Interview with Author Manda Collins and Giveaway

I've had the pleasure of reviewing this debut author's first book, "How to Dance with a Duke" and I must say ~ Manda Collins is definitely one to look out for! You can find my review here. I am so thrilled to have Manda here today, she was kind enough to stop by and answer a few questions.
Welcome Manda!! Thanks so much for stopping by the blog to chat about your book. Congrats on the release tomorrow-of your debut historical romance novel, ‘How to Dance with a Duke'! (Ugly Ducklings #1- Book 1, St. Martin's Press) I am so happy to have you here!

FBL ♥: Can you tell me and the readers how it feels and what it means to you to have your debut novel hitting the shelves tomorrow?
Manda: It’s almost indescribable. I’ve been waiting for this day for a very long time. I only started writing seriously a few years ago, but I’ve been toying with the idea since I was in college many moons ago. And I’ve been reading romance since I was thirteen years old. So it’s pretty amazing to know that I’m finally going to see a book I’ve written on the library or the bookstore shelf.

FBL ♥: absolutely love the cover. It's GORGEOUS! I love the coloring and the dress is to die for. She looks peaceful and yet mischievous; makes me want to find out what she's thinking. What are your thoughts on the cover and what was it like when you first saw the finished product?
Manda: I adore this cover. I love how saucy but sweet Cecily looks on it. I love that it’s a cover my grandmother can look at without falling into a swoon. And I love how utterly naughty it is without being vulgar. Plus, the heroine’s gown is period appropriate which can be pretty rare on a Regency cover these days. I cannot tell a lie. When I came back from lunch and opened my email to find this image waiting for me, I cried a little. There are so many firsts that come with becoming an author, but seeing your cover for the first time has to be one of the most overwhelming.

FBL ♥: Give us five words to describe “How to Dance with a Duke”.
Manda: Mysterious. Playful. Romantic. Exciting. Healing.

FBL ♥: Tell us about the day of “The Call". Was there Dancing? Screaming? Champagne popping?
Manda: I got the call and missed it! I was brushing my teeth and I thought I heard my cell phone ring, but I thought it was just wishful thinking on my part. So I finished getting dressed and went off to work. Two things told me that I was about to get big news. One was an email from my agent with the subject line: CALL ME!!! And the other was the Twitter notification that my editor had started following me. I called my agent, she told me the good news, and there was much quiet squeeing. (I work as an academic librarian by day so I couldn’t give in to the urge to really shout out my joy until later in the car.)

FBL ♥: Your debut novel is such a wonderful blend of historical fiction, romance, and mystery. What inspired you to take on such a layered project?
Manda: I’ve always been a big fan of mysteries and romantic suspense, so when I started writing it was always with a mystery as well as a romance in mind. I was a huge fan of Nancy Drew when I was growing up, so I wondered what would happen if I created a trilogy around three cousins with a similar dynamic to Nancy’s with her friends Bess and George only set during the Regency era, and without all of the social cachet Nancy seemed to have. What you end up with is The Ugly Ducklings, three cousins who fall in love and solve mysteries over a three book arc.

FBL ♥: The book has a rather unique theme centered around Egyptology. How did you come up with that (story, angle, idea)?
Manda: The Regency is well known for its Egyptian craze. During the Napoleonic wars there were competing expeditions between the English and the French in a race to see who would uncover the most antiquities and bring them back to Europe. When I was brainstorming about Cecily, I knew that she had to be a bluestocking, and since languages were a field that a lady could study without too much scandal befalling her, I made her a linguist. In turn, I needed a reason for Cecily and Lucas to need to work together. Having his brother serve as her father’s secretary on expeditions to Egypt was a useful way to do that. I also needed her to have a skill that Lucas would need to help him find his brother, so being able to translate her father’s journals would give her that. The rest, just fell into place.

FBL ♥: How do you develop your plot & characters? Do the characters come to you looking for their story to be told or do you get an idea and then find the right characters to tell it?
Manda: I started off thinking in terms of the entire trilogy first. Which meant I would need three very different heroines and three very different heroes. Cecily was the one who came to me first. I knew that I wanted to write a bluestocking. And I knew that she would need a hero who was, in the immortal words of Sheryl Crow “strong enough to be her man.” Who better to match wits with a woman who knows she’s smarter than most of the men she meets, than a former military hero? And the chemistry took off from there.

FBL ♥: While reading the book, you gave the readers a quick hint of something brewing between Lord Deveril and one of the Cecily’s cousins, “I have an interest in one of Miss Hurston’s cousins.” Can you give us a preview of what’s next in the Ugly Duckling series?
Manda: The next of the Ducklings to get her story is Juliet. Though I won’t say just yet who her hero is. You can figure it out if you check out my website;) Juliet has had a difficult time of it these past few years. Her mother is terrible. Her father doesn’t pay her very much attention. And though she’s a gifted musician she would rather fade into the background than shine in the spotlight. And she never, ever, likes to ask for help. But when her musical mentor goes missing, she’ll have to accept help from someone she never thought she’d talk to, much less join forces with.

FBL ♥: Get to Know You… Can you please tell us a little-known fact about yourself?
Manda: When I was in middle school, the TV show THE MONKEES was enjoying a renaissance. And I was one of it’s most adoring fans. Only problem was that they were all pretty old at that point, so I was totally crushing on the 1960s era Monkees and not their 1980s selves. My favorite? Davy Jones, because, natch he was British  ;)

If you want to learn more about Manda, she will be visiting The Romance DishThe Vauxhall Vixens and Romance Novel News later this week.

Manda Collins spent her teen years wishing she’d been born a couple of centuries earlier, preferably in the English countryside. Time travel being what it is, she resigned herself to life with electricity and indoor plumbing, and read lots of books. An affinity for books led to a graduate degree in English, followed by another in Librarianship. By day, she works as an academic librarian at a small liberal arts college, where she teaches college students how to navigate the tangled world of academic research. A native of coastal Alabama, Manda lives in the house her mother grew up in with three cats, sometimes a dog, sometimes her sister, and always lots of books

Where you can find Manda Collins: Website | Facebook | Twitter

To celebrate the release of 'How to Dance with a Duke', Manda is giving away a copy of this wonderful book to one (1) lucky winner. Open to US and Canada only. You must use the Rafflecopter form to enter to win. 

In 'How to Dance with a Duke', Cecily was not your typical lady of the "ton", she was well educated and independent; she was a strong heroine but real enough that she had her own flaws. To be believable to me, the heroine is someone who  she has faults, but must also have the strength to overcome the obstacles and ordeals they have experienced.

What do you guys think? Do you like stories with strong heroines? Why? I would love to hear from you!

Good luck to all! For those who just love to read the fine print, before you enter a giveaway please be aware of a few simple rules: Giveaway Policy.

a Rafflecopter giveaway


Vanya D. said... Best Blogger Tips

One day I hope to see my own novel published too :)) Loved the interview. I'm following you ;)

Best Tan said... Best Blogger Tips

I do like to read about strong heroines! I don't exactly know why. I just don't like weak, whiny ones. :D

Manda Collins said... Best Blogger Tips

Good luck, Vanya!

Best Tan, I think maybe we like strong heroines because we want to see ourselves as strong. And we want the heroines we read about to embody our best qualities. Plus it's just more fun when she can fight back;)

Darling Nikki said... Best Blogger Tips

I have this on my list on Goodreads! Fab interview. I don't like weak heroines, I think they are pathetic and that everyone has their strenghts. And that women are not "helpless".

VanillaOrchids said... Best Blogger Tips

I do enjoy reading strong willed heroines probably because I'm not really anything like them even though I wish I were.

Thanks for the great interview! I've been wanting to read this book from the moment I saw the cover, which by the way is gorgeous! LOVE IT!! :D


Reading said... Best Blogger Tips

NIce interview! And I loved the review, I'll HAVE to read this book now! LOL

Reading said... Best Blogger Tips
This comment has been removed by the author.
Reading said... Best Blogger Tips

h crap, forgot to answer the question! LOL! Yes except when it's a contemporary romance novel, I love strong heroines, they're so fiece and fight for what they wat!

kswederski said... Best Blogger Tips

Yes I do like strong heroines - I just think a strong woman is more interesting than a weak one (in real life too.)

Diane D - Florida said... Best Blogger Tips

I much prefer srong heroines to lily livered weak ones. However, I do like them to be a little vunerable so as the hero can swoop in and take care of her.

Loved the interview, and congratulations on your debut.

karla said... Best Blogger Tips

Great interview. Hands down...strong heroines. I love women who can think and do for themselves! the cover, it features the heroine, with just a peek of the Hero in the background, I think it says something about her character!

June M. said... Best Blogger Tips

I definitely prefer strong heroines. I would not enjoy a book featuring a weak heroine (or hero).
This book sounds really good! Congrats on the release!
manning_j2004 at yahoo dot com

Manda Collins said... Best Blogger Tips

Totally agree, darling Nikki. Everybody has their strengths. And I definitely think women are tougher than they are often made out to be.

Glad you like the cover, Pam. I think a lot of times we do prefer to read about characters we aspire to be like. I know I want to be as drop dead gorgeous as they often are!

Thanks, Reading! I know what you mean. I love to see a heroine fight for what she wants.

I think strong women are more interesting too, Kswederski. Definitely to write about!

Don't worry, Diane! Cecily is a strong heroine, but she has her vulnerable moments. And Lucas isn't one to just let her suffer.

LOL, Karla, I think you're right about the cover. Cecily definitely makes an impression!

Thanks, June!

Kat ~ Forever Book Lover ♥ said... Best Blogger Tips

Manda, thanks so much for stopping by and chatting with us. Try to get some sleep tonight, I know you are excited about your debut tomorrow. Are you going to stake out the bookstores to catch you book on the shelves?

Veronica W. said... Best Blogger Tips

They are the best to read about! There is always more action that way! Plus, they're so much better then whiny, selfish heroines :P

Shanan, The Book Addict said... Best Blogger Tips

I love to read about strong heroines because that is what I aspire to be and what I hope my daughter will aspire to be!


me said... Best Blogger Tips

I cannot believe I found another romance blog out there on Book Blogs! I'm so happy I did. Love the contest, am following you. Megan

Anonymous said... Best Blogger Tips

Yes I do! Because the one's who aren't strong tend to get whiney and annoying. I like reading about a girl who can hold her own against a man :) thanks for the giveaway!

winnie said... Best Blogger Tips

Enjoyed the interview! I do enjoy reading about strong heroines as it can bring about interesting conflicts.

KBaila said... Best Blogger Tips

Strong heroines are great to read about-GO girl power!

Donna McBroom-Theriot said... Best Blogger Tips

I love strong heroines.

Cindy said... Best Blogger Tips

I enjoy reading about strong heroines. They make the story more interesting and they are a women that one can look up to and not be made to be submissive, accepting a fate they don't want.

Sophia Rose said... Best Blogger Tips

Fun interview! I loved Nancy Drew as a kid and I am abso-fascinated by Egyptology after reading the Amelia Peabody series.

I don't mind a strong heroine as long as her strength is believable whether its wit, courage, or just a will to survive. But I don't like it when its historical fiction and someone drops a 21st century thinker in acting completely unlike her 19th century counterparts calling it strong.

Thanks for the giveaway opportunity.

Na said... Best Blogger Tips

I love strong and independent heroines. I think their smarts means more exciting scenes and a hero who doesn't have to always help her out. Rather they help each other out.

Courtney Wyant said... Best Blogger Tips

I really do love strong heroines. I can not stand the clingy and whiny characters some authors write. They get on my nerves.

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