Author Interview: Ms. Mary Lancaster, Author of The Wicked Governess
Ms. Lancaster lives in Scotland with her husband, three mostly grown-up kids, and a small, crazy dog.
Her first literary love was historical fiction, a genre which she relishes mixing up with romance and adventure in her own writing. Several of her novels feature actual historical characters as diverse as Hungarian revolutionaries, medieval English outlaws, and a family of eternally rebellious royal Scots. To say nothing of Vlad the Impaler.
Her most recent books are light fun Regency romances written for Dragonblade Publishing: The Imperial Season series set at the Congress of Vienna; and the popular Blackhaven Brides series, which is set in a fashionable English spa town frequented by the great and the bad of Regency society.
MP: Welcome, Mary. I am so excited that you were able to take time from your busy schedule to join me here.
ML: It’s a pleasure! Thank you for having me!
MP: You are most welcome, but really the pleasure is mine. So, tell us about Mary Lancaster the woman and the writer. What got you started on writing career?
ML: Well. I’ve been happily married to the same man for more than twenty-five years. I have three kids, two of them grown up and one teenager, all still at home! And we have a small, insane dog.
I’ve always written stories since I was a child, at first just for my own entertainment, though I always meant to try for publication one day. I think it was when I was doing a job I disliked, and I began to think about having children that I thought working from home was a great idea, and it was time to write something better! So, I wrote A World to Win, which was hugely long, but an agent saw enough in it to encourage me to self-edit it down to a manageable size. Although she didn’t manage to sell it for me, I got enough encouragement from a big publisher to keep writing. And then the e-book revolution began to happen and I’ve been writing ever since.
MP: Wow! That is all it takes: one person to believe in you. You live in Scotland. Many readers of Romance, including myself, would consider living there very romantic, especially with its rich culture and history. How do you feel about living in Scotland?
ML: Cold and wet, usually. No, there are times when I think living somewhere else would be nice, and I did stay in London for a couple of years, but the truth is I would always come home. As you say, there is much inspiration to be had from our history and culture, though it is not always the same as people outside of Scotland see.
MP: But you are right, sometimes there is no place like home. Who is your favorite author? Why this person?
ML: Hmm, I have many favourites, but if I had to pick just one, it would be Dorothy Dunnet, a Scottish author who wrote wonderfully sweeping historical novels full of romance, adventure, and wit and managed to convey so much of the period in thundering good stories.
MP: I am going to have to check her out. What was the first romance novel you read?
ML: I think it was probably Georgette Heyer’s The Masqueraders. She’s another of my favourite authors.
MP: I love her, though I haven't had much time to read her books. She is known for her penchant for Regency period accuracy. What is it about the historical periods that appeals to you as a woman and/or as a writer?
ML: I’ve always been fascinated by the past, but I can never stick to just one period! It can be stirring events or larger than life characters that inspire me, or the customs, manners, and language as in the Regency period – although of course there were plenty of fascinating characters around then too!
MP: I agree for me it’s the manners and the customs. From all of the books you have written, which one do you consider your masterpiece? Why?
ML: I don’t think any of them are masterpieces – they could always be better! I would like to say my masterpiece has yet to be written.
MP: I read The Wicked Governess and loved it. I love your writing style. Often a writer experiences a moment in the story where the pen just goes on its own and at the end, the writer realizes they have an amazing scene. In TWG where did this happen? If not TWG, then which book.
ML: Thank you! I’m so glad you liked it! I know exactly what you mean and yes, it’s wonderful when this happens – the inspiration as opposed to the perspiration. In The Wicked Governess, it was the storm scene that virtually wrote itself, when Javan is sleepwalking and our heroine tries to rescue him.
MP: I loved that scene. I loved the whole book. Currently, reading The Wicked Husband. The hero makes me laugh. And I love that she is not afraid of him. Also got a copy of The Wicked Baron. If you can go back in your writing career what would you do differently or wouldn’t?
ML: I think I would have started earlier and wished I’d had the confidence to push myself more. But it’s all a learning curve!
MP: Don't be hard on yourself. I too wished I had started earlier and like you said it is a learning curve. As a writer do you feel you have come full circle, i.e., are you achieving your passion?
ML: Yes, I am! I’m writing AND making a living from it. What’s not to like?
MP: Have you ever thought about doing contemporary Romances? If not, why?
ML: Well, in another life I’ve written contemporary paranormal romance and thoroughly enjoyed it. That’s taken a bit of a back seat recently, but I miss it and certainly don’t rule out doing more in the future. Or even straight contemporary if the right story inspired me.
MP: I am glad. Early in my writing career, I was told never switch genres, etc. And I hate to be put in a bubble, so I am a firm believer you can do anything you want. Is there a character from one of your books that you molded after yourself?
ML: Not one in particular, but I think there’s a bit of me in all of them.
MP: I can see that happening. Any advice to new authors?
ML: If you’re doing what you love and you’re prepared to put in the work, then don’t give up! Even though it can be a struggle at times. I would also say, keep reading lots and write constantly and always consider constructive criticism.
MP: Great piece of advice. What are your thoughts on publishing the traditional way versus e-publishing?
ML: I don’t see that it has to be a “versus” situation –
I believe there’s a place for both. Both venues have advantages and disadvantages. I think a foot in either camp is probably best.
MP: You are right on that. Thank you so much, Mary, for taking the time from your busy schedule to tell us about Mary Lancaster the Woman, the Writer.
ML: It’s been fun talking to you – thanks so much!
Ms. Lancaster is the best-selling author of the Blackhaven Brides series, which is set in a fashionable English spa town frequented by the great and the bad of Regency society. To find out more about Ms. Lancaster please visit her website at or find her books on Amazon.com.
About the Interviewer
Ms. Miguelina Perez is a writer, and jewelry artist. She earned her Bachelor of Arts degree in English from the University of the District of Columbia. As a jewelry artist one of her lariats was showcased in the San Antonio Express-News. She has won several awards including a critical Writing award for an essay on the gender roles of Mark Twain’s Huckleberry Finn and Louisa May Alcott’s Little Women.
It was during her high school years at the school’s library that she first encountered her first romance mystery writer – Ms. Victoria Holt and then Ms. Phyllis J. Whitney. Her love of romance novels stems from those discoveries, especially the Romance mystery genre.
Several of her poems have been published in anthologies, and she was named “Poet of Year in 1995”. She finished her first book, The Vicar’s Deadly Sin – a Regency romance mystery, the first of a seven-part serial based on the Seven Deadly Sins.
Currently, she is editing the sequel to the Vicar’s Deadly Sin, “Angel’s Lust.” Her next project is a contemporary romance thriller called “A Hero of Her Own.”