Manda Collins’ debut Regency romance, How to Dance with a Duke, came out one year and one week ago to rave reviews. Now her third book in the Ugly Ducklings trilogy, How to Entice an Earl, is out, and she’s here to answer some questions and give away a copy. Welcome, Manda!
1. With three books published, 2012 must’ve been a remarkable but busy year. What was the best and the most challenging thing about your first year as a published author?
I think the best thing has been finally having people read my books! It’s easy to feel like you’re just living in a bubble when only you and your agent and editor (and a few friends) have read your books. So, getting the opinions of people who don’t know and love you is a dreadful but necessary prospect. I can’t even really relax about a book until it’s published and out there. Which is weird I guess, but there it is.
The most challenging thing about this year has been having to write and edit one book at the same time that a previous book is being published and needing promotion. It’s hard to keep track of which book I’m talking about sometimes. By the time a book is published, I’m already mentally working on the next one. So there’s a lot of “wait, where am I again?” going on! But it’s great. And I’m so glad to be published now.
The Ugly Ducklings trilogy follows three cousins whose mothers were THE beauties of their day. Cecily, Juliet and Maddie have had to grow up with the expectation that they’d follow in their mothers’ footsteps, and they most definitely do not. None of them is particularly into the social scene and they all have other things they’d rather be doing than sitting in a ballroom waiting for a dance partner. Each of them finds her hero and works with him to solve some mystery that’s plaguing them at the moment. I think of them as Nancy Drew for grown ups.
3. Nancy Drew for grown-ups? I’m all yours. I love love love friends-to-lovers stories. I also love wallflowers and ugly ducklings, so this whole series is perfect for me. Tell us one thing that your hero and heroine from How to Entice an Earl would be shocked to discover about each other.
I think Maddie would be shocked to learn just how much Christian has thought about her in the past year. She is a very no-nonsense sort of person and says what she thinks while she’s thinking it. He is not. And though he’d never admit it to her in a million years, he’s always had a soft spot for her.
Christian would be shocked to know that for Maddie, he’s one of a small group of people she trusts implicitly. Even when it seems as if he’s done something that might harm her, she knows that his intent is pure. Because she knows he’s a man of honor and will always do what he knows is the right thing. He doesn’t think of it that way. He simply thinks he’s behaving as a gentleman ought, but Maddie knows that not all gentlemen follow that code. And she loves him for it.
4. Last year you also published a contemporary romance novel, Legally Yours, which sounds wonderfully sexy. What made you decide to write a contemporary, and will there be more in this series?
I actually wrote “Legally Yours” when I was on submission with my first book and feeling pretty defiant about the fact that it wasn’t selling. I thought I’d write something as different from a historical as I could manage. That was “Legally Yours.” Then when the whole self-publishing revolution started happening, I wanted to be out there playing in that world too. So I picked it up and polished it up and sent it out into the world. I do plan on writing another one, but this year has proved far too busy for me to manage it.
5. How to Entice an Earl is the last book in your Ugly Ducklings trilogy. What comes next for you?
I’ve written a novella about Miss Amelia Snowe, the arch-nemesis of the ducklings. That should be coming out in a few months (I don’t have a publication date yet).
Then in July the first book in my new trilogy centering on three widows comes out. WHY DUKES SAY I DO is the story of Lady Isabella Wharton, who has been sent by the dowager Duchess of Ormonde to summon her grandson, the Duke of Ormonde, to London to accept his role as head of the family. Unfortunately this proves more difficult than Isabella imagined. And while she’s there she must try to figure out who is blackmailing her about the death of her sister’s husband, who died in mysterious circumstances. It’s a bit of a fish out of water story with some sleuthing thrown in for good measure. It comes out July 31.
If a duke wanted to get you onto the dance floor, what song should he ask the orchestra to play?
“Come Fly With Me”
What book are you reading right now?
A Gentleman Never Tells by Juliana Gray
If you were to make up the perfect secret society for you, what would it be?
A group of secret good Samaritans who go about the internet spreading good cheer among the commentariat. Sort of the opposite of trolls.
Manda’s giving away a copy of How to Entice an Earl to one lucky reader! Leave a comment below to enter. I’ll randomly choose the winner on Tuesday February 12th. Good luck!
FLIRTING WITH DANGER
Lady Madeline Essex is the last of the unwed “ducklings” in her family—and by far the most outspoken. But when she boldly enters London’s most notorious gaming house in search of fodder for her novel, even her sharp tongue can’t save her from the horrible crime she stumbles upon there. As luck would have it, first on the scene is the last man she wants to see her vulnerable. The one man who could tempt her heart…
ENFLAMED BY DESIRE
Christian Monteith, the new Earl of Gresham, isn’t much for card rooms and gaming hells. But as a favor to his former commanding officer, he’s investigating a gamester for espionage on the night that Maddie ventures in looking more enticing than he’s ever seen her. Suddenly, his feelings for his friend aren’t so friendly anymore. And when her curiosity brings the impetuous novelist to the attention of a madman, Christian will stop at nothing to protect her—from a sinister plot that is far more dangerous than any stolen kiss…