Interview with Emery Lee

Emery Lee is a lifelong equestrienne and history buff  who loves nothing more than a romantic story that also provides  food for the intellect. Her debut novel THE HIGHEST STAKES is an epic tale of star-cross lovers set in the high stakes world of 18th century horse racing. In FORTUNE’S SON, Emery spins a web of drama, passion, and deceit deep in the world of high stakes gaming. She currently resides in NE Georgia with her husband of twenty-eight years, two sons, a little dog with a big attitude, and her two horses. She is represented by Nicole Resciniti of The Seymour Agency and is a member of the Historical Novel Society, Romance Writers of America, Georgia Romance Writers, and is the group moderator for Goodreads Romantic Historical Fiction Lovers.

Hi Emery, thanks for being here at Reading Romances! As this is a blog focused on romance books, I have to ask you: who are your romance “goddesses”?

I don’t read much romance outside the domain of historicals but within that subgenre I woudl have to list several: Georgette Heyer (Ms. Heyer is the prima goddess!) Lisa Kleypas, Pamela Clare, Laura Kinsale, Loretta Chase, Janna Bourne, Judith  James , Elizabeth Hoyt just to name a few off the top of my head. What a list! I’m sure I’ve overlooked many but tried to think of my DIK list in naming them.  Oh, two new favorites are Grace Burrowes and Lucinda Brant for her Georgian era RH novels.

Do you have a top 5 for your favorite heroes?

Or the first 5 you can think of I forgot to mantion Diana Gabladon as one of my “goddesses”. Her character Jamie Frazer is a fantabulous hero although I don’t care much for his soul mate Claire (Most times I want to shake her until her teeth rattle!  Next is Loretta Chase’ hero Sebastian from Lord of Scoundrels and Lord Damerel from Georgette Heyers’ Venetia. I also LOVED  Iain MacKinnon from Palmela Clare’s SURRENDER and most of all Philip Drake from FORTUNE’S SON. I know it’s a shamless plug to mention my own character but if I wasn’t in love with him, I never would have given him his own book after THE HIGHEST STAKES!

Since we’re talking about characters, how do you like your heroes and heroines to be?  Do you have a specific preference when creating your main couple?

I never “plan” my characters. I don’t know who they are until they appear in my head. Although strong “alpha” types are so prevalent in romance my males will always be highly intelligent, witty and multidimensional. I like to draw them out layer by layer The heroines may or may not be virginal (again I don’t like stereotypical but use what works in my story). The heroine must be very strong and independent and a match for the hero in every way. In THE HIGHEST STAKES, Robert and Charlotte were a young star-crossed couple who were clearly soul-mates. In FORTUNE’S SON Philip and Sukey mirrored one another in many ways. In my work in progress I have a fantastic couple who could not be more diametrically opposed to one another if they tried. I’m VERY excited about the story.

Now let’s talk a bit more about THE HIGHEST STAKES. Most authors have a synopsis, outline or idea of what the story they are about to write will be, but sometimes the story leads you in a different or unplanned direction.  What surprised or changed the most from your original intent of THE HIGHEST STAKES?

This is going to be a long story!!! I began writing in 2007 as the result of a miserable job (boss actually!) thatstifled all my creativity. Although a voracious reader from the age of 8, I had never written anything and honestly didn’t think I had the imagination for it but got a story stuck in my head. You know how some writers “dream” their stories? That’s precisely how it works with me. I am very much in love with horses and had done some personal research on the bloodlines of certain thoroughbred race horses only to find that 90% of them can trace their bloodlines back to 3 Arabian imported to England in the late 17th and early 18th centuries when racing was the obsession of the uppermost elite and all these aristocrats sought to breed the fastest and best horses. It was very much a status thing. I was fascinated by all this and desired to write about it – to incorporate all this fascinating history into the context of a love story.  What changed most significantly was the settingof my story. I had originally planned only to go as far back as the American Colonial period but ended up starting my story a generation earlier in England (although part of THE HIGHEST STAKES does carry into Colonial Virginia). Long story short, my original story/setting is now book #3 in this series entitled THE BASTARD’S LEGACY although it is not yet under contract. Whew!! Long answer, eh?

Indeed! But very interesting! Is it true you consider your books to be “Romantic Historical Fiction”? A sub genre between Historical Romance and Historical Fiction?

Yes! Thank you so much for mentioning this. I am a true dyed in the wool history geek as well as a hopeless romantic and don’t believe these two traits are mutually exclusive!  While I love romance stories set in the past, I find that too many these days don’t incorporate the kind of detail I want to read about. As a reader I want to be completely swept away into the era. That doesn’t mean I want pages and pages of tedious description but I want vivid details – real events and characters worked into the story. I want my emotions and intellect equally engaged so that is precisely the kind of story I try to write. Since I’ve been published, I actively seek out other authors who try to do the same thing – hence I created the Goodreads Group Romantic Historical Fiction Lovers (currently over 800 members).

And how do you think that your books are received by the audience? 

To be honest it’s mixed.  That’s why I’m still seeking my audience.  People who enjoy history seem to love my work as I bring my era vividly to life. Those who gravitate toward “light and fluffy” may not be as interested in the history I bring into play. My work has been described as “romance for the thinking woman”.      

What’s your favorite scene or moment from FORTUNE’S SON, and why? Can you describe it for us without giving too much away?

I have so many!  One of the things that I instinctively incorporate into my work is the “buddy story” , again it’s not something I plan but just happens.  I love the male/male interaction especially as it’s a strength of mine. many female authors just don’t seem to “get” the male dynamic. I’ve been known to put a book down because of this. I think the male/male relationship can reveal so much about the character and it’s a fun contrast to see how the hero acts with his “buddy” as opposed to with his love interest. Having said that, there’s a scene with Philip and George at the cockpits that I’m very fond of. An excerpt is posted here.

How different is Victoria Vane from Emery Lee? What can you tell us about A BREACH OF PROMISE?

Earlier this year while in between bigger projects I got the idea of writing an e-book short story or novella in order to keep my name in front of readers. A friend of mine who writes Harlequin Undone stories in between her full length works suggested I give it a go. I was a bit nervous about this for 2 reasons – I had never written anything short (both of my novels are over 400 pages) and I had never written explicit sex scenes. I would classify THE HIGHEST STAKES as PG13 and FORTUNE’S SON as highly sensuous but not graphic.  Inspired to “experiment” I wrote a 15K word story called A BREACH OF PROMISE based on a broken engagement.  The dialogue (very witty )and the characters remind me a bit of something Georgette Heyer might have written but with a much higher sensuality level. When I was finished, I submitted the story to 4 publishers (I was in-between agents at the time). Over 4 months I heard from 3 by way of rejection letters so I chalked it off as a “failed” experiment until out of the blue, I got an email from ELLORA’S CAVE expressing interest in the story if I would be willing to either  amp up the heat for their “Legends” line or to tone it down for their sweet romance “Blush” line.   Because the story was already so different from my other work, and because the demand for hotter romance is much greater than for “sweet” stories, I decided to embrace the wild side and revise it to meet their “romantica” guidelines, hence my choice of a new pen name so my readers will clearly know the difference. Here’s the blurb for this story:  

How long would you wait for the man of your  girlhood dreams? According to Miss Lydia Albinia Trent, six years is long  enough. After a prolonged engagement to such an exceedingly reluctant man, she  has finally decided to break it off. When Lord Marcus Russell receives  Lydia’s letter requesting a release from their contract, he is stunned by her  audacity. Intending to repair the damage, he invites her to London—ostensibly to  negotiate, but failing that, he will use any tool in his arsenal… including  seduction. Obviously this is more “fluff” than what I write as Emery Lee but still fun and a good story!

What was the most challenging thing you’ve done in the name of research that might have been out of our comfort zone?

Reading and writing erotic romance!!!!  It’s been a crash course (although the field research is kinda fun!)

What was your most rewarding experience since being published?

Without a doubt all of the new friends I have made. There are a number of people I absolutely adore who have been so supportive of me and my writing  yet we’ve never met in person. I look forward to the day we do – do you hear that Jereyn, Jill  and TJ?

Thank you for taking the time to answer my questions, Emery! I had a great time interviewing you and hope we have the chance to do this again soon!

Thank you! It was great fun!

To follow her work you can find more about her here, visit her 18th century author blog, and check her updates on Facebook and Twitter!

Don’t forget you can enter to win all the fantastic books by Emery lee and Victoria Vane here!


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