Miranda Neville grew up in Wiltshire in southwest England. She studied history at the University of Oxford and is the bestselling author of The Burgundy series and The Wild Quartet series. Her latest book LADY WINDERMERE’S LOVER is out now.
NAW- Tell us about your book, ‘LADY WINDERMERE’S LOVER.’ How did you get the idea for it? How long did it take to finish the book?What is it about? How excited are you about it’s release?
Lady Windermere’s Lover is a historical romance set in 1800 England, part of a connected series (though each book stands alone). We all do crazy things when we are young. The Wild Quartet series follows a group of friends who must face the consequences of youthful mistakes. Damian, the Earl of Windermere gambled away his estate at the age of twenty-one and was the first of the group to “reform.” Disgusted with himself, he reformed too much and became a stick-in-the-mud diplomat. Unlike his former friends, he needs to loosen up again. To win back his estate, he marries heiress Cynthia whom he resents and treats badly. After a year abroad he comes back with the intention of trying to make something of his marriage. But shy and dowdy Cynthia has bloomed in his absence. She is also apparently having an affair with Damian’s former best friend, the Duke of Denford. Just to complicate matters, Damian’s government job requires him to reconcile with Denford at the same time he is trying to win back his wife.
I wish I knew where I got my ideas, but they just bubble up from the subconscious. This one took me about six months to write and though it’s my tenth book, I’m still excited – and nervous – about it’s release.
NAW- How was the response to the Wild Quartet series? Had you originally planned the full series in your head or did it progress as the books were written?
I planned the four book series although the third and fourth books were little more than a vague ideas. Cynthia appeared in the earlier books, but Lady Windermere’s Lover is Damian’s first appearance and I had little idea of his character when I started writing the book. The Duke of Denford is a popular character however and I know readers are looking forward to his book, the grand finale of the series.
NAW- Tell us about your other works.
I wrote four books in the Burgundy Club, about a group of Regency book collector. The first book is titled The Wild Marquis. Last year I joined three friends and fellow historical romance authors in a self-published anthology called At The Duke’s Wedding. That was so much fun we’re doing it again, this time in a contemporary setting.
NAW- Do you carry out any research for developing your characters and your stories? How do you go about it?
After all these books, I know the everyday details of life in early nineteenth century England pretty well, though I constantly look things up online, or in my own research collection. I like to find some lesser known aspects of the period. In Lady Windermere’s Lover, the hero has been on a diplomatic mission to Persia. I attached him to a real mission, led by John Malcom to the court of Shah Fath Ali. I read part of Malcolm’s memoirs to get the British perspective on Tehran at that time. Back in London, Cynthia became involved with the workers of the silk industry of east London. Often I follow a research thread and it gives me ideas for plot points.
NAW- Which authors have influenced you?
Growing up I loved historical novels by authors like Jean Plaidy and Georgette Heyer. I also adored Mary Stewart’s suspense novels. I always enjoyed the romance aspects of books so eventually writing romance seemed natural. Among the modern generation of historical romance novelists I have been inspired by Loretta Chase, Eloisa James, Liz Carlyle, Mary Jo Putney, and so many others.
NAW- Tell us about yourself. What do you do when you are not writing?
I grew up in England but now I live in Vermont, USA, a beautiful rural area with few people and very cold winters! I enjoy skiing and gardening, as well as reading and movies. I go back to England a couple of times a year and also enjoy traveling in the United States. I have a daughter and a cat who collaborated on a book trailer for me. (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=lmC2og67myY)
NAW- Do you have any strange writing habits (like writing while eating)?
I always say it’s a miracle I’ve ever finished a book, let alone ten! When I’m under deadline and horribly behind I can write anywhere – except my office where I’m supposed to work! No, I can’t eat and type at the same time.
NAW- How important are names of characters in your books? How do you name the characters?
The names have to fit the characters, so I sometimes change them in the middle of a book when it doesn’t feel right. They also need to be period appropriate. To me a character’s first name says a lot about his parents so I think about them, and why they decided to name their child that way. Often it’s just a family name but it can be more specific – an interest in Greek mythology for example.
NAW- What is your least favorite part of the publishing process?
There are always frustrations but basically I have enormous respect for the team at Avon/HarperCollins. They do a great job on the editorial and design side and work hard on distribution and marketing. Meeting deadline is the hard part, then the waiting to see how the book is received and what the sales are. Bad reviews are never fun but I try to ignore them. I have ventured into self-publishing and I love the control over content and pricing and the higher royalties. On the other hand it’s a lot of work and involves fiddly technical stuff that I am not good at!
NAW- What are your upcoming projects?
The last book of the Wild Quartet is called The Duke of Dark Desires and releases January 2015. I’ll have novellas in a couple of self-published anthologies this fall. After that, I have a number of ideas but nothing certain yet.