Wednesday, August 1, 2012

Historical Author Michelle Styles is in the Hot Seat!

And we have a Book Giveaway!!!

Michelle, welcome to the Hot Pink Typewriter! We’re thrilled to have you. Congratulations on your latest Harlequin Historical “His Unsuitable Viscountess” is available this month.

And thank you for graciously offering a copy of “His Unsuitable Viscountess” to one lucky commenter. Don’t you just love prizes? I know I do. And what could be better than a new release? *G*

My thinking entirely!!!

Would you mind sharing a little about your book? What was your inspiration? How did you familiarize yourself with the locale and time period?

His Unsuitable Viscountess is about a Regency business woman who is forced to make a marriage of convenience in order to save  the family firm because of her step father’s will. My inspiration was the real life regency business woman Eleanor Coade who ran Coade stone as I had read about her in a book about women and gardening.

When I started to do my research, I was surprised to learn that one of the Lady Patronesses of Almack was also the senior partner of a successful bank. Lady Jersey inherited Childs Bank from her grandfather because he did not approve of her mother eloping with the Earl of Westmorland. There were successful Regency business women, if you know where to look.

It is said that Jane Austen modeled Fanny Price’s odious aunt on Sara Rice who among other things ran the carrier pigeon service that first brought news of Waterloo. Jane had been displeased when Sara refused to give Sara’s eldest a certain vicarage. Sara wanted something else for her son. Jane took her revenge in the way only an author can!

I love doing research so I read a lot. I also visit old houses, make various recipes, try to figure out how people could move in the clothes they wore.  For His Unsuitable Viscountess, I also did research on sword-making and how an early 19th century foundry would have operated. Luckily I was able to visit a replica in Sheffield.  I also visited the local Living History museum Beamish as it is good to listen to the sounds and experience the smells.

With all of the research involved in writing historical romances, it must keep you busy. Can you share with us how you balance your writing with the rest of your life? Do you have a regular schedule? Any quirks?

Balance is always key. I write every day except Christmas. When I am seriously chasing a deadline, I start at 9:30 am and write until I have 2 -3 k written.  I find I have to turn the internet off or I keep making excuses to check various bits of info etc.

I wake up early about 5:30 am to get my exercise in. I do an hour and half of Tracy Anderson. Then breakfast and do my admin. In theory this leaves me free to see my family in the late afternoon/early evening.

For you, what is the most challenging part of writing a book? Beginnings? Middles? Ends? How do you conquer these problem areas?

Every book is different for me. Just when I think I have a problem area conquered, a new one rears its head. It is very hard to predict. Every book and set of characters has their own unique set of tortures for the writer. I wish I could say that they get easier to write. They don’t. They are just all different but that is part of the fun of it. If I didn’t find it challenging, I wouldn’t enjoy it half as much.

Not only do you write on a regular basis but you’re also an editor of The Pink Heart Society, run your own blog, and provide excellent advice on the Harlequin SubCare forum. How important do you feel social media is to an author’s career? Any tips on balancing social media with your writing?

I do social media because I enjoy it. I do think it is a way of letting people know about books etc. The most important thing for a writer’s career is to write a book that engages the reader and keeps them turning the page because they are emotionally involved with the characters.

It is important to limit your time on the internet. When I am seriously behind, I have to switch the internet off. I tend to use the internet in the same way that Georgette Heyer used to use playing solitaire. It allows my subconscious to work out knotty problems.

I would also say, try to think of other subject/hobbies you are interested in and get involved with the social media side with that hobby. You don’t want to be just interacting with authors and members of Romancelandia. There is a whole wide world out there of literate people who enjoy reading books, particularly of authors with whom they have had some interaction. So think about what you like and don’t be afraid to speak up on certain sites.  It is all a very soft sell so you should only do it if you enjoy the experience, rather than thinking of it as promotion.

You should also remember that you are not talking with your friends. Keep things you want private in emails, rather than sharing out them out loud in public when you never know who will be listening.

The big thing authors hear these days is self-promotion, especially for newbies. Could you give us tips on the essential must-do’s for an author?

The best thing to do is to figure out how to get your books into the hands of readers. You want to find the readers who are going to engage with your characters. Not everyone will, but you are not writing for everyone, you are writing for the people who enjoy your books.  I always do a Goodreads giveaway for my new releases as their members are readers.

You should always remember that PR and self promo does take a long time and you can never be sure what actually is going to work or why a book is popular. It is very tempting to think if only or some author is doing brilliantly with x,y,z. You need to do what is right for you.

The best promo is to write the next book. The last page of your latest sells the first page of your next book so you want to have your books coming out at regular intervals. And you never want to sacrifice quality for speed because it is the reading experience the reader wants. You don’t want to become the author a reader used to love, you want to be the author that the reader can’t wait for her next book for.

You also need to remember that in order to promote, you always need to have something in the shop window.

If there was one thing you wished you’d have known before you got published, what would it be?

It never gets any easier to write a book. The craft of writing can never fully be mastered but it is worthy trying. Craft provides the engine which allows the jet fuel of talent to burn with purpose.

It is truly dedication, desire, discipline, determination and perseverance. Nora Roberts took 16 years of being published before she hit number 1.

And with publishing, everything always seems to take longer than you expect. Publishing operates on its own time.

What’s the title of your next book to hit the shelves? When can we expect it?

The next one hits the shelves in November Hattie Wilkinson Meets Her Match.

The blurb reads:


In the eyes of the ton Hattie Wilkinson is a respectable widow, content with her safe, if somewhat modest life.

On the other hand Sir Christopher Foxton prides himself on being regarded as one of London’s most notorious rakes, with a particularly mischievous streak!

Upon their first meeting Kit threatens to shatter Hattie’s well-ordered peace—and her reputation!—if only she’ll allow herself to succumb to his playful advances. This time they’ve both finally met their match…

Set in July 1816 Tyne Valley

And after that, the next one is published in April 2013 and features Sophie Ravel from To Marry A Matchmaker (the woman who took a frying pan on an elopement and was not afraid to use it)

Thank you so much for stopping by The Hot Pink Typewriter!!! We loved having you and hope you’ll stop by again.

And readers, don’t forget to leave a comment and be entered in the book giveaway. One very lucky commenter will receive a copy of “His Unsuitable Viscountess.”

You can find Michelle at:

From hard-headed businesswoman…

A lifetime of living in a man’s world has given sword-making factory owner Eleanor Blackwell some very definite opinions – particularly about the duplicity of men!

…to blushing bride?

Benjamin Grayson, Viscount Whittonstall, seems to be cut from a different cloth—Eleanor responds to his touch with a passion normally only reserved for fencing! She may be spectacularly unsuited for aristocracy, but Ben has different ideas when he plans to safeguard her business with a very convenient proposal...

Set in County Durham during the Regency period

You can read an excerpt of His Unsuitable Viscountess here


  1. Hi, Michelle. That was a great interview! Thanks so much for stopping by and visiting with us. We hope you enjoy your time here. :-)

  2. Jennifer --
    Thank you so much for having me.
    I am happy to answer any questions.

  3. I loved the interview! It is fun to have peek into an authors mind. "His Unsuitable Viscountess" sound really good. It will be going on my TBR list.

  4. A really interesting interview. I like the idea of a Regency business woman. Definitely one for the TBR list.

  5. Fabulous interview. I loved learning that an Almack Patroness was also a senior partner at a successful bank. I will also be putting this on my TBR list.

  6. Michelle,
    Loved the interview (and your books :))! I'm always fascinated by authors' writing processes and research methods.

  7. Thanks so much for stopping by, Michelle! "It is truly dedication, desire, discipline, determination and perseverance" -- I love this and your other sage advice. Robyn Carr spoke at RWA about taking 30 years to become a bestseller. It's so important to remember that this isn't the path to instant fame and fortune. :-)

  8. Hi Michelle, thanks so much for stopping by! I'm late in joining the party, but wanted to say I've followed you a lot on the Harlequin boards and you always had great advice. Thanks for being so candid with your answers!

  9. Oh I am so pleased you all took time to comment.

    Natalie Charles The Robyn Carr speech sounds good. I know it took Nora Roberts 16 years and Susan Elizabeth Philips about the same. Then there is Sherilyn Kenniyon's speech of last year's RWA. When ever I am feeling low, I reread that and know that I just need to toughen up. Writing is a long hard slog but it is also the best career in the world and it is really an exciting time to be an author.