Tuesday, December 6, 2011

Wonderful Regency Author, Christina Brooke

Christina Brooke is a former lawyer (we won’t hold that against her ) who staged a brilliant escape from the corporate world and landed squarely in Regency England.

She was the first Australian to win the Romance Writers of America’s Golden Heart Award for her first published novel and was nominated for a RITA award for her second historical romance, writing as Christine Wells. Her books have also been nominated for RT’s Reviewer’s Choice Award, Bookseller’s Best and the Australian Romantic Book of the Year Award.
Christina makes her home in sunny Queensland, Australia with her husband, two small boys and one enormous girl dog called Monty.
Welcome to Five Scribes, Christina,
Hi Theresa, thanks for having me on your blog today.
1) How long were you writing before you were published?
I was writing with a view to publication for about five years before I got the call back in 2006.
2) I’m curious, do you have a greater following in your home country or Australia or here in America?
I don’t know. I’ve never thought about it. That kind of thing is hard to judge. I’m sure I sell more books in the United States just because of sheer population volume. Letters come from readers all over the world, though. That’s such a thrill.
3) Was it difficult getting an agent? How did you find Helen or did she find you?
I’ve had two agents. The first time around, I had sent out about 10 query letters to my dream agents. I suppose I’d heard back from about four of them with rejections before I received an offer to buy my manuscript from an editor who had judged the manuscript in a contest and requested the full. So I then made a lot of phone calls and emailed back and forth with the remainder of the agents on my dream list with an offer in hand. I think that definitely made it easier to get an agent, but by the same token, a smart agent knows they have you for the space of a career, not just one or two books, so an offer from a publisher does not guarantee an agent will jump at representing you. Once I signed with my chosen agent, it took less than a week to sell the manuscript to Berkley.
Second time around--I had heard good things of Helen Breitwieser. All of her clients have great things to say about her and she is an agent who genuinely loves romance and historicals in particular. She has a stable of authors I respect and admire. Helen had read and loved WICKED LITTLE GAME, which I published under the Christine Wells name. This time around, I was a lot more cautious and took my time getting to know Helen and her working style before I committed. In a way it was easier to get an agent this time because I had a track record and I knew so many published writers who were generous enough to introduce me to their agents.
4) Your scenes are full of sexual tension and love scenes are hot and thorough—yet not prolonged enough to entice me
skip pages. Many writers I know find them very difficult to write, but it seems like you might be the exception. Do you enjoy writing love scenes? Are they difficult to write?
Oh, thank you! Actually, I love writing love scenes! Maybe I’m strange, I don’t know, but this is one of the times our characters are at their most vulnerable and that’s wonderful grist for the mill as a romance writer. These are important moments and I don’t think we should let them go to waste. The way hero and heroine treat one another in bed is very revealing—I think it’s the same in real life. I’d hope that if anyone skipped the love scenes in my books they couldn’t follow the rest of the story very well because there is always a subtext throughout the scene and an emotional shift. The lovemaking changes everything—often for the worse, even if the act itself is pleasurable.
for Berkley—now I can go read those while waiting for Rosamund’s story. You wrote a book a year for Berkley, yet Heiress in Love came out mid June and Mad About the Earl is due out Jan 3rd. That’s less than 6months between books—that’s not a lot of time to write a book and maintain the quality. Is this short time between releases your preference or St. Martin’s?
5) Heiress in Love is your first book with St Martin’s, but I was delighted to find you’ve written 4 books as Christine
Thanks, Theresa, I hope you enjoy them! These days I think it’s important to get books out quickly to build readership and St. Martin’s and I were in agreement about the timeframe. I’m not sure that the quality suffers when you write fast, actually. I think sometimes it makes the book better. Most who have read MAD ABOUT THE EARL say they like it better than HEIRESS IN LOVE and yet it would have been written in probably half the time.
6) Why did you change names from Christine Wells to Christina Brooke? And how did you choose your pseudonym?
I changed names when I went to St. Martin’s because this series was going to be a bit of a departure from the last three Wells books I wrote, which had spies and suspense elements in them. The Ministry of Marriage books concentrate solely on the romance and marriage of the hero and heroine. Even though there are quite a few secondary characters, they all focus on that romance.
As for the name, I agonized over that pseudonym! I can’t remember where Brooke came from. None of my family names were suitable—they were either too long or already in use. I wanted to use a place name in England for a surname but everything I tried had been taken by other historical writers. I do like being shelved in the Bs rather than down in the Ws, I can tell you that.
7) I have to ask . . . or perhaps it’s a request . . . you are going to give us Duke Montford and Lady Arden’s story one day aren’t you?
I’m so glad you asked--I would certainly like to. I enjoy writing these more mature lovers who are too guarded and clever for their own good. But so many things are in the laps of the publishing gods, aren’t they? And of course it’s still up in the air about whether they actually will get together. At one stage I threatened to marry Montford off to a governess, which horrified Helen. LOL
8) Any words of advice or tidbits you wish someone had told you before you got published that you'd like to share with fellow writers?
I can’t think of anything that hasn’t been said before, but a piece of advice close to my heart is Nora Roberts’ ‘you can’t fix a blank page’. I try to remind myself of that when I’m humming and ha-ing over what comes next, scared to take the wrong turn in case I waste a lot of time and words writing myself into a corner. Just make the decision and write it that way. You can always fix wrong turns later and most often it was the right decision, anyway.
Thank you for having me here today, Theresa.


Helen Hardt said...

Hi Christina and Theresa! I'm another one of those "former lawyers," lol. Best of luck with St. Martin's!


Theresa said...

Hi Christina,
Interesting observation that our hero &heroine are at their most vulnerable when having sex and that their true personalities are revealed then . . . I never really thought of it that way, but you're right!

Leslie Ann said...

Christina and T,
A time traveler, from the corporate world to Regency England! I haven't yet read any of Christina's books, but am excited to add them to my list AND move them to the top. I love Nora's quote, thanks for reminding me of it. And if T wants Duke Montford and Lady Arden's story to be done, then lets all tell the publishing gods to make it so.

~LA of the scribes

Christina Brooke said...

So sorry I couldn't make the comments work the past few days! It's not this site, I don't think. I'm having trouble across the board for some reason. Hopefully this one will as I haven't been through to the comment page yet.

Helen--congratulations on your escape! Thanks for the good luck.

Theresa, thanks again for having me today. Glad you had some food for thought there:)

Leslie Ann, thanks for having me here. From your mouth to the publishing gods' ears! If you do read any of my books I hope you enjoy them.

Donnell said...

I tried to leave a comment yesterday, too, Christina. Not to sound paranoid but yesterday seemed out to get us! I find that lawyers make the best writers. Or perhaps they are so tired of legalities, they need escape, and what better way to do it than a Regency? Are you as cold Down Under as the rest of us on Five Scribes. Best wishes for a stellar sell through and wonderful career!