Books with Buzz: Sherry Thomas Interview and Giveaway (Contest Closed)

ThomasI’ve made no secret of the fact that I love the books of Sherry Thomas.  And, with His at Night scheduled for release on May 25th, those who love historical romance as much as I do have reason to celebrate.  As one of the author’s biggest fans, I’ll say that this one is a bit different in some ways from what we’ve come to expect from her.  Still, with that said,  I never forgot for one moment that I was reading a book by Sherry Thomas since the emotional intensity and the sophisticated prose that I’ve come to expect from her are absolutely there.  To put it simply, I loved it.

To mark the release, I’ve got five copies of His at Night to give away to five lucky AAR readers.  To enter for your chance to win, simply comment to this post by 11:59 p.m. on Wednesday, May 12.  Winners will be announced here and also notified by email.  You know the caveats by now, but just to spell them out:  This giveaway is open only to readers in the United States and Canada and, since our purpose is to get early copies into the hands of readers who wouldn’t otherwise have access, if you review for another Web site or blog, please don’t enter.

But, first it’s time to hear from Sherry.

Sherry, let’s start with the Books with Buzz official Opening Question:  Would you tell AAR readers a bit about His at Night?

His at Night has no flashbacks!  Somehow my first three published books all featured reunited lovers in one form or another, so His at Night will be the first time that I do not rely upon a prior relationship to build tension and conflict.

As for specifically what the story is about, it revolves around a forced marriage between two people who want nothing to do with each other.

Lord Vere, secret agent for the Crown, is generally believed to be an affable, bumbling idiot.  Elissande Edgerton is so desperate to escape her abusive uncle that even Vere would do for a husband—although the idea of being married to him makes her stomach drop to her knees.

And then we see how they come to realize that the other person is not at all what s/he seems.  That they are, in fact, really, really perfect for each other.

(He does take some persuading, I must say.)

This one felt a bit different to me than your earlier books – not quite as angsty, I think it’s fair to say.  In fact, I’d almost call it a bit of romp.  Almost. Did you set out to write a different kind of book or did it just happen?

Yes, I do think that compared to say, Not Quite a Husband, it is almost a romp. Almost.

But as it stands, His at Night is actually much darker than what I had originally intended.   (My agent, when she first read the synopsis I’d submitted to Bantam, thought I meant to write a farce.)

There is a lot of funny—I hope—stuff going on as Vere and Elissande try to keep their true selves hidden.  But underneath the romp, the emotional core—stuff I want to see in a romance—is definitely there.  It’s a book about becoming less lonely in the world, as all my books are.

Which leads me to my next question.  What came first, the story or the characters?  Was there anything different about your process in writing this book as opposed to the first three?

The story came first this time.

The process was indeed different from my prior books in that I was barely acquainted with this idea before I started.  For example, almost a year before I started on Not Quite a Husband, I already knew I wanted to write that story, and I already knew what the bones of the story would be.

His at Night came of a spur-of-the-moment inspiration.  I’d originally planned to write a different book, but my proposal was rejected.  So I was casting around, rather desperately, for an idea.  (I am a very idea-deficient writer and almost never have spares.)

I decided to look to Meredith Duran.  I read the opening chapters of Written on Your Skin, which featured a girl who’s not the dumb bunny she pretends to be and a guy who isn’t quite as nice as he first appears.  And I said, “Aha!”  Reverse the genders of the characters, and I had my story.

Sherry, over the past several years there has been a strong resurgence in enthusiasm from online readers for historical romance, largely due to you, Meredith Duran, Tessa Dare, Elizabeth Hoyt, and Joanna Bourne.   Do you know if all that enthusiasm and buzz has translated into sales?  In other words, three or four years ago the industry buzz was that the Historical Romance was in a downward spiral.  Dare I hope that things have gotten better?

It will be hard to argue that Historical Romance is still on a downward spiral, certainly not with so many new authors coming on the scene so strongly.  And Elizabeth Hoyt has made the New York Times list already, probably to be followed soon by Tessa Dare, who has another trilogy out this summer.

But I think the genre is still, at the moment, rather constrained by what has come before, i.e., what is known to sell well.  Sometimes I rather miss those free-wheeling days when historical romances could be set anywhere around any pair of lovers. Not that I’m particularly yearning to read or write a story that takes place in the Sahara Desert or anything, but a little more variety wouldn’t hurt historical romance.

Have you ever felt pressured to write a series?

My publisher definitely would not mind if I proposed a series.  So the problem is on my end.  I can barely scrape together enough ideas for one book at a time, the thought that I should know in advance about what happens to five brothers or six girlfriends overwhelms me completely.

What (and who) are you reading and enjoying these days?

I’ve really been enjoying Megan Whalen Turner’s Thief series, especially late in the second book, when it turns into an awesome, awesome romance.  It is nominally a YA series, but the themes and motifs are very grown-up.

To be more romance specific, I laughed all the way through Meredith Duran’s Wicked Becomes You.  And I’m very much looking forward to reading Julie James.

You’ve teased before that you’re writing a contemporary.  Details, please.  And I’ll also take a side order of Reassurance that You’re Still Going to Be Writing Historical Romance.

I am definitely going to be still writing historical romance, so there’s your side order, ma’am.

As for the contemporary, it has hit a bump.  I finished it, but two readers have both reported that they have problems with the heroine.  Basically, my approach to this book was empirically wrong.   Because I wrote it only to please myself, I structured the heroine to be everything I’d like to be—a mathematician living in Manhattan, who is awesome fun and wicked cool.  So mistake number 1, she was a Mary Sue.

And then somewhere along the way I fell for the hero in the book.  So then mistake number 2, heroine’s choices are not necessarily organic, but author driven because the smitten author wanted more time with the hero.

LOL, does that make sense?

I’ll have to find time to fix it at some point.

And, to wrap things up, here we go with the official Books with Buzz Closer:  What’s next for Sherry Thomas?

There is nothing set in stone yet.  I’ve just submitted my next historical proposal and am very enthusiastic about it.  The story itself is a revenge-gone-wrong plot combined with a mystery-lover plot—and there’s nothing I love more than writing about people who aren’t quite what they seem.

It’s been a great pleasure to be here.  Thank you, Sandy.  Thank you, AAR.

And thanks as always to Sherry.  To enter for your chance to win an early copy of His at Night simply comment to this post by 11:59 p.m. on Wednesday, May 12.  Good luck to everyone!

- Sandy AAR

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