Friday, March 15, 2019

The Novel Lady Interviews Author Deborah Cooke a/k/a Claire Delacroix

We are so excited to be here with one of my personal favorite authors, USA Bestselling Author Deborah Cooke.  Deborah sold her first book, a medieval romance which was published under the pseudonym Claire Delacroix, in 1992. Since then, she has published over fifty romance novels in a wide variety of subgenres, including historical romance, paranormal romance, time travel romance, fantasy romance, contemporary romance, fantasy with romantic elements and paranormal young adult with paranormal elements.   She makes her home in Canada with her husband. When she isn't writing or reading, she can be found knitting, sewing or hunting for vintage patterns.

Scherry:  Welcome Deborah!  Thanks for joining us here at The Novel Lady.  Tell us a little about yourself and your background?

Deb:  Well, I love to tell stories, and my stories are often about people falling in love. :-) My books often reflect my interest in fairy tales and also in medieval history and legends. I live in a house full of books (and knitting yarn) and am happily married. I sold my first book to a publisher in 1992, then in 2012, after selling 45 books and a number of novellas to New York publishers, I decided to go indie. Being my own publisher been a fabulous experience - it’s a lot of work, but I love it.

Scherry:  What do you do when you’re not writing?  Do you have any hobbies or guilty pleasures?

Deb:  I knit a lot, but I also sew and quilt. I like playing with the textures and colors. It seems to exercise another part of my brain and helps me to solve plot puzzles. I also like to cook and to garden.

Scherry:  What were you like at school?

Deb:  I pretty much always had my nose in a book. I read all the time and was called out for doing it in class when I was supposed to be listening. :-) I would even read the dictionary if there were no fiction books around. I’ve noticed that a lot of writers were avid readers as children, and believe that reading widely is the best foundation for becoming a writer.

Scherry:  When and why did you begin writing?

Deb:  Because I read a lot, I was always writing stories and poems. My first attempt at writing a book was in high school when I wrote a murder mystery. (I was in an Agatha Christie phase at the time.) I was always told, though, that writing was better as a hobby than a career choice. After college, I had a number of jobs but none of them really thrilled me. The last one was so frustrating, actually, that I started to write a book to entertain myself. I wanted to lose myself in a fictional realm! I decided to try to write a romance, since it seemed that the market was really large and diverse. I dove right in without learning much about reader or publisher expectations, and while I learned a lot writing that book, it was never published and is best forgotten. Ultimately, I had three book manuscripts in rotation. One was a medieval romance, which is the book that ultimately sold. One was a long contemporary romance with paranormal elements and a mystery, probably closer to a women’s fiction book and undoubtedly beyond my abilities at the time. It never sold, but I have thought about digging it out and revising it because I liked the story. The third was a short sexy contemporary romance targeted at Harlequin Temptation, which never sold either. I’d revise one book and send it out to agents and editors, then revise the next, etc. By the time I finished revising the third one, the rejection letters for the first one would be coming in. In those days (the early 1990’s), it was more common for editors and agents to send long rejection letters that were really critiques. I learned a great deal from my many rejection letters - I think the file was about an inch thick by the time I sold my first book. My first editor was the one actually who came up with my pseudonym, Claire Delacroix. Harlequin Historicals was my first publisher and ultimately I wrote eleven books for them.

Scherry:  That’s great information for any aspiring writers. We readers are so glad you didn’t give up! Learning from those rejection letters was the right way to go, because that knowledge made you the kind of writer you are today.  Along that route, which writers inspired you?

Deb:  I admire writers who have built enduring careers and also those who surprise me. I read established and favorite authors like Agatha Christie and Georgette Heyer, Stephen King, Neil Gaiman, J. R. R. Tolkien, Minette Walters, and more, as well as always looking for new authors (or new-to-me authors). I really liked Paula Hawkins’ Girl on the Train and also David Mitchell’s The Bone Clocks because they both surprised me, in different ways.

Scherry:  Your Dragonfire series is immensely popular.  What inspired you to write that first book in the series, Kiss of Fire?

Deb:  I’ve always loved stories with paranormal elements. Maybe that’s because I was such a fan of fairy tales as a kid. Heroes with a little bit more are particularly intriguing. In 2008, I wasn’t writing medieval romance anymore because the market for historicals had shrunk, and I was looking for another opportunity. There were a lot of vampire books available then, but vampires aren’t really my thing. I read some wolf shifters, I wrote some fallen angels, then I thought it would be really cool if the hero could become a dragon. I’ve always loved dragons and thought this would be an ideal combination. At the time, there weren’t any dragon shifters in the romance market and it was interesting to see editorial reactions. One editor, though, who had edited my Claire Delacroix books at Bantam, loved my dragon shifters and bought the series. I think there were still doubts inhouse, but the first book did really well. I have so much fun with my dragon shifters. While Dragonfire is a complete series now, I’m currently working on a series called DragonFate which continues the story of the Pyr after the end of Dragonfire.

Scherry:  Oh!  I will definitely be keeping an eye out for that one!  I’ve also enjoyed the Coxwells books and the Flatiron Five series. Gosh!  I love them all!  Just curious… Have you ever based your book or characters on actual events or people from your own life?

Deb:  I’m so glad you enjoy my books!
Hmm. That’s a tough question. I never deliberately model a character on someone I know or have known. They’re all residents of my imagination, although they seem very real to me. (I talk to them, and even argue with them.) I do think it’s important that characters have emotional truth as that’s what allows them to step off the page. So, I can write about someone with a totally different background and nature than mine, but if that character is grieving, for example, I can draw on my own experience to make that reaction have more emotional truth. I believe that characters with emotional truth are the ones that readers find resonant. Deep down inside, we all have a tremendous amount in common and I think fictional characters should share those commonalities.

Scherry:  Can you tell us a bit about your most recent release?

Deb:  I wrote some short stories in my existing series and published them this fall. Part of the reason was that I’d like to get better at writing shorter, but also, there were events happening in each series that didn’t fit neatly into any book. So, in Flatiron Five, Going to the Chapel includes two weddings as well as the birth of Ty and Amy’s son. It happens between Cassie’s book (Some Guys Have All the Luck, #4) and Theo’s book (Bad Case of Loving You, #6). It ended up being longer than I expected (of course! I always write long!) but publishing it as a separate story was a good solution. In the Coxwell Series, Christmas with the Coxwells brings us to the present day with the kids all grown up, and catches us up with what’s been happening in that world. That came out of a suggestion from a reader that I write about the next generation, so we needed a bridge between the original books and the new ones coming. Those novellas were a lot of fun to write and I’ll probably do more of them. 

On the Delacroix side, my most recent release is The Runaway Bride, which is Ross’s story. Ross is the eighth sibling of the family introduced in The Beauty Bride (The Jewels of Kinfairlie #1) and readers have been asking about his HEA for a long time. Once again, there was a big reunion at the end of that story, as all the siblings came for the wedding - with their spouses and their kids. There were a lot of people to keep track of but it was very satisfying to revisit them all again.

My next release in April is Theo’s book, Flatiron Five #6. It’s a second chance romance and a secret baby story and has been a bit of a fighter. There were so many elements to juggle (plus Lyssa and Theo were both somewhat stubborn) that it took a bit for this one to come together in a way that satisfied me. The result is quite emotional, at least to me, and I hope readers like it.

Scherry:  If you had to write this one all over again, go through the whole editing and publishing process from the beginning again, is there anything you would do differently?

Deb:  I’m going to take a break from second chance stories for a bit. As much as I love them, I’m ready for a couple with a more straightforward story! McKenna and Aidan meet for the first time at the beginning of their book and immediately challenge each other’s expectations. I love when that happens, so am looking forward to writing their story.

In terms of my writing process, I’ve settled into a routine that works for me. I don’t work in drafts, but am always refining what I have before I move forward. So, I’ll start my day by reviewing and editing what I wrote the day before, then write the next scene or two. When I have a bigger change, I have to go back to the beginning and work it through the story before I can go forward. That’s the way I’ve always written and I doubt that will change. It feels sometimes as if I get mired down in the middle, but the great thing is that when I write the last scene, the book is pretty clean.

One thing I’m trying to improve is my publication process. I’d love to get more ahead of myself, so that there’s a longer period between finishing the book and its publication date. In traditional publishing, that’s usually a year, although that year also includes the editorial process and packaging. I’d like to get to the point that each book was finished and loaded to the portals six months before publication.

Scherry:  How much research did you do for your latest novel?

Deb:  Theo’s novel is a challenge for me, as he’s black and I’m not. He’s also British and I’m not. So, I’ve been doing a lot of research for his background, and I have a sensitivity reader lined up to make sure I get the details right. One of the other fun details about Bad Case of Loving You is that it starts at Christmas in Manhattan. The first time I visited New York City was at Christmas and I found it absolutely magical. It’s probably part of the reason I love the city so much. So, it’s been fun to research the things I did there over the holidays, all those years ago, as well as find some new ones for Theo and Lyssa.

Scherry:  What’s the strangest thing you’ve ever researched for one of your books?

Deb:  I did a lot of research on radiation poisoning and nuclear bombs when I was writing the Prometheus Project series of urban fantasy novels - plus motorcycles, alternative fuels, and fallen angels. It was a strange mix, but fascinating.

Scherry:  How long does it normally take you to write a book?

Deb:  It depends on the length of the book, although most of my stories to date have been close to 100,000 words. It also depends whether I’ve written in that world already - for the first book in a given series, I need to build the world, which takes longer. Once the world is established, though, it usually takes me 3 months to write a full-length book. Sometimes it’s faster, depending on how cooperative the characters are. And the last book in a series always takes longer, because I have lists of characters to revisit and ends to tie up.

Scherry:  Thinking about the characters in your books…  Do you have a favorite?  Which one would you most like to go have a beer or glass of wine with… or wake up next to?

Deb:  Oh, I wouldn’t mind meeting any of my heroes. :-) I have a particular fondness for Merlyn in The Rogue (my editor and I called him “mmm-mmm-Merlyn”), as well as Erik in Kiss of Fate (and also leader of the Pyr throughout the Dragonfire series). But then there’s Rafferty and Donovan in Dragonfire, and I think it would be fun to go for a beer with Thorolf, too. I love James in Double Trouble, and currently, I’m completely smitten with Theo in Bad Case of Loving You.

Scherry:  What is next for you?  Do you have any scheduled upcoming releases or works in progress?

Deb:  In the Flatiron Five series, after Theo’s book (Bad Case of Loving You), I have another release in that series planned for July (Some Like it Hot). In the Secret Heart Ink series, which is set in the F5 world, I’m hoping to finish Chynna’s story, Under the Mistletoe, before we end up having Christmas in July. Her story is a little bit tangled with Theo’s so I had to finish Theo’s book first. I’m also working on Here Be Dragons: the Dragonfire Companion, and there are boxed sets of Dragonfire being published this winter. I have a medieval romance release in the spring, One Knight’s Return by Claire Delacroix, and then, I’m going to write DragonFate, the next paranormal romance series featuring the Pyr. There’s always a line in my office!

Scherry:  Looks like we have a lot to look forward to with all of these upcoming books!  I, for one, am super excited about that!  How can fans contact you/learn more about you?


   Website: (This site has everything.) (This site features my Claire Delacroix titles.) (This is the site for Dragonfire.) (This is the site for the Dragons of Incendium     series.)

Scherry:  Deborah, thank you so much for joining us here at The Novel Lady! 

Deb:  Thanks so much for inviting me!

Readers, if you haven't experienced Deborah's writing yet, here's a little hint...   
Book #1 of her Flatiron Five series, SIMPLY IRRESISTABLE, is currently a 99cent 
read at all portals.  Or delve right into one of her newest adventures.  
Check out the books listed below!

Bad Case of Loving You (Flatiron Five #6)

Theo knows what's possible...
Because he's learned the hard way what's not. The internationally successful supermodel known as Angel stole his heart forever when she was Lyssa Monroe. There's never been another woman who could compete—even though her life proves that the Lyssa he knew was just an illusion. When Angel makes an appearance at F5, Theo’s sure he won’t see her again for another ten years. When she kisses him at midnight, Theo can't say no to temptation—even though he knows a night together will just make him hope for more all over again.

Lyssa has tasted forbidden fruit...

And she can't forget it, no matter how hard she tries. Theo's love is a touchstone for all that is pure and good in the chaos and solitude of her high-octane life. She’s determined to start fresh and repair the mistakes from the past, but the secret she’s kept from Theo could turn him against her forever. How much will she sacrifice to ensure that her son knows his father—and how far will Theo go once he discovers the truth?

Coming April 16
Pre-order available at all portals!

Some Like it Hot (Flatiron Five #7)

Aidan Connaught has a dream…

He’s spent his whole life working for his big acting break but time is running out. His plan is to win the contest at Flatiron Five to be their next billboard model for visibility, then to ace the lead role in an amateur production of Romeo and Juliet. He hopes the combination will catapult him to success. But when he discovers that his director doesn’t even believe in love, Aidan knows he has to change McKenna’s mind, no matter what it takes…

McKenna Singer no longer believes in dreams…

Being abandoned at the altar once is enough to teach anyone that love and romance is for other people. McKenna’s all about making a difference, so she’s seizing the chance to turn Romeo and Juliet upside down and inside out—until Aidan Connaught’s audition casts a spell over the entire cast. If he thinks seducing the director will encourage McKenna to compromise, she’s is more than ready to surrender. It’s just a fling and a play—at least until McKenna has to step into the role of Juliet, and realizes she wants so much more.

Coming July 31!
Download a free sample from BookFunnel. Pre-order available at some portals.

One Knight’s Return (Knights & Rogues #2)

Knight and crusader Quinn de Sayerne vowed never to return home while his villainous father drew breath. Twenty years after his departure, he is notified of his father’s death and summoned by his liege lord to claim his family holding. But his overlord has a stipulation: Quinn must wed Melissande, the beauteous heiress of neighboring Annossy. Quinn hoped to make a match based on more than mutual animosity, but he is resolved to win the heart of his lady wife, at any cost.
Melissande cannot believe that her liege lord has not only compelled her to break an old betrothal but wed her to a ruffian—and granted the seal of Annossy to him, despite her expertise. It is the dream of Quinn’s father brought to fruition, for the holdings will be merged just as he long schemed. But her overlord cannot be defied and she finds herself the chattel of this rough knight, despite her every protest.
Can Quinn win his lady’s reluctant heart? Or is he doomed to lose Melissande forever when her betrothed returns?

Available April 26
Pre-order available at some portals


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