Interview with Vanessa Kelly
Susana: What comes first: the plot or the characters?
Vanessa: It seems to change from book to book. If I had to come down on one side or the other, I’d say character, although sometimes I do get story concepts from watching a movie or from reading. But usually it’s a character that appears in my head and refuses to let go. That’s what happened with Dominic Hunter, the hero of Tall, Dark, and Royal. I came across a few references in a biography to an interesting but very little known historical personage. In my head, he turned into Dominic Hunter. From there came the entire series concept for The Renegade Royals.
Susana: Are you a plotter or a pantser?
Vanessa: I’m a crazy plotter. I work up plot boards, character biographies, goal and motivation charts, character trait charts, and write a long synopsis before I actually start writing the book. It gives me a comfort level to get through any dry spells that might crop up. It’s also a process I really enjoy and find a lot of fun.
Susana: Tell us something about your newest release that is NOT in the blurb.
Vanessa: Dominic Hunter’s story began in the introductory novella to my Renegade Royals series as a fourteen-year old boy. His story arc and romantic journey takes place over the next two books before reaching a final resolution in Tall, Dark, and Royal. I really enjoyed creating a character with such a substantial role in the first four stories of the series.
Susana: Are you working on something at present that you would like to tell us about?
Vanessa: I’m working on the concept for a spin-off series to The Renegade Royals with my editor. So far it’s a lot of fun, especially since it means certain characters from the first series of books will reappear in the new series. Of course, I still have two more books to come out in my current series!
Susana: What are you reading now?
Vanessa: Rogue Spy, by Joanna Bourne. Her mastery of plot and characterization, combined with the sheer beauty of her prose, is really awe-inspiring. She’s just an amazing writer.
Susana: If your publisher offered to fly you anywhere in the world to do research on an upcoming project, where would you mostly likely want to go? Why?
Vanessa: Scotland—I’m starting to write more Regencies set in the Highlands, and I’d love to see that part of the world in person. I went to Scotland once when I was a teenager, and I never forgot it. It’s so flat-out beautiful, and its history is fascinating, tragic, colorful, and triumphant all at once.
Susana: Do you have a favorite quote or saying?
Vanessa: “The only thing necessary for the triumph of evil is for good men to do nothing.” ~Edmund Burke. That’s pretty much the moral philosophy that informs the actions of both my heroes and heroines.
Susana: Do you write in multiple genres or just one? If just one, would you consider straying outside your genre?
Vanessa: I do write in multiple genres. I write historical romance under my own name, and I write contemporary romance and romantic suspense with my husband as V.K. Sykes. We actually have a new contemporary romance series coming out from Grand Central Publishing at the end of February. The first book is called Meet Me at the Beach, and it’s set in a small island community in Maine.
I’m giving away an ARC of my next book in The Renegade Royals Series. For a chance to win a copy of How to Plan a Wedding for a Royal Spy, just tell me a few of your favorite character traits in a romance hero.
About Tall, Dark and Royal
He’s the man behind the mission to track down the illegitimate children of England’s Royal Princes and help them get their due. But his deepest desire is far more personal…
Magnificent and stubborn. Fourteen years apart had not changed Chloe Steele, or Dominic Hunter’s love for her. He’d been a street urchin, a boy raised at court, and finally a magistrate, yet he’d never belonged anywhere—except by her side. Now Chloe devoted herself to girls threatened by scandal–like she had been. But she was in danger, and Dominic was determined to help–and hopefully make up for lost time…
Even in childhood, Dominic had made Chloe feel safe. Now she also felt thrillingly flustered by the powerful man he’d become, and by the longing he inspired. Because Dominic meant not only to protect her, but to untangle the lies that had separated them. Yet for Chloe, surrendering to temptation may be easier than risking a future that could ruin them both…
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Vanessa’s current series, The Renegade Royals, is a national bestseller. The first book in the series, Secrets for Seducing a Royal Bodyguard, received a starred review from Publishers Weekly.
…Second-chance romance brought tears to my eyes: 5/5 stars
Chloe has spent twenty-eight years of her life feeling unworthy, hiding from the world, because of a childhood tragedy that was not her fault. Eventually, her life takes a turn for the better, and she finds fulfillment in running a home for unfortunate girls who have suffered in much the same way she has.
Dominic spent many of those years searching for her, and when he was informed that she had died, he immersed himself in his work—a sort of Bow Street Runner for royals and government entities.His search continues when he discovers she is alive, but when he finds her, she’s not the same fourteen-year-old he knew.
He wants to love and protect her. She has survived on her own for twenty-eight years and won’t settle for anything less than an equal partnership. Is it too late for the two of them to merge their lives together?
Ms. Kelly has a deft hand with characterization. Dominic is quite swoon-worthy, and I’d fall for him in an instant if my heart were not already taken by Outlander’s Jamie Fraser. Chloe is a strong, independent woman, not untainted by her unfortunate past, but tenacious and determined because of them.
Yes, I confess to having to wipe away tears more than once while reading this story.
I strongly recommend buying the entire series as I am doing! You won’t regret it!
About the Author
Vanessa Kelly is an award-winning author who was named by Booklist, the review journal of the American Library Association, as one of the “New Stars of Historical Romance.” Her sensual, Regency-set historical romances have been nominated for awards in a number of contests, and her second book, Sex and The Single Earl, won the prestigious Maggie Medallion for Best Historical Romance. Her third book, My Favorite Countess, was nominated for an RT Reviewers’ Choice Award for Best Regency Historical Romance.
He must be intelligent, witty and have a great sense of humor.
Agree completely, Mary!
He must always be tall. I like confidence and honesty. In a peer, arrogance is OK. LOL
Those peers do like to swagger, Suzanne!
Tough and be very intelligent, great sense of humor and love deeply.
That’s a great list, Sharon!
Tall, dark and handsome! And just a little bit bad.
So true, Cindy!
Tall, a little arrogance, intelligent, humor, and loving! The classic traits….well exclude the arrogance and yes it is classic.
I’m so excited for the next book in the series! I finish Dominic’s book the day it was release and I’m so happy! Can I say the ending was the best part?!
Thank you so much, Sandy! I really loved writing Dominic and Chloe’s happy ending.
He must be funny… A good sense of humor is a must.
I totes agree, Katie!
A tortured hero who needs someone to love him. Like Beauty and the Beast.
Honorable, intelligent, strong & passionate
Wonderful characteristics of a hero, Linda!
A few of my favorite character traits in a roromance hero would be passionate, fun loving, devotion, humor, little bit of a bad boy, and loves everything outdoors. There is so much more I could add, but I don’t think my husband wants all his traits laid out! 😉
I have my romance hero, but I still love reading about all the others and it never gets old.
You are a lucky woman, Amy – and he’s a lucky man, too!!
Tall,good looking,passionate,and honest..
Honesty is SO important! Glad to meet another Vanessa!
I think he must be caring, smart and honest
sense of loyatly/honor (even if the “to what” is questionable), sense of humor (even if hidden or quirky), intelligence (has to eventually realize he’s beat & give in to love)
He must be tall, dark, and handsome. He must also be a bit of a bad boy too!
Handsome, built, loyal, loving, sense of humor.
Tall, dark-haired, piercing blue eyes, intelligent and with a good sense of humour. Not necessarily overly handsome but needs to have that little something that will attract me (piercing eyes are one of those things and charisma, lots of charisma). Love it when he’s a bit of a bad boy but one with a hidden heart of gold.
The character traits I look for are integrity, loyalty, a sense of humor, and a tendency to be a bit of a rebel, to want to do things his way.
i love a hero who is very alpha with a protective streak – not a domineering one.
Bravery, loyal and smart!
Thank you so much for this interview!! ❤
The qualities I need in my hero are: Someone who's foolishly fearless… Who would stop at nothing to get what he wants all the while remaining honest and loyal. A bad boy, but a good guy. 😉
I love Ms. Kelly’s books and I look forward to reading both books featured! I like a man that’s honest, loyal and a beautiful backside!