Interview with Jo Beverley (2005)
Who is your publisher, and what have you written?
I've written 28 historical romances, all set in my native England. I'm currently published by Penguin NAL.
What is your upcoming or current novel about?
My next new novel will be The Rogue's Return, a novel in my Company of Rogues series about a group of school friends who grow up into Regency gentlemen. For a change, it starts out in Canada, where Stephen St. Bride has been living, then takes ship across the Atlantic to end up in Lincolnshire.
I have a number of reissues, however, the current one being The Shattered Rose, a medieval. There's more here.
How did you decide upon your eras of focus?
I automatically began with Regency, as I'd been a fan of Georgette Heyer and the Regency period from my teen years. However, I had been a fan of medievals as long, so I went there next. The Georgian period came and got me, but I'd always loved those dangerous men in silk, lace, and high heels.
How is your approach different from others?
That's a tricky question. We all find our own way as novelists. I'm one who flies into the mist, that is, I don't pre-plot my books, but many others are the same way.
I prefer not to play favorites within the genre. Dorothy Dunnett, Terry Pratchett. Sharon Lee and Steve Miller, Lois McMaster Bujold.
When did you get your first "Yes" and how long did it take you? Did you get your first story published after trying for a while, or did you write many novels first?
I sold in 1988, but it's hard to say how long it took. I wrote my first novel in a school exercise book when 16 (it was a medieval romance) and wanted to be a romance writer ever after. I didn't settle to it seriously until 1984, however. My first publication, Lord Wraybourne's Betrothed, was the first novel I wrote then, but I wrote others as I learned my craft.
Do you have other work out, such as short stories that readers can look at?
I have published a number of novellas in anthologies. There's a list here. http://www.jobev.com/novellas.html There's also an SF novella and an SF short story there.
What happens upon the first sale of a novel?
Excitement and panic?<G> Usually a writer has sent a proposal and then been asked for a complete manuscript. Often it takes a long time to hear anything definite, so it's best to keep on writing.
Eventually, the editor will phone to say she wants to buy it. That sort of news always comes by phone. The next step is negotiating the contract. If the writer has an agent, the agent will do
that in consultation with the author. If not, the author needs to inform herself and not just accept anything. If the editor has come as far as offering to buy, she's not likely to withdraw the
offer if the author quibbles. Romance Writers of America has a lot of information to offer authors at all stages of their careers.
Once all that's settled, the author gets her advance against royalties and is busily writing her next book. She'll get her manuscript back edited and go over that carefully. Later she'll get page proofs and go over them carefully.
What is your advice to aspiring authors concerning the craft of writing, a writer's life or the romance genre?
I think we all have to study craft, but above all find our own way of writing; our own strengths, what makes us unique. That really is what we have to offer in a marketplace full of multi-published authors. We have to be willing to sacrifice, to push things out of our lives in order to let writing in. We have to love to write about love.
What should aspiring authors know about the publishing industry (besides everything)? Is there something important in particular that you have learned?
It never makes sense. If you think it does it'll break your heart. Editors are wonderful people and can be a writer's ally, but they're also part of a business, mostly of vast international conglomerates who are always looking at the bottom line. It's a business. Always remember, it's a business.
Is there anything else that you would like to add?
Find what you're passionate about and write about it, because the strength of your feelings will come through. Have fun along the journey, because the journey, the now, is all you can be sure of having. Don't get stuck. Many women start out writing romance because it's an easy, welcoming part of the literary scene, but many also find that romance doesn't truly have their heart, so they move on to another type of fiction or a different type of writing altogether. Some find writing isn't for them. Let go, move on. It isn't failure anymore than switching courses at university or jobs later. It's all part of the adventure.
Aspiring author's note:
I would like to give my dearest thanks to Jo Beverley, an award-winning New York Times Bestselling author who has written many books and novellas. I have recently finished her book, "Forbidden" from the "Company of Rogues" series and would highly recommend it. When I asked for this interview, she quickly responded, making it obvious that she is truly interested in hearing from her readers. Thank you once again, Ms. Beverley. I appreciate your time and insights. Sincerely, Laura Hogg