Thank you to the lovely and talented author, Virginie Marconato, for taking the time to answer some fun bookish questions. She writes amazing medieval romance novels that you will absolutely want to check out. You can find my review of The White Devil's Shadow, which she mentions in this interview, in a few days, so be sure to check back! Read on to find out all about her writing, books, and a few fun personal facts.
When did you first start writing?
Not very original, but I’ve always written in some form of other. It’s the natural evolution for someone who loves to read, I think, and as soon as I could read I devoured books. One day out of the blue I thought, others do it, why not me? At first I dabbled at poetry, contemporary romance then one day it hit me. What was I doing? My path was historical romance! There was no looking back.
That book is now the White Devil’s Shadow.
Why did you start writing?
Because I couldn’t not start, I think. My fingers would have itched too much and my brain might have exploded.
What or who inspires your writing?
Everything ang anything! Inspiration is everywhere. It’s sorting out what’s promising and what’s just fluff that is more difficult. Of course visiting ruined castles helps but it could be anything. Listening to a historical documentary, looking out over a beautiful landscape, listening to a piece of music, seeing an animal, anything can trigger an idea. Then generally I take a long walk to let it develop in my head. I suppose it’s a bit like picking a flower bud and then waiting for the petals to unfurl. Sometimes it takes longer than you would like but you have to be patient. It will open eventually.
Is writing a therapeutic process for you? How does your writing help you?
I don’t see it that way. It’s pure pleasure for me.
What is the most difficult part of your writing process?
Writing is the fun part the part for me, I could do all day!!! I love everything about it. It’s what comes after I find more challenging… The marketing and trying to reach readers who will love your stories, finding the exposure.
Are you a plotter or a pantser?
Definitely a pantser! I cannot be doing with rigid structures, especially in creative endeavours. Seems counterproductive and restrictive to someone with my personality.
What comes first for you – the plot of the characters – and why?
It’s usually a key scene. Then I work out what type of people would find themselves in this situation and why, and it goes from there, like watching an ink drop fall on a wet page and then blossom into many ramifications all at once. I would be unable to explain this method to anyone, or even advise anyone to work this way but it works for me.
How do you develop your plot and characters?
I watch my ink stain develop, to expand on my metaphor, and see what has possibilities. Sometimes you meet a dead end, sometimes a detail that was unimportant at first becomes the key to everything. It really depends. Every book is different. I really don’t have a method, that’s what makes it exciting. If I followed one I would get as bored as I do following a recipe in the kitchen.
How do you process and deal with a negative book review?
It’s not easy, I will not lie. At least when it’s pertinent. Sometimes you get reviews that are bad only because this person and your book were never going to be a good match. So I manage not to take them too personally. For example the exact same book as been literally been described as too steamy by person A, lacking in spice by person B and just right for person C… So you can only do what you judge best. If I serve Mexican food to a person who doesn’t even own a pepper mill, they will not give it the time of day. It doesn’t mean it’s not good, just that it’s not for them.
When the criticism is about something less subjective, then of course you go back and try to rectify it.
What advice would you give to a writer working on their first book?
Persevere. If deep down, no matter what, you’re enjoying writing stories and you think you’re doing it right, you probably are, and someone else will agree with you eventually. You won’t appeal to everyone every time but then, no one does.
Did you choose to write romance or did it choose you?
Both. Like the best things in life it’s a partnership. Romance appeals to me so I chose this path, but then again I think I’m the right kind of person to do it justice because of the way I approach life.
Which book is your favorite that you have published so far?
Wow! I think there would be a problem if I didn’t love each of them! It would mean I didn’t write them as good as I should have… But… I do have a fondness for Dark Highlander, which is out in a few days. This is one of those books that just wanted to be born. It would not leave me alone until I wrote it even though I was in the middle of two others. I had to drop everything and see to it. And Cormac is the stuff of dreams!
Are any of your books part of a series or are they all standalones?
They’re all standalone but a series is not out of the question.
Do you base your characters on real people?
Aspects of them, yes. Not full characters.
Which of your characters do you relate to the most and why?
Ooh, I don’t know. As I said, I tend to create them with bits from everywhere, so none of them really resemble me in the end. I can relate to Blanche’s need for independence, I feel for Rose’s predicament, I understand Hazel’s rebellious nature, for example but I don’t feel I have ever really been in their shoes.
How much research do you need for your books?
A little. But not too much as I have spent the last 25 years reading about Middle Ages and visiting every castle I can. I know enough to give me a good head start each time.
If you could meet your characters, what would you say to them?
Thank you for giving me so many hours of pleasure and turning out to be so compelling! It’s like my children. I created them but then as they grew they took a life of their own and made their own path. It was a privilege to see them do it.
What is your favorite quote from one of your books?
Oh, that’s hard… Perhaps this from Dark Highlander, when Hazel realises she has fallen in love with Cormac.
“It was not a love that had turned her world upside down all at once, but a love that had grown day by day, with relentless constancy, until it was the only thing she could see when she examined her soul. It was the love of a mature woman, motivated by respect and understanding, not a blaze started by a girlish admiration in front of a beautiful man.”
Now, this I can relate to. We are told that love will strike like thunder but sometimes it just creeps on you.
What is your favorite trope to write?
I love so many of them… Enemies to lovers, friends to lovers, forced proximity, second chance are amongst my favourite.
How long did it take you to write each book? If one book took longer to write, why?
It depends, between 2 and 6 months. Some come more easily, and I don’t really know why.
How would you describe your book’s ideal reader?
Someone I would love to have a chat and a drink with. I imagine that if they like me, they will like my books and vice-versa.
Are your books wide or only in Amazon?
Some are self-published only on Amazon, some have been published with publishers and available through their website.
Tell us a little about each book or a little about a new release?
I’m in love with all my heroes and I wish I were all my heroines… I wish I could live with them.
What do you need in your writing space to help you stay focused.
I don’t have a writing space per se, but I do need calm. So it’s best if the children are away!
What is your favorite writing snack or drink?
Ooh, a nice cheese with crusty bread is always welcome! And a glass of wine. How French am I?
If you could spend a day with another author, whom would you choose and why?
Just one? Amy Jarecki, Lecia Cornwall, Heather McCollum all write books in a similar style and appear to have a genuine love for what they do so I would learn a lot and from the few exchanges we’ve had I can tell they would be good company and a good laugh.
How do you celebrate when you finish your book?
By starting the one I tried to hold on to while I finished it! I don’t really do anything special.
What risks have you taken with your writing that have paid off?
With my writing… I tried to write a book with many flashbacks in it. That was hard to put in place but very satisfying.
What has helped or hindered you the most when writing a book?
As I said, the writing of the book is really not something I have struggled with. It’s the aftermath!
How many hours a day do you write?
It depends on my availability. It could be between 30 min to 6 hours… Again, no rigid schedule! Sometimes it flows more freely than others.
Be sure to follow Virginie Marconato to see her books and find out all her upcoming bookish news!