Oh, I just love second-chance romances, and they are even better when they are set in the Regency. The newest romance from author Constance Hussey, my guest today, is Trusting Lord Summerton, a second-chance story in which both parties are afraid to risk their hearts. Constance has graciously consented to an interview, during which I have discovered that we have similar views both on the importance of romance novels as well as their continued popularity well into the future.
May I introduce Constance Hussey . . .
Q: Do you remember the first romance novel you ever read? What did you like best about it?
A: It’s hard to say, exactly, but I think it was Rosemary Rodgers’ Sweet Savage Love. I’d never read such a sweeping, passionate story. Steve and Ginny felt so real to me, they almost jumped from the pages into my head. I was also enthralled by Sergeanne Golon’s Angelique series. History, intrigue, sex! It was totally wow.
Q: Is there any romance author you particularly admire, and if so, why?
A: Jayne Anne Krentz—anyone who writes in three different genres as Ms. Krentz does, is, in my mind, an amazingly talented author. Her three worlds are very different and skillfully built. The characters are unique and can be very funny. I also like that the stories entertain on their own merits, without dependence on numerous sex scenes. The tension develops gradually and the lovemaking, when it arrives, is never excessive or overdone.
Q: How do you begin thinking about a new story, with the characters or the plot?
A: Usually it starts with some piece of history that has caught my interest. I love history, and the Napoleonic War is a particular favorite of mine. Several of my books evolved from ‘what if’ scenarios relating to that period. What effect would the Peninsular War have had on a young woman who lived through it? How would she rebuild her life? Or, how could an Englishman successfully carry out a mission to France during the short-lived truce following the Treaty of Amiens? So in some instances it’s the plot that comes first, and the characters are created to ‘fill the mission’ so to speak. But sometimes it’s a secondary character that leads to another story. During the long course of writing a book, I get attached to certain people and their stories start to percolate in my brain. For instance, a gentleman who plays a part in A Love Laid Bare takes the lead in Trusting Lord Summerton, and several others of their friends want their own books, too. Which is how I became involved in writing a series—something I’d never planned to do.
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: Not especially. I have a harder time writing the first paragraph, particularly the first line. I often revise it repeatedly before I am satisfied. Once the opening feels right, usually the story flows from there.
Q: Did your latest romance just flow as you wrote or was it a battle to capture in words, or something in between?
A: Trusting Lord Summerton was a difficult book to write. Because the heroine has suffered through an abusive marriage prior to the opening of the story, I had to find a way to share some of her experiences without burdening my reader with overly graphic details. It was also a challenge to present the hero in a believable way, since it fell to him to overcome Mary’s fear and distrust of men.
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: Generally I have a very rough outline of the entire story in my head before I start to write, or at least a premise. I don’t work up a written outline of the book, but do create bios for the main characters containing physical descriptions, personalities, and family backgrounds. I’ve found it important to have some idea of what shaped my hero and heroine into the persons they are at the beginning of the story. Then I build on those experiences as they develop and grow. My plots are quite fluid in the beginning as I tend to allow the characters to lead the way. They do take on a life of their own, at least in my experience, and are better left to evolve naturally. Of course, it’s up to me to make sure that they stick at least roughly to my story. Otherwise things can get overly complicated and implausible. I tend to have a pretty big cast of characters in my books—I can’t seem to write a story without at least one child in it—and it’s hard at times to avoid having the supporting characters overshadow the hero and heroine.
Q: Other than one you have created, who is your favorite romance hero or heroine?
A: Dorothy Dunnet’s Francis Crawford of Lymond. Although her books are more historical novels than romances, love is an integral part of the series—not just that of Lymond and Philippa, but also the love between parent and child, brothers and friends. Certainly the fact that Lymond is brilliant, clever, handsome, and endlessly inventive enters into my choice as well!
Q: Where is your favorite place to write?
A: I am fortunate in having an office in my home where I can write without interruption—which has the added bonus of being large enough to house my extensive collection of research books. Even with the ever-helpful internet, there is nothing to match being able to leaf through a book of English country houses, for example, when creating a setting. And since I write historicals, this kind of thing pops up frequently.
Q: Do you have scheduled times to write, or just when you are inspired?
A: I try to write every morning for at least 3–4 hours. But actually, I frequently write in the evening or during the afternoon. It depends on how well the story is going.
Q: Are your friends and family supportive of your craft?
A: My husband is tremendously supportive. He reads all my material and gives me invaluable feedback. Historical romance is not something he would otherwise read, so his comments and suggestions are totally objective. I also have a group of friends, most writers themselves, who give me honest opinions of my work. I’d be lost without them. Writing is such a solitary profession, and really, most folks don’t want to hear you talk about your books and your writing problems. So it’s nice to talk to other writers about writing.
Q: Beyond the satisfaction of the happily-ever-after ending, in your opinion, what else does reading a romance novel offer its readers?
A: Oh, a huge opportunity to learn! Romances today not only take place in a variety of settings and encompass other cultures; they expose readers to multitude of life events. Stories that deal with child abuse, spousal abuse, poverty, prejudice, war are not always pleasant to read, but we need these reminders that these problems exist—and can be overcome. That’s the real message in a romance, I think. Love can prevail.
Q: What do you think is the most common misperception today about romance novels held by those who have never read one?
A: That simply because they are love stories, they are poorly written and nothing but ‘disguised’ pornography—which is, of course, a total fallacy. Romance novels tell engaging stories of ordinary men and women attempting to achieve a satisfying life under often-difficult circumstances. They deal with societal issues that are relevant to many people, and are almost always well written—bad writers don’t last long!
Q: Will romance still be as popular a hundred years from now as it is today?
A: Absolutely. I personally can’t envision a world so perfect that we don’t need stories about the wonder of love.
Trusting Lord Summerton Blurb
Now that she was free, Mary would never again allow another man into her life. Her battered heart was closed to friend and lover alike—but it was not closed to revenge. As eager as she was to bring down her enemy, however, she could not do it alone. She had to accept help—help which might be more dangerous than anything her foe might contrive. For the outstretched hand belonged to a man she had betrayed—her once fiancé, Lord Summerton, and she feared that deep in her heart lay the long-buried embers of the love they once shared.
Lord Summerton knew he was a fool to even think of tangling with Mary. She was trouble with a vengeance and he already had enough complexity in his life. He was sure their love had been but a young man’s fancy. Still, to see her so wounded and not offer his aid was beyond him—even knowing that a second betrayal would damage him past mending.
Buy Links for Trusting Lord Summerton:
Barnes & Noble: http://www.barnesandnoble.com/w/trusting-lord-summerton-constance-hussey/1122589702?ean=2940152115901
About the Author
The moment Constance stepped into the library during her first week of school she was enthralled by the stories hidden within all those books. The enchantment never faded, and with a head full of romance, history and adventure, she began to conjure up her own characters and send them venturing forth into imaginary worlds. A strong interest in 19th century English history, in particular the Napoleonic Wars, led her to set her historical romances in the Regency-era. Although stories have been living in Constance’s head for many years, it is only in the past five years that she began writing seriously. Originally writing under the pen name, Diana Hussey-to reflect the collaboration with her sister Diana in producing her first two books—Constance now writes independently under her own name.
Connect with Constance online at: