who were kidnapped in the Sinai. The revisions are due this week and my editor is very excited about the story, provided I do the revisions correctly. The hero is a second son of a marquess who has found adventure and a fortune outside English society.

Are you planning on doing any more Vikings?

I had toyed with doing Thrand's story as an Undone, but I don't think the shorter format would do it justice and currently I am really enjoying writing in the early Victorian period. My current contract calls for more early Victorians in unusual settings rather than more Vikings. But never say never. I may eventually go back and give Thrand his story or I may start a new set of Vikings, perhaps later in the Viking period.

Thank you, Michelle, for stopping by and good luck with all your releases!

You can learn more about my work and read extracts from her releases on my website.


For a chance to win all three of Michelle's current releases, please leave a comment or question. Michelle suggests commenting on what you think about the idea of core stories. Do you know your core story? Do you have a favorite core story to read? I'll draw one commenter at random on Sunday, December 12. Void where prohibited. Best of luck!