Hi, everyone, We are excited to report we have a new member here at Fierce Romance blog, Tess Mallory! Welcome to the blog, Tess. We're thrilled to have you! Please tell us about yourself.
Tess: Thanks! So glad to be here! A little about me, eh? Well, I was born and raised in Texas and live in the Hill Country with my husband of thirty-odd years (and believe me, there have been some pretty odd years-ha) and our three children and their families. I've recently started writing for Berkley's Sensation line and I'm so excited about that! I love all things Irish and Scottish, my favorite music is that of my son, Jordan Mallory (www.myspace.com/jordanthomasmallory) along with Blue October, the Dresden Dolls, Tom Petty, Joni Mitchell, and Mary Black. My favorite authors include Jennifer Crusie, Kim Harrison, and Margaret Weis. I can't wait to see the new Indiana Jones movie, and I love watching LOST, Boston Legal, and the Big Bang Theory, because, after all, I'm a geek at heart!
Vonda: I'm a major LOST fan too! What do you write?
Tess: I've been writing romance novels for the last fifteen years, most of them time travel, but all containing elements of fantasy or science fiction. My newest time travel romance, HIGHLAND ROGUE, is due out May 6th! Other titles are HIGHLAND DREAM, HIGHLAND FLING, HIGHLAND MAGIC, JEWELS OF TIME, CIRCLES IN TIME, MIDSUMMER NIGHT'S MAGIC (The Fairy Bride), and TO TOUCH THE STARS. In the unpublished realm of my life, I write plays, songs, and poetry.
Vonda: Naturally, I love Highland books and time travels! I can't wait to add yours to my TBR stack. Please tell us about your latest release, Highland Rogue. (What a hunky and gorgeous cover, by the way!)
Tess: I'm very excited about the release of HIGHLAND ROGUE. It's the first in a new time travel series from Berkley Sensation unofficially titled "Timeless Highlanders". The series is about three sisters in Texas who end up in Scotland, and are each sent back in time (in three different books) to the past where they fall in love with hunky Scotsmen in kilts! HIGHLAND ROGUE is about the eldest sister, Maggie, who has taken care of her younger twin sisters since their parents died when she was 23. Now she's 33 and feels life has sort of passed her by. Her sisters, Allie and Ellie, surprise her with her heart's desire--a trip to Scotland to work on an archaeological dig! There, in an ancient cairn, Maggie discovers a tri-spiral (triskele) carving on the floor of the cairn, and it sends her back to the year 1711. There she stumbles into the path of a highwayman's horse, and her adventure with handsome outlaw Quinn MacIntyre begins!
Vonda: Sounds like my kind of story. I can't wait to read it! You've had several books published over the years. Please tell us about some of them.
Tess: HIGHLAND ROGUE is my eighth romance novel. I recently learned that my former publisher, Dorchester, is re-releasing the Highland time travel series I wrote for them which includes HIGHLAND DREAM, HIGHLAND FLING, and HIGHLAND MAGIC. These books centered around three women who are best friends, who find their true loves with the help of a mysterious, magical green crystal! They are humorous and were a lot of fun. They should be re-released some time in May, and can be special ordered through bookstores or places online like amazon.com. My other books are very near and dear to my heart and I hope they will be re-released soon as well. My favorite books of all the ones I've written is Circles in Time, which unfortunately, can only be bought used online at the moment! :-)
Vonda: I hope Circles in Time will be re-released too. What do you love most about writing time-travel romance? What do you find hardest?
Tess: What I love the most about writing time travel romance is that it allows me to take an element of science fiction or fantasy (I love both), blend it with history, (which I also love) and center all of it around the conflicts and romance of a man and woman madly and passionately in love with each other-which of course I love! :-) Writing time travel is just great adventurous fun, and writing one always makes me stretch my brainpower, because there are always plotting details I have to double check, and paradoxes to be explained!
Vonda: Absolutely! Time-travel is one of my favorite elements. What do you enjoy most about writing stories set in Scotland?
Tess: I've loved Scotland since I was a little girl-the amazing landscapes, the incredible history, the ancient mysteries, the powerful sense of honor and loyalty inherent in the Scots. Later I grew to appreciate another facet of that beautiful country - those hunky Scotsmen in kilts! :-) The honor and courage and strength of a Scotsman makes him the perfect hero of a romance novel, and I have had a blast hooking my 'girls' up with some of the most heroic!
Vonda: Now you're talking! I'm in love with Scotland and those men in kilts. :-) What are your hobbies?
Tess: I'm a frustrated artist at heart, and have tried my hand at any number of mediums. My favorites, at least right now, are mosaic tiling-which I find extremely soothing and therapeutic, collages, and painting furniture! :-) I also write songs and sing very, very occasionally.
Vonda: I'm learning we have several things in common, Tess. :-) When did you know you wanted to be an author?
Tess: From the time that my father taught me how to read, sitting on his knee on Sunday mornings, reading the Sunday comics, he influenced my life and my love of words. He was a true storyteller and wordsmith in his own right, and he taught me more about the essence of creating worlds and characters than anyone I've ever known. But I think I first thought seriously about becoming a writer when I was in the seventh grade. That was when I tried to write my first book--a western--and I remember the wonder and amazement that I felt when I started actually creating characters on paper! I think I got 4 chapters done before I fizzled out, but I still have my original folder with those pages inside, and I know it was the beginning of my love for writing books. Over the years after that initial attempt, I wrote so many stories and poems, never worrying about the publishing side of things until I was well into my twenties. I remember I "got serious" at the same time that I got pregnant with my first child. My timing was a little off! It would be another ten years before I was able to tackle writing as a career and sell my first children's story to Highlights for Children. Others followed, along with stints spent working for newspapers and also writing plays for community and church theatre. Nine years and three kids later, I sold my first time travel romance to Leisure/Lovespell books.
Vonda: Fantastic story! How did that first sale come about for you? And what was the most important thing you learned (the thing that made all the difference) just before you made your first sale?
Tess: My first book sale to Leisure/Lovespell (Dorchester) came about because I was in the right place at the right time, so to speak. I had read Jude Devereaux's A Knight In Shining Armor and loved it! As soon as I finished it, my mind was whirling with possibilities for a time travel romance of my own! I was so excited about the story of a woman who inherits a necklace, which turns out to be a time travel device from the future! Right after I finished that story--JEWELS OF TIME--I picked up a copy of Romantic Times Magazine and read in a Market report that Lovespell was "looking for time travel romances". Hey! I had a time travel romance! I sent in a query, got a quick response asking for three chapters, and a month later, got a request for the rest of the book! After I sent in the rest--to my shock and amazement--they bought it! It was the thrill of a lifetime! :-)
What made all the difference before the sale, I think, was several things: First, I finished a project, second, I kept abreast of market trends, and third, I took a chance. A first time writer will have a hard time selling an uncompleted book. It's important to have a product in hand, to market. So first, I completed a book. Then, as a reader of romance, I had begun to read magazines geared toward romance writers and readers. I scoured RT and Affaire de Coure, looking for opportunities for my writing. When I "happened" upon the blurb in RT (if anything "just" happens, which I don't believe!) I had all the usual fears that any writer would have--what if my book wasn't what they were looking for? Why should they buy my book? Did I really know what the heck I was doing?--I took a deep breath and mailed off my query, never really imagining that they would buy my book! But as my dad used to say "Faint heart ne'er won fair maiden". I had to be willing to put myself out there, risk rejection, take a chance! Boy, was I glad that I did!
Vonda: Wow that was a fast sale! Please tell us a fun, unusual or quirky fact about yourself. :-)
Tess: Oh, gosh, probably most of my friends would be hard pressed to tell you something about me that wasn't quirky! I'm a quirky kind of girl! Ummm... let's see. Okay, here are a few of my quirkier things: I secretly long to be an actress on a soap opera, I'd love to be a comedian, I have a phobia about mushrooms, I want to get a tattoo of the Totoro "ghosts" really bad, but I'm too chicken, I am obsessed with creating LOLcats, and, oh yeah, I write a humorous column about my long time favorite soap opera, All My Children, for an AMC MySpace site at www.myspace.com/superposteroftheyear.
Vonda: Very cool! Those are quirky things. I've enjoyed getting to know you so much! Anything else you'd like to add?
Tess: Just that I love to hear from romance readers and aspiring romance writers, and that I'm always happy to answer questions about the publishing business, or my books, or writing in general!
Vonda: Would you like to ask blog readers a question?
Tess: Yes! What makes a romance novel a "keeper", in your opinion? What would you like to see more of in romances? What's your all time favorite romance novel and why?
Vonda: Great questions! I want to thank you again, Tess, for joining our blog! We'll very much look forward to your entertaining posts. :-) Everyone please visit Tess Mallory's beautiful website at: http://www.tessmallorybooks.com/ By the way, I love your slideshow header of Scottish scenery!