The Romance Reader Interviews Olivia Quinch

  The Interviews
New Faces 217
Olivia Quincy
by Cathy Sova

Welcome to our New Faces column! Here youíll meet debut authors and discover a bit about their writing. This time weíre visiting with Olivia Quincy, whose first book is My Ladyís Pleasure, an erotic historical from Signet.

Olivia, welcome to TRR! Tell us about yourself.

I have the dullest background imaginable. I grew up middle class, in a small city north of New York City. I had an uneventful childhood, stewarded by smart, interesting, upstanding parents who are now close friends. Iím lucky to be married to a fine man, and we live in a semi-rural part of Massachusetts.

My characters live a much more interesting life than I do, Iím afraid.

Are you coming to romance writing from another job?

Iíve been a professional writer for many years, with two (non-fiction) books and about a bazillion magazine articles under my belt. I still do that work, and I find that doing the two kinds of writing is refreshing. Each has different pleasures and challenges, and each gives me a little break from the other. Olivia Quincy is a pseudonym, but sheís also a kind of alter-ego. I become her when I write romance.

The two kinds of writing are so different that theyíre easy to compartmentalize, but they both exercise my writing muscles and help to keep me in form.

What led you to write romance, and why did you choose erotica as your subgenre? Tell us about your road to publication.

I think my road to romance was unusual. When I wrote my last non-fiction book, I worked with an editor who also edited erotica. She told me stories about the books she worked on, and it was clear that she found the genre fun and interesting. So I picked up a few, and I knew exactly what she meant.

All my life, Iíd read Victorian fiction, and it occurred to me that it would be great fun to set a novel in that time, but to open the doors to all the bedrooms (and haylofts, and broom closets, and dungeons). I asked my editor if sheíd be open to a proposal, and she was.

I worked up a plot that I thought could set the stage for interesting things to happen behind all those doors, but could also support a cast of characters who would be compelling and likeable. I wrote a few chapters to see if I could get the knack of it, and I submitted it to my editor.

She liked it! And now itís actually in print. Itís still a little hard to believe.

I feel very fortunate that my previous writing work made my path to romance relatively smooth. I know lots of talented writers who have trouble getting the attention of agents and editors, and Iím very lucky to have had the support of an established editor from the get-go.

What kind of research was involved for your first book?

There were two kinds of research. First, I had to make sure that everything that happened in the book could have happened in 1895. I researched everything from underwear to electric lights. I wanted to make sure the food, the vehicles, the dresses, and all the details were of their time. (And Iím sure I botched some of it Ė if you find an anachronism, I hope youíll tell me!)

The other kind of research was for the sex. One of the challenges of writing erotica is that, unless youíve lived a much more exciting intimate life than I have, your personal experience will take you only so far. I needed to understand the mindsets and motivations of people who are aroused by things a little off the beaten path Ė what titillates and compels them, and why. Fortunately, thereís a lot out there that explains some of those things, and I relied on it.

Tell us about your debut book.

My first priority was a heroine I thought readers would like. I wanted her to be smart and independent, but headstrong enough that her smart independence gets her into trouble. Lady Georgiana Vernon is the daughter of an Earl, and she chafes against the constraints of Victorian society. She wants the same kinds of freedom the men around her enjoy, and she sets out to have them without regard for the repercussions her actions might have.

The backdrop of her story is Penfield, a beautiful estate in the English countryside, where guests are gathered for the annual masquerade ball given by Lord and Lady Loughlin. A great deal goes on in Penfieldís private realms, and my readers will be granted admittance to the shenanigans.

Iím hoping that Lady Georgiana is a woman you can relate to, a woman who doesnít quite know what it is she wants, and makes a few mistakes on the way to figuring it out. Iím hoping that her lover, Bruce Barnes, Penfieldís landscape architect, is a man with an appeal we can all understand.

Who are your influences as a writer?

I feel silly saying that my influences are some of the greatest novelists the English language has ever seen Ė Jane Austen, George Eliot, Anthony Trollope Ė because, of course, Iím no Austen, or Eliot, or Trollope. But a girl can aim high, canít she?

I love the language and the dialogue of the Victorians. Back then, before television and the Internet, conversation was an art, and I like the way people used to talk to each other Ė in books, at least. I hope Iíve managed to work some of that into My Ladyís Pleasure.

What does your family think of having a published romance author in their midst?

They think itís excellent! They appreciate the genre, and are very pleased that I can put my skills to work in it. My husband is my biggest fan.

Tell us about plans for future books.

My second book is in the works as we speak, and is due out next summer. Itís quite different from the first one, but I hope readers who enjoyed My Ladyís Pleasure will give it a shot.

How can readers get in touch with you?

I love to hear from my readers, and theyíre welcome to e-mail me at

Olivia, thanks for joining us, and best of luck with your future books! Readers, we have a review of My Ladyís Pleasure here at TRR. September 2, 2010

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