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Friday, January 11, 2013

Interview & #Giveaway with Wendy Vella, author of The Reluctant Countess! #FMBAuthor

Today I have an author AND character interview plus giveaway for you! :) Read on below for my interview with author Wendy Vella and Lord Coulter (Patrick) from The Reluctant Countess!

Holly: Hi! Would you tell us a little bit about yourself? :)

Wendy Vella: Firstly thanks so much for asking me to visit your wonderful site!

My parents are English so I’m a first generation Kiwi, born and raised in the North Island of New Zealand. My husband Blake and I have been married for 28 yrs and he’s one of those special males that is comfortable with who he is, even when he’s hanging my knickers on the line. We have two children Soph 25yrs and Nate 22yrs and they have morphed from hideous teenagers into pretty exceptional adults which is a total surprise to their father and I. Our house is usually full with extras, at the moment we have an Irishman who came to visit three years ago and is still in residence. I’m a fairly positive person for the most and if something gets me down the lure of chocolate will snap me out of it pretty quickly. I tend to spend any spare moment with my head in a book or typing so the friends and family still hanging around are keepers in my opinion as they put up with my unsociable habits. I’ve recently lost quite a bit of weight and am enjoying the ability to walk into a shop and purchase of the rack, however bypassing the donut store still doesn’t sit well with me. I have two wonderful dogs called Billy and Molly who have worked out when my husband says know that I will say yes.

Holly: What do you do when you are not writing?

Wendy Vella: I read a lot, and when I’m not reading I’m usually out on the road cycling. My husband and I have been doing this crazy sport for a few years now and love it. We also follow rugby when we can and are often found on the sideline of our son’s games. I spend a great deal of time with my family too, so my time is pretty well occupied 24/7.

Holly: Do you write an outline before starting a book or just write?

Wendy Vella: I usually just write when the idea comes to me. I have tried plotting a couple of books but I’m an impatient person so if I have something that needs to be put on paper I usually just start at the beginning and finish with the end. I make a lot of notes during the writing though and they get dealt with in the second draft. I have tried a few different techniques but this one seems to work best for me.

Holly: Is there an author or book that influenced you or your writing in any way growing up or as an adult?

Wendy Vella: The reason I write regency historical novels is because of Georgette Heyer, These Old Shades was the book my sister gave me many years ago and I was entranced from the first page, so I would say she had the greatest influence on my choice of genre. Since then there have been many authors who have influenced me, Eloisa James, Lisa Kleypas, Catherine Coulter, Julia Quinn and many more.   

Holly: I know authors get asked this a lot but do you have any advice that you would give to aspiring writers?

Wendy Vella: Entering competitions and getting feedback is important. The first competition I entered I got some fairly harsh criticisms but it made me stronger and more determined. It’s sometimes hard to put your work out there for someone to critique but after a while you get used to it and more importantly you’ll begin to have the confidence you need to submit it. Joining a writing organization is also worthwhile; I really didn’t start to move forward with my own writing until I joined Romance Writers of New Zealand. These groups are filled with knowledgeable like minded people who are usually more than happy to help.

Holly: Can you tell us, in your own words not the book description, a little about your book?

Wendy Vella: The Reluctant Countess is set in the Regency Era. It is a story about two people Patrick, the hero, and Sophie, the heroine, who were born to different circumstances, but are destined to meet amongst the intriguing and often wicked world of London society. It’s about leaning to trust when you have never had reason to before and about overcoming the odds to find love. It’s a Cinderella style story with plenty of quirky characters to move the story along. There are misunderstandings and passion, laughter and
adventure in this book, and of course there is a very happy ending. 

Holly: Which came first for you, the characters or the plot?

Wendy Vella: The plot came first in ‘The Reluctant Countess.’ I found a competition that I had thought to enter and you were given a scenario of a ballroom, a handsome Lord and pretty Countess and you had to write the story from there. Unfortunately I never got around to entering the competition but the book worked out alright in the end!

Holly: Where can we purchase this book?

Wendy Vella: “THE RELUCTANT COUNTESS” can be purchased from Random House INC

Holly: Are you reading anything interesting at the moment? If so, what is it?

Wendy Vella: I’m reading Eloisa James – The Duke Is Mine and loving every word.

Holly: How much of you or people you know do you think make it into the characters in your novel(s)?

Wendy Vella: I think there are always parts of yourself and the people you know in your characters. Sometimes when I’m struggling to see a character I think about the people around me and try to pick out the traits that would best suit them. I once turned a person who I was not very fond of into an evil crime lord who met a really nasty end.

Holly: Why this genre(s)?

Wendy Vella: I love history and most especially the regency era. I always believe you’re only limited by your imagination when you write about an era you have never lived in. From the moment I picked up my first historical novel I was hooked. So many wonderful authors have created wonderful stories and with each one my desire to write about this time grew. I also spent a few years in London soaking up first hand experiences of the buildings and places I now write about.  

Holly: Can you tell us a few do’s and don’ts for aspiring authors?

Wendy Vella: I think it’s really important to write what you love and not what you believe will sell. Writing has to be emotive and if you’re not really involved in what you’re doing it will show.   
The other thing I would say is finish the book! It took me years to write my first book because I keep going back and changing things. A wise person told me to make notes as I go in the margins but just keep writing until the end and that is how I’ve written since.    

Holly: Do you have anything you would like to say to your readers?

Wendy Vella: Firstly can I say how wonderful it is to have readers! I hope they love ‘The Reluctant Countess’ as much as I did when I was writing it. If I can get them to laugh, cry and enjoy the journey to happy ever after with my hero Patrick and my heroine Sophie then I believe that I have completed the job I set out to do.
Holly: What is your favorite quote, by whom, and why?

Wendy Vella: Being defeated is only a temporary condition; giving up is what makes it permanent.--Marilyn vos Savant, Author and Advice Columnist

Holly: Tell me a bit about yourself Patrick, if I may call you Patrick?

Patrick: Patrick will do as we are well acquainted, but for the most part I would prefer to be called Lord Coulter or my Lord. I am the head of my family which has a long line of illustrious if not always scrupulous ancestors. I don’t suffer fools except for Stephen Lord Sumner as he was foisted on me from childhood. I manage my estates and family members with a firm hand and have interests in many successful business ventures. 

Holly: You attended a ball tonight Patrick and I believe you danced with many beautiful woman was there any one that stood out amongst the others?

Patrick: Have you been talking to Lord Sumner? Because my interest in the Countess is strictly confined to my belief that she is charlatan and nothing more. Yes she is beautiful-stunning in fact, there is no one her equal in society, yet I will tell you what I told him, she is a fraud and I will unearth her secrets and expose her to society.

Holly: What single thing or goal do you want most in life?

Patrick: It’s important for a man in my position to fulfill his responsibilities with honor and integrity and that is something I never lose sight of, but I don’t think that could be termed a goal. Perhaps there is one thing I want above all others, something that in this world filled with fakes and frauds and woman who care only how deep your pockets are I do not expect to achieve. Could there possibly be someone in my world that is real, someone I can share my life with? I imagine not.

Holly: What do you fear most?

Patrick: That one day I will stop caring and become like them. My parents were all that was cold and unfeeling and believed anyone of inferior birth was beneath their consideration. The world I live in is filled with people like them yet I cannot allow myself to follow that path. I must hold my values close, and my determination to change the lives of those less fortunate than myself, closer.

Holly: What’s your world like?

Patrick: I live a life filled with the trappings of wealth. I should be happy because appearances suggest I have everything I could ever want. My table is always full and my clothes are cut from the finest cloth and I have more money than I will ever be able to spend. Sometimes however the loneliness is a burden almost too heavy to bear. I am invited to the most prestigious events in society and sort after by every single woman of marriageable age, and their mothers, but to go home alone each evening sometimes sees me walking the floors until dawn. To summarize I live a life many envy yet few achieve, and for that I should be excessively grateful.

Holly: Are you presently in love Patrick or developing any tender feelings for a lady?

Patrick: I’m not good with expressing my feelings, good or bad, however I will say that tonight I experienced something that I have never experienced before. I was hiding from a particularly persistent woman on a small balcony and found Sophie Countess of Monmouth perched on a narrow window ledge above me. I felt a pain in my chest that she had placed herself in danger, if I had to define the emotion I would say that panic gripped me and it did not ease until I had her down and in my arms .  

Holly: Sum up your life in the last few weeks in 150 words or less.

Patrick: Well I would have once called it ordered yet it has taken a drastic turn of late. It’s her of course; she seems to be constantly in my life now. Last night she appeared on my doorstep dressed in her nightgown. She was shaken, terrified and carrying a long iron bar of all things. I realized then that although I had been fighting it, my life would never again be the same, because I no longer considered myself the only person in it. Everything has changed and my sole determination is now to protect her from the danger that would take her from me. I have found my mate, the partner I only dreamed of finding and I will do everything in my power to ensure we grow old together.

Holly: Do you have any words of wisdom you think everyone should live by?

Patrick: Arrogance has its place yet treat people fairly and life will present you with less challenges.

Holly: If you could change one thing of your past would you? If so, what would it be and why?

Patrick: Regrets never achieve anything but what I would say is never let your parents define you or the path you take, unless it is the right path for you.

Wendy Vella is a lover of all things romantic. She started reading her first Georgette Heyer book at a young age and instantly fell in love with the Regency era. Writing is something she has always found time for; she penned her first novel at eighteen though she says it will never make an appearance further than the closet in which it currently resides.
After having her two children Wendy then joined RWNZ and started honing her chosen craft by entering competitions with some success and attending conferences. Her Clendon and Readers Choice award-winning historical romance The Reluctant Countess will debut in Jan 2013 with Random House in their Loveswept line.
She has an addiction to reading and loves a wide range of genres while her first love will always be historical. She relishes novels steeped in Romance and excitement with feisty heroines and delicious heroes, especially when they are set amongst the treacherous waters of London society.
Wendy is a sucker for a happy ending having secured her own. She has been married to her own dark brooding hero for 28 years and shares her home with two wonderful children, two dogs and anyone else who happens to be visiting at the time. Born and raised in a rural area in the North Island of New Zealand, Wendy loves the beaches and lush green rolling hills of her homeland and is proud to call herself a very patriotic Kiwi!

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