Please help me welcome author Jenny Holiday to the blog today!
Tell us more about your book—take us beyond the official “book blurb”.
This book is part of my Regency Reformers series. Most of the big reform movements of the 19th century came later—abolition, women’s suffrage, etc. They really belong to the Victorians. But in doing some research for the first book I wrote in the series (which is actually the last book—I wrote them out of order), I discovered there were some early origins of some of these movements. Regency is my all-time favorite romance genre, so I started to think about inventing some characters who were on this early edge of reform. In this book in particular, I knew I wanted the heroine to be a champion of women’s rights. But the time period I had boxed myself into made it way too early for there to be an organized suffrage movement she could be part of. I poked around a bit and learned that the great writer Mary Wollstonecraft, who wrote, among other things, A Vindication of the Rights of Women, had died not too long before my story took place, and that after her death, her husband published a biography of her that ruined her reputation. She was decried as a woman of loose morals and all that. So that planted the idea for this book. What if my heroine was a superfan of Mary, and determined to rehabilitate her reputation?
Wow—what an inspiration! Automatic shortlist to my TBR!
Give us more info about your main characters—who are they?
Trevor and Lucy grew up in Seven Dials, which was a slum in the early 19th century. They were best friends. Through an unlikely series of events (hey, it’s fiction!) they both escaped into better lives—but separately. The book starts fifteen years later when Trevor is preparing to open a grand hotel. Lucy, who has been a governess, has been turned out onto the streets by her employer for espousing the ideas of the controversial writer Mary Wollstonecraft. With nowhere to go, she shows up on the doorstep of Trevor’s unfinished hotel. They never expected to see each other again, and they each have goals that the other one could help with—or could threaten.
Of course 😉
What scene in your book was the most fun to write, and why?
A lot of the book is kind of dark. The characters have both had rocky pasts, and their alliance in the story is an uneasy one. There is one scene where they go have ices (kind of a Regency version of a snow cone) after a nasty confrontation with the bad guy. In it, Trevor, our hero, thinks how strange but appealing it is to set aside his cares (he’s a spy, so he has a lot of cares!) for a moment and “marvel at the incredible occasion of sitting with Lucy, eating an ice, and talking about firing a maid at the hotel they ran together.” I felt that same sense of relief writing that scene. It was fun to just let them sit in the sunshine and be happy for a moment before resuming torturing them!
Women’s rights AND a spy? It’s like you wrote this for me…
How long have you been writing, and what (or who) inspired you to start?
I’ve been writing romance for seven years, though my first book wasn’t published until last year. I didn’t discover romance until about eight or nine years ago, when I was in my early 30s—I was a late bloomer! I had always worked as a writer on the day job side of things, and at one point, I put down a book (it actually wasn’t a very good one!) and said, “How hard can this be?” Well…it turned out it was actually really, really hard. And the universe punished my for my hubris with several years of rejection before I got the hang of it!
OMG, yes—I’ve had that “How hard can this be? I can write better than this!” feeling too. The universe has a sick sense of humor.
What do you like best about being a writer?
My whole life I have had scenes and snippets of narratives floating around in my head. I can remember playing these scenes in my head like movies as far back as elementary school. It didn’t occur to me for DECADES to try to write some of them down, to expand them into books. The fact that I get to do that now is a total thrill.
What is the most challenging part of being a writer?
Finding the time to do it. Like most writers, I can’t float the boat with what I earn from my books, so I have a day job. It can be hard to squeeze out enough time to write and to do the other stuff writers have to do—edits, promotion, etc.
What are you working on right now? What can readers look for from you in the next year?
Well, book 3 of the Regency Reformers series is coming out later this summer. If you’ve read the first two books, you’ll be familiar with the somewhat scandalous Catharine. Book 3, which is actually a prequel, is her story. In October, I’m releasing book 3 in my 49th Floor series, which is a contemporary series set in Toronto. As for what I’m writing right now, I’m working on a first draft of a novella set in the 1980s that’s going to be part of an anthology of stories inspired by 1980s songs. It has been a total blast to revisit 1980s fashions and Valley Girl slang. “Gag me with a spoon!” Remember that?
Sadly, yes I do. Vividly…
What authors and/or books have inspired you?
So many. My mom was a librarian, so I grew up loving books. In terms of romance specifically, my favorite historical author is probably Courtney Milan, particularly her Brothers Sinister series. She can put a story together like no one else. And my favorite contemporary author is Kristan Higgins. Her books just make me so happy!
OMG, me too! Kristan Higgins gets me all fan-girly. So does Courtney Milan. (And yay for mom librarians!)
What are you currently reading?
I’m finally getting with the program and reading Outlander! I never thought I would be a fan of time travel romance (I may be the only person in the world who was kind of “meh” about The Time Traveller’s Wife), but I stand corrected on Outlander!
Huh—and I was the opposite way. Loved TTTW, “meh” on OUTLANDER. But I’m going to try it again…
Please share a favorite scene from your book with our readers.
This scene takes place in Lucy’s room in Trevor’s hotel. The two of them are still getting used to the grown up versions of each other—they were best friends as kids, but are just reunited as adults. Trevor is battling some serious lust for the grown-up Lucy. At this point in the story, she is helping him get ready for the hotel’s grand opening. This scene picks up when she has decorated a room for him to inspect. The two of them have had an ongoing joking debate about how he is kind of a slob, and he’s known for his stance that making one’s bed is just a waste of time.
Suddenly, as ill-advised as it was, he wanted very much to shock the grown-up Lucy. “There’s only one thing wrong with this room,” he said. Her brow furrowed, and she looked around, trying to work out what his complaint could be. Watching her the whole time, he walked over to the bed and yanked the counterpane down, mussed the sheets, and threw one of the perfectly placed pillows on the floor.
The blush deepened, but she didn’t break from his gaze. “This is how you would greet guests?” she exclaimed, incredulous. “You want the bedchambers of your paying guests to feature mussed beds?”
“No. My guests will have your perfectly assembled, tidy beds, all wrapped up like exquisite presents. It is merely my own bed I prefer mussed. Or the beds of those whose rooms I visit.”
She closed her eyes then, just for a moment, but it inspired an odd spike of masculine pride to know he’d affected her. He was a boy again, playing pranks on her. He shifted a little, his breeches having grown uncomfortably tight. All right, maybe not exactly like when he was a boy.
What was the matter with him today?
Fantastic! Thanks so much, Jenny–great interview!
Keep reading to find out more about Jenny, her new book, and to enter the giveaway!
Jenny Holiday started writing in fourth grade, when her awesome hippie teacher, between sessions of Pete Seeger singing and anti-nuclear power plant letter writing, gave the kids notebooks and told them to write stories. Most of Jenny’s featured poltergeist, alien invasions, or serial killers who managed to murder everyone except her and her mom. She showed early promise as a romance writer, though, because nearly every story had a happy ending: fictional Jenny woke up to find that the story had been a dream, and that her best friend, father, and sister had not, in fact, been axe-murdered. From then on, she was always writing, often in her diary, where she liked to decorate her declarations of existential angst with nail polish teardrops. Eventually she channelled her penchant for scribbling into a more useful format. After picking up a PhD in urban geography, she became a professional writer, and has spent many years promoting research at a major university, which allows her to become an armchair stronomer/historian/particle physicist, depending on the day. Eventually, she decided to try her hand again at happy endings–minus the bloodbaths. You can follow her twitter accounts @jennyholi and @TropeHeroine or visit her on the web at jennyholiday.com.
About the Book:
Trevor Bailey is on the cusp of opening the greatest hotel in London. His days as a gutter snipe are behind him, as he enjoys a life of wealth, society, and clandestine assignments as a spy in the service of His Majesty. Until one tumultuous night churns up the past he’d long left behind…
Turned out by her employer for her radical beliefs, Lucy Greenleaf reaches out to the man who was once her most beloved friend. She never expected that the once-mischievous Trevor would be so handsome and gentleman-like and neither can deny the instant attraction.
But Lucy’s reformer ways pose a threat to the hotel’s future and his duties as a spy. Now Trevor must choose between his new life and the woman he’s always loved…