Author Interview: Sarah Tormey



Sarah Tormey’s Recipe for Romance:

Wit, humor, and a rakish hero determined to risk everything to win the heart of the woman he loves.



I discovered this most talented author through her blog and fell in love with the first chapter of her Historical Romance, Flirting with Scandal. I immediately contacted Sarah Tormey to ask for an interview and she kindly agreed to answer some questions pertaining to her experience on “both sides” of the publishing industry. At last, the interview is ready, and I am now super excited to share this with everyone! 


You worked for several years at Random House as a mass merchandise sales representative. Could you share a bit of your experience with us? What did you do exactly?

When I left Random House last summer, I was selling all the adult imprints to Target.  It was an amazing job covering everything from presenting the upcoming releases to shipping reorders to providing the publishers with current sales data.  I would arrive at my office each morning excited to see the daily sales figures for recent releases.  And there were times when I would literally jump for joy in my office after securing great placement for one of my favorite authors.  While I love having more time to write, I still miss my coworkers and the buying team at Target.      

When you decided to leave this job to become a full-time writer, was it a hard decision to make? 

Very hard.  I knew I needed more time to write apart from the time during my subway ride to and from the office and the few early morning hours I set aside for writing.  While I loved my job, completing my first manuscript was my dream.  I spoke with my husband and we decided that now was as good a time as any to pursue my dreams.       

Could you tell us about your historical romance, Flirting with Scandal ?

Set in 1813 England, Flirting with Scandal is the story of an innocent twenty-something lady whose best friend’s unconventional plan leads her to pose as a courtesan and come face-to-face with the one man she vowed never to marry.  To learn more and to read an excerpt, please visit my website at  
Why did you set this story in the Regency Era?

I fell in love with the Regency Era years ago when I first started working in publishing.  I was helping with a marketing campaign for Sabrina Jeffries and once I started reading her books, I couldn’t stop.  Next I fell in love with Mary Balogh’s Slightly series, then Julia Quinn, Eloisa James, and Madeline Hunter (just to name a few).     

Do you write following a schedule or when inspired?
Most weekdays, I sit down at my computer after I make my husband’s french toast.  I write until lunch time, taking breaks to check email, read my favorite blogs or move the car (NYC is a land of alternate side street parking).  After lunch I usually continue until about five, sometimes later if I’m feeling inspired.  On the weekends, I start each day writing, stopping only when the inspiration fades or another obligation pulls me away from the computer.  

What difficulties have you faced in your road to publication? And how did you deal with it?

Patience.  The hardest part for me is the waiting.  But I don’t think I’m alone in this.  About two days after I send out my first round of query letters, I learned that I needed to find more patience.  I keep telling myself that becoming a patient person will help me in all aspects of my life.  There is a post-it note on my wall reminding me of this.  

  To overcome my impatience, I generally turn off my email and try to lose myself in my current work-in-progress.  If the impatience returns, I remind myself that the agents and editors who have my work are very busy people.  And they can’t read all the time.  They have families and other obligations.  After all, there are only so many hours in the day, which I have a strong feeling applies to both agents, editors, and writers. 

As a last resort, I clean my apartment.       


What has been your best and worst experience in querying to agents?
I have found the querying process very rewarding.  Most agents I’ve queried have responded relatively fast with a request for either a partial or a full.  After I sent out my first round of partials and full manuscripts, I received a handful of rejections.  Each rejection offered insights into how I could improve my work.  I then spoke with an agent who’d read the full and offered lots of great suggestions.  Based on her feedback, I completely revised my manuscript and resubmitted to another round of agents.  

What are your top five favourite books?

Just five? Wow, that’s a hard question to answer.  To come up with a response, I thought about the books that I simply can’t part with.  If my apartment caught fire, I would grab my cat and this list of books.  These are the books that if I give my copy to a friend, I order a new one for myself the next day.

And I certainly can’t put them in any sort of order or pick a #1 favorite.  Of course this list is constantly changing as new books are released.  If I could add a sixth, I think it would be Goddess of the Hunt by Tessa Dare (on-sale in July 2009).  Thanks to my former coworkers at Random House, I read an advanced copy and loved it.    

Jane Eyre by Charlotte Bronte
A Wild Pursuit by Eloisa James
The Duke and I by Julia Quinn
The Romantic by Madeline Hunter (It was very hard to pick just one of her books!)
Suzanne Brockmann’s Troubleshooter series (I can’t pick just one.  I would save the entire series from the fire without a second thought.)

Could you tell us about your experience working with RWA?

My experience working with RWA while I was working on the other side of the publishing industry played a large part in my decision to take the leap to full-time aspiring writer.  I knew before I made the transition that the romance community was a supportive, encouraging group of writers and readers.  I had been to the Romance Writers of America® national conference in the past for my job and witnessed this first hand.  Thus, one of the first things I did when I joined RWA® this past fall was to also join my local chapter in New York City and then a few months later, The Beau Monde.  I would recommend that anyone who is interested in writing romance join RWA and your local chapter.  Even if you don’t attend the meetings, I find that it is nice to have a support group to share your successes and your setbacks. 

Do you have any advice you’d like to give to other aspiring authors?

 Write.  Dee Davis, a fellow member of the RWA NYC group and a highly acclaimed author (, posted a few words of wisdom to the group online chat loop that I printed out and hung on my wall.  I’m paraphrasing slightly, but basically she said:  “A writer writes period.  Regardless of whether you’re published or still waiting for “the call,” the truly important part of the process is the writing.” 


Excerpt from Flirting with Scandal

Charlotte Ashton stared in wide-eyed horror as Nathaniel White rounded the corner at the far end of the otherwise empty hallway. Breathless at the mere thought of coming face to face with the notorious rake, Charlotte did what any other reasonable eighteen-year-old daughter of an earl would do.

She sought refuge in the nearby window dressings. Read more here.


If you have any questions for Sarah Tormey, please leave a comment.  She’ll be checking in throughout the day. 


15 thoughts on “Author Interview: Sarah Tormey

  1. Sarah,
    I can’t wait to read your book! I’m impressed with your dedication to a writing schedule and thanks for the reminder about the importance of patience. I keep reminding myself of that!


  2. Your road in this journey has obviously required some difficult choices, Sarah, but you so obviously love what you are doing, and are so enthusiastic about the genre of romance, that it is clear you are doing what you are meant to be doing. And making sure to take all the “learning experiences” from the process is a lesson to everyone to do the same. I will be watching for the “Scandal”s … I have already fallen for your characters from your excerpt!


  3. This looks like it should be on my Summer reading list. I’ll have to check the excerpt out.

    Thanks for the advice Sarah and it’s nice to see another Jane Eyre fan. That’s one of my favorite books as well!


  4. Thanks for stopping by Kwana and Lisbeth!

    Lisbeth: to your point about my writing schedule, part of what keeps me going is the RWA NYC Book-in-a-Week program each month. During that week I know I must reach my goals, whether I’m trying to write 1,000 words a day or send out more queries so that I can report back to the group on my progress.

    Just one more reason, I think it is important to join your local RWA chapter!


  5. Lise, I’m thrilled to hear your fallen for my characters! I love spending time with them each day:)

    Raven, thanks for checking out my excerpt. And I hope you enjoy your summer reading!


  6. I only read your excerpt before, but when I read your summary for ‘Flirting with Scandal’ just now, you don`t know how frustrated I’ve become. I want to read it so badly! I don’t understand why this manuscript hasn’t been contracted by an agent yet (or has it?). FWS seems to have all the factors that would make it a NY Times bestseller. Is it because there are so many other historical romance writers out there? Or because Regency romance is losing popularity in the market? (Though I don’t think this to be the case..). I’m just so bewildered. And, again, frustrated because I want to read FWS so badly!


    • Junebugger has expressed my own feelings. I checked out your excerpt and loved it. Its weird that any agent would reject this piece


  7. Junebugger and Alice: I’m thrilled that you are so excited to read Flirting with Scandal! I promise to let you know as soon as I’ve found an agent and a publisher!

    I think finding an agent is about finding that perfect match. If I hadn’t received those rejections and the feedback from agents, I’m not sure Flirting with Scandal would as strong as it is today. And I certainly want to find an agent who not only loves my work, but also has the time and energy to add me to his or her client list.

    Regarding your questions, I don’t believe Regency is dead and while I’ve been away from “the numbers” side of industry for many months now, from the tidbits I’ve heard in the past few months, Regencies are still selling. And I don’t think there are too many Regency authors out there. But then again I LOVE to read Regencies.

    Tessa Dare is a stellar example of a Regency author who will make her debut this July with GODDESS OF THE HUNT. Pre-order this one asap, if you haven’t already! Hopefully Tessa’s summer trilogy will tide you over until FWS is available:)


  8. Sarah, you’re such an inspiration! I have the ability to write full time, but I’ve been in a lull. Hearing you lay out your schedule and talk about your dedication makes me want to jump back on that proverbial horse 🙂

    I, too, can’t wait for FWS to find a home! I have no doubt it will soon!!

    And thank heaven Regencies aren’t dead!! 🙂


  9. Thanks to Jane Austen and Georgette Heyer, I don’t think the Regency mania will ever die away *crosses finger.* I never knew that agents actually gave feedbacks. I thought it was just a rejection letter. Period. Hopefully my future querying experience will be as fortunate as yours!


  10. Princessjewel78: Best of luck with your writing! I’ve found that viewing writing as my “day job” helps, but that is certainly not for everyone.

    Junebugger, I’ve found that most rejections at least some insight into my work. Even if they merely added one sentence about my work in particular to their usual form letter, I could generally use that info to improve FWS. I did have one agent who basically did not like it and told me as much. But I appreciated her honesty. I wish you the best with your submission process!


  11. I love the heroine already…hiding behind the drapes as the rake comes down the hall. The anticipation, the rush, the lust. Can’t wait to read “Scandal.” And the advice is short, sweet and to the point….and so, so true. “Write.” Getting back to that now.


    • “The anticipation, the rush, the lust.” Indeed, Ms Tormey’s writing captured this so well. Buggers. How I long to read some more…GRRRRRRR


  12. Pingback: Favorites | Sarah Tormey Blog

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