Folks, today I’d like to introduce you to one of my new favorite Historical Romance novelists, the delightful Delilah Marvelle.
Delilah is a fresh, fun voice in the historical romance world. Her books, The Gallantry Series (Mistress of Pleasure and Lord of Pleasure) and The Scandal Series (Prelude to a Scandal, Once Upon a Scandal, and The Perfect Scandal) are lively reads that I find particularly interesting because they are set around 1830, a time that few romance novels explore. Her latest novel, Forever and a Day, which comes out today, is set in the New York City of 1830, piquing my curiosity even more.
I had the pleasure recently of asking Delilah a few questions about history and about the world of publishing….
What drew you to write stories set in the 1830s? What sets that era apart for you?
The early 1830’s to me is the colliding of two worlds I love without having to pick. It’s not quite Regency but not quite Victorian. What sets this era apart for me is that there is still the lingering romanticism of the Regency era without the stuffiness of the Victorians but that the world was giving way to newer and bigger things, both in social, political as well as all the industry advances.
Do you have any favorite historical figures or stories from that time period?
My favorite historical figure of that era would have to be Countess of Lovelace, the only legitimate daughter of Lord Byron. She was absolutely a figure to look up to, brilliant and dove into the world of mathematics, which for a woman of those times, was astounding. In 1829, when the measles paralyzed her, she didn’t give up hope on herself or her education. By 1831, she was walking on crutches, determined to live her life. She is referred to by historians as the first computer programmer given she was working on Babbage’s machine which mimicked certain facets of what we now call a computer.
If given the chance, would you want to travel back in time and visit the era of your novels’ setting? What would you most be interested in experiencing back then?
Hell yes! I would LOVE to have a chance to travel back into my time period (as long as I’d be given a chance to get back, lol). I would just roam the city of London and New York City itself, recording what life was really like. From the food to the people, both lower class and upper class. History gets clouded and muddled, no matter how well documented, to I would love to see everything from the glittering ballrooms to the dark alleys (as long as I made it out alive). I would have loved to have met real courtesans of the day and asked them a billion questions about their profession.
What time period other than what you’re writing in right now would you be interested in setting a novel?
I would say the other era that interests me would be the Roman era and Greek era. It’s not something we get a chance to see on the shelves as way of romance, but the world fascinates me.
What was your journey to publication like?
My journey toward publication was a long one. It took me 11 years to get published, and throughout those 11 years, I received over 200 rejections and wrote over 40 books. I will say that the long journey is what prepared me for the real thing. If I had sold the first book I had ever written, I don’t think I would have made it in this industry. It’s a tough industry with a lot of demands set upon the author. We are expected to be the creative force AND the salesperson. Don’t know how that happened, given a publisher’s role is to sell the book, but I think the explosion of the internet had a lot to do with it. The sole advice I’ll give to any writer looking to get published through New York is this: The writing habits you set up for yourself while trying to get published are the ones you will carry with you into your career and it can make or break you. So pay attention to ensuring that you keep yourself on deadlines and are always progressing and moving forward, even though no one knows your writing exists. It will prepare you for a bigger journey: that of being published and meeting your biggest critics: your readers.
Did you find it hard to sell the idea of writing an novel set in New York in the 1830s (since it seems Regency and London are almost essentials for a “mainstream” historical romance these days)?
As far as the era goes, no, it wasn’t a difficult sale. Mostly because it’s still considered Regency by publishing standards (given Queen Victoria didn’t take the throne until 1837). And I write prior to 1837, and actually closer to 1830 itself. But I will say, I try to keep my world not just in England but to balance it with other countries and customs from around the world. After all, London wasn’t the only fascinating city of its time. Publishers always do emphasize London because that is what sells, but then again, in my opinion, it’s only selling well because that’s mainly what is being put out and that is mainly what is being pushed.
What do you think of the changes taking place in the publishing industry these days and the growing prominence of eBooks and self-publishing?
I think there’s always a good side and a bad side with anything that changes the industry. But I will say this, this is GREAT THING. Why? Because it’s putting the power back into the hands of authors. For the longest time, authors have been at the mercy of publishers and the publishers are the ones that called the shots. Now the shots are in the hands of the readers themselves. The readers are deciding what should and shouldn’t be popular as opposed to what the publisher thinks will and won’t be popular. A writer can set their own deadline, devise their own cover and promote it in the way they see fit. We’re expected to promote anyway, so this is but one more step of putting the control back into the hands of the writer. Of course, the down side to self-publication is that there is no hands on editor to help the manuscript be the best that it can be. Of course you can hire one, but finding a good one can be tricky.
Intrigued? How could you not be! And you’re in luck. Delilah has generously offered a signed copy of her latest, Forever and a Day, to one lucky reader. All you need to do is leave a comment below between now and midnight on Friday to be entered. I’ll pull a winning name out of my Kleenex box on Saturday morning and post the winner here.
In the meantime, be sure to check out Forever and a Day, as well as the lead-in novella Forever Mine (which I loved, btw). For more from Delilah Marvelle, including some really cool book trailers, please visit her website here.