The Mistress of Pennington's Tour

Thursday, 2 June 2011

So happy to have my online friend, Romy Gemmell here today!

Not only is Romy the first Champagne Books author I have had guest with me, but also the first fellow UK author who has been here in a long time too, lol! So welcome, Romy, I am looking forward to having the chance to get to know you a better.

Such a shame we won't get to meet at the Romantic Novelists Association conference in July but I'm sure we'll meet in person one day. Let's get started!

Thanks so much for having me here on your blog, Rachel.

1) When and why did you decide you wanted to be a published author?

Like many writers, I loved English at school, wrote some romantic adolescent poetry and devoured all kinds of novels. It wasn’t until my two children were born and I was at home with them for some years that I started trying to write short stories. When I eventually moved house and discovered a local writing group, my new path in life was set! Winning a short story competition at an annual Scottish conference convinced me I should keep writing.

2) What is the best and worse thing you have learned from an editor/agent?

The best thing I learned from an editor was to cut all those unnecessary words such as just, in fact and so on, and to use the active voice whenever possible.

The worse thing I learned was that having a good piece of writing was not always guarantee of publication!

3) Favourite author/s?

I have a wide taste in reading. Many of the classics, such as Jane Austen, Charlotte Bronte, Dickens. Older favourites like Agatha Christie, Mary Stewart, Victoria Holt. And modern authors such as PD James, Sarah Waters, Kate Mosse. But too many more to mention.

4) What is your typical day?

Not many of them are typical! However, I do try to write first thing in the morning, unless I am going out somewhere. Then I spend ages checking emails, blogs, forums, and Facebook, leaving comments where possible if I have something to say.

Share your blurb or short excerpt from your latest release with us.

Spirited Lydia Hetherington is uninterested in marriage, until her brother's friend, Lord Marcus Sheldon, rides into her life to unseat her from her horse and unsettle her heart. An undercover spy for the government, Sheldon is equally unsettled by Lydia. But spies, villains and a tangled web of deception bring danger, until a traitor is unmasked.


“I believe you have lost something, Miss Hetherington.”

Lydia’s eyes widened as she watched Lord Sheldon lazily hold out his hand. He was holding a gold ribbon such as Agnes had threaded in her hair earlier that evening! She put her hand to her head and realized, belatedly, that her hair had started to come undone at the back. The ribbon must have caught on the bush where she’d hidden. She couldn’t think what to say for a moment until she saw the challenge in his stare.

“I fear you must be following me, my lord. I was unaware that the ribbon had come loose as I took a turn around the garden. I wonder that you should know to whom it belongs.” She held out her hand. “Thank you for returning it.”

She saw his shoulders stiffen and was sure he knew perfectly well that she’d seen him with the Frenchman.

Then Lydia saw the speculation in his grey eyes replaced by amusement as he walked towards her. “Allow me, Miss Hetherington.”

Before she guessed what he intended, his hands were on her upper arms and for a moment he was looking into her eyes. Then he gently turned her away from him. Next minute, he was expertly threading the ribbon through her hair.

Lydia held her breath as she felt his fingers brush against her head. It was as if something was making her skin tingle. Too soon, he had secured the ribbon. Yet still his fingers lingered for a moment against her hair and she hoped he could not hear the loud beating of her heart.

She tried to persuade herself that it was only because of her near discovery at eavesdropping. But she was far too aware of the nearness of his tall frame and the intimacy of the moment, and most especially the effect it was having on her.

Then he was turning her around once more to face him. He stepped back at once and bowed. “I trust you will be more careful where you walk in future, Miss Hetherington.”

Hoping she appeared more composed than she felt, Lydia replied as firmly as possible. “Thank you, my lord. It is my good fortune that you are so comfortable with a lady’s hair style and so solicitous of my well being.”

Lydia returned his stare, determined not to betray how bereft she’d felt as he stepped away from her. There was no doubt that he’d seen her in the garden and was warning her. But against what, she wondered.

6) Who would you cast to play your hero & heroine in a movie?

That’s a difficult one! Maybe Carey Mulligan (with dark hair) for Lydia. For Marcus Sheldon, perhaps someone like James Purefoy, or a young Jeremy Northam.

7) Did you plan this book? Or write it as it came?

I’ve found I cannot plan either a short story or novel. With Dangerous Deceit, my first novel, I decided on the year (1813) and knew my heroine and hero right away. Then I started writing and let my characters interact. I only ever had a vague idea of the kind of scenes I might put them into, but some of my characters just appeared as I was writing. I think the subconscious plays a big part in writing, as authors are probably thinking about their characters and situations all the time.

8) What surprised you the most when you became a published writer?

After being a well-published short story and article writer for many years (as Rosemary Gemmell), I’ve been astonished at the response to my first novel. I’ve always maintained all published writing is as valuable as any other, but it seems people are still far more impressed (sometimes only impressed!) when a writer has published a whole novel. I’m still lapping up the publicity and good wishes some weeks later!

9) Do you have a dedicated writing space? What does it look like?

I’m lucky enough to have a desk in our long study/extension. It is lined with bookshelves down one wall, floor to ceiling, with all the books I’ve collected over the years: fiction, reference and study books. My window overlooks our back garden and the hills beyond.

I also like to go to Costa one morning a week to write while having a coffee, and often get more written in half an hour there. Maybe it’s the buzz, or lack of distraction from domestic things, or writing with a pen and paper.

10) What’s next for you?

I’ve just had my first children’s book accepted (10-14 age group) for publication next March. Another adult novel, contemporary with alternate historical chapters, is being considered by an agent and I’m writing another Regency. Then there are the other half-finished novels (adult and children’s), short stories and articles – think I’ll be busy for many years!

You can find me at the following places:


General Blog:

Regency Blog:

Goodreads (new):

Great except, Romy - looking forward to getting my copy! I have heard so many writers say how much more they write in coffee shops...I think I might be missing out on something here...

Romy would love to answer your questions and comments!


  1. I thought I knew most things about Rosemary already but the Costa experience is a new one. How can you write with all that noise and movement around you? Whatever the answer, it works. Dangerous Deceit is the real thing.

  2. Thank you for having me here today, Rachel - much appreciated!

  3. Hello, Bill - thank you so much for visiting me on another blog. I really do appreciate your support.

    The Costa thing is strange - I was there this morning (before doing the food shopping in the mall) and I absolutely love writing for a little while there. I sit at a side table and find the words flow - maybe it's because I'm using a pen and paper. The girl in charge recognises me each week now and took one of the postcards about my book to put in the staff room - she didn't know I was a writer until then!

  4. Another great interview. Thanks Rosemary. Thanks Rachel.

  5. Hi Anne - thanks so much for taking time to visit and comment. I appreciate your support!

  6. Hi Rosemary,
    I loved Mary Stewart and Victoria Holt. So many good books out there. I'd forgotten about Charlotte Bronte. Enjoyed your interview. Good luck with sales!

  7. Loved the blog..Thank you Rachel for sharing and Thank you Romy for talking.

  8. Hey Rosemary, just think how much work you'd get done if you went to Costa every day.

  9. Hi Linda - thanks a lot for coming over to leave a comment. Weren't those older novels wonderful, although there are many great ones these days too!

    Hello Sharon - I really appreciate you coming over to read and comment, thank you!

    Hello Michael - nice to see you! You're not kidding - wish I could go and have coffee there every morning.

  10. Rachel - thanks so much again for hosting me today. And thanks to all the lovely people who left a comment!

  11. Just saw your comment, Melanie - thanks a lot for dropping in!

  12. Great interview, Rosemary, and loved the extract from Dangerous Deceit.
    I can totally relate to what you said about letting your characters interact as you write. This is exactly how I work too.
    And I think maybe I ought to make more visits to Costa!

  13. Hi Paula - thnaks so much for coming over to leave such a lovely comment!

  14. Great interview Rachel and 'Romy'!