Featured Member for October: Anne Rollins

This month Quizzing Glass chats with Anne Rollins, author of historical fantasy romance

QG: What most interests you about the people of the Georgian/Regency era?

I think part of the appeal is how challenging it seems to find romantic partners in such a strict society. Women weren’t supposed to be too obvious about their feelings. Moralists like Dr. Gregory thought a woman should never tell a man that she loved him even if she married him! This creates a lot of narrative tension as you watch to see how two people can end up together.

QG: When did you first get hooked (and what hooked you) on the Regency era?

There were two writers that got me into the Regency: Patricia Wrede and Georgette Heyer. I discovered Wrede’s Mairelon the Magician in high school, and Sorcery and Cecelia in college, and read them over and over again. As the titles imply, these are Regency fantasies, and they undoubtedly had a large impact on my decision to write Regency fantasy.

Then, maybe a decade later, I stumbled on a Georgette Heyer novel in a used bookstore, and I loved it. (Ironically, my first Heyer may have been A Convenient Marriage, which is not Regency but Georgian!) After that, I was hooked. I bought Heyer’s books right and left, rereading my favorite ones many times. I even taught Frederica in a college course a couple of times! Slowly, I branched out from there and began exploring other writers, including both sweet and spicy Regencies.

QG: What is your favorite Jane Austen book?

Pride and Prejudice, but it’s either tied or closely followed by Northanger Abbey. Northanger Abbey is such an underrated book! It is hilarious, and Henry Tilney might be Austen’s wittiest love interest.

QG: What is your favorite Georgette Heyer book?

I am a huge Heyer fan, so I can’t list just one. I like different books depending on my mood, but my top five are The Corinthian, Cotillion, The Reluctant Widow, Arabella, and Frederica.

QG: What advice would you give to writers just starting out?

First, realize that writing is a process. Most people don’t sell their first book, at least not right away. Once you’ve written one book, start writing another. Your writing will get better over time. 

Second, you need to tap into the writing community. You can learn so much by joining online or real-life groups of writers. When you find good beta readers or critique partners, your writing will get stronger.

QG: Tell us about your current project or latest release.

In August, The Solitary Rose, my first novel for adults, will release from The Wild Rose Press, under the pen name “Anne Rollins.” The idea for this story came after I read one too many Regency-era “Beauty and the Beast” retellings featuring grumpy, brooding, scarred male leads. I thought “Why is it usually the male lead who’s scarred? There should be more stories with scarred female leads.” Then I had the idea to gender-flip “Beauty and the Beast,” and the result was The Solitary Rose, a Regency fantasy romance. The female main character, Emma, has smallpox scars. The male lead, Henry, is a blond-haired, blue-eyed gorgeous young man. But their personalities are all their own!

 QG: Pantser or Plotter or hybrid?

I am almost a total Pantser. When I get an idea, I jot down a few notes about the characters, the setting, and the premise of the story, but I never do outlines and I never work out the whole plot ahead of time. Generally, I have some idea of how the story will end, but figuring out how to get there is part of the joy of drafting. (I mean “joy” literally, because drafting is my favorite stage of the writing process.)

QG: Would you like to travel back in time? Where would you go? What one thing would you take with you?

If I could travel back in time for just a day, maybe. It would be fun to visit nineteenth-century Britain in real life. But I would not want to live there. Life without antibiotics and other modern medicines would be scary!

QG: What music do you play when writing?

I have ADHD, and I don’t deal well with noise while I’m concentrating. When I write, I often put on my noise-canceling headphones and play white noise or rain sounds rather than music—that helps drown out the sounds of daily life in the house. (I have three kids, so it gets noisy!) When I do play music, I may play instrumental love songs or Jane Austen-related music. The soundtrack to the 2020 Emma movie makes great writing music.

QG: What is the most surprising or amazing thing you discovered while researching a book?

While researching Regency-era mail coaches, I discovered that in 1816, a lioness escaped from a menagerie and attacked the Exeter mail coach! That’s the kind of thing that would seem unrealistic if it had happened in a novel, isn’t it?

Anne Rollins is the pen name of an English professor who lives in Northern California with her family, her pets, and an enormous collection of books. She is equally a fan of Diana Wynne Jones and Georgette Heyer, two authors whose writing influenced this novel.

Website:  https://www.annerollins.com

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One Comment

  1. An enjoyable read, thanks, Anne. You rekindled the pleasure I had reading Georgette Heyer and Jane Austen. Congratulations on ‘A Solitary Rose’ and all the best with sales. Meryl Brown Tobin, romantic suspense writer

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