Is this love?
Tell us about your writing career (how many books, when did you start writing, did you do any courses, won prizes? – anything interesting)
I wrote my first Regency romance, The Dashing Debutante, during my long university holidays. After travelling the world, I settled down to write my second Regency romance, Lord Fenmore's Wager, which was inspired by my time living on a country estate in England.
I then published two chick lit novels, The Truth About Clicking Send and Receive (previously published as Send and Receive) and The Truth About Cats and Bees (previously published as The Blog Affair).
Many years later, I returned to my favourite time period and wrote A Marchioness Below Stairs. I signed a three-book contract with Vinspire Publishing for my Linfield Ladies Series, a trio of Regency romances that feature women in trend-setting roles who fall in love with men who embrace their trailblazing ways... at least eventually. The first book in my Regency trilogy was released on 28 February.
Why did you choose to write romance?
I grew up reading Georgette Heyer and her charming stories made me fall totally in love with the romance genre.
What is the name of your story in the anthology?
Is this love? and is linked to my Truth About series.
Jennifer Madison welcomes her cousin’s invitation to recuperate at his polo estate in Johannesburg after a car accident leaves her with both a broken leg and an even more damaged heart. Jennifer is in no state to contemplate a romantic involvement with anyone. But her cousin’s half-brother, Ivan, is determined to breach her defences and somehow he makes her start to feel things again. Will Jennifer risk falling in love again or will she remain watching from the sidelines?
What was your inspiration for this story?
Is this love? was originally meant to be a full-length novel but I put it in a drawer when I decided to start writing historical novels again. The incomplete story always nagged at me, however, and I was so excited when the opportunity arose to turn it into a novella.
What kind of research did you do, and how long did you spend researching before beginning this story?
Is this love? is set on a polo estate. Fortunately I had spent some time on a polo estate so I didn’t have much research to do. I just wrote about what I knew!
How long did it take you before you began writing this story and then, how long did it take then to complete?
It didn’t take that long to complete as I had already written part of the story a number of years ago.
How do you select the names of your characters?
It’s a rather random process. I just imagine a name that would suit each character’s personality.
How do you like to collect and organise your ideas?
I have a notebook where I write any new ideas for the story. It usually contains a brief synopsis (if I have one) and I add in ideas when they come to me.
Are you a plotter or a pantser?
I’m a pantser, although I try to plot. I can often picture the beginning and the end of a book. It’s the middle that’s frequently shrouded in mists!
I meet my characters on the page which makes it very tricky to plot a book as I need to start writing before I can start plotting! What I tend to do is think of something interesting about my heroine. Once I decide what interests my heroine, I imagine her in a setting related to the thing that defines her, and that is when my ideas start to spark. It’s a very nebulous process, though, and I must admit that it’s not easy to know if an idea will work early on.
Even if I manage to write a general outline, the characters often don’t do what I expect them to do. So, instead, I pay a lot of attention to story architecture and plot points. Although I may not know what will happen at the mid-point of a book, I know that I’m working towards a major context-shifting event. And at about three-quarters of the way through a novel, I know that something significant must happen to act as a catalyst for the final part of the story. And so I work towards these important points in my novel and things usually become more apparent as I go along. This structure gives me direction as I discover the story.
Alissa Baxter was born in a small town in South Africa, and grew up with her nose in a book on a poultry and cattle farm. At the age of eleven she discovered her mother’s collection of Georgette Heyer novels. The first Heyer novel she ever read was Sylvester and she was hooked on Georgette Heyer after that. She read and reread her novels, and fell totally in love with the Regency period and Heyer’s grey-eyed heroes! After school and university, where she majored in Political Science and French, she published her first Regency novel, The Dashing Debutante.
Alissa travelled overseas and worked as a flight attendant in Dubai before she moved to England, where she did an odd assortment of jobs while researching her second novel, Lord Fenmore’s Wager, which she wrote when she moved back to South Africa. Alissa’s third Regency novel, A Marchioness Below Stairs, is the sequel to Lord Fenmore’s Wager.
Alissa has lived in Durban and Cape Town but she eventually settled in Johannesburg where she lives with her husband and two sons. Alissa is also the author of two chick-lit novels, Send and Receive and The Blog Affair, which have been re-released as The Truth About Series: The Truth about Clicking Send and Receive and The Truth About Cats and Bees.
If you would like to find out more about Alissa’s books, please sign up for her newsletter at www.alissabaxter.com.