Last year author Isabel Cooper wowed readers with her debut novel No Proper Lady. This paranormal historical romance, which won RT's September 2011 Seal of Excellence, set itself apart from other stories by incorporating an innovative time tavel element. The author, who is about to release her much-anticipated series second, Lessons After Dark, joins us to talk about what she's learned between books one and two, which she jokingly calls, "Lessons after my Debut." And make sure to enter the giveaway at the end of the post for a chance to win this new book before it's in stores!
1. There’s more to a story — even in a romance — than two people.
This is something I learned while working on No Proper Lady. Eleanor, the hero’s younger sister, was originally more of a motivating force than anything else. Simon needed a reason to be angry at Reynell, angry enough that he’d be willing to work for the possible death and certain magical screwing-with of his former best friend. What reason would be good enough? Well, messing with his little sister seems pretty solid. Okay, then!
Except, as I wrote the book, I found that Eleanor needed to have more and more of a role in it, that writing her with Simon and Joan (the heroine, from the future) brought out aspects of them — and aspects of the story — that might not have come out otherwise, and that she was interesting in her own right. I liked writing about her, and I liked how she had her own agenda and character arc. Likewise, Gillespie, though he only appears in one scene, was a lot of fun.
So, in my latest book, Lessons After Dark, I have a whole host of secondary characters. The romance between Olivia and Gareth takes center stage, of course, but the rest of Englefield’s population gets a fair amount of time too. Their agendas and issues play a large role, both in establishing Englefield as the “weird” school for “gifted" children (aka children with supernatural abilities) it’s becoming, and in showing the characters, and the development of Olivia and Gareth as they get closer.