Q&A With Minerva Spencer

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Q&A With Minerva Spencer

Today I have the honor of doing a Q&A with multiple award winning author of historical romance and historical mysteries Minerva Spencer. Minerva Spencer & S.M. Goodwin is the pen name for S.M. LaViolette. Minerva’s books have received high reviews from Booklist, Kirkus, Library Journal & Publishers Weekly. In Minerva’s past life before she was an author she was a criminal prosecutor, college history professor & a bartender among many things! It’s pretty impressive I think!

Q: I love reading everything and anything under the sun that sounds interesting, especially romance and mysteries! What is it about writing historical romances and historical mysteries that you enjoy writing so much?

A: I like writing historical novels because escaping into the past is so much fun. Although I’m not sure that I’d want to live in a world without modern medicine, high speed transportation, or all the conveniences that make life so much easier, I really do enjoy “visiting” the past. 

Q: Before you were an author you were a criminal prosecutor, college history professor & a bartender. What was the transition like from doing all of those things to being an author? 

A: I never planned on being an author, it kind of just happened to me. I’d just closed my bed and breakfast and was taking a break before I decided what I wanted to do next. At the time I was actually contemplating going to veterinarian school. I had the idea for my first book (BARBAROUS) while I was on a three hour drive after dropping my husband off at the airport. By the time I got home, I was itching to start writing. I think it took me three months to finish the book. I got my first agent a few months later, and then I was hooked. 

Q: Would you like to talk about your new and upcoming releases?

A: I have three series right now and there will be releases for all three in 2024. One of those series is Victorian Era—The Hale Family—and that has been fun to step out of the Regency for a while. 

The other two series are THE ACADEMY OF LOVE and THE BELLAMY SISTERS. 

I’ve been releasing one book a year in THE ACADEMY OF LOVE series and this is book 6, so I feel like I’ve been living with these characters for quite a while, LOL. 

Q: What is the research and writing process like when creating historical romance and historical mysteries? What advice would you give others wanting to write in both genres?

A: Before writing historical novels, I taught history so I’m familiar with research. But the process for writing fiction is very different from writing historical papers. When I wrote academic papers, I had to document and support each and every assertion. 

Obviously, that isn’t necessary in a romance novel. Still, I think a good grounding in history is important. For example, you don’t want to have a character traveling by train during the Regency Era. I think those sorts of facts should always be historically accurate. 

When it comes to character behavior, every author I can think of writes with a modern sensibility. I think that is unavoidable. We are all products of a post-Freudian world and it’s almost impossible for us to put ourselves in the Regency mindset. 

At the same time, I believe it is part of the charm and challenge of writing historical romance that we as authors don’t just put modern characters in Regency clothing. Women were chattel for much of human history and trying to pretend they weren’t is ignoring historical fact. When I (personally) imagine being under the complete control of my husband or male relatives it terrifies me and I know that I would behave differently if that were the case. 

Anyhow, I think those sorts of historical truths should always be in the mind of any author writing historical novels. 

Q: If Hollywood were to get the rights to your work (if they haven’t yet) who would you cast to play the characters you created? The entertainment industry needs creative ideas again. 

A: Right now I’m working on A STORY OF LOVE and I’ve visualized my hero (whose name is Lord Stand Fast Severn, an unusual name from his Puritan background) as looking something like Clive Owen, with longer hair. He’s a rugged nonconformist who is older and has been around the block a time or two, far more jaded than most of the men the heroine has met.

I imagine my heroine, Lorelei Fontenot, as looking a bit like Ana de Armas, a shapely dark-haired beauty with striking green eyes. 

Q: If you were to explore writing in different genres, which ones would you choose and why? 

A: I also write science fiction and contemporary mystery. I pretty much write whatever story that pops into my head, regardless of genre. 

Q: Why do you write under different pen names? 

A: I had two publishers and they each wanted me to write under a name that was reserved for them. 

My real name is Shantal LaViolette and my agent thought readers would have difficulty spelling it, so she suggested something easier—hence the name Minerva Spencer. 

When I self-published my first book I decided to use my real last name, but still didn’t use my first name because I thought it was too confusing to spell. 

If I could do everything over again I would DEFINITELY not write under all these names, LOL. It’s a real pain to juggle three different names. 

Q: What helpful advice would you give to new and aspiring authors on how to deal with negativity whether its reviews, online trolls and family and friends who might not be supportive of their goals? 

A: First off, don’t expect family and friends to read/buy your books. Reading is a very personal experience and even if your friends and family love you, they might not love what you write—don’t take it personally. 

As far as reviews, DON’T READ THEM! But you will, because we authors are masochists, LOL. 

I always find it easier to deal with a negative review by looking at the reviews of authors I really respect and love. I figure if a reader can give an author like Sherry Thomas anything less than a 5 star review then I can’t realistically hope for more. And of course it is always amusing to see people give Shakespeare less than 5 stars. 

My point is that EVERYONE gets negative reviews, don’t let it mess with your head.

Although it is easy for me to say “write for yourself” I know first-hand that is difficult advice to actually implement. But the truth is that you can’t please everyone, so you might as well please yourself. 

Q: Who were/are your biggest supporters of your writing goals and talent?

A: My husband has been supportive of my writing from day one and reads every book I write. 

I also have two beta readers who’ve been reading for me since before I was published and they keep me grounded and remind me why I got into writing in the first place—to have fun!