by Madeline Iva
Kensington author Ella Quinn is a pistol. I met her three or four years ago and was instantly impressed by her force of will. Where many only envision future success, Ella built a plan and then executed that plan with a swiftness that left me breathless. I think she must have been a marine in another life. ;>
MADELINE IVA: I know we both share a big soft spot for Georgette Heyer. How does her work inspire you?
ELLA QUINN: We do! I love her wit and her strong characters. I will never be a witty as she is, but I knew I wanted to write humorous books, and have interesting characters. Not dark, but fun. I also wanted to add a more sensual aspect to traditional Regency. Which has thrown some people.
MADELINE IVA: Yes, let’s talk about sex. I noticed in one of your books that both hero and heroine are widows. Back in the day most historicals featured untouched virgins, etc. Do you see that trend shifting these days as regencies get a little hotter?
ELLA QUINN: I think you have a lot of hot Regencies, but most of them are not traditional Regencies. There seems to be a split, and a great deal of argument about how much historical accuracy one should have in the genre. I don’t buy into that argument at all. I fail to see why one can’t tell a good story and be accurate at the same time.
MADELINE IVA: Hear, hear! Good for you–I think a book like that sounds fantastic.
MADELINE IVA: I had heard that statistic for Victorian times–I didn’t know it also applied to the regency. Yowza.
ELLA QUINN: If the question is do I think you’ll see hotter traditional Regencies, I don’t know. Last summer at RWA Nationals, Grace Burrowes told me I was the only one writing hot traditional Regencies.
MADELINE IVA: Well then! Do you think it’s easier to write a love scene where the people are a little more experienced?
ELLA QUINN: After writing a few where I have an experienced couple, I’d have to say not easier, but more fun. There isn’t all the attendant drama of the “first time.” On the other hand, most it my virginal heroines are pretty take charge ladies, and because my heroes are well versed in bringing women pleasure, they are more than happy repeat the experience.
I had one young woman question whether a lady could go from virginal to wanton so quickly. All I can say to that is you need the right lover.
MADELINE IVA: (happily sniggering)Have any other historical authors out there inspired you to head in this direction? I’m thinking Deanna Raybourn, or Grace Burrowes?
ELLA QUINN: Before I joined RWA’s The Beau Monde chapter, I truly lived under a rock. Other than Georgette Heyer, the only Regency author I’d heard of before I started writing was Stephanie Laurens. She was the one who made me see there could be sex in Regencies.
MADELINE IVA: You live in a truly enviable place–a tropical paradise with iguana’s hanging about your back yard and with yachting regattas, and orchid shows. You even mentioned that Oprah and Gail were out in a yacht in the harbor. Do you end up waving at Oprah and Gail? I would probably end up wasting away in Margaritaville in such a location. How do you stay focused?
ELLA QUINN: I didn’t. Their boat was too far out. It’s interesting; I probably wouldn’t have started writing if I hadn’t moved here. It’s a really inspirational place.
As to focus, I’m ADHD (not diagnosed until my thirties when my son was), and back in the day, I had to learn to keep at what I was doing. So no breaks for me or I can’t stay on task. When I was in my late teens and early twenties, I used to sew a lot. But I’d stay up all night and make the outfit from beginning to end. I don’t pull all nighters any more, mostly because if I write when I’m tired, it looks like gobbley gook.
MADELINE IVA: And you are focussed. From having a plan, you’ve achieved success in a few short years. How did you go from having a concrete plan to making it happen?
ELLA QUINN: Before I was half-way done with Phoebe, I knew I would write a series. It took me a month to finish the first draft, then I went to the only writers’ forum I’d ever heard of, the Compuserve Writers Forum. There I learned about critique groups, RWA, and the Brenda Novak auction. I immediately joined RWA and bid on a critique from an agent in the auction. Because I could use the agent’s critique as a rejection, although she did say she thought I’d be published, I fast forwarded to PRO. That’s when I finally found a critique group that worked for me.
Now I say finally, but the length of time was actually two months, three if you count the time to write the first book. I knew there were problems with the first book, other than head hopping, but I didn’t know how to fix it. So, I called Jerry Cleaver from the Chicago Writers’ Group. He advised me to read his book, and if that didn’t help, then he’d mentor me. I was writing the 3d book when I attended the NJRWA conference, and a lovely person, Madeleine Iva, helped me get more agent/editor appointments. That’s when I discovered I had a query problem with the first book.
MADELINE IVA: ;> Glad I was helpful. Certain aspects of your plan–like having an agent–aren’t strictly under your control. What’s the key to your success?
ELLA QUINN: One, I firmly believed that writing was something I was supposed to be doing, and I was open to both self-publishing and traditional publishing. I gave myself a deadline to make a decision. I joined QueryTracker and took a shotgun approach to querying. They were very helpful for not only finding agents to query to, but for keeping track of the queries sent.
For the second book, I sent queries to forty agents. I received several requests for partials and two requests for fulls. I received an offer, but then my agent asked for an exclusive for a month. The day of my deadline, I received the offer I wanted, eight months after I’d started writing.
MADELINE IVA: It’s a lot of work to carry out swiftly. Many people choose self- publication because they like to speed up the process of publishing–but you’ve managed to move quickly even with a traditional publisher.
ELLA QUINN: I thought to myself, I don’t have that much time. I was already fifty-eight and wanted to be published before I turned sixty, and I was.
MADELINE IVA: Are you ever tempted to stray from the historical realm into another genre? If so, what would that genre be?
ELLA QUINN: I do have an idea for a short time-travel, probably a novella, but I’m pretty busy with the series. Putting out three big books a year, plus marketing, take a lot of time.
I really don’t see myself willingly leaving the Regency period. Because my characters are extremely prolific, I’ll end up in the Victorian era, but the late, Elizabeth Peters has given me some wonderful ideas around all the restrictions of that time.
MADELINE IVA: That’s so much for stopping by, Ella!
Readers if you want to know more about Ella’s books, here’s a great link to the series. Ella Quinn writes and lives in outrageously beautiful St. Thomas on the Virgin Islands. She wakes up every day to paradise (baring an occasional hurricane). If you friend her on fb, you can see these gorgeous pictures that she posts of her home from time to time and she has great give aways going on.
All you Regency fans out there: say ‘yoiks’ to more frolicsome, roguish fun and follow us at LadySmut.