Q: I’m so glad my friends bullied me into reading your books. Now I’m a serious fan, and it’s been a long time since I’ve wanted to binge-listen to a fiction series! What’s the last book that your friends convinced you to read, and you ended up loving yourself? Who are your favorite authors?
A: Thanks so much for having me, Lisa! I’m so glad you’ve been enjoying my books. A friend (author Rachel McMillan) recommended Impossible Saints by Clarissa Harwood. I absolutely loved it. I’m also a fan of Rachel’s historical novels, and was lucky to read an early copy of her upcoming book The London Restoration. When left to my own devices, I read pretty widely. I love anything by the Brontës and Jane Austen. I also really enjoy Georgette Heyer novels.
Q: I read widely too, and I’m really looking forward to Rachel’s new one! It was actually Rachel and Rel of Relz’ Reviews who convinced me to read your books! Talk to me about Devon, England. What made you place the orphanage there?
A: Many years ago, I went to Devon and Somerset to do some cross-country horseback riding. I arrived in Devon in the pouring rain and the driver who greeted me said “Welcome to Sunny Devon!” (a line I included in The Winter Companion). It rained a lot, but it was so beautiful—the mist-covered moors and the lush landscape. It was an experience I’ll never forget. Setting my Parish Orphans series there was a way of revisiting it.
Q: What gave you the idea to have all your heroes emerge from that orphanage?
A: I really like the idea of found families—unrelated individuals united by friendship and circumstance. Having the four heroes come from the same orphanage was a way of establishing that friendship. Growing up in the orphanage also damaged each of them in different ways. In order to find happiness with their respective heroines, they have to learn to love and trust again.
Q: Oooo, I like that…”found families.” That’s a perfect way to describe our heroes! And I’m a fan of unconventional communities/families too. Are all your books set in England? Why England?
A: They’re primarily set in England, but in some stories the characters travel to France, or to Egypt and India. I suppose I gravitate toward England because of my love for the Victorian era. I really enjoy writing romances set in that period. There’s a particular tension to them—a restraint that lends meaning to the smallest gestures.
Q: And you do a marvelous job with those gestures. You were the first to make me think about the feeling of a lady’s skirts rubbing against a man’s legs and somehow make that feel sexy-as-all-getout-in-a-totally-innocent-way. (*sigh*) Do you do research trips? If so, where did you travel to prepare to write the Parish Orphans of Devon series?
A: My trip to England wasn’t a research trip, but I definitely drew on it for my series. Since then, I haven’t traveled outside of the country much. I have a neck injury that makes long trips difficult at present.
Q: I’m sorry to hear that! When did you become fascinated with Victorian culture?
A: I’ve always loved the Victorian era, but I think my fascination started with the nineteenth century as a whole. I grew up reading novels by Jane Austen and Charlotte Brontë. As a girl, I remember watching period movies with my mom, and wishing I lived in 1800s England, that I could wear day dresses and ball gowns, and go to assemblies. There was such elegance to it. Such romance and civility.
Q: There is! I’m a hybrid author myself—published traditionally as well as self-publishing—and I’m amazed at your professionalism via Perfectly Proper Press. Please tell me how/why you decided to publish your books yourself.
A: When my debut novel The Lost Letter was out on submission, it was initially hard for my literary agent to find a home for it. My novels are chaste, but they’re not inspirational. Though several publishers loved the story, they wanted me to add sex scenes to it in order to make it marketable as a historical romance. I was really hesitant to do this because it would have changed the whole arc of the story.
Later that same year, I got a nonfiction book deal with a traditional publisher. A few months after that, The Lost Letter got an offer from a mid-sized publisher. By that time, I’d already starting thinking of putting it out as an indie, and I was actually getting really excited to do everything myself. So, after consulting with my agent, and a few author friends, I declined the publisher’s offer and put The Lost Letter out myself in 2017. I have no regrets. I’ve loved every minute of writing and releasing novels through my author imprint. It’s nice to have so much control over everything!
Q: You’ve done a great job. Kudos! You seem amazingly productive. What’s your normal day like? And are you still practicing law?
A: Several years ago, I broke my neck, which totally changed the structure of my life (as well as the trajectory of my law career). I still keep my law license current, but I write full time now. I try to write every day, usually in the afternoons. It’s not always possible. So much of my work schedule is dictated by health concerns. If I’m having a day with a lot of neck pain, I try not to push myself to write.
Q: It’s good to listen to your body and let yourself heal! When you’re up to it, what’s next for you? New series brewing?
A: No new series this year, but I do have a standalone Regency romance (Gentleman Jim) coming out in November. In the meanwhile, I’m working on a little Victorian novella that I hope might be ready for release in June/July. I also have a secret project I just finished, a gothic novel which I hope to have more news on soon!
Q: I’ll be eager to hear! Thanks so much for taking the time to fill me in on your life and work!
Readers, as you might have gathered, this isn’t an inspirational/Christian series, but it’s very clean. I hope you’ll enter to win the first three in the series of four! All you need to do is follow me on Instagram. For more information on the marvelous Mimi Matthews, check out her web site and Facebook page!