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 www.sarahtormey.com.
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 (www.deedavis.com), 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.