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10 Questions for Tessa Dare

Goddess of the Hunt, the first romance novel by Tessa Dare, a New York Times best-selling and RITA award-winning author, was published in 2009. Now one decade, five series, and 24 books later, Dare is still enchanting readers with her signature literary mix of love, laughter, and happily ever afters. A book lover from early on and a librarian by training, Dare currently lives in California with her family.

Who is Tessa Dare?

Tessa Dare is a best-selling author of historical romance novels known for their humor, heat, and heart. Tessa is also a wife to one husband, a mom to two teenagers, and a servant to three cats. Tessa cleans too little. Tessa is on Twitter too much. Tessa likes frozen custard just the right amount. Tessa is enjoying speaking about herself in third person.

Tell us about your new book The Wallflower Wager.

The Wallflower Wager is a classic opposites-attract story. A highborn lady with a passion for rescuing animals finds herself living next door to Gabriel Duke, a ruthless, self-made man who pulled himself up from poverty and built a fortune by ruining aristocrats. Softhearted Penny believes there’s no creature too wild or wounded to be tamed by love—but nothing in her life has prepared her for the new beast next door.

Lady Penelope Campion, the heroine of The Wallflower Wager, is an animal lover and advocate for finding forever homes for the strays she takes in. What role have pets played in your life?

I actually named Penelope after my childhood cat! All of our family pets over the years have been rescues. Only cats and dogs, however—no parrots, otters, or Highland cows . . . yet. My dream is to someday own pygmy goats. Anyone who follows me on social media knows how crazy I am for goats. Zoning laws mean I can’t keep them where we live now, but at least I could put them in this book. The Wallflower Wager has a scene where three men serve as reluctant goat midwives.

Humor is an important ingredient in your books. Describe your own literary sense of humor, and tell us a little bit about how you deploy it in your writing.

I believe that life and love have an inherent amount of absurdity. “We are all fools in love,” as Jane Austen wrote. When I’m writing, adding humor to the mix comes naturally. Much of it is drawn from my own life, in one way or another. For example, in The Wallflower Wager, Gabe tends to get “hangry” (angry when hungry), and that is 100 percent drawn from life with my own romantic hero. I also enjoy winking at the reader and poking a bit of good-natured fun at the romance genre’s cliches and conventions, even as I embrace them.

As the author of more than 20 books set in the Regency era, what is it about this time period that continues to inspire you as an author, and why do you think Regency romances are so popular with readers?

The popularity of Regency romance was built on a foundation of Jane Austen, as passed down through Georgette Heyer. For me, the Regency era hits that sweet spot between “long ago and far away” and relatability to our modern world. A lot was going on—war on multiple fronts, scientific and industrial innovation, the Romantic movement, and the beginnings of class mobility. There’s a wealth of material to mine.

What is the best piece of advice about writing you ever received? What is the worst piece of advice about writing you ever received?

The best: “It’s supposed to be hard. That’s what makes it special.” — Nora Roberts.

The worst: “Real writers write every day.” Some writers do write every day, but many don’t. I don’t, and I still consider myself a “real” writer. A dentist is still a real dentist even if she takes the weekend off from filling cavities.

Is there one romance novel (or novels) that you return to as a reader, and if so, why is it (or are they) so special to you?

I know I’ve mentioned her several times in this interview already, but I wouldn’t be writing romance at all if not for my abiding love of Jane Austen, and in particular Pride and Prejudice. I don’t think Austen would be happy to hear it called a “romance novel.” However, it was one of the first novels in which two flawed characters had to change and grow in order to earn their happy, loving ending. That dynamic is the blueprint of the modern romance.

You are hosting a dinner party, and you can invite any three authorsalive or deadwhom you wish. Who would you invite? Why these authors? And what are you serving them?

Jane Austen (no surprise), Mark Twain, and Dorothy Parker. The first two because Mark Twain had a well-documented grudge against Austen’s work—once going so far as to say he’d like to dig her up and beat her over the skull with her own shinbone! I’d like to give Jane a chance to defend herself, perhaps get in a few jabs of her own. Two exemplars of English and American wit, crossing swords across the dinner table. Dorothy Parker could sit next to me to provide running commentary and keep score. As for what I would serve? Nothing that I’d cooked myself—that never goes well—but certainly lots of wine.

What is next for you as an author?

I’m currently working on The Bride Bet, the fourth and final book in the Girl Meets Duke series, which will release in 2020. Quirky science-minded Nicola is working on an early version of the battery, but the sparks truly start flying when she’s reunited with her childhood frenemy—who is now a duke.

How can readers best connect with you and your books?

My website (tessadare.com) has the latest information on all my books and events. I’m on Facebook at facebook.com/tessadareauthor and have a FB reader group called The Secret Society of Damsels Who Dare. If you want to follow my chronic oversharing on Twitter, I’m at @tessadare, and my Instagram handle is @tessa_dare.

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About the Author:

The Romance Writers of America 2002 Librarian of the Year, Charles has been reviewing romances for Booklist since 1999 and is the author of Romance Today: An A to Z Guide to Contemporary American Romance. After working for the Scottsdale Public Library System for 30 years, Charles retired and went to work for Scottsdale's independent bookstore the Poisoned Pen, where he still gets to push books but has to deal with far fewer computer questions.

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