I had the great honor of reading and reviewing an ARC of Her Notorious Viscount by Jenna Petersen. Now I have the privilege to interview the author of this Historical Romance coming out in April 2009. So please take a second to read about this sensational story filled with passion, love, danger, intrigue, and the intricate society of the ton.
Hello Jenna! Thank you for taking the time to answer my questions for your fans. Why don’t you start by telling us a little about the story, Her Notorious Viscount?
Sure! In Her Notorious Viscount, my hero Nicholas is given a title when his twin brother dies in a terrible accident. But Nicholas has been living in London’s Underground making a living as a pugilist (or boxer). He is in no way a gentleman anymore and so he turns to my heroine, Jane to help make him one again. Her brother is missing and she agrees to help him in exchange for him using his connections in the Underground to search for him. Of course they fall in love and things get… complicated. :)
Due to an unfortunate death in the family, Jane’s life was turned upside down. Did you find any relevance in history to the basis for her story?
It’s really in very recent history that women like Jane weren’t dependent on male relatives for their comfort and even their survival. In my book, Jane’s father has died and her brother is missing and declared dead. She is entirely dependent upon her cousin, who she despises, for her welfare. This is most definitely true to the time. The men in a heroine’s life controlled her money, her physical location and could even have her declared unfit or incompetent if he wished to do so.
But I didn’t want Jane to be a weak heroine, which is why she has flouted her cousin’s wishes and gotten a position as a lady’s companion. If a woman could do that, she would have at least a little more control over her own destiny. Still, putting my heroines in rather precarious positions is a great deal of fun and I hope makes their stories a little more interesting.
Nicholas is shown as a wastrel and rogue, a man who goes underground for his pleasures. In the 19th century, was there such a place as the underground?
Oh yes! There were so many poor areas of London where fighting, gambling and all other kinds of vice (like opium, prostitution and the like) ran wild. A man could truly be destroyed there, which is why it’s such an interesting place. Definitely not a place where a gentleman who wasn’t in dire straits would be found, except Nicholas of course who has sort of made that place home.
I found the 19th century came alive under your writing. Did you do a lot of research for this novel?
My previous books have all been set in more polite society (a few times in the Lady Spies books they hinted at the Underground), so I did want to find out more about the underbelly of London. Also about pugilism during that time. I’m a big fan of MMA (Mixed Martial Arts), so I had the actual fighting down pretty well, but I needed more details for that actual time period.
For the main characters Nicholas and Jane, did you base them on any real people from history?
I hope they’re true to their time, but no. I find it more interesting to build characters of my own and not depend too much on what a real person did or said at the time. I have had books that featured real people, though not as heroes or heroines. In the Lady Spies, the Prince Regent is a strong element of SEDUCTION IS FOREVER.
Both Nicholas’ friend “Rage” and his sister-in-law Lucinda have some characteristics that stand out. Are you going to write about these two in a future writing? (Please say you are!!)
I hope I’ll be able to. I really love Rage and I think Lucinda, who is the widow of my hero’s brother, deserves to be happy after such a devastating loss. I rather think the two of them would be very interesting together. My next book, WHAT THE DUKE DESIRE (November 2009) actually starts a new series called The Billingham Bastards and Rage could fit very nicely in that series if it does well and I can write multiple books in it.
Your website is fantastic! I stopped by to check it out and I saw a mention that you married your high school sweetheart. Can you tell us how long you have been married?
Thanks! My husband designed jennapetersen.com and I maintain it myself. We have been married for 12 years on March 21. Last year we were on the Great Wall of China for our 11th Anniversary, so I’m not sure how we’ll top that this year. LOL
I love your idea from your young age of what an author is and does. Where did you get the ideas you did about love, life, driving that expensive car?
I think probably movies, which always show very successful writers in LA and in movies hardly anyone has a successful love life (at least until the end of the book). I mean, think of it… Joan Wilder in Romancing the Stone (although she WAS in New York), Billy Crystal in Throw Mama From the Train… those movies probably gave me an idea of what a “successful” writer was. Thankfully, they were not true.
Your website also states you run a website called The Passionate Pen. Can you tell the readers about this website? Do you have an address for us to peek at it?
The Passionate Pen is a site for aspiring romance authors. It features a list of romance publishers, as well as literary agents who take romance fiction. I also have articles for writers there and my diary to publication and beyond. I started it ten years ago in 1999, so we’re actually doing a HUGE anniversary celebration this year. If you come to the site and click “Happy Anniversary” in the left hand menu, you’ll see there are interviews with agents and editors, as well as a contest every month (with huge prizes that both readers and writers can enjoy) and a top ten list, as well as comments from visitors who wanted to share what the site has meant to them over the years.
You write under a pseudonym as Jess Michaels. Do you have a different website address for her?
My Jess Michaels are erotic historical romance, so a much steamer version of the Jenna Petersen books. They’re also all set in the Regency period. My 2007 release EVERYTHING FORBIDDEN was named Best Erotic Historical Romance of the year by Lifetime Television, which I’m very proud of! You can find all the info about my Jess Michaels books (which takes you to a sub-page, so if you’re on the Jenna site you can just click the link in the menu, too).
While we are at it, do you have any other websites for us to check out? MySpace? Facebook? Blog?
Well, I have a MySpace page - I do blog there regularly and answer reader and writer questions. I also have a Facebook.
Plus, I have a new beautiful newsletter that I send out via email monthly!
You have Her Notorious Viscount, which is a Historical Romance. Then I see a novel with a very HOT picture called a red hot valentine’s day. Is this contemporary? Do you write any other genres? Any you would like to? What about any you would not want to write about?
A RED HOT VALENTINE’S DAY is actually an anthology. There are two historical stories, one paranormal and one contemporary. My novella is called “By Valentine’s Day” and is a historical romance set in the Regency period. I also have another Jess Michaels release on April 21 called TABOO, also a historical. Honestly, I love writing Regency-set books. I don’t really get tons of ideas in other genres. I think I’ll stick with historical.
You got a degree in Psychology from the University of Washington and became a writer. How did you go from psychology to writing?
I think I just loved writing more than I loved psychology. I had ever intention of getting my MA in Counseling, but I wasn’t very happy as I got ready to go back to school. Versus the actual act of writing is a very happy thing for me. So it seemed like a much more natural place.
Your bio on your website mentions some of your favorite things. Can you tell the readers who some of your favorite authors are? What are your favorite kinds of movies?
I have a lot of favorite authors. I love Kathryn Smith, Jacquie D’Alessandro, Lisa Kleypas and Julia Quinn in romance. I’m also a fan of Neil Gaimen, LM Montgomery and Thomas Harris outside of our genre. As far as favorite kinds of movies, I really love romantic comedies/romances. Some favorites are Sense and Sensibility, Return to Me, While You Were Sleeping and The Wedding Singer. And I’m really into documentaries currently. Although sometimes they can be very disturbing. LOL
And now we move on to a couple of quirky questions that I find are fun to ask. I hope you find them fun to answer. With your writing in historical romance, do you have a favorite person from history? If you could be any one person from history, who would it be and why?
It’s hard for me to pick one person in history. I am a great admirer of Lincoln and Washington. I think that there are so many people it would be interesting to meet and talk to, though.
Nicholas is so sensual and erotic. If there was a movie out about Her Notorious Viscount, which sexy actor would you want to play his part and why?
You know, as a big fan of MMA, I always pictured Nicholas as a bit of a UFC type guy. I didn’t base him on any one fighter, but I do love Forrest Griffin, Roger Huerta, Randy Couture, George St. Pierre and Kenny Florian.
And one last question I like to ask all of my interviewees. In keeping with the Coffee Time Romance theme, if you were described by comparing yourself to a flavor of coffee, what flavor would you be and why?
I’d be a pumpkin latte, I think. Something sweet, I’ve never been much for bitter coffee. :) Also, I think it’s warm and seasonal and hey… anything with whipped cream is good.
Thank you so much for taking the time to answer my questions. I had a great time reading your novel and hope to see more of your work in the future.
Thanks so much! I had a fun time with the interview and I’m so glad you enjoyed the book! I hope readers will love it as much! It’s available March 31 in stores everywhere!