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Thanks for stopping by, Olivia! Let's talk about you first. What's Olivia do when she's not writing romantic tales?
I am a full-time fundraiser for a nonprofit here in . I ask people for money for a good cause...of course part of that includes writing persuasively so I get a little practice in my work. At home, there are two busy kids -- almost teens -- too many pets, and most days I try to get in a 3 mile run.
I've been perusing your website. You've had some very nice reviews for The Unwanted Heiress. Was this your first published story? How long did the process take from first draft to publication?
Heiress was my first story but interestingly, it was picked up the same day my full-length novel was accepted by the folks at what is now Melange. You can imagine, that was a banner day. Heiress only took about four weeks to write and I sent it to an editor who had been interested but ultimately passed on a previous story. She actually had a call for short stories out and I gave it a shot. Seems it took her about a month to get back to me from my query.
Duke was a much longer process. I started writing it in November 2008 and didn't begin sending it out until April/May of 09. It got some interest and it did get remarkably helpful feedback...so after much editing and rewriting, it was ready to go out again late in 09 and early 2010. It was accepted April 14, 2010 and came out this January.
It is exciting for me to report to you that the sequel to Unwanted Heiress titled Unseen Heiress is on its way. I hope to have the cover up on my site any day. My vision is to write at least one more in that series.
Your excerpt for Duke of Her Dreams, looks, well...dreamy! What inspired you to write a romantic tale involving time travel?
A wise writer whose "how to" book I was reading said "write what you know." So, I thought about placing a female character whose experiences and circumstances would be familiar into a situation that was extraordinary. Sticking with the familar, I chose an area of England that was "researchable" and that was near where I had actually been. The actual time travel element gave me a lot of flexibility because if you begin with the premise that this is a paranormal -- that it is stretching the imagination -- then you can keep stretching it. While Kathryn and Michael's interactions are fairly typical for Regency-era romances, there is still an air of... "really?"
But you actually picked up on the key -- the dreamy part -- isn't it anyone's dream to have something fabulous and thrilling and even a little frightening come into our lives? Can you imagine just having even a few hours or days in Regency England -- the clothes, the pomp, the wealth, the society and the chivalrous, heroic lords of the land? And, if it's to fulfill a dream, I made Michael what was dreamy to me -- brooding, honorable, heroic, a bit unsure with women and not a little pigheaded, wealthy, and gave him wonderfully sexy friends, meddling, well-meaning servants and difficult female relatives. Then, for one really great girl, the dream of happiness with someone like Michael becomes a reality.
What authors have inspired you over the years?
When I was 12, I read several of the Belva Plain novels although I got away from reading for pleasure all together in high school and college. I have to admit that the Hardy Boys and Nancy Drew were my first and favorite books for absolutely years!
Recently, when I discovered and fell in love with romance, Stephanie Laurens' The Lady Chosen from her Bastion Club Series was my first true adult era romance. I couldn't get enough and soon found her Cynster series that began with Devil's Bride -- my favorite all-time story. I've probably read it over again once every month or two for the last two years. What makes Stephanie's stories significant is that the man and woman truly seem destined for each other but outside forces are pulling them apart -- it's not usually the growing love that's in question but whether they'll survive to enjoy it.
Close second is Mary Balogh. Her "Slightly" series is terrific. I have not read a Nora Roberts I didn't enjoy and Julia Quinn is just always smart and funny. I also have many stories from Amanda McCabe, Hannah Howell, Johanna Lindsey, Lynsay Sands and Eloisa James. It's difficult to leave out any romance author I like because I have truly learned from so many of them and now have a large library.
I am a bit of a purist in romance -- I prefer stories where there's no cheating or three-way conflict that confuses the one on one love story. Since I also avoid stories where one character is unkindly manipulated or somehow unusually unequal to the other, I have developed personal favorites as well as others who I tend to avoid (at least a second time.) You will not be confused in my stories about who is hero and heroine. My favorite authors definitely influenced that standard I set for myself.
In thinking about my truly favorite books, there are also some characteristics that are significant -- stories about family members, stories where next love stories are introduced in small ways, multiple love stories within a book and humor throughout. I love a good attempted murder sub-plot with a dose of humor to offset the tension. Lynsay Sands might be the best writer I've read who combines the two.
I'd bet you're working on (or at least thinking about ) another story at the moment. Want to tell us about it?
I mentioned the Unwanted Heiress sequel coming out soon, but the next major project is the sequel to Duke -- Lord of Her Dreams. It is the story of Christine Ragland, younger sister of the Duke heroine and a dashing cavalry officer who is the best friend in Duke. I've started it and completed the outline to the end but the hardest part is just taking large chunks of time to sit down and work on it. I've also been struggling with the villain's profile whose demise I am plotting to hold off until the third book, Earl of Her Dreams.
It's amazing to be able to talk about my "next" project as a reality rather than a dream, that I have multiple stories published. I feel truly humbled and blessed.
Brace yourself for the random question of the day: If you could eat unlimited amounts of any food and not gain an ounce, what would it be?
Chocolate...a total cliche I know but I've become hooked on dark chocolate. Even running 15 or so miles a week hasn't kept down the weight creep. For me though, it's really any food. I can barely ever indulge without the consequences. I never eat fried foods or chips, no pizza or burgers but if I even eat what what most people just think of as a regular meal, I gain. Can you imagine, my husband is 5'11'' and weighs 170? Weight is truly a battle every day.
Finally, Ms. Ritch, would you share a short excerpt from a published work or a work in progress?
Excerpt from Duke:
Kathryn saw the moment he recognized her plight for the very real
problem it was and the instant he softened. She watched the man’s lovely
dark eyes shift as he scanned the room for her nonexistent luggage and
the changes of his expression from exasperation to confusion and finally
concern. While the gentleman, because he surely was that in her humble
opinion, concentrated, she studied him in greater detail. At first look, his
size, his commanding carriage and the sheer maleness of him had made
him seem rather forbidding, but there was intelligence and a gentle sense
of humor in his personality that Kathryn found surprising.
On even closer conspicuous inspection, his period attire of tight
riding pants molded to huge muscular thighs and what she knew to be a
riding jacket that was itself stretched over amazingly broad shoulders
marked him as a prosperous man from the 1800s. This man, with his
deep drawling English accent and regal bearing, was the real, in-the-flesh
confirmation of Kathryn’s time travel. Her resolve wavered as the
enormity of Kathryn’s dilemma became clear. She was, she could not
even imagine, in another time and place.
Here's just a small taste of the planned Lord of her Dreams...that has never been seen by anyone else!
Matthew needed to ride. He had not slept well, visions of creditors rushing to claim their debts pushing him, jostling with one another to take Worley away from him. He had tossed and turned finally resolving that getting up and dressing for a ride was the only way to dispel the images and relax the nervous tension investing his entire body. Striding briskly through the cool morning air across the gravel toward the stable, Matthew wondered not for the first time how he was going to save his estate and keep himself out of debtor’s prison.
Now fully awake, Matthew opened the stable door, about to speak a welcome to his horse, when his eyes snapped to the hayloft ladder where tiny feet connected to luscious calves were descending the rickety contraption. For a moment, Matthew was frozen in place as lean thighs appeared topped by a perfectly rounded female bottom marked by a single strap of seafoam green lace.
Thank you so much for visiting today. I wish you a ton of success and a great weekend to boot!
I cannot thank you enough for your time and thoughtful questions. It's been a blast sharing writing with a fellow author.