I would like to welcome to Erica to What I’m Reading! Today we’ve got a treat: Erica surveyed her readers, and she’ll answer some of their questions here. First, tell us about your new release, Secrets in Scarlet.
Erica Monroe: While Secrets in Scarlet is the second book in my Rookery Rogues series, it can be read as a standalone. It’s a historical romantic suspense set in Spitalfields, London. One night, Thaddeus Knight, a sergeant with the Metropolitan Police, finds a young girl beaten and bloodied outside of the Larker factory. He’s not able to save her and she passes away in his arms. He’s determined to solve the case and get justice for her family. My heroine, Poppy “Corrigan” O’Reilly (the sister of the hero in my first book), works at the same weaving factory where the girl is murdered, and Thaddeus recruits her to be his eyes and ears and report back to him any suspicious goings-on at work. Poppy knows she shouldn’t get close to Thaddeus, because he could reveal to everyone that she’s not really the war widow she claims to be—Poppy was seduced by a blackguard and bore an illegitimate child, Moira. Knowing that society would look down on Moira and treat her badly, Poppy will do anything to protect her daughter from having to go through life as a bastard. But as she and Thaddeus work together, their desire for one another grows too strong to be denied.
MM: I like the sound of that. What do you find the hardest part about the writing process?
EM: I really, really, really hate drafting. Beginnings are always the most difficult for me. I rewrite my beginning usually 3-4 times as I’m drafting, when I’ve figured out new things. I need that solid foundation to work from, and I’m definitely not a writer who can just forge forward full steam ahead until I know where I’m going. I work best when I’m in the middle of the book. Everything’s been established then, and I have a clear idea of who the characters are and I usually have a better handle on my suspense subplot. My critique partner Rebecca Paula likes to joke that I forget the suspense plot from 1/3 of the way into the book until the last third—I always have to edit the suspense scenes the most and introduce red herrings and so forth.
MM: What is your favorite part of writing then, and why?
EM: I enjoy editing. It’s so much easier for me to picture everything and feel how the book should be once I have that heinous first draft. It at least gives me a framework. Every book I write usually runs through about 4-7 drafts when it comes down to it. My first novel, A Dangerous Invitation, was admittedly a gigantic cluster because I was still really trying to figure out who I was as a writer. So it took a lot more editing to get everything together. Secrets in Scarlet on the other hand, drafted cleaner, and it was also written in a shorter time frame so I really had time to “live” in the book.
MM: So you plan your books out? Do you outline?
EM: I am definitely a plotter. Much as I don’t like to make last minute plans in my real life, I don’t like to work without a net when writing. (Change is not my friend.) Most of my critique partners are “pantsers,” meaning they write without an idea of what’s going to happen next. To them, my intense outlines and revisions as I go sounds nuts.
I use the Cherry Adair plotting board method, which I learned from this awesome blog post by Kira Brady, which seems to have sadly disappeared from her website. There’s another explanation of it here (http://tracichee.blogspot.com/2014/04/the-plotting-board.html). What I love about this method is that it allows me to get down a really rough idea, while each of the colors kind of reminds me I have many different elements I need to plan for. I do this for every book, but then I pretty much end up changing that rough outline oh about, 17 times before I get to the end of the book. Usually, when I hit about 40,000 on my drafts, I stop and reevaluate.
MM: What’s next in your series?
EM: I’ve got a novella coming out this winter called Beauty and the Rake, which features Abigail Vautille and Michael Strickland from Secrets in Scarlet. Then the next full length Rookery Rogues novel, Scandal Becomes You, will be out in late spring of 2015.
MM: Thanks for coming today! We have an excerpt from Secrets in Scarlet too.
In this excerpt, Poppy and Thaddeus bond over investigating the case.
She checked the pinning of her hat to make sure it was secure. Her fingers were callused. Another thing his family would disapprove of, for she was a working woman and her body bore the signs of it. Yet to him, calluses meant she cared enough about something to try for it.
“I think I understand now, why you do what you do. There’s something invigorating about going through that file.” She bit her lip, unsure if her reaction had been appropriate. “Obviously, I wish it hadn’t happened, and that Anna was with us. But…”
“It’s the puzzle,” he finished for her.
She nodded. “Precisely. Going over the different possibilities with you and weighing the options. I enjoyed tonight.” Her smile sent his heart racing.
He loved that smile. Hell, he knew that smile. The allure of “investigation fever,” as he liked to term it, had struck her too. Cheeks pinked with the notion she’d save the world somehow, she was stunning. He ached to tell her so—but he was a coward, a blind coward.
“Poppy,” he breathed more than spoke.
She inclined her head toward him, imploring him to continue speaking. Had he lost his mind? Was he fit for the madhouse to think there could be something more with her?
He was a man on the precipice, readying himself to jump off a cliff, and that jump would change his life forever.
“Thaddeus.” His name sounded like silk upon her lips, smooth and luxurious. A name for a man who could conquer nations, change the power structure of the world, and help others to find purpose in life.
And he believed he could do all those things with her help.
Erica will give away one e-copy to a commenter. Tell her your favorite thing about historical romance. Please leave your name and email if you would like a chance to win a copy of Erica's latest book.
Erica Monroe is a USA Today Bestselling Author of emotional, suspenseful romance. Her debut novel, A Dangerous Invitation, was nominated in the published historical category for the prestigious 2014 Daphne du Maurier Award for Excellence in Romantic Suspense. When not writing, she is a chronic TV watcher, sci-fi junkie, lover of pit bulls, and shoe fashionista. She lives in the suburbs of North Carolina with her husband, two dogs, and a cat.