"I was going to buck the trends and name my dude John." -- Julia Quinn

by Erika Tsang

 

I’m something of a rare bird in publishing: the author who has worked with the same editor and the same publisher for her entire career. In 1994 Lyssa Keusch bought my first two books, Splendid and Dancing at Midnight. Twenty-two years, twenty-five novels, seven novellas, and eight short stories later we (and Avon!) are still working together.

Twenty-two years. That’s almost one-third of the seventy-five years that mark Avon’s Diamond Anniversary. When I sold my very first book I didn’t even have an email address. I certainly never thought that I’d one day have a phone that fit in my pocket or that I’d be reading books on it!

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Twenty-two years is almost half my life. I know you’re never supposed to ask a lady her age, so I’ll just come out and tell you: I’m 46. Which means a lot has happened since I sat in front of my dual-floppy drive Mac SE and began writing about Lady Arabella Blydon and Lord John Blackwood. But I still remember bits and pieces of the writing process. I remember thinking somewhat snarkily that romance novel heroes always had such dramatic first names and that I was going to buck the trends and name my dude John. I remember loving the character of Persephone, little knowing that she’d be the first in a long line of crafty, scene-stealing elderly ladies. I remember worrying about the darker themes in the novel. Splendid had been such an out-an-out romp; was I up to writing a more serious book? And could I do it without losing the light and funny tone I was coming to realize was my true writing voice?

Mostly I remember wondering what readers would think. But when Dancing at Midnight was released, the lines of communication between author and reader were thin. And so now, as we reread it as part of Avon’s Diamond Anniversary celebration, I’m asking you: What do you think?

Julia Quinn