Shana Galen is the bestselling author of fast-paced adventurous Regency historicals, including the RT Reviewers’ Choice The Making of a Gentleman. She taught English at the middle and high school level off and on for eleven years. Now she writes full time. Visit here here.
NAW- Tell us about your latest book,THE PIRATE TAKES A BRIDE? What is it about? How did you get the idea for it?
The Pirate Takes a Bride is a book I’ve been wanting to write since 2007. It’s actually the last book in my Misadventures in Matrimony series. My publisher and I parted ways before the series was complete, and my new publisher wasn’t interested in the 4th book in a series with another publisher. Now, with the advent of indie publishing, I was able to put it out myself. It’s made readers of that series happy because the series finally has an end, but it can also be read as a stand-alone and readers who haven’t read the other books have enjoyed it too.
It’s the story of Ashley Brittany and Nick Martingale. It’s actually based on a true story of a priest in Gretna Green, Scotland who mistakenly married the wrong couple to each other. So Ashley and Nick start out mistakenly married to each other. And then she finds out he’s a pirate. Nick has some urgent pirating to do, and she is forced to go with him.
NAW- Tell us about the character of Ashley Brittany. How did you develop the character?
Ashley is absolutely beautiful. She’s like the poster child for the perfect English beauty—blond hair, blue eyes, flawless skin, perfect figure. She’s bold and brave and pretty much all of her friends look up to her. What no one knows is she has an ugly scar on her leg, where she was burned as a child. She feels ugly because of it and thinks no man will want her if he sees it. Most of my books take a modern issue or theme and deal with it in an historical context. In this one, I was thinking about how the media is telling women overtly and subtly that the thing that matters most about us is how we look. Our eyelashes must be long and thick, our bellies must not have an extra inch to pinch, our hair must be glossy and manageable, and so on. It’s an unrealistic standard no one, not even the models who represent it, can live up to. Ashley is like us in that in the beginning of the book, she thinks her value is in her appearance. Through Nick and the adventures in the book, she learns there’s so much more to her than outer beauty.
NAW- Tell us about your other works.
I have a new book coming in August, and it’s the last in my Lord and Lady Spy series. In that series, I take modern movies and do an historical take on them. So Mr. and Mrs. Smith became Lord and Lady Spy. True Lies became True Spies. Live and Let Die became Love and Let Spy. But I always make the story my own. In Love and Let Spy, the master spy is Jane Bonde. She likes her ratafia shaken not stirred. Dominic Griffyn has as many demons as any Bond girl, but he also has a lot more depth. Despite the fact that it’s a spy novel, it’s one of my more emotional books to date.
NAW- How do you research for your books?
Very reluctantly. I don’t like research, so I tend to do it at the end, unless I have to know something to before I can go on. Of course, I’ve written about 20 books set in the Regency period (early 1800s), so I already know a lot about the time. But if I have to look something up, I have quite a few books in my library on various topics from furniture to clothing and I also have a few websites that are my go-to research sites. If I still can’t find the answer, there’s nothing like contacting an expert. Recently, I emailed the city of Bath, England to ask questions about unsavory areas in 1820. They answered too!
NAW- Tell us about your publishing journey. How did you get published? How difficult (or easy) was it finding an agent?
I started writing seriously in 2000 and had a contract in 2004. My first book came out in 2005 from HarperCollins. I wouldn’t say it was easy to get published. I spent 4 years devoting everything I had to it before I sold. I wanted to give up so many times. Sometimes I still do because writing can be a very consuming profession. It becomes your life. Finding an agent was a matter of going to a lot of local conferences and pitching to the agents attending. Finally, I met one I thought clicked with me. I always suggest aspiring authors attend a lot of conferences, writing workshops, and enter writing contests. Not only do you learn the craft and about the business side, you make a lot of contacts. Some of my best friends are women I met in those early years. Many of them are now super successful bestselling authors. We learned from each other and are still learning.
NAW- Who are your favourite writers?
I mostly read romance and young adult. I like Susan Elizabeth Phillips, Nora Roberts, Julie Garwood, Marsha Canham, Sophie Jordan, Ann Aguirre, and J. Lynn.
NAW- What will you be working on next?
I have a new series coming in January, and it’s sort of a Oliver Twist-type story. It centers on a group of thieves and an aristocratic family, and how their lives and futures are entwined. It’s been really fun to write so far. The first book is a novella titled The Viscount of Vice, and the second is a novel titled Earls Just Want to Have Fun. That one releases in February.
To wrap up 2014, in October I’m releasing a Christmas anthology with three fabulous authors (Grace Burrowes, Carolyn Jewel, Miranda Neville). It’s called In The Duke’s Arms, and we’re having a great time working on it.