This month, romance readers are being treated to a brand new voice. Samantha Grace’s Regency debut, Miss Hillary Schools a Scoundrel, is full of funny, quirky characters as well as a dash of suspense.
I’m really looking forward to watching her career grow, and I’m delighted to say she’s here today so we can find out more about her. She’s also giving away a copy of Miss Hillary Schools a Scoundrel to someone who leaves a comment.
Thank you. I’m so happy to be here today and to have a chance to chat with readers.
1. I love hearing about debut authors’ publishing journeys. What made you decide to write a romance novel in the first place?
I knew I wanted to be a writer at the age of nine, but it was one of those things that went on my “one of these days” list. I played around with writing stories for my kids when they were little, and I began a couple of women’s fiction stories, but I never seemed to have the time to really devote myself to writing. Then about four years ago I think I had a midlife crisis and came out on the other side with a tattoo and a burning desire to write romance.
In one of my restless moments before I realized which way I needed to go, I was browsing the shelves in the library and ran across an old love, Johanna Lindsey. I devoured the only two books of hers I hadn’t read from my younger days and instead of thinking, “I should see what other regency authors I might like, I thought, ‘I should write my own regency romance.’” My restlessness went away almost immediately.
2. Gosh – that sounds so much like my own writing journey, except for me it was a Julie Garwood novel. 🙂 So tell us, what were you doing when you found out Sourcebooks wanted to publish Miss Hillary Schools a Scoundrel, and how did you celebrate?
I really wish I had a romantic tale to share, but the truth is I was in the ladies room. It had been a hectic day and I had just stepped inside for a minute of quiet when my son knocked on the door and said someone was on the phone. I thought it was another telemarketer. I can’t remember if I said, “Tell them I’ll call back” or “Who is it now”, but I was miffed. I heard him speaking to the person on the other line then he said, “It’s a lady from Sourcebooks. She said she’ll wait.”
The minute I hung up with Deb Werksman, now my editor, I called my husband and my best friends to share my good news, then I danced around the house with my kids. One of my dear friends brought flowers by within an hour and my wonderful Aussie friend had flowers delivered the next day. I can honestly say it has been months of celebrating. I have the best support system ever, and they share in the joy and excitement of each new experience. I’m very lucky.
3. In Miss Hillary, your hero and heroine have wonderfully realistic relationships with their siblings – teasing each other, using each other, and worrying about each other. Can you tell us about the book’s dedication, and how that relates to your characters’ family relationships?
In part, the book is dedicated to my kids, and they were my inspiration for the brother-sister relationship between Drew and Gabby. Their interactions often make me laugh.
The relationship between Drew and his brother, Richard, reminds me a lot of my husband and his brother. They have given each other a hard time all their lives, making up songs about the other having buck teeth, etc. It’s all in good fun.
When my brother-in-law was in Iraq, they would send letters back and forth with goofy pictures of buck-teethed characters they drew and other silly things. (By the way, neither of them have buck teeth as adults, so they must have grown into them.) It’s cool to see how they express their love for one another. It’s like they have their own secret code.
4. Happily, you have two more books coming out in 2012, focusing on Miss Hillary’s two brothers Jake and Daniel. How exciting is that??
It’s very exciting for me. Every time I finish writing a book, I think that hero is my favorite. Well, I just did a final read through on Jake’s story, and I sent in revisions of Daniel’s story last week. Now I honestly can’t pick which one I like best. They are different personalities, but yet they both have a strong sense of loyalty and a desire to protect the ones they love. I hope readers love the Hillary men as much as I do.
5. As well as being an author, you also work with aging adults. How has that work shaped you as an author and the stories you tell?
The people I work with are very sick and often they are being cared for by a spouse at home. I’m so inspired by the devotion and tenderness I witness every day. I especially love working with WWII veterans. When a gentleman calls his wife of 60 years his bride or his sweetheart, my heart melts.
A couple in their nineties used to sit beside each other on the couch and hold hands a large part of their day. No television on or anything. They just enjoyed being together. And when the gentleman looked at his wife, he didn’t see that her lipstick was outside of her lip line or that her shirt was smudged. He saw a beautiful woman who was his dearest friend, and I was able to see her through his eyes. What a gift for me as a writer and just as a person.
Physical attraction is great, but it can be fleeting. These happy couples I meet genuinely like each other, care about what is important to the other person, and they see the beauty inside. I think having access to these amazing examples of true love has shaped me as person and in turn, it has given me direction as an author. I would love my stories to embody the spirit of these couples.
I don’t know about the rest of you, but that last answer brought tears to my eyes.
Samantha is giving away a copy of Miss Hillary Schools a Scoundrel to one person who leaves a comment. I’ll randomly select the winner on Tuesday March 6th.
Commenters will also be included in my $25 gift certificate giveaway.
Samantha has worked several years as a clinical social worker with a background in behavioral health and geriatrics. It is her belief that everyone has a story worth remembering, and she cherishes her work with aging adults, immersing herself in their stories of eras gone by.
She is married to her best friend, strives to stay one step ahead of their two precocious offspring, and lives in Wisconsin. She distracts herself during the bone-chilling winter months with pilates classes and learning to belly dance.
Miss Hillary Schools a Scoundrel received a starred review from Publishers Weekly and was named in the PW Top 10 Romances for Spring 2012. To learn more about Samantha’s bachelors, visit www.samanthagraceauthor.com.