Tuesday, June 23, 2009

Emily Bryan, Light-hearted historical romance

My guest today is Emily Bryan. According to Booklist, she writes “Wickedly witty historical romance!” First published in May 2006, her 6th title, VEXING THE VISCOUNT, is on the shelves now. For the interview today, my words will be in bold and Emily in italics.

Tell us more about yourself, Emily! Readers love to know about the authors, and this would give you the chance to make them feel close to you!

First, thanks for having me here today, Diana. I’m very much like everyone else. I have a DH and family I love, two dogs who act as my writing assistants (you can see us in action at http://www.emilybryan.com/WritingSpace.htm), a mortgage, a ravenous reading habit, and a work history as varied as a patchwork quilt. The thing that makes me different is the answer to your second question.

If you have 2 hours free time tonight, what would you rather do? Given two hours of free time, I will sit down with my laptop and make things up.
Why? Because I’m a writer and that’s how I make sense of the world.

What kind of books do you love to read? My reading tastes are very eclectic. I read romance of almost all sub-genres, plus thrillers, mysteries, historicals and Christian fiction.
Why? Because I’m terminally curious and always looking for a good story.

What type of music do you enjoy relaxing to? I hold a vocal music degree, so classical music is a serious passion of mine, especially opera. But I also enjoy Santana, Josh Groban and Alicia Keys.

What is your stress buster? Cruising. I’d rather be on a cruise ship, or remembering being on one, than just about anywhere.

What is your favorite food? Ice cream. If there was no ice cream in the world, I would be a size 6!

Describe yourself in one word. Curious

What’s your biggest regret in life? I wish I’d started writing sooner.

What is the most adventurous thing you've ever done? Wow, it’s hard to choose because I’ve had so many wonderful experiences.
I have
~ sung at Carnegie Hall.
~ driven a snowmachine across Yellowstone Park without freezing anything important off.
~ flown in a Cessna 182 from Seattle to Kansas City and lived to tell the tale.
~ been surprised by a barracuda while snorkeling in the Caribbean.
~ lost track of how many times I’ve been to Europe.
~ ridden an elephant. (not recommended. Very bony spine!)
~ worked one summer on an archeological dig in Greenland.
~ learned to surf in Honolulu.
Ok, now one of those things is a bald-faced lie. (Told you I like to make things up!) If you want to make a guess about which one I haven’t done in a comment, I’ll ‘fess up if you’re right.
How would readers find out more about you? Please visit my website at www.emilybryan.com and my blog emilybryan.blogspot.com

When did you write your first book? I started writing in 2001. After several fits and starts, I finished my first marketable manuscript in 2003. It was MAIDENSONG, a Viking romance, and was published by Leisure Books in May 2006 under the name Diana Groe.

How long did it take you to write it? I wrote it in about 6 months, but if you consider that I had to write two other 400 page manuscripts in order to learn how to write, it took about 2 ½ years.

Did you encounter any obstacles in writing? I had to understand reader expectations for the romance genre. Joining RWA put me on the right path in that regard. If you are an aspiring writer, joining that fine organization and attending the local meetings are the best advice I can give you.

What do you think about editing?
I’m very grateful for my editor’s input. Frequently I’m too close to the work. My editor can see things I’d miss. That said, the last manuscript I turned in (MY LADY BELOW STAIRS, a novella in the upcoming holiday anthology A CHRISTMAS BALL due out September 29th!) had virtually no revisions. I love it when a story comes together!

Where and when do you write? If you checked the pic of my dog assistants on my website, you already know I write in a recliner with my computer on my lap and a puppy at each hip. Sounds lazy, but it gets the job done.

How do you write? I’m a quasi-plotting pantser. My characters come to me first. They spend about a month whispering their secrets to me. Then I put together a working synopsis and stick it in a drawer. At that point, I’m off to the races. I write linearly from beginning to end. If I get stuck, I consult the roadmap (the synopsis).

Maybe you can give us an example with one of your books. Oh, boy! You caught me. I’m going off the reservation for my current WIP, STROKE OF GENIUS. I sold this one on the basis of the title and a two paragraph blurb. I don’t have a synopsis. I’m experimenting with free pantsing again. I think it’s important to mix things up and try new things to keep the process fresh.

What books can you recommend to aspiring writers to improve on style, character development, plot, structure, dialogue, etc? I have a bibliography listed on my website at Write Stuff .

What is your must-have book for writing? The Writer’s Journey by Christopher Vogler

What is your advice to aspiring writers? Creativity is a muscle. Write every day.

What genre(s) do you write? I write light-hearted, sexy historical romance because that’s my favorite type to read.

Among those that you've written, which is your favorite book and why?
That’s like asking a mother which is her favorite child. I love them all. They all gave me fits. Now that they’re out on their own in the big bad world, I’m proud of each one.

Where do you get your ideas? Do you jot them down in a notebook, in case you forgot? Ideas are everywhere. You can pluck them out of the air. But if I get stuck, just getting out and about, observing people and how they interact, will often jumpstart me. Writers are keenly observant. We watch for not only what’s happening, but why.

I wish I was organized enough to jot ideas down. I guess I figure if the idea is a good one, it will come again. When I studied music history, I learned that the composer Verdi was so lazy if he dropped a sheet of manuscript music, he’d rewrite it rather than bend over to pick it up. Guess I’m a little like that with ideas.

Which of your books feature your family/friends, etc? What characters are modeled after them? Why? I’ve never modeled any characters completely on a single person. Making things up is the fun part, you know. However, some of the things that have come out my hero’s mouths first came out of my DH’s or my dad’s. The secondary character Isabella, an aging courtesan, who appears in both PLEASURING THE PIRATE and VEXING THE VISCOUNT reminds me a little of my mother. (Stop that! I mean it in a good way!) Isabella is clever and entertaining, like my mother, and has my mom’s bone-deep beauty. (Of course, my mother was never a courtesan, but if she had been, she’d have been a top-tier high flyer!)

Which of your heroes/heroines is most similar to you? Why? I guess they all have a little piece of me, or of what I’d like to be, since they all came from my imagination. None of them spend their days wedged into a recliner between two dogs with a laptop computer, so I can’t say I’ve written one terribly like me.

Who is your strongest/sexiest/most lovable/hottest hero/heroine? Why? I love them all, but I had great fun writing Lucian Beaumont, the hero in VEXING THE VISCOUNT. Lucian is a virgin at the beginning of the story, but he’s eager to learn and a very quick study. When Daisy, the heroine, masquerades as a French courtesan and offers to teach him, well, those scenes were a riot because all Daisy knew was what she’d read in a real courtesan’s memoirs.

They have a wonderful time trying to figure it all out together. Well, actually, several wonderful times.

Have you ever wanted to write your book in one direction but your characters are moving it in another direction? What did you do in such a situation?
Absolutely, you must follow your characters. Romance is character-driven fiction. If they are forced into a plot, the writer becomes a puppeteer. Romance is more about ‘why’ than ‘what’, more concerned with ‘who’ than ‘how.’

Tell us more about your current release VEXING THE VISCOUNT (Leisure Books http://search.barnesandnoble.com/Vexing-the-Viscount/Emily-Bryan/e/9780843961348/?itm=1

Vexing the Viscount is part treasure hunt, part mystery, part naughty discovery of some pretty steamy sexuality and part comedy routine. But mostly it’s the journey from one heart to another. It’s how Daisy and Lucian fall in love and commit to each other—while uncovering an ancient Roman treasure, undoing a Jacobite plot, and making very practical use of a courtesan’s memoirs.

Any new projects, work in progress?
Oh, yes! My next release is coming September 29th! It’s a novella, my first foray into this shorter format, as part of A CHRISTMAS BALL—an anthology with USA Today BestSeller Jennifer Ashley and Alissa Johnson.
All our characters are in attendance at the same Christmas ball, and YOU are invited too. There is an excerpt on my website
http://www.emilybryan.com/ of this story and all my others. A CHRISTMAS BALL (Leisure Books 09/09) is available for pre-order now at http://www.amazon.com/Christmas-Ball-Jennifer-Ashley/dp/084396250X/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1244148855&sr=1-1

And I’d be remiss if I didn’t mention my current love, my new WIP- STROKE OF GENIUS (Leisure Books, summer 2010). A Bostonian heiress takes romantic advice from a brilliant, though cynical, artist on how best to snag a titled husband. Sparks fly when he realizes he’d rather be the object of her affection than her tutor.

I’m doing a really fun contest right now that will allow one of my readers to name an important character in this story. The winner of the contest will receive my entire backlist, plus a thank you in the acknowledgment page of STROKE OF GENIUS. For complete details on how to enter please visit

Thank you for having me today, Diana. I’d like to offer a signed copy of PLEASURING THE PIRATE (I’ve been told it’s a great beach read!) to one lucky person who leaves a comment or question here on your blog today. Good luck and I hope to hear from YOU!

Be sure to enter my STROKE OF GENIUS Name a Character Contest This lovely badge is courtesy of BookReviewsByBobbie


  1. Wow what a great interview! I love reading about what makes authors tick. Great questions Diana and great answers Emily!

    I'll be sure to check out your books!

  2. Thanks, Amanda! Hope you love them! And by leaving a comment today you're entered in the drawing for a PLEASURING THE PIRATE, so good luck!

  3. Good morning Diana and Emily.

    That was a great interview. I enjoy reading about how an author get her ideas and puts them to paper. Emily you have had an adventurous life. If I were to guess which activity was made up I would say...driven a snow machine across Yellowstone Park (my first thought was surfing).
    I am really looking forward to reading both the novella and Stroke of Genius. They both sound awesome!
    Y'all have a wonderful day!

  4. Hello Diana and Emily,

    I just finished reading "Vexing the Viscount" and I can't stop raving about it. I truly love the way you weave a story. Count me in for the contest. Have a great day.

  5. Hi Emily! I've been following you on TWITTER and you sound like exactly the sort of author I love! I will definitely buy VEXING THE VISCOUNT very soon!

  6. Thanks Emily!! Just ordered Maidensong

  7. Hi Em!
    Everything looks great!
    (I've been trying to Email you but kept getting bounced).
    I added an intro & your cover at the top also, so it can be seen right away.
    Wow, we either have a lot of early risers here, or you're popular in both hemispheres!
    My guess about the lie is the surfing in Hawaii. If you did sing at Carnegie Hall, I want to hear about it (my first ambition was to be a singer).
    Loved your answers to my questions, this is fun! Will pop in a bit later. Diana

  8. Hi Emily! Great interview as usual. :) I loved seeing the photo of you writing with your dogs - I have two rescue babies too, and they sit at my feet while I'm on the computer.

    I can't wait for your next releases and can't sing the praises of Vexing the Viscount enough!

    If you are reading this and haven't read Vexing the Viscount or any of Emily's other works - you must go buy them! They are wonderful books and perfect beach reads!


  9. That was a wonderful interview! I'd try to guess which of the things you've "done" is a bald-faced lie, but any one of them could be plausible.

  10. Hi Emily! See Sabrina I told you Emily's books were the best! Emily, I am sooo excited for your new books to come out, I can hardly wait! Diana please do not put me in the book drawing as I have a wonderful copy already and allow someone else to enjoy Pleasuring The Pirate ( It has been my favorite of Emily's!!)

  11. Hi Emily and Diana!

    Great interview! Wow, great responses!

    I love hearing from authors, what makes their characters tick, how they write. Heroes and heroines are a piece of the writer, ah but then what about the villians - where do they come from?

    Dottie :)

    (Thanks Diana for joining me on my blog!!)

  12. Hi Dottie,
    I really enjoy these blogfests, they're a lot of fun & a great way to meet amazing people (like you, of course!)
    Where do villains come from? Maybe from our very own dark sides, which we all have? Or else they come from our secret fantasies--how many of us would love to be a villain just for one day, and get away with our wretched acts? Maybe the villain comes out of who we'd like to be but wouldn't dare!

  13. Hi Diana and Emily,

    Light hearted sexy historicals have always been my fav. Started with Julia Quinn's Bridgertons, and havn't looked back since.

    I just recently discovered Emily and just picked up Vexing the Viscount, and would love to read Pleasuring the Pirate (pirates are yummy and are my second love after highlanders).

    My guess is that you never learned to surf in Honolulu :)

  14. Hi EM and Diana!

    My guess is that Em's never ~ learned to surf in Honolulu. :)

    HUGS -

  15. I forgot to take a guess...I would say Em hasn't lost count of how many times she's been to Europe - I've been many times now, and I would never forget a single visit!

    Also becuase I think Em would do all of those other things listed!

  16. Heather--Oh, yes I did too drive a snow machine across Yellowstone part! We started at the east entrance and took the southern loop around the Old Faithful geyer basin and out the west entrance into West Yellowstone. Then after a couple days snowmachining in the deep powder of Idaho, we drove back through the park. It is no longer allowed, but it was fascinating to see the animals and the thermal features with several feet of snow.

    Housemouse! Thanks for coming by today and I'm so glad you're enjoying VEXING THE VISCOUNT!

    Carol--I never know what to tweet, but it's fun.

    Amanda--Hope you love MAIDENSONG. I just found out it's sold to a Russian publisher, so it'll be heading to the land of the Czars.

    Diana-Thanks for having me here. You're wrong, though. I did learn to surf on Waikiki! My DH was in meetings there so I rented a board and gave it a whirl. Two Hawaiian teenagers gave me free lessons in exchange for turns on the board. I finally managed to stand and ride one wave all the way to the beach. The hardest part is matching the speed of the oncoming wave. If you aren't already moving, it will just roll right over you.

    Sabrina--Found pets are the best, aren't they? So glad you're enjoying my books!

    Margay--Thanks. It's good to know I make up convincing things!

    Jane--You are such a sweetie! Thanks for stopping by. Hope you're feeling well now.

    Dottie--We writers have to acknowledge our villains as well as our heroes and they all come from the same place. The Good Book says, "The heart is deceitfully wicked. Who can know it?" and that's where my villains come from.

    June--I too am a Julia Quinn fan. She's created quite a world with her Bridgertons.
    You get another guess on the lies because I did surf in Honolulu.

  17. Oops that should have been Booklover instead of June. Sorry.

    Genella--And unfortunately, you'd be wrong. I never said I surfed well, but I did indeed surf in Honolulu.

    Cheeky--Alas, I have lost count of how many times I've been to Europe, mostly because I was tagging along with the DH's business trips and we were frequently going to the same great cities, notably London and Hanover. For a few years, he was wracking up over 100,000 frequent flyer miles a year and I tried to keep up with him. It's been about 7 years since were there and I'm so ready to go again. Now I'd love to see Rome.

  18. Good to see you here, Emily! Diana asked good questions!

    Emily, you create such memorable characters in your historical novels and have had such an exciting life, I can imagine you and your DH must enjoy dressing up for Halloween and was wondering --- what is your favorite costume from Halloweens past?

    PS: I never doubted you learned to surf here in Honolulu!

  19. Hey Em,
    I hope you fess up at the end of the day & tell us which one of those is a lie! Wow, you sure are adventurous.
    London is one of my fav cities in the world, too. My husband is British and we try to get there as much as possible, but like you, we haven't been there in 7 years either. Our business grew, and we haven't taken any really 'big' trips although 5 yrs ago we drove to Arizona.
    I'm going to get Pleasuring the Pirate as soon as I log off here--I was on a big pirate kick a few years ago and even considered writing a pirate romance. Yeah, the fictional ones are cool!

  20. etirv--Sorry to disappoint you, but we don't actually do dress ups for Halloween. I did don a fairy costume one year in order to pass out treats, but felt so silly I didn't do it again. Besides, our chocolate lab didn't like costumes. She was always afraid of masks and such, so we figured, why not live for the dog? She's gone now (after nearly 15 happy years with us!) but we never got back into the spirit of that holiday.

    Diana--I've had some good times, that's for sure and always up for more. I draw the line at a few things though. Never could see the allure in jumping out of a perfectly good airplane and I'm a little claustrophic, so scuba is probably not a good fit for me. The mask would feel like a narrow space.

    And yes, I'll 'fess up about which is the lie before I turn in tonight.

  21. Hi Emily
    This was a nice interview today, I love your books

  22. I get claustrophobic, too. I couldn't go inside the Great Pyramid cos of that reason; I know I missed the chance of a lifetime, but, sorry, couldn't do it!
    Seeing & touching it was enough for me.
    I have a pair of Mickey Mouse ears I got ages ago & I wear them on Halloween, that's as far as I'll go.

  23. Hi Penney,
    Thanks for those kind words. We'll enter you in the drawing for a Pirate!

  24. Hi Emily,
    Wow, Carnegie Hall is one of the most beautiful and famous venues. Were you nervous performing there?

  25. Great interview!
    My guess about the bald-faced lie is "worked one summer on an archelogical dig in Greenland."

  26. Diana--Oh, sad! But I understand. So far, the claustrophobia hasn't stopped me from doing something I wanted to do. Last month the DH and I visited a cave in Bermuda, but I'm sure it wasn't as tight as the passages in the pyramid.

    Jane--Nope, I wasn't nervous. I was singing in a 50 voice choir! Notice I didn't say I soloed at Carnegie Hall!

    Mariee--You guessed it! You picked the lie and I bet you figured it out because it's the only thing that actually sounds like real work! I'm fascinated by archaeology (part of why my H/h were in search of an ancient Roman treasure in VEXING THE VISCOUNT!) but I prefer to do my digging in the library!

    Good night, everybody! Thanks for stopping by. I'll be back tomorrow to name the winner of the PLEASURING THE PIRATE!

  27. Enjoyed reading your interview. You are much more adventurous than I am. lol

    I have a beach within walking distance and would love to read Pleasuring the Pirate!

  28. Terrific Interview and I love your books Emily as well as your books written as Diana. ;) Keep those great stories coming!

  29. Thanks, Kammie and Jenny for dropping by!

    Hey Everybody! I just found out that my Diana Groe Viking books are getting a huge boost on B&N's UNABASHEDLY BOOKISH with Michelle Buonfiglio of Romance Buy the Book. If you're interested in learning more about those "badboys of the North" check out this blog post called BJORN AGAIN!

  30. Thank you, Diana, for having me here. Thanks to everyone who commented and those who tried to catch me in a fib! Hope you had as much fun as I did.

    My DH is my contest winner picker, and he's worked his numerical magic again this morning. The winner of the signed copy of PLEASURING THE PIRATE is: (drumroll, please!) DOTTIE!

    Please contact me through my website, Dottie to send me your mailing info. To everyone else, I will be blogging somewhere again soon, so please visit my blog to make sure you don't miss a chance for another freebie. (Plus I enjoy our little chats!)

    Happy Reading,

  31. Congratulations Dottie!!

    So Emily, which activity did you make up? (I hope I didn't miss the answer to this while scanning thru the comments)

  32. Yep, you missed it, Heather. It's the only one that sounds like real work. LOL! I did not spend a summer on a dig in Greenland. Mariee guessed it correctly!