The Minxes have been looking forward to this day for aaaggggeesss! Why? Because we have serious Minx-Love for India Grey!!! Her books go straight to the Keeper Shelves of all the Minxes and we are thrilled, thrilled, thrilled to welcome her here today. Ahem. Okay, before we scare her off with our manic heroine-worship, here's India...
Where were you in your writing career 5 years ago?
Five years ago I had no writing career, and didn’t really imagine that I ever would have one! The previous year (September 2004) I’d seen in our local paper that a new writer’s group was being set up in the town where I live. Deep down I very much wanted to go, but thanks to three small children and a part-time job - which often involved evenings - I told myself I had neither the time nor the energy. Of course, what I really didn’t have was the confidence, and when I finally admitted that I had to spend ages going through our recycling bin to find the newspaper and get the number of the person running it. Who turned out to be Penny Jordan.
In January 2005 she encouraged me to have a go at writing the opening chapter of a Mills&Boon Modern/Presents (just like New Voices!) which I did, and emailed off to her. Unbeknownst to me, she then sent it straight to her editor at Richmond, whose feedback was astonishingly positive. The editor asked me to keep going and let her have three chapters and a synopsis as soon as I could. It was an enormous thrill, but also a complete shock, and the start of eighteen months of hard work as I negotiated several dead ends and wrong turnings, and tried to get my head around the fact that something that for years had been nothing but wishful thinking was finally looking like a possibility.
Where did you get the idea from for this particular book?
Ah, that’s easy because Emily’s Innocence is part of the Balfour Legacy continuity series, which means an outline of the story was given to me by the editorial team. However, although the idea was easy to come by, actually bringing it to life and making it mine was quite a challenge.
Where do you hope to be in 5 years time?
Gosh, usually looking ahead to the end of the week is a bit overwhelming for me, so thinking ahead five whole years feels terrifying. I’m the kind of person who is deeply intimidated by change, so I hope things are still pretty much the same.
Which was the last book you read that you wish you'd written?
I recently re-read E.M. Delafield’s Diary of a Provincial Lady, which I adore and admire in equal measure. E.M Delafield was the original Bridget Jones – only older, provincial (the clue to that is in the title) and married, which gives me loads more in common with her than urban singleton Bridget. Although the book is set 80 years ago, in an era that has vanished forever, the humour is still utterly sparkling. I really wish I’d written it (preferably with a fountain pen, with tea in a rose-patterned china cup on the walnut writing desk beside me.) I also think that, were she alive today, Delafield would make a world-class blogger.
Was there any particular author or book that made you want to be a writer?
The first romance book that I ever read was Imogen by Jilly Cooper when I was ten, and from the moment I turned the first page I felt like I’d stumbled into a world where I belonged. From then on I devoured all her books, and if I couldn’t be a slender blonde show-jumping prodigy or a wickedly sexy journalist, I decided the next best thing was to be the person that created the vivid, racy, romantic world they lived in.
Do you find writing love scenes giggle-worthy or cringe-worthy?
At risk of sounding a bit weird, I actually find writing them really intense. They’re always the scenes where the emotional threads are pulled tightest and where each character’s conflict is at its most heightened. If a love scene is difficult to write it often means that the relationship between the characters isn’t really working and some back-tracking is required to fix what’s wrong, so it’s a bit of a testing point in the writing process. And since it’s also where past and present, body and mind, internal and external conflict collide, there’s so much to think about that there’s no time to giggle or cringe. I do often feel in need of a glass of wine and a cigarette when I get to the end though. (And I’m a confirmed non-smoker!)
What's the most romantic moment of your life so far?
*blushes* I would get into SERIOUS trouble if I broadcast that on the internet…
What do you wish you'd known about being an author before you were pubbed?
Hmmm… that’s a difficult one, since I didn’t really have any expectations (only profound gratitude!) I suppose I wish I’d known that creativity is only a small part of the job, and administrative organization, time-management and iron self-discipline are also vital. I would have worked harder to acquire those skills earlier on in life, before I became a completely hopeless case.
What's the best writing advice you've ever been given?
Write something. And then submit it. (That came from Penny Jordan and without having it spelt out to me I’d still be failing to work the till properly and giving the wrong change in Laura Ashley)
Tell us about your latest release.
My latest release is the third book in the Balfour Legacy series, which is about the eight daughters of wealthy, powerful Oscar Balfour. My heroine is Emily, the adored baby of the family, who has lived a charmed and sheltered life and dedicated herself to becoming a prima ballerina. She’s serious, focused, determined and she applies the same rigorous expectations she has of herself to those around her, which means louche, idle playboy Luis Cordoba is top of the list of people she disapproves of.
I love those kind of ‘opposites attract’ stories. It’s enormously satisfying to take two characters who, on the surface, seem to be the antithesis of each other, and gradually unpick this and show how they actually complement each other perfectly. I find that kind of psychology in romance fascinating, and creating characters that fit together, psychologically, is one of the most interesting parts of the job for me.
What’s next for you?
The book I’m working on at the moment is a bit different (and a lot exciting) in that it’s part of a duo which features the same hero and heroine in both books. I’m loving writing it as it’s giving me scope to develop the characters and the world of the book a little more deeply than usual – and as people who read my blog might know, I always go waaaaay over the maximum word count in my books, so I’m liking the freedom of a longer story. However, it also means there’s more chance to take a wrong turning. As I’m discovering…
You can keep in touch with India by visiting http://www.indiagrey.blogspot.com/ or
Buy Emily's Innocence
It's been a blast having you here today, India. Many, many thanks :)