How to Conjure Up an Idea for a Novel
Watch TV. No, I’m not joking. One night, I happened upon the reality show The Bachelor. While I’d never watched the show before, I was riveted and knew by the end of the episode that I had to write a Regency-era version. I invented a hostess for this mad courtship, Miss Tessa Mansfield, an infamous and wealthy matchmaker. Then I created the most eligible bachelor in England, Tristan the drop-dead gorgeous Duke of Shelbourne.
How to Write a Regency-set Bachelor Novel
First, I thought about famous bachelors such as Prince William (who is now off the market, but I digress). What do these coveted bachelors have in common? Every single female on the planet is determined to land them.
Next, I contemplated what single ladies in the nineteenth century would do to get the attention of the most eligible bachelor in England. In lieu of stealing Tristan away for one-on-one time, I decided the conniving belles would drop fans, parasols, and handkerchiefs at his feet. Of course, he was exasperated, especially since the scandal sheets (the Regency equivalent of tabloids) were reporting every ridiculous incident. So I planted my matchmaking heroine right under Tristan’s nose. I knew Tessa would love to make the match of the century for him, but his unromantic qualifications for a perfect duchess left her cold. Tristan had no idea what I (or rather Tessa) had in store for him.
While courtships of the early nineteenth century bear little resemblance to modern dating, I had a blast reinventing present-day dating rituals for Tristan’s hilarious courtship. I figured those twenty-four bridal candidates would concoct schemes worthy of any modern-day bachelorette.
From the outset, I knew the story would take an emotional turn. How to Marry a Duke is Tristan’s and Tessa’s love story from the madcap beginning to the sweet Cinderella ending.
How to Land an Agent--Accidentally
After I finished the novel, I resolved to query agents after I returned home from a business trip to London and Paris. I made it as far as the airport where I found an email from a friend who had told her agent about my manuscript. That query resulted in the first of many requests I got for How to Marry a Duke.
When friends invited me to tag along to a writer’s conference, I jumped on the opportunity. I signed up for appointments with agents, but alas, the agent I really wanted to meet was completely booked. That night, I arrived late to the conference dinner and realized there was only one seat left – next to that agent I wanted to meet. I feared she would think I was stalking her, but Lucienne Diver welcomed me and asked what I wrote. I said historical romance and shut my mouth. I thought she was just being polite. When she asked me what the book was about, I gave her a sheepish look and said, “Um, it’s The Bachelor in Regency England, minus the hot tub and camera crew.” Lucienne whipped out her business card and asked me to send her the manuscript. I couldn’t believe my good fortune!
Shortly afterward, I found a significant problem in the book and started revising. Meanwhile, I met up with Lucienne accidentally again at yet another conference! In a daze, I wondered if I ought to buy a lottery ticket with that kind of luck.
I returned home from that conference determined to finish the revisions quickly. As I closed in on the end, a hurricane struck. Fortunately, my house sustained minimal damage. When the lights came on again, I got back to work and finished the revisions. Then I sent the manuscript off to all the requesting agents and held my breath. Two weeks after I submitted the manuscript, three agents offered to represent me. Of course, I couldn’t ignore the hand of fate. I called Lucienne and accepted her offer of representation.
How to Celebrate a Dream Come True
After learning I’d sold my book, I hung up the phone, called my writing friends, and rushed off to meet them for celebratory margaritas. I called my family from the noisy Mexican restaurant. Mom kept saying, “I can’t hear you.” That night, I jackknifed up in bed certain this was a horrible mistake. I couldn’t sleep because I just knew Lucienne would call with the bad news in the morning. Morning came along with Lucienne’s to-do list. It was real. Really real. I’d sold my first novel in a three-book deal!
Many months after selling How to Marry a Duke, I got a bit misty-eyed as I wrote the dedication. I knew how lucky I was to have such a wonderful agent and editor. My heartfelt thanks to Lucienne Diver, Michele Bidelspach, and all the wonderful team at Forever.
- Vicky Dreiling