Eugenia Riley - #1 Bestselling Author at Amazon in Time Travel, Victorian, Western and Historical Romance is back with a delightful contemporary romance: Natchez Nights. She answers our questions on what inspires her, what it takes to cook up a delicious romance novel and provides some valuable dating tips for those still looking for love. Riley also reveals her secret love for thrillers and what her next book will be about. As you will discover, this author is as witty as some of the heroines in her books.
1. You are best known for your time travel romances—what drew you to this specific genre?
As a teenager I loved reading old-style gothic romances with their offtimes “haunted” heroes. I also loved the grandness of the old-fashioned costume drama. These themes developed in my mind into the story question of, what if the love of one’s life can only be found in an earlier, more romantic era? The idea of soulmates meeting across time is so romantic. Beyond the love story, I also realized that the time-traveler needed a purpose in going backward/forward in time: to bring love and healing; to solve a mystery; to prevent a murder, etc. The possibilities are endless.
2. What is Natchez Nights about?
Leigh Carter is a lovely young woman in the midst of career burnout. While struggling with this major life crisis, she decides to “hide out” in romantic Natchez, Mississippi, where she rents a room in a wonderful old mansion, volunteers as a tour docent, and earns her living playing the piano at a restaurant Under-the-Hill. But she doesn’t realize that her landlady’s dreamy nephew has just arrived from L.A. for a visit. Unwittingly, she leads a tour group of ten ladies into Peter Webster’s bedroom, only to find the sexy hunk has just emerged from the shower, wearing only a towel! Romance and hilarity quickly follow.
3. Give us three “good to know” facts about yourself.
I’m a preacher’s kid.
I’m a native Texan.
I’m very musical. I almost majored in piano in college, but chose English instead. I come from a very musical family.
4. What books are on your nightstand?
It’s ironic, but since I started writing romance, I like a change of pace when I read for pleasure. I’m a big thriller fan—legal thrillers by Grisham and Turrow, relationship thrillers by Mary Higgins Clark and Sidney Sheldon, even techo-thrillers by Robert Ludlum and Vince Flynn. I loved the Millennium Series by Stieg Larsson (The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo, etc.), and I was so sorry to hear that he died so young (as did Vince Flynn). Right now I’m reading the fourth book in the Millennium Series, The Girl in the Spider’s Web by David Lagercrantz. Much as we all miss Larsson, I think Lagercrantz is doing a remarkable job of continuing the characters and story.
5. Your main character, Leigh Carter, tends to get herself into all kinds of predicaments. Where do you find inspiration for your characters and scenes?
As a writer I am very observant. The idea for Natchez Nights actually came to me when my husband and I first visited Natchez, Mississippi, with all its glorious old antebellum mansions. As we went on tours, I noticed that some rooms in the mansions were “off limits,” belonging to family members, employees, or whatever. And I thought, what if my heroine, a tour guide, leads her group of ladies into the “wrong” bedroom, not realizing that a guest of the owner’s—in this case, the sexy hero from L.A.—has just arrived to occupy it? From there it’s really just letting my imagination run wild with, “What happens next?”
6. Say Natchez Nights ends up on the big screen, which actor and actress would you like to see as Peter and Leigh?
I think lovely blond Johanna Braddy—who plays Shelby in Quantico—would make a wonderful Leigh. And Dave Annable, the dreamy actor from the TV series Red Band Society and Heartbeat, would make a great Peter.
7. What is your favorite line from the book and why?
In the story there’s a very mischievous cat named Shoofly, the landlady’s pet. Shoofly particularly loves to pester the hero. In one scene Shoofly steals Peter’s brand new designer necktie and leads him and Leigh on a merry chase around the house. The cat finally streaks to a halt in a hallway where some painters are working—and he lands smack-dab in the middle of a wet paint tray, with the tie wrapped around his neck! Staring at his ruined tie, Peter laments, “I’ve never even worn it,” and Leigh replies, “Well, it’s been worn now.” I love that line because it’s typical of all the fun in the book.
8. You have published more than twenty books already. How long on average does it take you to write a book?
Anywhere from three months to a year, depending on how long and complex the book is.
9. What are your writing habits like? Do you prefer to write early in the morning or late at night? Pen or computer?
I write by computer, and mornings and evenings are actually my favorite times to write! I’m more alert in the mornings, and also catch my “second wind” or burst of energy at night after dinner.
10. Once you have finished a book, do you proofread and publish it as soon as possible or do you like to let it stew a bit before you start editing?
I like to get my books out as soon as possible after they’re finished. However, I also have a professional editor/proofreader, and she does a great job of going over each book once it’s close to publication stage. While she’s working on a book, this also gives me a break so I may look at the book again with fresh eyes after she returns it. Between the two of us, we try to publish books that are as error-free as is humanly possible, and I think we do a good job.
11. Time travel and historical romance must require a lot of research. Do you find contemporary romance easier or more challenging to write?
Contemporary romance may be slightly easier, although mostly because these books tend to be shorter on average than my time travels or historical romances. That said, every book, no matter what the time period, must be carefully researched. For instance, I did a huge amount of research on contemporary Natchez, Mississippi, as the backdrop for Natchez Nights, including several visits to that lovely community. The atmosphere there is so breathtakingly romantic, but I also had to be careful to make the setting an enticing presence while not allowing it to take over the romance.
12. You write about sexy, dreamy guys. What’s your advice for our readers on how to meet a guy like Peter?
Many of the young people I know today meet through dating websites, although I would stress that one needs to be very careful wherever one might look for a potential mate. Though it may sound old-fashioned, I’d recommend going to church, where young people can meet and get to know one another through group activities in a safer, more supervised environment. As a PK, church has always been a big part of my life, and I’ve watched a number of couples come together at the various community churches where I’ve been a member.
13. Where’s the best place for readers to find all of your latest work?
Anywhere e-books are sold—Kindle, Nook, Kobo, Apple, Google Play, etc.—although my most extensive list is available at Kindle.
14. What can we expect from you next? Are you working on a new book right now?
Watch for Missouri Bride, a sweeping, romantic historical set on a farm in the Missouri Ozarks. Joined in a marriage of convenience, my hero and heroine struggle to get to know each other and find love amid the hero’s demons, which are rooted in the Civil War, “Bloody Kansas,” and Quantrill’s Raiders. I adore stories where the characters overcome past torments and find healing and redemption together as they fall deeply in love. Missouri Bride should be released in the next couple of months.