Shana Galen Interview, author of The Making of a Duchess
My Book Addiction and More; June 28, 2010
MBA: Thank you for being a guest at My Book Addiction and More. For readers who are new to you will you please tell readers who you are, where you are from, etc…
Shana: Thank you so much for having me! I write Regency historicals, and The Making of a Duchess is my sixth historical. My other titles are When Dashing Met Danger, Pride and Petticoats, No Man’s Bride, Good Groom Hunting, and Blackthorne’s Bride. I’ve been writing since 2000. Dashing was published in 2005. I write full-time now, but I taught middle and high school English for eleven years in Houston’s inner city. I’m married, have a nine-month old daughter, and a cat.
MBA: Let’s start with your newest release, in your own words can you tell us about it, who are the characters, what is their conflict or what must they face?
Shana: The Making of a Duchess is really the hero’s story. Julien Harcourt, duc de Valère, is my hero. As a boy, Julien’s chateau in France was attacked by peasants during the Revolution. He and his mother escape to England, but he has no idea of the fate of his younger twin brothers Armand and Bastien. He believes they survived and vows to find them no matter the cost.
Sarah Smith is a governess forced to act as a spy for England’s Foreign Office. Not surprisingly, the British government is a little suspicious of a French émigré who repeatedly returns to France when Britain is at war with Napoleon. Sarah is supposed to find evidence of Julien’s treason. Instead, she finds herself falling in love with him.
MBA: Where did you get the idea for this story?
Shana: I always loved teaching Charles Dickens’s A Tale of Two Cities. The French Revolution interests me, and the character of Charles Darnay, a French aristocrat who fled the Revolution for safety in England, interested me. I started there and then went my own direction.
MBA: How do you pick the names for your characters for this story as well as others?
Shana: I wanted something very simple and common for Sarah. Since she’s an orphan, and orphans were often given the surname Smith, her name is Sarah Smith. I researched French names and liked Julien. I gave him the title duc de Valère because I thought Valère sounded like valiant.
Most of the time when I’m writing and need to name a character, be it a secondary character or the protagonist, the name jumps in my head. I can’t always go with that name because then all of the characters might have names that start with W or something, but I always try to go with my gut instinct.
MBA: Is this story related to any others? If so how, and must we read them in order?
Shana: No, The Making of a Duchess is the first in a new series. Each book will stand on its own but will have overlapping characters.
MBA: How many books will there be in this series?
Shana: Three. The Making of a Gentleman will be out in October, and I just got word The Making of a Rogue will be out in April 2011.
MBA: Why did you decide to write for this genre over any other?
Shana: I love the time period (1800~1820). The Regency was full of glamour and intrigue and scandal. The accounts I’ve read of the people who populated the time are fascinating. The people were so over the top, and so ahead of their time. Think Lord Byron, Jane Austen, Beau Brummell. Who wouldn’t want to write about this period?
MBA: How has your life change since becoming published?
Shana: I get to do what I love every day—write books.
MBA: What has been your biggest challenge in your writing career?
Shana: I have a nine-month old daughter. It’s very hard to balance work and life and to find time to write with an infant.
MBA: How do you go about researching for your stories, are there any sources that you use for everything?
Shana: When I first started writing in the Regency period, I read everything I could on it. I read a book and then all the books it referenced. I soaked up everything I could. Now I can refer back to my notes (I have binders labeled with topics—Travel, Food, Furniture, etc.) and non-fiction books, but a lot of the information is in my head. Most of the time I just have detail questions. I look those up online or in my binders. For every book I use C. Willett Cunnington’s English Women’s Clothing in the Nineteenth Century and my Merriam Webster’s dictionary because it gives the date words first appeared in the language.
MBA: What is your favorite reading material for pleasure?
Shana: Romance. I enjoy all the sub-genres.
MBA: What to date has been the happiest day of your life?
Shana: My wedding day. I wish I could go back and do the whole day again.
MBA: Can you tell us about your current work in progress and what’s next to hit the shelves?
Shana: Right now I’m working on a proposal for my editor. It’s a stand-alone book I’ve wanted to write for some time. The characters have much more depth and complexity than I’m used to writing, so it’s proving a challenge.
The Making of a Gentleman, Armand’s story, will be out in October. There’s an excerpt in the back of The Making of a Duchess which I hope will intrigue readers.
MBA: What “bad” for you food is hardest for you to say no to?
Shana: Cookies. I love cookies.
MBA: What healthy food do you love best?
Shana: Soymilk. I have it everyday.
MBA: How do you handle rejections and the negative people who try to bring your joy to a halt?
Shana: Rejections are easy after ten years of writing. I chalk it up to one person’s opinion and keep on going. I do have books that have been soundly rejected by everyone. That’s fine. I write another.
As far as negative people, I distance myself from them. I have so little time to hang out with friends and acquaintances that I don’t have time for drama or negativity.
MBA: Do you put yourself or people you know in characters within your stories?
Shana: No, I really don’t. I think this is a huge misconception about writers—that we write from our own lives. I don’t think I could help using my own life to color some of what I write, but I try very hard to have my characters think and feel and react as fits their personality, not mine. I often go to Starbucks to write, and a local reporter asked me if the patrons should worry that they’d show up in one of my books. Not at all. I’m usually so engrossed in work, people I know have to come up and say hi because I don’t see them.
MBA: Is there anything else you’d like readers to know or remember about you, your work, or what you’d hope they’d get from reading your stories?
Shana: I hope readers have fun when reading my stories. I hope my books take readers away from the everyday drudgery—cooking, cleaning, laundry, crying babies, homework, etc. My books are an escape. I know I enjoy escaping in my mind as I write them.
A very dangerous attraction…
Julien Harcourt, duc de Valère, is more than willing to marry the lovely young lady his mother has chosen. Little does he know, she’s been sent to prove him a spy and a traitor…
And an even more dangerous secret…
Sarah Smith’s mission is to find out whether the Duc’s trips to the Continent are as innocent as he claims, but the way he looks at her is far from innocent…
Their risky game of cat and mouse propels them from the ballrooms of London to the prisons of Paris, and into a fragile love that may not survive their deceptions…
About the Author
Shana Galen is the author of five Regency historicals, including the Rita-nominated Blackthorne’s Bride. Her books have been sold in Brazil, Russia, and the Netherlands and featured in the Rhapsody and Doubleday Book Clubs. A former English teacher in Houston’s inner city, Shana now writes full time. She is a happily married wife and mother of one daughter and a spoiled cat. She loves to hear from readers: visit her website at http://www.shanagalen.com/.
*Thanks to the great Danielle at Sourcebooks I’m thrilled to offer readers a chance to win 1 of 2 copies of THE MAKING OF A DUCHESS. In order to win a copy you must comment here, and the comment must be more than “enter me”. Giveaway is open to US and Canadian residents only. Good Luck to all!*