Q&A With Meara Platt
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Q&A With Meara Platt
Meara Platt is the USA Today Bestselling author of regency romance & paranormal fantasy books. Many of her novels are a part of a series. Some of Meara’s series are The Farthingale Series, The Moonstone Landing Series & The Book Of Love Series. I have the honor of doing this Q&A with her this week!
Q: Meara, when did you know that being an author was what you were called to do in life?
A: My “calling” came shortly before I turned forty. In fact, until then I had no idea I would ever be a writer. But I was always a voracious reader and loved historical romance and fantasy romances with dragons in them. I had just read about five historical romance books in a row that were awful, and after I had thrown the fifth book to the floor in disgust with a muttered “I can write better than this”, my husband suggested I go ahead and write a book. I ignored the comment, but then a few weeks later I was at the Marriott Hotel in NYC for a conference when I happened to get on the elevator with a lady who was wearing the same dress as I had on. We smiled and laughed about it, then we walked off the elevator and there was a huge photo of her in the lobby. That was Nora Roberts and she was one of the speakers at a Romance Writers of America conference going on at the same hotel. Well, I thought that was too coincidental. I took it as a sign from above that I needed to start writing. What I really needed to do was LEARN how to write a story because I had no idea about conflict, pacing, setting, characters, story arc, etc. But I learned and now writing is in my blood and soul.
Q: I’ve gotten into the historical romance genre, and I do like any books with magic in them. What is it you enjoy the most about writing historical romances that take place in the regency era and paranormal fantasy?
A: I grew up loving Regency era romances and paranormal fantasy romances so my brain naturally went there especially in my Dark Gardens series which is set in the Regency era but also in a parallel world of Fae, dragons, and Dragon Lords. So I would love to invite your readers to journey to England’s charming Lake District where bluebell gardens serve as portals to the realm of the Fae and the red mountain known as Friar’s Crag serves as the portal to the underworld realm of demonic Dragon Lords. An ancient Fae prophecy is about to unfold and it is up to the Fae king to find the mortal bride destined to save his realm. This five book epic fantasy is about a battle of realms – demon, Fae, and mortal – and great fun if you are into fantasy. It is darker, more gothic, than any of the other books I write so I never push my Regency readers to this series unless they happen to love fantasy stories as well.
On a much lighter note, my Book of Love series is a lighthearted Regency series revolving around a book called the Book of Love. The heroine in the first book in the series, The Look of Love, is in desperate need of finding the right man to marry before her wicked guardian marries her off to one of his cronies. She finds the Book of Love in an antiquarian bookshop in London and buys it hoping it can give her some hints. The book contains love recipes’ ‘ she and her two friends (who get their stories in books 2 and 3) help her test them out on the brother of one of her friends and two of his good friends. Obviously, they are shocked when these love recipes appear to work! This started as a three-book series that quickly expanded to 6 books and is now up to 15 full length books and 3 novellas. It’s a very cute hook and readers adore watching the next unsuspecting alpha male fall hard for his innocent debutante heroine. While there is a perceived element of magic in the Book of Love, the fun of it is that romantic love is a journey of enchantment – it is that magic moment when you meet your soulmate and know you will be walking on that life path together.
Q: What is the process like when researching & writing historical romance?
A: It depends on how intricate the needs of each story are. In one story, my heroine knew all about medicinal herbs, so I had to dig into tinctures, unguents, lotions and potions that were known from the medieval ages through the Regency period. Several of my heroes were in the Royal Navy or officers in the Army Dragoons or involved in the Napoleonic Wars, so I had to research the battles, the uniforms, the regiments involved at Waterloo, etc. Then there are the basics – fashions of the time for women and men, foods of the period, popular dances, how you address a duke, marquess, earl, etc. You want to throw in details to evoke the era but don’t want to turn your story into an essay on the era. Researching is fairly easy now because the internet is so useful (assuming one knows what is a reliable resource). Research is always fun for me, but I try hard not to run down a rabbit hole and lose an entire day when I should be writing.
Q: If it’s not too early to ask, are you working on any new projects now? If so, is it a part of an existing series, a new series or a standalone novel?
A: Ha, ha! I am working on three series right now and writing like mad to keep up with a new book for each! My latest series is the Moonstone Landing series, a heartwarming set of stories about wounded heroes who come to the quiet Cornwall seacoast village of Moonstone Landing needing to heal from the damages of war or the damages of their difficult upbringings. It is all about heroism and the healing power of love. I’ve thrown in a “moonstone lore” that says the moonstones hidden in the cove waters will shine on the night of a full moon when there is true love. The Moonstone Governess released around Thanksgiving and next up is The Moonstone Hero and then The Moonstone Pirate.
In 2024 I will also be writing another Book of Love story because my readers and I just love them. They are not only fun, but these stories also convey real life advice on how we, ourselves, can find true love, and what the warning signs are of a doomed romance or marriage.
Also in 2024 there will be more Farthingale series stories, the next one coming out in January 2024 is called Marigold And The Marquess. No “magic” at all beyond the mayhem, hilarity, and enchantment of falling in love.
In most of my stories, the alpha heroes are immediately attracted to their heroines and fall in love pretty fast, but this is because those heroines are going to take them through the wringer, so they need to be committed and faithful, protective, and a little arrogant in order not to get bowled over by their heroine.
Q: If Hollywood were to get the rights to your work (if they haven’t already) who would be the perfect cast to play the characters you created?
A: Oh, my gosh! What a great question! I have over sixty books published now, most in the four main series: Moonstone Landing, Farthingales, Book of Love, and Dark Gardens so it would really depend on which book got picked up. Since they are Regency, the characters would all need to have British and Scottish accents. In my latest Book of Love story, The Miracle of Love, my hero Deklan had these gorgeous, savage leopard eyes, so leopards kept popping into my head as I wrote him! Find me a guy with leopard eyes, and he’s got the part!
Q: What is your advice to those wanting to write great historical romance and paranormal fantasy?
A: My best advice is just to get a rudimentary knowledge of story structure and all the elements that go into it. Then write and write and write some more, and always keep in mind the stories are about emotions. Yes, demons and dragon shifters have feelings too. So weave emotions into every element from setting to characters to plot, etc. Don’t simply write that the sky was blue – connect it to your characters so that you get their reaction to a blue sky: For example: At last, a clear sky, but the miserable rain of the last few days had slowed him down significantly, and now he’d missed the boat.
So now you know the sky is clear/blue but you also know the hero is frustrated because he missed the boat. It also raises questions in the reader’s mind about the importance of that boat. Why did he need to get on it? Was he meeting someone? How does it impact him?
Write at your own comfort level, don’t listen to “experts” who say you must do it this way or can only do it that way. However, know the market you are writing for and obey the basic rules of the genre. And know your BRAND – do you write funny? Sexy? Sweet? Edgy? Dark? Be consistent in your style, and if you vary from it, then be sure to warn your readers this book will not be like the ones they are used to reading from you or else they will get angry and likely not buy another book from you.
Q: What’s it like having your books on the USA Today Bestsellers list? It sounds so amazing!
A: It’s a wonderful feeling! I’ve made it four times and I am so grateful because USA Today is no longer putting out that list so that will impact newer writers who will have a slightly harder time gaining a following. But it is validation within the industry more than reader validation – most readers don’t care about lists or awards – they just care about a great read. And this is what I really concentrate on giving my readers. They are a part of the historical romance family and we “get” each other and understand why we love the books and authors that we do. The beautiful thing about each book I write is that the personality of the hero and heroine is always different from book to book so each story will never sound the same or a rehash because this couple is going to react differently to everything that comes along. Yet, my voice is ALWAYS consistent. I tend to write with a humorous touch so that even my more emotional books will have humor running through them.
Q: If you were to write in another genre that wasn’t historical romance or paranormal fantasy, which genres would you explore and why?
A: That is a very hard question for me, actually. I have tried to write contemporary/chick lit humorous romances but my characters keep tossing me back to Regency England! They’ll let me get away with Scotland in the 1810-1830 time span, but that’s about it. So my heroes may be dukes or other nobility, or they might be Bow Street runners, or military men, or dragon shifters but they will always be British or Scottish in the Regency era. My heroines will usually be debutantes about to make their London come-outs, innocent about men, but clever academically and generally sensible. The heroines tend to be traditional, but mayhem somehow always finds them, and then it is up to their hero to get them out of scrapes, or up to her to get the hero out of a scrape.
Q: What advice would you give to new and aspiring authors on how to deal with criticism whether it’s negative reviews, online trolls and family and friends who don’t support their goals?
A: Try not to look at reviews. There are trolls out there and they are maddening, but many readers will not be guided by the ratings or negative reviews of other readers, especially if it’s just some anonymous troll hitting a one-star with no explanation. They are out there. And they are often the first ones to post because that is the only time they will get noticed – before the honest reviews come in and diminish the impact of their meanness.
As to criticism from reliable sources (and this also includes readers/reviewers) make note of what they are saying. If a bunch of them are saying the same thing, then rethink your story. Maybe your heroine is too mean or your hero cheats on her – big nooooo for Regency romances! I had a reader pan one of my books (that over a 1,000 other reviewers loved, fortunately) because she said my hero cheated on my heroine. What? Where? Whose book was she reading? Now, this is something my heroes NEVER do. Once they meet the heroine, they lose their desire for anyone else. They are all in, even if they won’t admit they are in love. They NEVER cheat. But you have to shrug off that frustration and move on.
As for family and friends, don’t expect them to give you much support after your first book when everyone is excited that you are now a published author. You have to write for yourself and not force others who do not read your genre or maybe they do not even read books to take time from their day to support your passion. This is why there are organizations and FB groups where others with similar interests can find you and you can find them. Those are the ones you want to cultivate for all the great information they can give you on everything from details of fashion, rank and peerage, gentlemen’s clubs, carriages, etc. AND they will also give you valuable information on the market in your genre – what works, what won’t work, who will let you join in an anthology to get your name and story seen by tons of other readers.
Bianca, thank you so much for letting me run on and on and on…in your Book Notions blog! I hope some of the advice and comments have been helpful.
For those who are interested in learning more about me, here are a few links that might help:
Amazon Author Link: http://www.amazon.com/Meara-Platt/e/B00PO672QU
Free download If You Kissed Me for free form signup link is this: http://bit.ly/free-novella-download