Don’t tell my mom, but I started reading romance at the age of ten. I’d worked my way through all of the children’s books available in the local bookmobile, so I turned to the adult section, where I spied a book with a woman in a flowing green dress on the cover. The back said something about a pirate. I was hooked from that moment on (and still wish I could remember the name of that fateful book!).
As a teenager addicted to historical romance novels, I often had to defend my reading material of choice, even writing an essay for my tenth grade English class explaining my love for the genre: I read romance, because no matter what happens (and some pretty crazy things happen), you know those two people are going to end up together.
For this anxiety-prone child of divorce, that was the ultimate comfort, the idea that two flawed people could encounter all sorts of obstacles and still stay together, still find everlasting love.
As to why I write it? Because as an adult, I continue to seek that comfort, that security, that promise every day. Also, I’m a bit of a control freak. Plus, I really love witty repartee between characters. So an encouraging, reassuring story (with funny/witty parts, or so I hope) dictated entirely by me? Sign me up!
Romance provides escape, yes, but it also provides hope, and reminders that no matter what obstacles may come, Happy Ever After might be just around the corner. I hope my books entertain, amuse, and give that sense of hope, that sense of promise we all need, that second chances are possible, and that when life seems its bleakest, a new chapter might be waiting to be written. Gosh, that’s super-corny, but it’s true.
Writing, I’ve learned, also allows me to explore my own thoughts and beliefs through watching/learning what my characters do.
In A Man of Character, I examined the ideas of fantasy versus reality, perhaps in part because people have long challenged romance as presenting impossible ideals.
In A Matter of Time, I delved into whether feminism is compatible with wanting to prioritize love and marriage. (For the record, I am an ardent feminist who happens to be madly in love with my husband and who finds my identity in that relationship, and I’m good with that. So my answer to that question is a resounding yes.)
In A Scandalous Matter, I switched up the feminist theme by asking if romantic relationships negate individual independence, through the eyes of a heroine and hero who believe the two ideas are incompatible. (Spoiler alert: I disagree.)
And in my forthcoming The Demon Duke, admittedly a bit of a Beauty and the Beast story (my favorite Disney tale!) I looked at how we judge others and how we judge ourselves, and how we must make peace with who we are before we can be truly happy.
In each of my books, a main theme is finding one’s place in the world. How ironic that in becoming a writer, I’ve finally done just that. I know where I belong now, where my heart feels happiest, and it’s in writing romance.
I’ve come full circle, and I’m incredibly blessed.
Now, to you: What makes YOU read (or write) romance? I’d love to know!
An earlier version of this blog post appeared on Tina Glasneck’s Celebrate With A Booksite. I’m grateful to her for being fine with me posting it here, as well.
I’d always intended on writing Regency romance. In fact, it’s the only thing I thought I’d ever write, but darn if my muse didn’t have other plans, since the first big story idea she brought was not set in the Regency at all! A Man of Character takes place in 2012 in Charlottesville, Virginia – with nary a duke or grand ball in sight.
Until the end. Because if my heroine Catherine Schreiber wasn’t going to be a Regency gal, at least her Jane Austen-loving sidekick Eliza James could, right? And what better way to tie my modern magical romantic comedy in with a Regency novel than by sending the sidekick from book one back in time in book two? That’s how the idea began.
Brainstorming what kind of duke Eliza might meet was a blast. Slick and debonair? A frilly, froofy dandy? Or a Darcy in disguise? Of course I chose the Pride and Prejudice–inspired latter for Deveric Mattersley, Duke of Claremont, and melded him with a Beauty and the Beast sort of touch, in part because bubbly Eliza needed a more Eeyorish counterpart, and in part because those are two of my favorite romances ever!
But the most fun part, however, came when I gave Deveric two sidekicks – Morgan Collinswood, Marquess of Emerlin, and James Bradley, Duke of Arthington. Because, well, I’m totally obsessed with the BBC show Merlin and the two lead actors who played Merlin and Arthur – namely Colin Morgan and Bradley James. Turn them around, dress them up a little bit, throw in some Merlin references here and there, and voila! I had my counterparts to Deveric Mattersley. And I love them so much that they each shall eventually get their own books.
What was the hardest thing about writing A Matter of Time?
First and foremost, aiming for historical accuracy in details. And I’m sure I still made mistakes, but I tried to do diligent research and ask questions in the Romance Writers of America‘s wonderful Regency group, The Beau Monde.
Second, there were a few key scenes I had originally written from a third character’s perspective (Deveric’s mother, the rather dragon-like Matilda Mattersley). But my editor believed I should stick solely with Eliza’s and Deveric’s view points, so, well, having to rewrite those scenes from a different point of view while still showing Matilda’s character development proved rather rascally.
Do you always include pets in your books?
Yup! I decided from the start I’d include some sort of beloved animal in each of my novels, just because I’m a cat fanatic myself (yes, if I didn’t have husband, I’ve have more cats and be Crazy Cat Lady, indeed). So A Man of Character has a cat, Presley, A Matter of Time has a puppy named Pirate, and A Scandalous Matter has a cat named Ada Lovelace. It’s just a silly little thing for me to do, and I enjoy the feline and canine characters. Do you?
What’s coming up in 2017 for Margaret Locke?
To be honest, I had hoped to publish my next book, The Demon Duke, in December or January. But life has had a way of knocking me down this year (gallbladder surgery, tooth gone rogue, mom had major surgery, my beloved cat Scilla died), so it’s been pushed back a little, but hopefully it will debut in the late spring of 2017. It’s the first in my Put Up Your Dukes series, and a pure Regency, no magic at all. Hopefully my fans will still love it.
I also am working on a draft of A Delicate Matter, which takes a surprise character from book three in the Magic of Love series, A Scandalous Matter, and gives her her own story.
Want to join me for A Matter of Time’s birthday bash?
Pop on in to my Facebook party tonight (November 30th, 2016) from 8-11 pm EST to meet a number of other great authors and learn about their books (and we’ve got an awesome variety, with several romance authors but also a couple of YA fantasy writers and an espionage writer!), and have the chance to win great giveaways and prizes from them and from moi!
Because I want to give back to all of you who’ve given me so much in this past eighteen months of being a published authors. It’s been amazing, a roller coaster full of thrills, and it’s taken me beyond my wildest dreams!
And for those of you who aren’t familiar with A Matter of Time, here’s its blurb:
Can a man with a past and a woman from the future forge a love for all time?
Nobody would blame widowed doctoral student Eliza James for giving up on Happily Ever After; at twenty-nine, she’s suffered more loss than most people do in a lifetime. But Eliza’s convinced her own hero is still out there, waiting for her, just like in the beloved romance novels she devours. Every Jane Austen-loving girl deserves a Darcy, right?
Only Eliza doesn’t dream of a modern-day affair: she wants the whole Regency experience. When a magical manuscript thrusts her back two hundred years into the arms and life of one Deveric Mattersley, Duke of Claremont, however, Eliza realizes some fantasies aren’t all they’re cracked up to be, especially when her duke proves himself less than a Prince Charming.
Convinced he’s at fault for the death of his wife, Deveric Mattersley has no interest in women, much less marriage. Determined to atone for his sins, he decrees himself content to focus on running his family’s estates, and on raising his son–until the mysterious Mrs. James appears. Who is she? What does she want? And why does she make Dev’s blood run hot in a way no woman ever has?
A charming time-travel Regency romance full of wit and humor, A Matter of Time reminds us that, like books, you can’t judge people by their covers, and that love often comes when least expected.
And a few reviews, just because they make me giddy. I can’t believe they’re talking about my novel!:
“A love story and so much more, A Matter of Time should be on every fantasy, paranormal, contemporary and Regency romance readers “to read” list…I would definitely recommend this novel – you will be charmed, captivated, have a few good laughs and shed a few tears as you cheer Eliza and Dev on to find their happy every after ending.” – Marsha, KeeperBookshelf.com
“This was one of the best fantasy, paranormal romances I have read in a while. I loved the characters and even the secondary characters were great. I would most definitely recommend this book and I look forward to more from this series.” – Cat, NerdGirlOfficial.com
Thank you so much for hanging with me, not only today, but all the time! I love you guys. Seriously.
If you want to connect with me further, you can find me here:
When I mentioned to someone recently that my third book was about to debut, she looked at me with an astonished expression and said, “Isn’t that three books in a YEAR? That’s AMAZING!”
Close. Just over a year, since A Man of Characterdebuted at the end of May in 2015, and A Scandalous Matter arrived today (wahoo!). But still, her words made me pause. It IS amazing to realize how far I’ve come in fourteen months.
Of course, I’ve been at this for far longer. I started writing A Man of Character in the fall of 2011. I likely would have published it sooner had I not let fear get in the way and shelved the whole project for a year. Even so, I worked on that book for four years. I worked onA Matter of Time for two, beginning it as a National Novel Writing Month adventure in the fall of 2013, and releasing it in November of 2015.
A Scandalous Matter fell together far more quickly – a bit out of necessity. It occurred to me while finishing A Matter of Time that the next logical book to give to my readers was not the book I’d written for NaNoWriMo 2014 (The Demon Duke), but rather Amara’s story. I realized this in October. I got busy writing in November. So all in all, I crafted A Scandalous Matter in eight months.
This is not nearly as fast as many of today’s authors, who are managing to produce new material every 90, 60, or even 30 days, just as the Amazon algorithm likes. That’s not me. In fact, I can’t believe I managed to get A Scandalous Matter done as quickly as I did – and my family will tell you it pretty much stole me away from them for quite some time!
I love writing (editing, not so much, but that’s another story). I truly do. I finally feel as if I’m doing what I’m supposed to be doing. I look forward to bringing many more stories to the world. But until the kids are older and more self-sufficient (read: out on their own), I need to remind myself it’s quality, not quantity, I’m going for, and that while I could easily give this career 80-100 hours a week, I haven’t got that to spare. My wife and mom hats need equal space on my head.
If this sounds less than positive, I certainly don’t mean it to be. I’m incredulous at my own risk-taking (never one of my fortes), at my willingness to put these books out there – and at the wonderful reception they’ve received! I’m constantly chatting with the characters in my head, and have at least ten to fifteen tales waiting to be written. I just hope my readers will stay with me if it takes me a bit longer to get more books out. Because I love you, and you merit only the very best I can produce!
Having said that, looking forward, here’s what’s in (or will be in) the works:
A novella about the origin of Cat’s mysterious magical manuscript.
The Demon Duke, the first in my Put Up Your Dukes (non-magical) Regency series, about a duke with a dark secret, and a shy, reluctant debutante who could be his savior … or his undoing.
The Once and Future Duke, the second in the PUYD series, about James Bradley, Duke of Arthington, Deveric’s sidekick from A Matter of Time.
The Legendary Duke, the third in the PUYD series, based loosely on the legend of Gawain and the Green Knight.
The Irish Duke, the fourth in the PUYD series, featuring Deveric’s other sidekick, Morgan Collinswood, Marquess of Emerlin.
The Boy Next Door, a non-magical contemporary about Taylor Duncan, sister to A Scandalous Matter‘s Matthew Goodson, and what’s right in her face. Or who.
A Complicated Matter, book 4 in my Magic of Love series. After you read A Scandalous Matter, I’ll let you guess whose story this is.
A Matter of Chance, the story of Chance Mattersley, younger brother of A Matter of Time‘s Deveric Mattersley.
A Matter of Honor, Deveric’s younger sister Emmeline’s story.
Whew. Looking at that list, I’d better get busy!
Thank you from the bottom of my heart to each and every one of you, my friends, family, fans, readers (I still can’t believe I have the last two!). Your words of encouragement, your reviews, your invaluable support all have lifted me higher this year than I ever thought possible. I look forward to many more years together!
My darling husband reads every one of my books – just once, right before publication, to help ensure I haven’t missed any egregious typos or made any other noticeable boo-boos. I love him for that (well, and for a zillion other reasons).
Last night, he finished A Scandalous Matter. When I asked him what he thought, his first response was, “It’s more explicit than the first two.”
I laughed. Partly out of nervousness – was that a good or a bad thing? Then I defended: “Yes, it is, a little, but that’s because of who the characters are, who the heroine is.”
Both Cat and Eliza are a bit more conservative, for lack of a better term, in their approach. I hate to use that word, as it implies a judgment I don’t feel – if you can think of a better one, let me know! What I mean by it, is they’re not interested in sex for sex’s sake; Eliza, especially, can’t and doesn’t want to separate the emotional from the physical.
That was easy to write, because that’s how I am.
But as I was crafting A Man of Character and A Matter of Time and I realized Eliza’s view on physical pleasure just for the fun it was a basic, “No, thank you,” I thought to myself, “What would it be like to write a heroine more driven by physical desire? Who only wants the sex, and not the emotional attachment?”
I didn’t want readers to think, via Cat and Eliza, I was implying that such an approach to sexuality was wrong. I believe women can and should choose for themselves (as long as they’re being honest with themselves and not bowing to pressure or judgments from anyone else in either direction). If they want to wait until marriage to have sex, fine. If they want to have casual encounters, fine (but be safe!). If they choose somewhere in between, or their views evolve and change, more power to them. I know where I fall on that continuum, but I’m not going to say where anyone else should.
Thus, Amara was born, showing up as quite the spitfire as Deveric’s sister in A Matter of Time.
Of course, in truth, as I got to know her better, it became clear she was much more than her initial impression. That there were reasons behind her behavior – major hurts to overcome. And as A Scandalous Matter unfolds, emotions definitely come into play – I am a romance writer, after all, with a firm belief in love.
But I also made it clear physical passion has always driven Amara. Not necessarily an easy thing to deal with for a high-born woman raised in an era with fairly stringent expectations in regards to women’s sexual purity.
In real history, of course, tales abound of women engaging in scandalous affairs and all of that – I know the past is never as “pure” as many of us try to make it (thank you, Victorian ideals!). But by and large, the expectations Amara Mattersley faced in 1813 when it came to sex and sexuality were far different from 2016.
And therein lies part of her inner conflict.
And mine, in writing. This book is somewhat steamier (though not as steamy as many romances – I don’t want to raise expectations in the opposite direction! There’s still plenty going on outside of the bedroom). Will my audience be okay with that? I hope so.