PaperBackSwap Blog

Author Interview with Emery Lee

Interview with Emery Lee by Jerelyn (I-F-Letty)

Emery Lee is a new novelist who came to my attention through a friend who had reviewed her book for her blog, and on Amazon.  Also Emery hosted an online 24 hour party on Facebook that I was invited to.  It was a great deal of fun.  Virtual period costumes, prizes, virtual drinks and polls.  Book chat, lots and lots of book chat.

Her debut novel The Highest Stakes is first a love story, set around horse racing in Georgian England and Colonial America between 1741 and 1751.  Ms. Lee is a lifelong equestrienne and history buff who loves a good romance.  I knew very little about horse racing the sport of kings where wagering could often make or break fortunes.  Within this story is the War for Austrian Succession, the continuing Jacobite threat to the Hanoverian King George of England, (The last English King to ride into battle.) Ms. Lee explains it with grace and ease.  Her second novel is due to be released in November, but more about that later.

Jerelyn: Thank you Emery for joining us on the PBS blog today.

First will you tell us a bit about yourself?

Emery: Happily! Although I only began writing in 2008, I have been an avid reader, history buff, and horse lover my entire life. I am still a horse owner, am married for 28 years to a wonderful man who has blessed me with two loving sons. We currently live in NE Georgia.


Jerelyn: Who are your writing influences?

Emery: I have always loved the 18th and 19th century classics (Dickens, Thackeray, Austen, the Bronte sisters and … of course Henry Fielding) and fell in love with the historical romances of Georgette Heyer as I was growing up. I believe this combination of authors most influenced me.


Jerelyn: You’re really able to convey the Georgian mind set, what is the most difficult part of this for you?

Emery: It took an incredible amount of time and discipline to research my first novel, and to develop what I felt was an appropriate voice for this story and setting. Because there is nothing I dislike more than reading a “historical” novel that is written in a contemporary voice, or one which adopts modern cultural mores, I made it my mission to immerse myself in the time period I chose to write about. This meant the Georgian era itself, as well as the horse-racing world. I used numerous original 18th century sources such as letters and memoirs to adopt the appropriate speech patterns and vocabulary of my characters, as well as pouring over history books and 18th century journals, to learn as much as possible about the world in which my characters lived.


Jerelyn: You have a philosophy about what some call Historical Romance, Historical Fiction and newly described, the Romantic Historical.  Will you explain the difference?

Emery: A Historical Romance according to ROMANCE WRITERS OF AMERICA is a central love story in which the plot revolves around two individuals falling in love and struggling to make the relationship work. Although the author may include other elements and subplots (such as suspense) the romance between two protagonists must always remain the focus of the novel. Additionally, a romance MUST have an emotionally satisfying and optimistic ending. (Happy ever after)

Historical Fiction can take many forms. It can be biographical, such as a fictionalized account of a real person, or it can be a fictionalized account of a real event in history in which real characters play a part. In either case, the author takes what is known about the people or event through the historical record, and uses his or her imagination to bring the story to life through the characters- whether real, or fictional, or a combination of both.

In Romantic Historical Fiction we see these genres converge. The novel can be biographical, or can include a real historical event (such as a war) but a romantic relationship between real or fictional characters must play an integral role in the overall story, although the plot is not limited to the romance itself. There can be many characters and the story does not require a happy ending. Two excellent examples would be Gone with the Wind by Margaret Mitchell, and An Infamous Army by Georgette Heyer (a romantic story set during the Battle of Waterloo).

I like to think RHF encompasses novels that engage the emotions as well as the intellect.


Jerelyn: How did The Highest Stakes come about?

Emery: I can only call it a gift from above!  Seriously.

Although I loved to read and had done a good bit of technical writing over my professional career, I had never attempted anything, and honestly hadn’t a clue that I had any aptitude for it. But one day an idea for a story struck me and just wouldn’t leave. It would converge three of my lifetime loves- history, horses and romance. I began dreaming scenes for this story and finally told a friend about it. She said “Well- write it!” I said “I don’t know how!” But she wouldn’t let me off the hook, so I began researching and writing, and finished fourteen months later.

At that time, I didn’t know any writers. I didn’t have an agent, and was really even afraid to show it anyone, but I also knew that I had put too much heart and soul into the manuscript to do nothing with it. So… I began to send out email queries. Within a month I heard back from Sourcebooks acquiring editor, Deb Werksman, who was very interested in the manuscript. The rest, as they say, is history.


Jerelyn: Can you tell us about Robert and Charlotte?

Emery: Robert and Charlotte are star crossed lovers whose mutual passion for equines is only eclipsed by their passion for one another! Although they are fictional characters, they were largely inspired by another pair of horse crazy young lovers – Jim Craig and Jessica Harrison in one of my all time favorite films, THE MAN FROM SNOWY RIVER.

Jerelyn: Your research about horse racing must have been monumental.  Let alone what was a fractious time in European history.   What is your favorite part about researching for your novels?

Emery: I am truly compulsive about research- sometimes to the point that I paralyze myself from actually writing!  I always feel that I don’t know enough!

Having said this, I also feel that this is at sets me apart and makes me shine as a historical author – the obsession with the details that truly bring the world to life. In THE HIGHEST STAKES, this meant knowing the horses, the blood lines, the race courses, the training methods- every aspect of the 18th century turf world. Because the story is set in both England and Colonial Virginia, it was very important to contrast the two environments as well.


Jerelyn: I was struck by how well you explained life in the Calvary. You do an admirable job in explaining the martial and logistical aspects, without bogging down the story.  Was it as difficult as it seems it would be?

Emery: This was indeed very challenging, but again, it all goes back to the research. I didn’t just read history books but read firsthand accounts of battles, cavalry life, and even actual training manuals for the cavalry. Google books were an invaluable resource, providing me with dozens of out of print books (from the 18th and 19th centuries!) that I relied heavily upon.


Jerelyn: I was fascinated by the record keeping, not only of the horse’s blood lines but the races themselves.  Will you tell us about this?

Emery: Amazingly, I was able to find records of specific horses and the races they ran from as far back as the early 1700s! The aristocrats of the Georgian age were obsessive about their horses and kept amazing records- especially the results of the Royal Plate races.

I was thrilled to actually find this information. Other amazing resources were the web sites ThoroughbredHeritage.com and thoroughbredbloodlines.net.


Jerelyn: You have horses of your own do you spend a lot of time with them?

Emery: Regrettably not as much as I used to since my kids have grown and lost interest. At one time we owned six horses. I trained my own and taught all the members of my family to ride. I still own two, a lovely grey Arabian, and a handsome palomino quarter horse. I’m currently training the latter to pull a cart- something I’ve always wanted to do!


Jerelyn: Your second book is coming out in November I have heard it is a sequel, will you tell us about this?

Emery: Absolutely!!! I am incredibly excited about FORTUNE’S SON! It is actually more of a prequel than a sequel to THE HIGHEST STAKES, although does tie up some very loose ends! Here’s a brief description:

Passion, drama and excitement fill the pages of my follow-up to THE HIGHEST STAKES. Set deep in the world of 18th century gaming, FORTUNE’S SON immerses the reader in a time and place where nothing is sacred and virtually anything might be wagered on the turn of a card, or a roll of the dice.

Beginning with their first chance meeting over a Hazard table, and with motives known only to themselves, FORTUNE’S SON chronicles the tumultuous romantic journey between a young but seasoned gamester and a widowed courtier, who refuses to be the next Royal Mistress regardless of the cost.

Experiencing the agonies and ecstasies of the gaming tables, Philip Drake and Lady Susannah Messingham precariously navigate their way in the high-stakes world of card sharps, courtesans, and the intriguers of Georgian England. As their tale of passion and drama plays out, they are led through hardship, heartbreak and loss before final culmination in redemption and enduring love.

With romance, a bit of adventure, and the excitement of gaming coupled with a supporting cast of the wits, gamesters, sporting men, and roués of Georgian England, I promise great fun and a riveting read!

Jerelyn: Many authors now days have to keep their day jobs, with writing and marketing as second and third job.  Why do you feel so compelled to write?

Emery: I was still working full time when I wrote my first two books and am amazed that I functioned on as little sleep as I did, but it truly is a fever in one’s blood! I used to get home at about 6Pm, throw dinner on the table and lock myself in my office by 7PM. I would stay up regularly until at least midnight and sometimes until 3 or 4Am if it was a weekend. It was all-consuming. Now that I am no longer working a full time job, the discipline comes a bit harder to me, but I do hope to be able to write much faster. (THS took 14 months, FS took about 10 months. I hope to be able to complete my current manuscript in 6-8 months.


Jerelyn: What do you like best and least about writing?

Emery: I HATE writer’s block but we all get it. I generally try to write at least 1,000 words per day but can sometimes go weeks without being able to produce a sentence!  When this happens, I now try to go into “deep” research mode until I come across something amazing that kicks me back into gear.

What I like best about writing is that feeling of pure giddiness I get when I discover some obscure thing that I wasn’t even searching for that works beautifully into my story.


Jerelyn: Were you one of those horse mad girls, with ponies everywhere?

Emery: Very horse mad! It kept me away from boys for years!


Jerelyn: Do you have any auto-buy authors, what do you like to read?

Emery: I love to read history (fiction and non- fiction) and historical romance.

I have so very many authors I like that I would hate to leave any out!

I will say I’ve read almost all of Georgette Heyer’s romances (Venetia is my favorite).

Among many others, I love Loretta Chase, Lisa Kleypas, Madeline Hunter, Jane Feather, Diane Gaston, Laura Kinsale, and Judith James and Elizabeth Hoyt.  These are all great romance authors who also do a fabulous job with historical detail. As to historical fiction and romantic historical fiction, some of my favorites are Diana Gabaldon, Elizabeth Chadwick, Karleen Koen, Ciji Ware, and my friend Christy English.


Jerelyn: Have you heard of PaperBackSwap, and what are your feelings about such sites?

Emery: I have and am actually a member. I think it’s fabulous for finding favorite out of print books. I only wish the hard-working authors received royalties on used book as well as new books.


Jerelyn: I am also interested in your views on e-readers?  Do you think they will be the death of printed books?

Emery: I really sat the fence on e-reader until I got one for Christmas. Although I’ll never give up my print books, I LOVE the convenience of my Kindle.  I recently discovered it can sit comfortably on the “lip” of the elliptical machine. I’ve now been able to increase my workout from 30 minutes to an hour!


Jerelyn: Congratulations and best of luck with Fortune’s Son!

Emery: Thank you! It’s been a true pleasure and I’ve very much enjoyed answering such interesting questions!


Jerelyn: I have so enjoyed this. Thank-you for taking the time and talking to us.

If you would like to read more about Emery Lee and her upcoming novel Fortune’s Son Due out in November here a link to her web site http://authoremerylee.com/ and you can also follow her on face book http://www.facebook.com/home.php?#!/profile.php?id=1791903264 and Twitter (authoremerylee).

Ms. Lee has graciously offered a copy of her debut novel The Highest Stakes to be given away in a random drawing from the members who comment on this interview.





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24 Responses to “Author Interview with Emery Lee”

  1. Misift says:

    *waves to Emery*

    Great interview again Jerelyn, and thanks to Emery for the hard work she puts into the Romantic Historical fiction group at Goodreads.

    (no need to enter me, I’ve already read the book and very much looking forward to the next one)

  2. misfit says:

    Clearly it is much too early as I can’t even spell the name right :/

  3. Sheila M. (Page5) says:

    Great review Jerelyn. It was interesting to learn about Emery Lee and what inspired her to write Highest Stakes.

  4. Cozette M. (CozSnShine) says:

    I have GOT to quit reading these blog reviews! My wish list just keeps getting longer and longer and longer! This was a great review, thanks!

  5. Deb B. (bookzealot) says:

    Thanks, Letty, for another terrific interview, and Emery, for taking the time and effort to participate. Looking forward to reading your books!

  6. Emery Lee says:

    @ Misfit – We MUST stop meeting like this! 😀

    @Sheila- Thank you for your interest. I always fear putting people off with my obsession with details! I’m likely the biggest history geek most people will ever meet!

    @ Cozette- I LOVE your name!! And I am honored to be part of your wish list.

    @Deb- The peasure was absolutely mine!

    Thank you all for your kind comments. – Emery

  7. Kelly P. (KellyP) , says:

    Great interview, as usual. Like Emery, both Kelly and I enjoy Georgette Heyer. The novel sounds great, historical romance with horses – what could be better?


  8. Great interview! This book sounds wonderful. I read a lot of HF but not much from the Georgian period. I must remedy that 🙂

  9. Emery Lee says:

    @ Linda and Kelly – THE HIGHEST STAKES is most definitely a love story but goes well beyond the boundaries of a historical romance as I described above. The story immerses the reader in this world of racing and breeding during a time in which it was an absolute obsession with the uppermost elite. In this world Robert become pawns- victims of others greed and ambition. It is a very tumultuous tale!

    @ Holly- I promise you will become very immersed in the Georgian world and even more so in my upcoming FORTUNE’S SON! 😀 (For those interested, a sneak peek is available on Goodreads at http://www.goodreads.com/story/show/244907-fortune-s-son-by-emery-lee


  10. Hi Emery,

    I agree with you, I hate a modern story in a historical setting, what’s the point of it? I researched English horse racing for a Victorian novel it’s an interesting subject.

  11. Elizabeth B. (Cattriona) , says:

    Thank you Emery and Letty for making this possible. I think you should promote the “exercise enhancing properties” of the Kindle — can we count it as exercise equipment that way? 😉

  12. Stephanie G. (thestephanieloves) says:

    Hi Emery!

    I love historical romance because of the timeless aspect of it — The Highest Stakes sounds like my kind of book 🙂

    Welcome to PBS!

  13. R E K. (bigstone) , says:

    Emery: I am impressed. Success after beginning to write in 2008. Wow! What an interesting interview. I really need to read some of your work. I like some of the same authors that you do, too. Amazing!

  14. Sherry B. says:

    I enjoyed this interview very much. I am a member of a Goodreads group which Emery hosts (which was the site of the round-the-clock online party mentioned at the start of the interview,) so she is no stranger to me. Learning more about all her activities causes me to wonder even more where she finds time to host that site, since I’m sure it takes quite a bit of time.

    Both her books sound fascinating, and both are on my TBR list. I am also encouraging my library to purchase them.

  15. Maria (SassenachD) says:

    Great review Jerelyn! another new author to explore!…LOL Cozi.. I too have an overflowing wishlist and can’t wait to read this one!

  16. Bonnie (LoveNE) , says:

    Thanks for bringing us more authors Jerelyn! Thank you Emery for letting us get to know you!

  17. Nikki G. (nikkig224) says:

    great interview, thanks for the giveaway!

  18. Emery Lee says:

    @Maggie- Horseracing is a fascinating subject. It truly was all-consuming to the Georgian gentleman. An interesting fact is that there were at least 3 18th century artists who made an extremely lucrative living by primarily painting portraits of racehorses!

    John Woottton was one of the first (His art was used on the cover of my book) James Seymour and George Stubbs were the others. I used their art in my book trailer if anyone wants to check it out. Pretty cool stuff.
    Here’s the link:http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=KEE15RgRa-I

    @ Elizabeth- The Kindle will definitely power up the workout!!

    @ Stephanie- Thank you for your interest. I hope you will check it out.

    @ R.E.K. – To be truthful my book contract scared me to death! And then I didn’t know if I would ever be able to do it again. It all came so out of the blue that I hadn’t had time to develop any self-confidence. Since then, I’ve learned a great deal and hope that my writing continues to develop and improve. I’m very proud of FORTUNE’S SON and am incredibly eager for its release.

    @ Sherry- Thanks so much for being part of my Goodreads group. I truly love our gang!

    @Maria, Bonnie and Nikki – Thyank you ! And I hope you will join me at Goodreads Romantic Historical Fiction Lovers. It’s great fun!

    Good luck to all on the giveaway and “Enjoy the Ride!”

  19. Rebecca A. says:

    Highest Stakes sounds like a great book. I would love to win it! Thanks so much for the chance, and great interview!!

  20. ANNA S. (SanJoseCa) says:

    Another wonderful author to read!

  21. deanna says:

    I am a big fan of Emery Lee and it was a pleasure learning more about her. Thank you, Jerelyn, for such a terrific post.

  22. R E K. (bigstone) , says:

    Thanks so much for responding to my question! I love it when authors take time to respond. Also, I like to see what authors are reading and what their reactions to those reads are.

  23. Sorry to say, but your post is a copy of http://bit.ly/yziLHN

  24. Cheryl M. (hannamatt52) says:

    Thank you Letty and Emery for a very enjoyable interview

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