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10 Questions for Sabrina Jeffries

Writing under three different names, New York Times best-selling Sabrina Jeffries is the author of more than 50 novels and works of short fiction. Jeffries, who has a PhD in English literature, began writing romances while working as a professor and later as a technical editor/writer. Now, fueled by plenty of chocolate and the love and support of her family, Jeffries never once regrets giving up the academic life for a much more fun career playing literary matchmaker.

Who is Sabrina Jeffries?

I’m the New York Times best-selling author of over 50 published romance novels and novellas and works of short romantic fiction, some of them under the names Deborah Martin and Deborah Nicholas. I’m also a chocoholic, a former technical writer and college professor (briefly), a foodie, the 2018 Minister for Jigsaws USA for the Wentworth Puzzle company, and a lifelong reader of romance. Oh, and I grew up in Thailand.

Tell us about your latest book, The Bachelor.

My heroine, Lady Gwyn Drake, is being blackmailed by a former suitor, so her twin brother hires Major Joshua Wolfe to protect her from the man. Gwyn has serious issues with her past, and Major Wolfe has a serious case of PTSD, so of course they’re perfect for each other!

Pretend your protagonist, Lady Gwyn Drake, is going in for a job interview and is asked the perennial question, “What is your greatest strength and what is your greatest weakness?” How would she reply?

“My greatest strength is my kind nature. And my greatest weakness is my inability to shoot those who take advantage of it!”

Many of your books have been set in the Regency era. Why do you think this time period is so popular with romance readers, and why does it intrigue you as an author?

My love for it is mostly tied to my early romance reading. I discovered Barbara Cartland in high school and devoured every book I could find. Then I discovered Jane Austen in grad school and did the same. So romance will forever be linked to them for me. As for other readers, the Regency was such a time of upheaval that it makes for gobs of rich ore to mine for story angles. Want a wounded soldier hero just home from the war? We got those. Want a bluestocking heroine who writes Gothic novels? Or a high-handed duke? Or a heroine who’s a chemist (my next heroine)? We’ve got all of that. Plus, compared to other periods, the costumes are gorgeous by our present standards. No huge curly wigs on the men (Restoration), panniers and powdered wigs (eighteenth century), or gigantic crinolines (Victorian).

What is/are the book/s that got you hooked on the romance genre as a reader?

I remember loving Lorna Doone and reading lots of Grace Livingston Hill and Emilie Loring (don’t remember the titles, though) as a kid. I read every Barbara Cartland I could get my hands on in high school, and then I graduated to Rosemary Rogers and Kathleen Woodiwiss in college. I finally returned to my romance-reading roots after grad school, with Rexanne Becnel, Meagan McKinney, Amanda Quick, Judith McNaught, and Johanna Lindsey being big early influences. In other words, it wasn’t any single book.

If you could write like any other author in the world, whom would you choose and why that author?

Wow, that’s hard. I would want to write the kind of lush prose that many authors seem to do effortlessly (Deb Marlowe, Alyssa Cole, Madeline Hunter), but I know a lot of authors who fit that. And I would want to be as funny as Johanna Lindsey is at her best. Oh, and have the wonderful sexual tension of McKinney or McNaught, but with kinder characters, like Mary Jo Putney’s, and more interesting characters, like those of Loretta Chase. I know I’m leaving people out, but I’ve read a great deal of romance in my life.

What do you know now as an author that you wish you had known when you were first starting out?

That the writing—and learning to improve the writing—is more important than any promotional tool out there. And that a free book is the best promotion.

Tell us about the role jigsaw puzzles play in your life.

I’ve been doing jigsaw puzzles since I was a kid. I went through a period of 10 years or so where I couldn’t do them because my autistic son would take them apart before I could finish them (and now he does puzzles, too, but much smaller ones). When I could finally start doing them again, I discovered that putting together a puzzle helped me work through problems and especially the problems of a plot. So every time I start plotting a book, I do five to ten 500-piece to 1,000-piece puzzles until I get that plot firmly in my head. Then I don’t indulge until the next time I start plotting a book. Oh, and on New Year’s Eve. I always do one then.

What is next for you as an author?

I’m presently writing the last book of the Duke Dynasty series. But before that’s over, I have to start thinking about what to do for a future series, and I honestly don’t know yet. I have nonhistorical-romance ideas for books, too, but I’m saving those for when (or if) I burn out on historicals. Hasn’t happened yet, but you never know!

How can readers best connect with you and learn more about your books?

They can find me online at these spots:

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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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