Today I’m very happy to welcome romance author Manda Collins to the blog. Manda writes suspenseful, witty Regency-set romance, and her first two books in the “Ugly Ducklings” series about wallflower heroines are offered as this month’s Contest prize.
But wait, there’s more! Manda also writes contemporary erotic romance. She’s a dedicated academic and Goodreads librarian. And she’s got the mother of all Twitter parties coming up next week, on the evening of July 31–which is also the release day for her newest Regency romance, HOW TO ROMANCE A RAKE!
Manda’s joined me for a Q&A today to let us know more about her new book, her wonderfully unusual heroines, and what she’s got coming up next.
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Welcome, Manda, and thanks so much for the virtual visit!
Your newest book, HOW TO ROMANCE A RAKE, is the second in your Ugly Ducklings trilogy about wallflower heroines. How did you settle on the idea to make the Ugly Ducklings cousins (rather than friends or sisters)?
I modeled the mothers of the Ducklings (The Fabulous Featherstone Sisters) after the famous Gunning sisters who were actual Regency figures. They came to London from questionable backgrounds but took the ton by storm with their beauty. The Ducklings were their not so glamorous daughters—who were, of course, cousins. And it wasn’t just that they were meant to be really ugly. Just that by comparison they were found lacking by the ton. I suppose I was thinking of daughters of famous beautiful women who are scrutinized within an inch of their lives and always feel pressure to measure up.
The heroine of HOW TO ROMANCE A RAKE, Juliet Shelby, has suffered a mysterious injury to her ankle that’s kept her out of society. In historical romance, wounded heroes are a lot more common than wounded heroines. Why do you think that is, and how did you come up with the character of Juliet?
I think there’s a tendency for authors to have wounded heroes because there’s something really seductive about the whole wounded warrior thing. Men are generally thought to be the tough guys who can muscle their way through things and having them in a vulnerable position offers a lot of potential for angst on their part and caretaking on the heroine’s part.
I chose to make Juliet the injured one because, quite honestly, I wanted to read a character who is like me. Not to say that she IS me. But I get tired of reading about heroines who are perfect all the time. Whether that’s beautiful or physically perfect or whatever. The world around us is filled with people who are dealing with disabilities. And they live their lives, fall in love and get along just fine. I wanted to read about a character who goes through physical and emotional trauma and comes out of it a stronger person. So I wrote one.
Your books mix mystery and suspense elements with rollicking Regency fun. What draws you to the pairing of suspense with Regency romance?
It’s no secret that I’m a huge romantic suspense fan. I grew up reading romances and mysteries. So when I came time to write I knew I wanted to combine my two loves. I also adore the trope of the hero and heroine working together to solve a mystery. Whether it’s looking for some lost object or a lost person or solving a murder or whatever. And I like the notion of the hero and heroine as a team.
Your newest hero and heroine, Alec and Juliet, each hold secrets from one another and from society. In their honor—will you share a secret with us?
Oh gosh! I don’t know if I can come up with one as shocking as theirs. I kept my romance writing a secret for a while there. But that’s all out in the open now—obvs. or I wouldn’t be doing this interview! Here’s one though. I am shamefully addicted to reading celebrity gossip. I know it’s wrong. But I can’t help myself. I especially love Blind Items. It’s the puzzler in me.
Recently, you published the first in a contemporary erotic romance series–the friends-to-lovers novella “Legally Yours.” What will be next in that series, and how do you switch between writing this series and your Regency-set romances?
Thanks for asking! The next will be David’s story (he’s the only nice attorney in Julie’s firm in LEGALLY YOURS). Haven’t decided on his heroine yet, but I think she might be a little older.
I actually wrote LEGALLY YOURS before I wrote HOW TO DANCE WITH A DUKE. So I’m dealing a bit with the transition from Regency to contemporary right now. It’s not too difficult though. I read a lot of contemporary romance so that helps. Regency speak is like second nature to me at this point. I’ve been reading and immersing myself in that time period for over twenty years now. (Which makes me feel really old!)
You’ve been a part of the romance community for a long time, as a reader, blogger, Goodreads librarian, and even the administrator for book discussion forums. Have there been changes or surprises since you took on yet another role—as published author?
I think what’s been the most surprising has been how many authors just don’t pay attention to reviews or blogs or stuff like that. I told myself that once I got published I’d drop out of the scene too—mostly for self-preservation reasons—but I haven’t done it yet. The thing is, I like knowing what’s going on in the community. And what readers are talking about. I’ve been a reader for a lot longer than I’ve been an author, and one of the most exciting times of my life was when I discovered that there was this thriving world online where people talked about books and reading and romance. I might self-censor more now—but for the most part, I keep my same online routines.
What’s coming up next for you?
In January Book 3 of the Ugly Ducklings Trilogy will release, HOW TO ENTICE AN EARL. It’s Monteith and Maddy’s story and I’m very excited about it! I think readers will really love seeing the sparks between these two!
Thanks so much for having me, Theresa!
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Thanks again, Manda! And readers, of course we’re offering a giveaway. Manda’s first two historical romances, HOW TO DANCE WITH A DUKE and her new release, HOW TO ROMANCE A RAKE (out July 31!), are the website contest prize this month. Manda is offering a signed cover flat, too! Hop over there (ok, you can just mouse-click) for more giveaway details. The contest closes in one week!
Or if you’re keen to order Manda’s Ugly Ducklings novels now, why, I heartily encourage that behavior. They’re both available as print and ebooks.
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Manda Collins spent her teen years wishing she’d been born a couple of centuries earlier, preferably in the English countryside. Time travel being what it is, she resigned herself to life with electricity and indoor plumbing, and read lots of books. An affinity for books led to a graduate degree in English, followed by another in Librarianship. By day, she works as an academic librarian at a small liberal arts college, where she teaches college students how to navigate the tangled world of academic research. A native of coastal Alabama, Manda lives in the house her mother grew up in with three cats, sometimes a dog, sometimes her sister, and more books than strictly necessary. Find her online at mandacollins.com, on Twitter (@MandaCollins), or on Facebook.