Today, we have Rachel Brimble visiting to talk her new book and her writing career. Let’s get started…
What kind of research did you do for Victoria & Violet? Did you travel, use the Internet, speak with experts on a topic, etc?
The research was quite intense because I really wanted to get to know Queen Victoria as a young woman, when she was just two or three years into her reign which is when the book takes place. I am a huge British royalty geek so have lots and lots of non-fiction books on Victoria’s court and royal protocol etc which I read cover to cover. Plus, I watched MANY documentaries on Victoria and Victorian life in general. I also found some amazing letters, advertisements etc from the time in my local History & Archive center. I could spend hours there!
Sounds fascinating. What process did you go through when you picked your characters’ names for Victoria & Violet?
I honestly don’t have a process…the same with titles! I am awful at choosing both and definitely leave the titles to my publisher whenever possible. For Victoria & Violet it was a little easier – because I was writing about the relationship between Victoria and her maid, I decided to use the same first letter for the maid’s name too in the hope it would look good as a title. My editor agreed with me!
Are your characters based on anyone you know?
No…well, not consciously anyway! I think my characters are more likely to have aspects of me and my life than anyone else’s. Most writers find their work incredibly cathartic, and I am no different – I have been known to voice a few controversial opinions through my characters, haha!
I think a lot of authors voice their opinions through their characters. I certainly do in a first draft, but then I cut it back in edits. Do any of your characters take over and write the book themselves sometimes? Who?
That definitely happened from time to time with the hero in Victoria & Violet – James Greene is quite a forthright character and, as assistant to the prime minister Lord Melbourne, he is used to speaking to royalty and dignitaries. With a lot of his scenes, it was like taking dictation, which was fabulous.
Haha! What do you prefer: ebook or print? Why?
I love both and I am usually reading one of each at any one time – I tend to use my Kindle when I am in the bath, waiting at appointments or walking the dog (seriously!) and a hardback or paperback in bed or relaxing somewhere.
How long have you been writing? When did you decide to become an author?
My first book was published in 2007 and I have had at least one book published every year since – I decided I wanted to be an author when I was around nine or ten having discovered Enid Blyton’s Secret Seven series. However, life got in the way and I after leaving school at 16, I worked in a bank for 10 years. It wasn’t until my youngest daughter started school full time that I started writing towards publication. The rest is history!
Life always seems to get in the way of dreams. Happy you got back on the writing horse! What did you do when you received your first Acceptance Letter?
Screamed and screamed some more!! Then I think my family and I went out for a celebratory dinner 😊
All writers suffer from writer’s block at least once in their career. What’s your go-to cure?
To write through it – always. I am very much a plotter and have a good idea of my books’ structure before I begin the actual writing. Therefore, I trust myself and just keep writing the first draft without stopping, knowing I have additional drafts in which I can edit, correct and delete!
Sometimes the romance genre gets a bad reputation for being cliché and full of Fabios. How do you respond to that?
I think that reputation tends to come from people who have never read a romance novel! I always respond by first asking which books they have read and whether or not they have actually read one or a few, I will always on go to say about how many romance subgenres there are and set down the challenge that they try all of them before they assume anything…they might be pleasantly surprised!
We all need a little inspiration in our lives. What’s your favorite quote and why?
“Set it up the way you want it to be.” Iyanla Vanzant
I love this because of the truth of it – it usually comes with age, but there comes a point when you realise if you say no to the things you don’t want to do and yes to opportunities, it can be live changing. We are all capable of carving out a better life for ourselves, it just takes courage!
So true. Any advice for the aspiring authors out there? Particularly those who are feeling a little discouraged?
Absolutely! I remember only too well how it felt to be an aspiring writer with all the anxiety, waiting, hoping, blood, sweat and tears. My biggest advice is to keep going and, more than that, give yourself permission to write a crappy first draft! This is what I live by with my own work. Get that first draft down and then you can edit to your heart’s content. The most important thing for any aspiring writer to know is that they can finish a book and the only way to do that is write and finish one! The rest will come 😊
In fact, it’s because I want to ‘pay it forward’ that I started my First Chapter Critique service in 2019. With this service, I review the opening 3,500 words of the writer’s novel and then critique the pages as well as providing them with a 3-4 page report on dialogue, characterization, setting etc. If any of your visitors are interested, here’s the link: https://rachelbrimble.com/first-chapter-critique-service/
That’s so nice of you to offer! How do you market your books? What do you find more effective?
I mostly market through my social media platforms as well as online readers and writers’ groups – I also market locally with three other romance writers through talks and workshops at libraries and bookshops.
Although, I’m still not sure I’ve worked out what works yet, haha!
What is your favorite book? Favorite author?
I’m not sure I have a favourite book as I read so much and love so many – as for my favourite authors, for contemporary reading I love Nora Roberts & Jodi Picoult and for historical I love Philippa Gregory, Julia London and Julia Quinn
Besides writing and reading, what are some of your hobbies?
I love knitting and jigsaw puzzles – in fact, both are a bit of an obsession. I am always doing one or the other while indulging in my other hobby…watching far too much TV!
What’s your most bizarre life experience?
Being rescued by helicopter from a clubhouse roof during the 2010 French floods – it was the most bizarre experience, but also the most terrifying. Something I will never forget…
Wow! That must’ve been crazy. Thank you for sharing. I’m glad you stopped by for a visit!
It should be a dream come true to serve the Queen of England…
When Violet Parker is told she will be Queen Victoria’s personal housemaid, she cannot
believe her good fortune. She finally has the chance to escape her overbearing mother, a
servant to the Duchess of Kent.
Violet hopes to explore who she is and what the world has to offer without her mother’s
schemes overshadowing her every thought and action.
Then she meets James Greene, assistant to the queen’s chief political adviser, Lord
Melbourne. From entirely different backgrounds and social class, Violet and James should
have neither need nor desire to speak to one another, yet through their service, their paths
cross and their lives merge—as do their feelings.
Only Victoria’s court is not always the place for romance, but rather secrets, scandals, and
Rachel lives in a small town near Bath, England. She is the author of 29 novels including the Ladies of Carson Street trilogy, the Shop Girl series (Aria Fiction) and the Templeton Cove Stories (Harlequin). Her latest novel, Victoria & Violet is the first book in her new Royal Maids series with the Wild Rose Press and released 17th October 2022.
Rachel is a member of the Romantic Novelists Association as well as the Historical Novel Society and has thousands of social media followers all over the world.
To sign up for her newsletter (a guaranteed giveaway every month!), click here: https://bit.ly/3zyH7dt