Help me welcome today’s guest author Victoria Dahl. Victoria’s new book- A Rake’s Guide to Pleasure has just been released and we’re going to be giving away a copy of the book to a random poster!
RNTV: Hi Victoria and welcome back to RNTV – we’re so glad you could visit with us today. Congratulations on your new book A Rake’s Guide to Pleasure, which released yesterday. I hope you took part of the day to celebrate. We know you’ve just gotten back from San Francisco and the RWA Conference. Did you have a good time?
Victoria: The RWA conference was spectacular as usual! And exhausting. My voice isn’t quite back to normal. I met sooo many new people, and the Harlequin party was everything I heard it would be. *g* The food in San Francisco was amazing… even the hotel buffet food was great!
RNTV: Your first two books, To Tempt a Scotsman and A Rake’s Guide to Pleasure are historicals. Your next book, due to release in January, Talk me Down, is a contemporary. From historicals to contemporaries; you know I have a few questions about that.
a. Was it hard for you to switch between the two?
Victoria: I actually really enjoy switching back and forth. It’s kind of a relief to start on a new historical when I finish up months of working on a contemporary! This is probably because I have a bit of an attention problem.
RNTV: Can you tap into your own life when you write in a contemporary voice?
Victoria: Absolutely! The humor in my contemporaries is exactly the kind of interaction I have with my friends in real life. I had some stickers printed up for conference that said things like “If you think my heroine uses bad language, you should meet me!” It’s so true. The people I write about in the contemporaries are all men and women I’d love to hang out with, and these are exactly the conversations I’d like to have with them.
RNTV: How different is the research for the two sub-genres?
Victoria: You know, there is more research for the historicals, but I find myself being much more specific in the contemporaries. For example, most readers wouldn’t know what a certain style of 1840’s carriage was, even if I named it. But in the contemporaries, I can’t mention the hero getting into his car without at least giving a hint of what kind it is, if that makes sense.
This was fine until I wrote the second contemporary. The hero is an architect and the heroine is a mechanic. I know nothing about either of these things. My first draft looked a lot like this. “Lori leaned into the wrench, putting all her weight into tightening the ?ENGINE BOLT?.”
For my historicals, you’ll see the same types of notes in my manuscript, but it seems like less work. Maybe because I usually know where to find the good information.
RNTV: Ok, I need to ask you about your latest heroine. In A Rake’s Guide to Pleasure, Emma Jensen is smart and a perfect foil for your amazing hero Somerhart – or as those of us in the know like to call him Hart. Emma devises a way to overcome her dire circumstances by using the gambling lessons her father taught her. I know Emma lives in the mid 1800’s in England, but, If Emma found herself in Las Vegas, circa 2008, what would be her favorite game of chance and why?
Victoria: Definitely poker! She likes to rely less on luck and more on her own skill and intelligence. I really wished I could have let her play poker in 1845, but it just wasn’t possible. Instead, I gave Emma a game called “brag.” It was the grandfather of poker and had been around for quite a while, though it was no longer the most popular game in the nineteenth century. But with Emma’s skill with cards and her amazing ability to lie and bluff, this was the game for her.
RNTV: Let’s switch places. Not you and me – but you and Emma. If you woke up one morning in say, 1849 in England, would you find yourself ‘above the stairs’ or ‘below the stairs’ and why? Who would you most like to meet? And… what would you most want to see?
Victoria: Well, this question ruins all my fantasies, because I’m sure I’d be below stairs. I don’t have an aristocratic bone in my body. Lots of Norwegian fisherman bones though. As far as who I’d like to meet and what I’d like to see… I find myself most fascinated by the idea of people’s everyday lives in the past. So I’d like to meet as many people as possible, in all different classes and just watch them each go through their lives for a day or two. We already know about historical figures. I want to know about the unknown lives.
RNTV: Writer question coming next… What is the first thing you do when you sit down to a blank page? Second? Does a blank page scare the bejessus out of you; OR are you exhilarated by it?
Victoria: Hmm. I’m not sure I’m scared OR exhilarated! I kind of just let it percolate until I’m in the mood and then I get down to business. *g* I start at page one and write straight through to the end of the book. In the past, I’ve tried skipping over parts that trip me up, then going back to fill them in later. But I found that once I went back, the problem section just wasn’t important and I would normally just transition to the next scene. I learned my lesson. If I’m so stuck that I need to skip it, it probably shouldn’t be in the book.
RNTV: For you, as both an author and a reader – what are the essential elements a good book has to have?
Victoria: It has to be FUN! I don’t mean light-hearted. I mean entertaining, whether that manifests as humor or wit or melodrama or terror. I need it to move me. I want to be grinning while I read or holding my hand over my open mouth. I find the books I put down these days aren’t necessarily bad, they just don’t engage me. All I ask is that an author make me feel something. And I hope I’m returning the favor for my readers!
RNTV: Thanks so much for visiting with us today- it’s always a pleasure to have you here. Now, I’m going to open the floor up to questions from our readers.