Margaret Locke swept into the romance market and took it by storm. Her debut novel, A Man of Character, met with startling success, and because she’s incredible, she wrote and released the second book, A Matter of Time, within the same year.
She’s amazing, y’all, and I’m proud to know her in real life. She encourages me every day on my own writing journey. So come, grab a cup of tea (or coffee, if that’s your thing) and a British biscuit and get to know Margaret a little better as we discuss her newest book baby.
1.) A Matter of Time changes settings from the bookstore we know and love in A Man of Character. What led to the decision to introduce a new setting?
Historical romance is my one true love, and I’ve always intended to write Regency romance. It’s an era I adore; I can’t seem to get enough of dukes and debutantes, viscounts and bluestockings, marquesses and misses…you get the picture.
I’ve also intended from the beginning to link my stories together – it’s a technique I’ve read many a time from beloved authors such as Julia Quinn, Eloisa James, and Sabrina James: take a secondary character from one tale and make him/her the main character in the next. Not only does it supposedly hook the reader (it definitely hooks me!), but it also lets me keep playing with characters of whom I’m not quite ready to let go.
So, really, my problem was, how the heck do I connect a contemporary, US-set, chick lit book and its characters with my love for Regency England? Because as much as I wanted to start out in Jane Austen’s arena, the premise behind A Man of Character took hold and wouldn’t let go, and before I knew it, I’d written a book in a completely different genre than I ever thought I would.
That dilemma, of how to join my books together, was actually the driving force behind Eliza’s very fun storyline in A Man of Character. I’ve been a fan of time-travel romance since my teens – I read a lot of Constance Day-O’Flannery in the ‘80s, devoured Lynn Kurland’s medieval/modern time-travel romances, and Jude Devereaux’s A Knight in Shining Armor remains in my Top Five Romances of All Time. Something about having to think through what it would be like for a man or woman to hop from one time to another has always intrigued me (probably the historian in me). It helps make the past more real, by examining the differences (and similarities) between then and now, and imaging what a character would experience/react to/dislike/love. Of course, a lot of the stuff I ruminated about either never made it into or got cut from the book, because really, talking about hygiene issues doesn’t usually move the romance along. (Though, seriously, no toilet paper?) Editor’s note: Who doesn’t love talking about Tampax vs. Playtex? I mean, really?
2.) Eliza and Cat were Ethel and Lucy, Thelma and Louise, Thing One and Thing Two in A Man of Character. Can we have a peek at the new interest in Eliza’s life now that Cat is no longer there to play off of?
This was definitely a challenge. I mean, who can replace Cat? No one.
So instead of one female friend, I gave Eliza the potential of four: Deveric’s sisters, Amara, Grace, Emmeline, and Rebecca. Amara, with her rather Eeyorish outlook on life and men (with good reason), and Grace, an introvert more interested in books than suitors, probably come closest to Cat’s personality. Emmeline, with her bouncy, light-hearted (occasionally empty-headed) approach to the world, and Rebecca, with her love of horses and disdain for most girly things, provide a good, fun, counterbalance to their more serious elder siblings, and all give Eliza a chance at finding female companionship.
3.) Authors live in dread of creating stale, flat characters that have less depth than a child’s sippy cup. I don’t think you have anything to fear with Deveric. Can you give us a sneak peek into his life? What are the skeletons in his closet, and how does he lay those to rest without terrorizing Eliza?
I think one needs to read the book to get the full answer to this one [read: if I give a full response, it’d be spoiler-laden].
Short answer? Deveric’s haunted by what he thinks is his role in his wife’s death. It shadows him, and has determined his behavior for a number of years. Better to focus on his role as duke, as head of the family, as the one to keep his siblings in line, than to give any thought to himself or what he might need.
Luckily, he’s got two friends, James Bradley, the Duke of Arthington, and Morgan Collinswood, the Marquess of Emerlin (any Merlin fans in the crowd?), to try to prod him out of his shell, though it will take one American widow to really smash through his defenses. I think it’s more likely that she terrorizes him, than the other way around, because she has this irritating ability to make him feel again.
4.) Is it true that Jane Austen, THE Jane Austen, makes an appearance in this book? If you were to meet Jane Austen today, what are the first three things you would say to her?
It might be. After all, Cat does specifically say in her story for Eliza “I decree that Eliza James shall have at some point the opportunity to meet Miss Jane Austen in person.” Not that Cat knows if her magical powers extend that far.
As for me, I totally want to know about Miss Austen’s love life – or alleged lack thereof. What’s the real story with Tom LeFroy? Did she have her own personal Mr. Darcy? And then to show I’m not only centered on romance, I’d want to know her experiences of being a bright, intelligent woman in an era in which women’s roles were much more limited than today.
Oh, you asked the first three things I’d actually say? Probably something like this: “Oh my God, I can’t believe it. Are you really Jane Austen? No WAY!” Because I’m cool like that.
5.) And my favorite question I ask any guest author on my site: if you were ordered to strand yourself on a desert island with only a corset, a Regency ball gown, and the latest copy of the ton’s society pages, what four things would you choose to take with you?
You ask every author that question? Because I’m dying to know what the spec fic or YA fantasy authors answer.
And wait, four in addition to those three? Assuming I DIDN’T have to limit myself to items only available in the early nineteenth century, I’d say:
- Toilet paper
- Toothbrush and tooth paste
- My magically solar-powered iPad, complete with wifi (I did say magic), so I can read and Facebook and Netflix to my heart’s content.
- My husband. Because I love him, and it would make that island experience much more fun, and much less lonely.
So, uh, in other words, I’d probably suck at the whole “suddenly in the Regency thing.” I like my modern conveniences. And perhaps I’d amend number four to be “my husband IN A HOT TUB,” because then we’d stay clean (and relaxed!), as well.
Check out A Matter of Time on Amazon for yourself!
Love comes when least expected.
Nobody would blame widowed doctoral student Eliza James for giving up on Happily Ever After; at twenty-nine, she’s suffered more loss than most people do in a lifetime. But Eliza’s convinced her own hero is still out there, waiting for her, just like in the beloved romance novels she devours. Every girl deserves a Darcy, right?
Only Eliza doesn’t dream of a modern-day affair: she wants the whole Regency experience. When a magical manuscript thrusts her back two hundred years into the arms and life of one Deveric Mattersley, Duke of Claremont, however, Eliza soon realizes some fantasies aren’t all they’re cracked up to be, especially when her duke proves himself less than a Prince Charming.
Deveric Mattersley has no interest in women, much less marriage. Determined to atone for his sins after convincing himself he’s at fault for the death of his first wife, he decrees himself content to focus on running his family’s estates, and on raising his son–until the mysterious Mrs. James appears. Who is she? What does she want? And why does she make Dev’s blood run hot in a way no woman ever has?