Long and Short Reviews welcomes Sara Ramsey, whose newest book Scotsmen Prefer Blondes, was released in April. It's the second book in the Muses of Mayfair series, the first being Heiress Without a Cause, which was released in January of this year.
She currently finishing the next book in the Muses of Mayfair series which will be titled The Marquess Who Loved Me, which will be out late summer/early autumn. She's also playing around with some novella tie-ins for each book in the series, as well as having a super-secret idea for a YA book. She hopes to have it finished by the end of the year and is currently reading Mysteries of the Middle Ages: The Rise of Feminism, Science and Art from the Cults of Catholic Europe as research for it.
. As you can see, the titles for the books in the Muses of Mayfair series are all twists on movie titles.
"I scour IMDB.com and the AFI lists of best films and look for titles that appeal to me, then think about which ones I might be able to tweak to give a more historical/story-appropriate feel," she said. "So far so good, but it’s hard to find movie titles that can be tweaked but still be recognizable – I couldn’t tweak Ghostbusters, for example! Once I have a list of possibilities, I discuss them with my agent, and we choose one that seems most appealing. It’s good that I have her, or else I would end up with a title like 'Fat Bottomed Earls' – my sense of humor sometimes overwhelms my common sense," she said with a smile.
Sara's been reading romance novels since she was twelve and first read Johanna Lindsey's Brave the Wild Winds and has been writing stories and letters since she can remember.
"I’m one of the only people I know who still sends copious quantities of handwritten, personalized Christmas cards, so writing must be in my blood," she told me.
In 2004, on a whim she decided to do NaNoWriMo (National Novel Writing Month)—the plot that came to mind was an arranged marriage between an English writer and a Scottish earl. She didn't finish NaNo and put the book away for several years. She got busy with her day job—moving first to India and then to Ireland.
"It was years before I finished the manuscript that eventually became Scotsmen Prefer Blondes," she said. "But that initial inspiration came from a deeply-rooted sense that I was supposed to be writing more than anything else, and I’m glad I followed through with it!"
Even though, theoretically, she can write faster on her laptop, she writes her rough drafts in longhand on paper.
"It's not faster when I stop every three minutes to check Twitter!" she explained. "If a scene is too hard to get into, I'm tempted to procrastinate. Also, if I write by hand, it seems to flow more smoothly. I type really fast, so if I type a rough draft, I always finish typing a thought before I have any idea what the next line is, and that feels really jerky to me. Writing things out, preferably with a fountain pen loaded with some pretty color of ink, makes the writing feel like it’s flowing – and I’m less likely to stop for a Twitter break if the writing is going well!"
Sara tends to come up with the general plot set-up first—as in Scotsmen Prefer Blondes. She knew immediately that the heroine was going to be a writer, and that she would forced to marry a Scottish earl. However, once she has the initial idea, the characters take over, and the rest of the development is completely character driven.
"I usually end up rewriting the first 20% of the book several times because I keep learning more about the characters as I go, and I have to rewrite the early bits to match the depth they develop later in the book," she told me.
Sara admitted that writing the first draft is the very worst part of writing for her.
"I’m too much of a perfectionist, and it’s really hard for me to shut off my internal editor and let the draft happen. Once I get through the first draft, I fall back in love with the story and have no problem finishing, but the first draft (and especially the first half of the first draft) sometimes feels like I’m repeatedly stabbing myself in the face. It’s not pretty. Luckily my family and friends know this, and they tread carefully and/or push me out of the house to do other stuff when it gets too bad."
Growing up, Sara actually wanted to be an obstetrician, but then she discovered she can't stand other people being in pain. Her next thoughts were to be a writer or an English professor.
"Once I discovered that getting an English PhD would take approximately ten years, I decided a professorship was out," she confessed. "But I am also in love with technology, and I’m surprisingly excited about the business world, so I spent a few years working for Google in a variety of sales and management roles. Google was wonderful, and I could see myself working there again (particularly if their Google Play/ebook segment ever takes off), but writing will always be my primary passion, and I’m really fortunate to be doing it full time right now."
I asked her to describe her writing space.
"My official writing space is my desk at home. It has a glass top, with a pull-out drawer underneath filled with pens, markers, sticky flags, and other little writing bits. I keep a few mementos on top of the desk – one small item from each of my grandparents, a couple of family photos, and an African violet that I’m trying desperately not to kill. Behind my desk, I have several big corkboards covered in photos/quotes/notes that inspire me. Some are related to my current projects (photos of Regency houses, dresses, etc.), and some are more inspirational (a photo of a RITA award has a prime location on my board). But when I’m having trouble getting things done, I go to a coffee shop or library – I’d guess that 60+% of my writing happens outside my house."
"How do you do research for your books?" I wondered.
"I bought a membership to Stanford Library, which has been hugely helpful. I can find any book about any subject there. When I was researching Regency British theatre for Heiress Without a Cause, I was able to find all sorts of information about what plays were being staged in 1812, who the principal actors were, and how audiences behaved. I also use historical blogs – there are a lot of very detailed, very helpful historical blogs out there, and I’ve gotten a lot of insight into costumes and lifestyles from other historical writers."
Sara will be giving away the winner's choice of a paperback, Nook, Kindle, or Kobo copy of Scotsmen Prefer Blondes. Due to shipping considerations, the paperback version is only an option for US/Canada commenters only, please.
About the Author: Sara Ramsey writes fun, feisty Regency historical romances. She grew up in a small town in Iowa, and her obsession with fashion, shoes, and all things British is clearly a rebellion against her hopelessly uncool youth. Sara graduated from Stanford University in 2003 with a degree in Symbolic Systems (also known as cognitive science) and a minor in history. After graduation, she worked at Google for seven years in a variety of sales, management, and communications roles. She left Google in 2010 to pursue her writing career full time. Her first book, Heiress Without a Cause, was released in January 2012. Her second book, Scotsmen Prefer Blondes, came out in April. Sara is currently working on the next book in the Muses of Mayfair series and living the hip Regency writer life in San Francisco, California.
Find Sara online at:
When a friend is forced to consider a marriage of convenience, Lady Amelia Staunton is determined to rescue her. But her plans trap her in an illicit seduction, and Amelia must marry him herself! Malcolm MacCabe’s all-consuming kisses and devilish humor might make up for her lost freedom – but how can she choose between the novels she’s always longed to write and the love that could destroy them both?