Interview with Ann Lethbridge, Romance Author

I am delighted to have Ann Lethbridge, award-winning Regency romance author, as my guest today. She is one of my favorite authors, and it is a treat for me to have her here. Ann’s newest book is The Duke’s Daring Debutante, and on the occasion of its release, she has graciously consented to be interviewed. I think you will learn at least a few things you did not know about her, and I am certain you will want to read her new book.

Please welcome Ann Lethbridge . . .

Photo of Ann, pale yellow shirt and short brown hair.

Kathryn, thank you so much for inviting me to join you today. I have long been an admirer of your Regency history blog and the level of detail you provide.

You can find more information about me and my books at like me on facebook at or follow me on twitter @annlethbridge. My books are in all stores and on line, the most recent one being The Duke’s Daring Debutante which Romantic Times said is a "must read".

Q:   What is your favorite romance genre, and why?

A:   I have always loved the Regency. Georgette Heyer wrote the first romances I ever read as a teenager and I was totally charmed. I love all kinds of novels, but I always return to the Regency for my most satisfying reads.

Q:   How do you begin thinking about a new story, with the characters or the plot?

A:   I always start with the first scene. It plays out in my head in the way of a movie when I least expect it. And then I have to find out what the story is about, and who these characters are and why they are doing what they are doing.

Q:   When you craft a hero, are you incorporating traits from men you know, or are you writing about a man you have never met, but would like to?

A:   Gosh what an interesting question. I think my heroes are a compilation of many different men, and they mostly develop out of the types of conflict they will face throughout the story. Their core motivation is key to who they are and how they will react to the changing circumstances of the plot. Given that I am happily married and that I have found my hero, I am not dreaming of someone new, but I do enjoy making life as difficult for them as I can, before their achieve their happily ever after by crafting a heroine who will challenge them at every turn.

Q:   Many authors have said that writing the first pages of a new story are the hardest to write. Do you find that to be the case?

A:   Because my story ideas always stem from a scene that is the start of the story, in some ways the opening scene just flows. But in the editing stage, once the story is done and I know the ending, I fuss and fuss with that opening scene writing and rewriting it to get it exactly right. So the answer is, yes… and no. Introducing the characters to the readers while maintaining the balance between revealing just enough to intrigue and giving everything away too soon requires a great deal of thought and work.

Q:   When you begin to write, do you know how the story will end, or does that come to you as part of the process?

A:   I really don’t plot out my stories. I tried plotting a story once and I did lay it all out in detail, but then I couldn’t write the story. I lost interest. I felt as if the story was already written, so I have never done that again. With regard to the ending, sometimes, like the first scene it plays out early in the process and it just a question of building the story towards that ending, sometimes I have no idea how it is going to end and I might have to write three or four endings before they have the emotional impact I am seeking for the reader. Quite often the first ideas are the easiest and one needs to dig deeper to find the heart of the story.

Q:   When you suffer from writer’s block, how do you unblock?

A:   To date I have not suffered from writer’s block as I understand it. I sometimes struggle to create the scene that the story needs, or that drives the story forwards, and I might write one that I ultimately throw away when a better idea comes along, or something later in the book makes me realize I could have written something better, but I have always been able to write something. I subscribe to the idea, that it is better to write something you are not happy with, and fix it, than to write nothing at all. But of course, one never knows how things will go in the future.

Q:   Other than one you have created, who is your favorite romance hero or heroine?

A:   I am dreadfully disloyal. I always love the hero and heroine I am currently reading about until I finish the book, and then I am on to the next. That said, I think I will always love the couple from Flowers From the Storm by Laura Kinsale. The story has stuck with me and I have read it many times because I love the characters and their almost impossible circumstance. But there are many others that I love nearly as much.

Q:   Without spoiling the story for readers, can you share something about your latest romance which is not in the blurb or any available excerpts?

A:   When writing The Duke’s Daring Debutante, out this month, I was interested to learn of the plight of French emigrées who fled to England to avoid the reign of terror and subsequent regime. While there were many nobles who fled, and who were welcomed by British nobility, there were also many ordinary people. Many of them landed up in Southwark on the other side of the Thames, struggling to make a living and receiving very little help. One of these desperate souls plays a very important role in my story.

Q:   Do you have scheduled times to write, or just when you are inspired?

A:   Since I am working under contract and have specific deadlines to meet, I treat like any other job. I get my most creative writing done in the morning and start around nine. I always have a minimum word count to achieve every day. Some days I am able to achive more than this, but I never finish writing until I have acheived this minimum. It can go as quickly as three hours or take all day. After that I work on promotions and responding to readers. If I am at the revision stage of the process, I set myself a certain number of pages, based on the deadline I have been given by my editor.

Q:   If you were not a romance author, what other creative activities would you pursue?

A:   I do have other creative activities unrelated to my writing which I engage in for relaxation. I love to embroider and smock. I usually embroider Christmas cards for family members every year. I do this in the evenings while watching television, mostly. I belong to two needlework guilds and love to get together with others who like needle arts. If I was not writing, I would like do more needlework, but would also like to take art lessons and l take up painting and drawing.

Man in dark coat embraces a woman in a blue dress against a wall in a hallway. They are about to kiss.

The Duke’s Daring Debutante   Blurb

Disgraced by His Grace!

Frederick, Duke of Falconwood, has vowed never to marry, instead dedicating himself to protecting his country. But when he’s caught in a very compromising position with a coquettish debutante, Freddy does the only thing that will salvage her reputation—he proposes marriage!

Even though Minette Rideau craves the stoic duke’s touch, she knows she can’t become his wife. For giving in to her desires will reveal a shameful secret, putting much more than her virtue in jeopardy…

Click here to read an excerpt of The Duke’s Daring Debutante (A Beresford Abbey Story).