Thrilled to be joined for Friday Night Drinks tonight by fellow RNA member and historical romance author, Sally Calder, who writes under the pen name…. Emily Royal.
Thank you for joining me for drinks this evening. First things first, what are you drinking?
It’s a pleasure! Thanks for having me. I’ll be drinking gin & tonic. I’m picky, so if I’m allowed to mention brand names, it has to be Bombay Sapphire with a slice of lime or Monkey 47 with a slice of pink grapefruit. And for the tonic, only Fevertree will do.
I agree, Bombay Sapphire is the best. If we weren’t here in my virtual bar tonight, but were meeting in real life, where would you be taking me for a night out?
An Italian restaurant – not a chain, but something family run with an authentic menu. Can I recommend Cosmoba in London? Failing that, I’m always up for a curry! Most of my favourite nights out centre around food.
Italian is my favourite cuisine so I would love that. If you ever find yourself in Dublin, do check out Il Vicoletto in Temple Bar, it’s my favourite. If you could invite two famous people, one male and one female, alive or dead, along on our night out, who would we be drinking with?
This is so tough! There’s lots of famous people I admire but I don’t know if I’d enjoy being in their company for a whole night out.
I’m a big fan of Tommie Smith, the athlete who won the gold medal in the 200m sprint in the 1968 Mexico Olympics and staged the silent protest on the podium together with John Carlos, the bronze medalist. But as our male guest, I’ll go for Peter Norman, the Australian athlete who won the silver medal in the same race. He supported Tommie and John, and was heavily criticized for it, but he always seems to get forgotten. I’d love to hear his story.
For the female I was tempted to go for either Tonya Harding, another controversial athlete – or Christine Keeler, whose story I’ve always been fascinated by. But I’ll plump for Eleanor of Aquitaine. The toughest of tough ladies, she was a duchess in her own right, queen consort of France, queen of England, acted as regent for a while and gave birth to three kings, weathered an unhappy marriage, was imprisoned for 16 years, staged a rebellion against her husband and lived into her 80’s which is quite remarkable for the thirteenth century! I think she’d have a lot to talk about to keep us entertained.
Interesting choices. So, now we’re settled, tell me what you are up to at the moment. What have you got going on? How and why did you start it and where do you want it to go?
I’m currently traditionally published with a handful of small presses. But I’ve just recently begun to make plans for some indy projects. I’m researching the whole process of formatting and publishing as well as cover design, to see which parts of the process I can confidently do myself and which parts I’ll need to contract out. Ideally I’d love to be a hybrid author with my projects split between traditional and indie. My current draft-in-progress is the fifth book in my Regency series which makes references to a famous chess match.
What has been your proudest moment since you started writing and what has been your biggest challenge?
I’m tempted to say the proudest moment was when I had my first offer of a contract on a novel – but I think it has to be the first time I had a formal critique. The reviewer’s positive feedback was a pivotal moment which made me believe I was capable of writing a novel which didn’t suck! If I’m allowed to state another, I think it was when I was sent the first rough cut of a cover for my debut novel and it began to sink in that this was really happening!
The biggest challenge has been to force myself to keep on writing. When I get a stinky review on Amazon which dents the rating, or when I’ve been waiting weeks for a publisher or agent to respond to a query/pitch, it’s really easy to talk myself into believing the negatives and ignore the positives. But I force myself to shift focus onto a new project and concentrate on that. Another big challenge is accepting that time is a finite resource. I have a lot of ideas for different projects and genres, but a) there’s only 24 hours in a day, and b) for many of those, I’m working on my day job, rather than writing.
What is the one big thing you’d like to achieve in your chosen arena? Be as ambitious as you like, it’s just us talking after all!
An orange bestseller flag on Amazon. I’d love one of those. Even if just for one hour!
Great ambition! What are you currently working on that you are really excited about?
Quite a lot! I released three novels last year and I’m currently drafting another three in the same series and have some early ideas for a series of novellas in the same genre. I have three more books I’d drafted a few years ago – same genre, different time period – which I’ve earmarked for indy projects, so that will be exciting as it’s all part of my plan to branch out into being a hybrid author. As well as that, I have outline plans for some secret projects in a completely different genre and under a different name.
Busy woman. I love to travel, and I’m currently drawing up a bucket list of things I’d like to do in the future. Where is your favourite place that you’ve been and what do you have at the top of your bucket list?
Favourite place has to be Rotorua in New Zealand where we spent our honeymoon. It’s close to loads of sulphur springs and volcanoes, and is one of the friendliest towns I’ve ever been to. Top of my bucket list would be the Galapagos Islands.
Tell me one interesting/surprising/secret fact about yourself that people might not know about you.
I once hijacked a passenger train at a major airport.
What? You can’t leave that hanging! We need more details! Books are my big passion and central to my blog and I’m always looking for recommendations. What one book would you give me and recommend as a ‘must-read’?
Skallagrigg by William Horwood, One of my keepers which I can never get through without crying!
Skallagrigg unites Arthur, a little boy abandoned many years ago in a grim hospital in northern England with Esther, a radiantly intelligent young girl who is suffering from cerebral palsy, and with Daniel, an American computer-games genius.
Skallagrigg – whatever the name signifies, whoever he is – will come to transform all their lives. And William Horwood’s inspired, heart-rending story of rescue and redemptive love will undoubtedly touch your life too.
So, we’ve been drinking all evening. What is your failsafe plan to avoid a hangover and your go-to cure if you do end up with one?
Before going out, in anticipation of a heavy night: drink a pint of milk
While you’re out: eat lots of carbohydrates while drinking
If you’re young enough: go clubbing. I always had a clear head after a bout of energetic dancing
On arriving home drunk and before going to bed: drink at least two pints of water
The morning after: A fizzy drink with Vitamin C in, and a big greasy fry-up
Very specific, thank you. I think my clubbing day are behind me, alas. After our fabulous night out, what would be your ideal way to spend the rest of a perfect weekend?
A log cabin in the mountains, tucked away from the rest of civilization.
Emily, I have had a wonderful evening, thank you for spending it with me and I wish you huge success with your future projects.
Readers signing up to Emily’s newsletter will receive a free novella (a prequel to London Libertines, but a standalone story).
Emily Royal is a confessed mathematics geek and a hopeless romantic with a passion for alpha heroes. From an early age she dreamed about knights in shining armour, Medieval castles, Highland Heroes and Regency rogues. She lives in rural Scotland with her husband, children and menagerie of exotic pets, including Twinkle, an attention-seeking boa constrictor.
From an early age she devoured romance novels but set aside her passion to focus on university, work and raising a family. But after a long career in financial services she re-ignited her love of romantic fiction when she stumbled across the Romantic Novelists’ Association’s website and joined their New Writers’ Scheme.
Next week I am having Friday Night Drinks with author, Lizzie Chantree, so please do join us.