This week the interview is with Cheryl Holt, a historical romance author, with more than fifty books published.
First, thank you for the opportunity to talk with you. When was the moment that you knew you had to be a writer?
I always wanted to be a writer. From the time I was a young girl, I thought about it, but I didn’t know how to start writing or get published. I began writing commercial fiction in a serious way after I had my two children. I was stuck at home, trying to figure out how to earn an income at home, and I just started working hard and figured it out.
You was a lawyer, how did you become a writer of historical novels, being something so different from your background?
As a lawyer, I had worked as a criminal prosecutor, so when I first began writing novels, I wanted to use my legal experiences in my books. Originally, I had hoped to be a suspense/thriller writer, but I was very new and not very good yet, and I couldn’t sell any of my manuscripts. I ended up taking a detour into romance, and I was stunned to discover that I’m really, really good at writing love stories. All these years later, I’m still surprised to realize it.
What fascinates you about this literary genre?
There are a few classic stories that are told over and over in the world. One of them is the fairytale of Cinderella. It’s women’s favorite story, and it always has been throughout history. We love to read about star-crossed lovers, who are separated by class distinctions, and who have to fight to wind up together in the end. No matter the country, century, race, or culture, women never get tired of hearing the story told in new and fun ways. So that’s what I do: I write versions of Cinderella over and over again. I have a fun life, telling women their favorite story.
Several of your books have been translated in Portugal, but the most recent series is “Lost Lords of Radcliffe”, which I love. How did the idea for the creation of this family and these stories come about?
The idea actually came from an earlier trilogy, my Reluctant Brides trilogy. In Book #3 (the book was titled in English, WONDERFUL), the heroine was an orphan who didn’t remember her childhood, but she had dreams and nightmares that something bad had happened when she was a tiny girl. In the novel, she crosses paths with a long-lost brother. At first, they don’t remember each other and don’t realize they’re related, but as part of the plot, they begin to recall the tragedy that destroyed their family when they were very small children.
The brother and sister in that book realize they have two lost brothers who vanished when their family was broken apart. They decide to begin a search to find them. How could I resist going forward into a new series and telling that story?
What kind of research did you do for these books?
I don’t do any research for my books. My historical romances are nearly all set in England in the Regency time period, and they take place around 1814 or so. Everything in each book is the same: the carriages, the clothes, the style of living, the social rules. The books are simply historical novels set in a certain time period, but they don’t revolve around a certain historic event, so I don’t need to do research.
If you could spend a day with one of your characters, who would it be and what would you do?
That’s a very hard question. I’ve published over 60 novels now, and I’m renowned for drafting really fun, really interesting characters. I like them all, and it’s hard to pick a favorite. I suppose the most ‘intriguing’ one would be Charles Sinclair from my Lord Trent trilogy. He was an aging roué who had sired dozens of bastard children. He was fascinating to create and to write, and my readers loved him.
A very difficult question to ask but what is your favorite novel from those you’ve written, and what was the most exciting to write?
As with picking a favorite character, it’s hard for me to pick a favorite book. I think all of my novels are thrilling and fun. I really liked the novels of my Forever series. It was four books altogether, and the fourth and final novel, simply titled FOREVER,was really good. I also liked writing Book #3 of my Lost Lords of Radcliffe series. It was the one and only time that either my hero or heroine was royalty. The heroine in the story was a princess who needed to be rescued by a macho, yummy hero.
Did you ever think that your books would be translated into several languages?
When I first started writing, I was clueless about the publishing industry, so I never thought about things like whether or not my books would be translated into other languages. I’ve lost an accurate count, but I think I’ve been translated into 26 languages! It’s lovely to know that my stories have spread around the world, and that I’ve been able to entertain women around the globe.
Do you give your opinion on the covers of international editions or do you leave that to the discretion of the respective publisher?
When my books are sold to a foreign publisher, I have very little say about any of it. I never see the cover art in advance, and I have no control over who translates the book, how the book is marketed, or any other part of the process. I just receive a few promotional copies of the book once it’s released.
What authors have you most admired and have had an influence on you?
I’m an extremely avid reader, and I have been my whole life. I think every author I’ve ever read has had a tremendous effect on me. It would be hard to pick one who had the most influence.
What advice would you give to aspiring or debut authors?
The novel is a very complex artform. It’s hard to learn to write a novel. Then it’s hard to learn to write a good novel. Then it’s really hard to learn to write a great novel. The only way to figure it out is to write and write and write. It’s just like practicing the piano. If you don’t practice, you’ll never get better. I wrote manuscripts for four entire years before I got good enough to finally sell one to a New York publisher! So if a person is a new author, she should get busy and get to work—by writing constantly.
Finally, can you give us any insights into any future books or projects that you’re working on?
I always have a new project on my desk. I’m a working novelist, and I produce several books per year. For the past decade, I have released linked trilogies, where the plot starts in Book 1 and is resolved in Book 3. I release the three novels all on the same day, so readers can read the whole story without having to wait for the next installment. This summer, 2021, I will be releasing my new CADS trilogy. The link premise is that an aging scoundrel suddenly inherits the family’s earldom. He has three sons, and because he never expected to inherit the title, they’ve all been dedicated bachelors and scoundrels.
With his elevation, they have to get busy and marry in a hurry to sire some male heirs. The books are fun and exciting, and I can’t wait for all of my English-language fans to have a chance to read them. For all my fans in Portugal, I haven’t sold them to my Portuguese publisher yet, but will keep my fingers crossed that it might happen in the future.
Know more about Cheryl