Writing, Work and Wine With … Louise Allen

Louise Allen is passionate about the regency period and about being an author. She lives in a village on the North Norfolk coast with her husband, who is not sure whether to be flattered or alarmed to be told he is the inspiration for all her romantic heroes! However, he does enjoy all the research trips, whether abroad, exploring the streets of London with 1808 guidebook in hand, or the latest project, tracing the coaching routes to the North.

Welcome Louise, thanks for stopping by.

A. Thank you very much for inviting me to your blog – Writing & Wine are passions of mine, although I’m not so sure about Work!

Q. Pleased to have you here … So tell us about your writing.

A.  I’m published by Harlequin Mills & Boon in their Historical line and I’ve just started my 45th book for them. It is an international market and although my biggest sales are in the US I also sell in Europe, Japan, Latin America and India. At the last count I was translated into 15 languages, virtually none of which I can read which is probably a good thing!

HMB Historicals are about 70,000 words and the most popular era is Regency – or more accurately the late 18thc/early 19thc – so I usually write within this period although I have had the odd excursion into the English Civil War and 410AD

Q. Wow what a fantastic track record, I’m in awe. Are you agented or unagented?

A. I have never had an agent. Some HMB authors have them, some don’t and they are still one of the few publishers to accept unagented work from beginners.

Q. And what about your most memorable writing success(es) and rejection(s)?

A. The first acceptance has to be the major success! That was by Robert Hale for a contemporary novel. I had two published by Hale in the 1990s, but I really wanted to crack HMB so I kept trying and the first acceptance by them was the next triumph. Winning the RNA’s Love Story of the Year in 2010 has to be the best recent memory.

The eight books HMB turned down all left scars! Then I realised I ought to be writing Historical and not contemporary and they took the first one I tried.

Q. Would you share your top three tips for writers with us?

1) Keep writing. Something, every day, even if it only a few words. Develop writing muscles and writing skills

2) Listen to constructive criticism from people who know – agents, editors, published authors. Even if you don’t agree with all of it, ask yourself why that particular aspect didn’t work for them.

3) Always know for whom you are writing

Q.  Some great tips, thank you. Do you have a day job or do you write full-time? What’s a typical day for you?

A. I used to work full-time as Head of Property & Operations for Hertfordshire Libraries and my writing time was evenings after a long commute. Then I managed to escape and I have been writing full-time for almost five years

After years of writing only in the evenings I still find it hard to be creative in the mornings, so I try to deal with emails, blogs, website updates, Twitter etc then. I also handle the RNA’s NWS admin in the mornings. During August and September that takes several hours a day and the rest of the year, probably an hour. My husband does all the cooking and food shopping and we garden and neglect the housework together. If I have a free afternoon I’ll write then, otherwise the day’s words have to be done in the evening. My husband will check and the wine tends to get withheld if I’m not keeping up, especially with a deadline looming.

Q. Love it – bribery by wine,  what a fantastic motivator! What is it about writing full-time that you love and/or hate?

A. The writing itself, the act of creating something. If it isn’t going well, then the sight of the word count that tells me I’ve done the bare minimum I needed to do. And I love my writing studio in the garden with all my reference books and the gorgeous view.

The days when it isn’t going well and it feels as though I am writing through treacle and I know I’ll spend a lot of time the next day trying to get it right are the ones I hate. Plus, of course, the ghastly 3am horrors that usually strike when I’m about 40,000 words through – the conviction a) it is total rubbish and b) I haven’t a clue what is going to happen next. That one is only marginally better than the 3am certainty that I’ll never have an idea for a book again.

Q. Argh, what a nightmare! Lastly, tell us what your favourite wine is.

A. No one favourite – I like lots! With French wines I prefer Burgundy to Bordeaux and we try to get to the Côte d’Or at least once a year. We’ve just got back from a trip down the Adriatic coast of Italy sampling wine from various small growers virtually unknown outside their area, let alone outside Italy. We found pre-phylloxera grapes growing on the flanks of Mt Etna and another variety that can be traced back to the ancient Greeks. Goodness knows how we stuffed all the bottles into our luggage (or how we got them on the plane). Now we need to try them away from the sunshine and the food and see if they are still as good in chilly Norfolk. And of course, for celebrations, or raising the spirits, a bottle of Lanson is high on my list.

The trip to Italy sounds amazing, if you need an extra wine enthusiast on the next one I could make myself available…! Anyway, thanks for stopping by and all the best for many more books in the future.

To find out more about Louise you can go to her lovely website at www.louiseallenregency.co.uk or you can follow her on Twitter @LouiseRegency

Her books are available to buy in most good bookshops or online at http://www.amazon.co.uk/Louise-Allen/e/B001IXO6DA or www.millsandboon.co.uk and www.whsmith.co.uk

Look out for a guest post with gritty historical novelist Catherine King next week which will be published whilst I am sunning myself in Spain!

For now, Happy Writing – Nikki.


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