Elise RomeRomance author Elise Rome is also known as Ashley March. She has switched to publishing ebooks and changed her name for that. Time to ask her some questions concerning her decision and her current projects. (Foto: Copyright Elise Rome)

Thank you for participating in this interview.
You used a widow as a heroine in „Romancing the Countess“ (Skandal oder Verführung). What is the particular attraction of such a heroine?

First of all, thank you for having me on the blog! It’s exciting to be here. =)

To be honest, I think the idea for ROMANCING THE COUNTESS came about not because I was interested in writing about a widow as a heroine, but because I was interested in exploring a relationship between a widow and a widower. For both of my characters to have loved and lost—to have been betrayed, really—and then to find each other… The potential for so much angst and conflict drew me to tell this story. =)

You’ve switched to a different pen name. Why and how did you choose the name?

In September 2011 I decided to stop pursuing the traditional route of publication and instead to self-publish. I chose to adopt a new name to distinguish myself—and my writing—from previous novels. I chose Elise to honor my mother who died in 2010 (her first name was Alisa), and I chose Rome simply because it would be easy for others to spell and evoked a romantic, historical connotation for me.

You publish your novels yourself now as ebooks. On your homepage you talked a bit about the reasons. Could you tell your German readers the advantages of your decision?

I have to admit that the time between making the decision to self-publish in 2011 and now has been filled with unexpected obstacles. We’ve had several different family issues which have resulted in the delayed publication of my first book as Elise Rome, which is now scheduled to release before the end of spring this year (most likely in June rather than May).

While I made the decision to self-publish for many different reasons, being able to write what I wanted to write was a big one. I can’t imagine that anything is more stifling for a writer than to have an idea you’re very excited about—one that keeps you up late at night—and then to be told by a publishing house that they want something different. This, above all else, led me to not pursue another traditional publishing contract. And I believe that this freedom in exploring my ideas is going to lead to better storytelling and characters for readers, too.

Thankfully, self-publishing does not limit me to just ebooks. I’ll also be taking advantage of the print-on-demand options which allow readers to order print books online at major English retailers, and for German and other languages, I’m also working with a foreign rights agent for non-English ebook and print translations.

In Germany we had „Romancing the Countess“. What can readers expect from „The Sinning Hour“ that will be published under the name Elise Rome?

I think one of the major differences readers will notice in my new work is that while members of the aristocracy may show up from time to time as secondary characters or even (sometimes) as the hero or heroine, right now I’m more drawn to writing about the middle and lower classes. For example, in THE SINNING HOUR, the hero is a nude portraitist who has escaped from his lower class life on the streets, and the heroine is his maid—a woman who has spent time among both the middle and lower classes. Certainly there will still be a great amount of sexual tension and angst. =) And for a glimpse into THE SINNING HOUR, the first two chapters are up on my website.

Are you planning to return to the „traditional“ way of publishing?

It’s not something I’m going to rule out, but if I do, I don’t think I’d ever go back to traditional publishing exclusively. If I could only ever choose one, I’d definitely stay with self-publishing.

Do you get fan mail and how do you keep in touch with your fans?

Yes, and I love it! It makes my day, especially when the rest of my day consists of screaming toddlers. 😉 With two young daughters and a baby on the way, I’m not as much on social media anymore as I’d like to be (one day I’ll have more time!), but I love to hear from readers through email and I always reply. Readers can also sign up for my newsletter on my website; this is how I send out information on new releases and other important information.

Can you tell us something about the idea of the „Unmasked“-series in which „The Sinning Hour“ will be the first installment?

Well, I’m a HUGE fan of Lisa Kleypas. <grin> And ever since I read DREAMING OF YOU and later DEVIL IN WINTER, I’ve always wanted to write my own books about a gaming hell. However, I wanted to give them my own spin. The Unmasked series serves that purpose. In this series, five women are the co-owners of a gaming hell (because I love strong, independent women), and they each come from different classes—lower, middle, and aristocratic. The series starts with Simon and Miranda from THE SINNING HOUR and will end with Rachel, the woman who was given the gaming hell after her lover (the original owner) died.

Do you have a recommendation for your readers – maybe a novel/graphic novel/audiobook you enjoyed?

Of course I’d have to say any historical romance by Lisa Kleypas, but I also especially love current historical romance authors Cecilia Grant and Meredith Duran. And for more adventurous historical romance, Shana Galen is a must-read.

Outside of the romance genre, the last book that really made an impression on me was THE NIGHT CIRCUS by Erin Morgenstern.

Unfortunately, I don’t get to read as much as I’d like (but we all have that complaint, don’t we? ;).

What do you think about novels turned into graphic novels (e.g. P.C. Cast, Sherrilyn Kenyon, Gail Carriger)?

It’s something I’ve heard of, but not something I’m interested in for me personally. It’s just not my type of media because I didn’t grow up reading comic books or graphic novels. My husband is a huge graphic novel fan, however, so it will be interesting to see if the adaptation of more novels into graphic novels leads to a crossover in terms of genre loyalty.

Would you like to tell your fans something else?

As someone who as a child vowed to study 25 languages before I died (*ahem* I’m nowhere near that number yet!), I’m very happy to be published in the German language. =) Thank you for your support, and I hope you enjoy ROMANCING THE COUNTESS!