August 15 – Sally MacKenzie

Hi friends!

Welcome to Read-A-Romance Month!

While I read romance all year long, August is the month we celebrate romantic fiction! Come back every day to read the fun author Q&As – calendar here –  and each weekday in August, we’ll also have an author guest hosting the Romance of Reading FB page. Today Sally MacKenzie is doing both the Q&A and the author takeover.

This year is significantly smaller in scale. If you’re interested, you can read about some of the reasons why here. It’s been a crazy year, and a complicated few months.

Happy August. Isn’t life better with #ATouchofRomance?! xo

2018 RARM Questions:

Why do you write books? 

Because books are magical! As a child, I remember really, really wanting magic to be real. I read mostly fantasy and science fiction—and Georgette Heyer’s Regencies. (Clearly, I’ve never been one to live in the here and now.) In fifth grade, I wrote a story that made the class laugh in all the right places—that’s when I decided I wanted to be a writer when I grew up. Over the years, I’ve worked with words in all sorts of ways, from writing federal regulations to school auction programs. But it took me until my first son was headed to college to try my hand at romance. Now I write because I have deadlines, but also because this sort of writing lets me explore emotional issues in a way nothing else does. Plus creating a world out of nothing really is magical.

 

What do you consider to be the most courageous thing you’ve ever done?

Starting a new book. I’m writing my nineteenth romance now, and the fear is real every single time I type “Chapter One.” Some writers are energized by beginnings, excited by all the possibilities. Not me. I stare at the blank screen and try not to think about the journey ahead, the hundreds of choices I’ll have to make, the emotions I’ll have to wrestle with, the thousands of words I’ll have to write to get to my two favorites: The End. I seem to be what’s called a “pants-er” among romance writers. I don’t plot—I let the characters direct me. So often when I sit down at my computer I have no idea where I’m going to go that day. Which sounds sort of crazy—and it is! It’s terrifying, too, but it’s also magical. I’m always amazed, at the end of a successful writing session, to see that I have indeed written words. (And I hope they’re good words that I’ll keep the next day.)

 

Tell us why you write romances or include strong romantic elements in your books?

I have to have a happy ending! When I was about middle school age, I read Gone with the Wind. Many people love that book, but it scarred me for life. I think I cried for days after I finished it, and for years afterward, I checked a book’s ending to see if it was happy before I committed to reading it.

I was an English major in college so I’ve read a good bit of Literature. But while a lot of what I read in school stimulated my mind, most of it didn’t touch my heart. Books lost their magic and became things to analyze.

I want to write stories that speak to a reader’s heart. And hey, why have a sad ending if you can have a happy one? Real life is beyond my control, but I’m the queen of my books, and I decree that all stories will end happily!

 

Tell us about a romantic moment in your life. (Either romantic love, or romantic sensibility.

At the risk of having my romance-writing license revoked, I have to say I’m drawing a blank here. Anything hearts-and-flowers-ish or even lofty-thought-ish tends to get a snigger and an eyeroll here. Maybe it comes from years of living in a heavily male household—two brothers, no sisters and then one husband and four sons (no daughters). That doesn’t mean there isn’t a lot of love in my house. I’ll be married thirty-nine years this Saturday to my soulmate. (I say sincerely, but with a snort and an eye roll.) He still makes me laugh and still often knows what I’m going to say before I say it. And he cooks and does the grocery shopping! Now that’s romantic.

 

If you could tell your younger self anything (either as a writer or as a woman) what would it be?

Be mindful—live in the moment. Don’t worry about the future or regret the past. And always, always choose kindness (and wear sunscreen).

 

Tell us something you uncovered in research that fascinated you.

For my new series—the first book, What Ales the Earl released July 31—I had to research the history of brewing. Two historical tidbits caught my fancy. First, our popular image of witches with pointy hats and broomsticks may well derive from the alewives of olden times. (And may be the work of men moving into the business and trying to push the women out.) Second, by the Regency brewing had largely moved from a home-based, female pursuit to a commercial, male-run enterprise. And with the bigger business came the chance for bigger disasters. Hence the London Beer Flood of 1814. An enormous vat of beer gave way, demolishing the brewery and the surrounding neighborhood. Sadly, eight people lost their lives, literally drowning in beer.

 

How do you handle the voices in your head competing for their story to be written? (Thanks Eileen!)

The only voice I have in my head is my internal editor. She is very annoying. She’s always telling me that I can’t write, the scene is stupid, the characters are boring, that I’ll never reach “The End,” but if I do, my editor will hate the story. And if my editor somehow lets the book be published, readers everywhere will despise and detest it.

My internal editor—the life of the party. I just try to mute her and carry on.

 

If you could live for a month somewhere (either in the present or past) where (and when, if applicable) would it be? Why?

A lot of places and times popped into my head with this question. I’d love to spend a month in California near the West Coast grandbaby—though a month wouldn’t be enough. Someone needs to invent a teleporter STAT! And what Regency writer wouldn’t want to spend a month in England in the early 1800s to see what life then was really like?

But then I thought I’d like to spend those thirty-one days one day at a time and drop into my mother’s life when she was a girl, a young woman, a young mother raising my brothers, an older mother raising me. One of the things I find so interesting is the dichotomy between the way the world sees us—the roles we play (mother, wife, daughter, sister, mother-in-law, grandmother, employee, boss)—and how we see ourselves, who we think we really are. My mother died in 2006—she was 88 and had had a good, long life—but I was still deep into parenting my sons. Now that I have more time and perspective, I have lots of questions—but she’s not here to answer them. And she was pretty reticent, so I’m not sure how much she’d want to talk about her life.

 

What is (one of) the most remarkable/inspiring things that has happened to you as a reader or writer?

I am always—every single time—surprised and delighted when someone tells me she read one of my books and loved it. How amazing—how magical!—that words I struggled to form into sentences created people and places and emotions in someone else and made her smile.

 

Sally recommends:

I suppose I shouldn’t admit this here, but now that I’m writing romance, I don’t read as much of it as I used to. So, for recommendations I’m going to go back to some authors I loved when I was “just a reader” and whose work probably influenced my own.

In a class by herself is the mother of the modern Regency romance, Georgette Heyer. A librarian introduced me to Georgette’s books when I was around twelve years old. I loved them—though I remember thinking even a thirty-year-old hero was old! (And now I think some of Heyer’s heroines are far too young.)

Georgette Heyer    –    @Amazon

 

When I was busy raising my four sons, I would go out to lunch with my mother once a month—except in the summer when the boys were out of school. We always stopped at Borders (RIP) to check out that month’s Signet Regencies. Two of my many auto buys were Mary Balogh and Joan Wolf. (My husband looked askance at my purchases. Ha! Little did he—or I—know I was actually doing market research.)

Mary Balogh    –     marybalogh.com     –    @Amazon

Joan Wolf    –    www.joanwolf.com   –   @Amazon

 


USA Today bestselling author and Washington, D. C., native Sally MacKenzie writes funny, sexy romances set in her favorite time period (other than the present): Regency England. Two of her books—The Naked King and Bedding Lord Ned—made ALA Booklist’s 101 Best Romance Novels of the Last 10 Years: 2017 Edition.

A former federal regulation writer, recovering parent volunteer, mother of four (and grandma to three), and middle-of-the-pool Masters swimmer, she loves to research historic sites and hike through—and frequently get lost in—the English countryside with her long-suffering husband.

Find out more at www.sallymackenzie.net

 

Buy Sally’s books:

 

availableon-amazon         availableon-nook      availableon-kobo

*Please note that the Amazon button, most cover images and many text links connect to a Read-A-Romance Month affiliate portal. Thanks so much for your help & support!

 

 

Authors on The Romance of Reading page:

Authors on the Romance of Reading FB page:

1   –   Jeannie Moon           💜         2   –   Lenora Bell

3  –    Nancy Herkness       💜         6   –   Kimberli A. Bindschatel

7   –  Cathy Maxwell            💜         8   –   Amelia Grey

9  –  Liz Talley                     💜         10  –  Dylann Crush

13  –  Marilyn Brant             💜         14  –  Sharla Lovelace

15  –  Sally MacKenzie        💜         16  –  Regina Kyle

17  –  Mimi Milan                 💜          20  –  Christine Nolfi

21  –  Susie Orman Schnall  💜       22  –  Caroline Linden

23  –  TBA                               💜         24  –   Talia Surova

27  –  Lisa Patton                    💜        28  –  Tracey Livesay

29  –  Danelle Harmon          💜        30  –  Minerva Spencer

*   31   –    Christina Lauren (modified guest host)