During my first RWA conference in 2011, I announced to a crowd of people in one of the workshops “My name is Jennifer McQuiston and I write unpublished historicals”, which caused a few chuckles. I am giddy that I can now proudly change that to “published.” I did not start out planning to become a professional writer, although I have always loved English courses and—of course—reading. I am trained as a scientist and am a licensed veterinarian. My day job has me chasing disease outbreaks for the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. But once the idea to write a book grabbed me, I knew I wanted to write the one thing I loved to read above all others: Historical Romance. Of course, the researcher in me loved the process of fact-finding my choice of genre requires. Unfortunately, it took me a little longer to figure out my actual authorial voice… I wrote five full length novels before finally getting one published.
Tell us about your new book.
What Happens in Scotland is your typical Vegas-style “she woke up married story”…. only set in 1842 Scotland. It’s a bit of a mad-dash romp that will remind you in some ways of the “The Hangover”. The protagonists wake up lacking all memory of what happened the night before, but based on their trashed hotel room, something did. The book carries the reader through the first 24 hours as the hero and heroine separate in a panic, and then try to piece together what occurred, using various clues and stories they hear from a cast of crazy characters.
Sounds like a lot of fun. I did a bit of searching and found the book trailer. Very nice (fanning self). How did you get the call from your agent?
I was having a lovely, rare lunch out with my husband when my phone rang. It went to voicemail before I could get it, but when I saw the call had come from my agent, my hands started shaking. The voicemail said it all: “You’ve had an offer.” I couldn’t believe it – we’d only gone out on submission two days before. I had taken three other books out on submission in the past year, and in my head the process took MONTHS (of course, that was the process to rejection!)
Then, unbelievably, another offer came in. And another. We went to auction, and the rest is a blur in my head. I was so, so fortunate to land with Esi Sogah and the amazing team at Avon, who LOVED my story and offered me a three book deal. Esi recently took a job at Kensington, but she has left me in the capable hands of Tessa Woodward, and I am loving everything about my new second career!
One of the most jaw-dropping parts of the week I got my call was that my critique partner, Romily Bernard, sold the same day I got my call… although her experience far eclipsed mine. She writes YA Suspense, and she even sold to the same publishing house (Harper Collins). We had struggled so long, side by side, through major ups and downs, that to have it happen almost simultaneously was a bit mind-numbing.
What’s next for you and your writing? Please tell us if this is a series.
Yes, my series is based on a group of three men who are all second sons with dark pasts. Book #2, Summer is for Lovers, is based in the seaside town of Brighton. It’s an unrequited love story, with a rather unusual heroine for the time period: she swims better than the men in town, but has to hide the eccentricity in order to find a suitor. Here’s a bit about it:
Though she was just a girl when they first met, Caroline Tolbertson’s infatuation with David Cameron remains undimmed. Now fate has brought the handsome Scotsman back to Brighton for what promises to be an unforgettable summer. Soon, Caroline will have to choose a husband, but for now she is free to indulge her curiosity in things of a passionate nature. That is, if David will agree to teach her.
Past mistakes have convinced David he’ll make a terrible husband, though he’ll gladly help the unconventional Caroline find a suitor. Unfortunately, she has something more scandalous in mind. As the contenders for her hand begin to line up, her future seems assured…provided David can do the honorable thing and let them have her.
We ask all our guests to name five books you would take with you if your house was burning. What are your five books?
Well, these are mainly books I would take with me to read while I was waiting for the insurance to come through to replace my entire library, of course. It is rather cruel to suggest I could live with only five books. J Or a stretch to imagine I wouldn’t just grab my Nook with almost ALL my books on it. But, to narrow it down:
- Ken Follett’s Lie Down With Lions (my all-time favorite book)
- Meredith Duran’s The Duke of Shadows
- Joanna Bourne’s The Black Hawk
- Joanna Bourne’s The Forbidden Rose
- Veterinary Medicine, An Illustrated History (A gorgeous big book full of pictures, and a gift to me for winning an award I cherish)
I LOVE this question, because I am SUCH a tea drinker. I never took to coffee. Blech. In veterinary school, when caffeination is a course pre-requisite and staying awake is a life-and-death struggle, all my friends would sit down with their large steaming mugs of coffee. I took along a travel mug of hot tea, and thus began the start of a lovely relationship.
These days, I start my day with a few cups of good black Lipton tea with a slice of fresh lemon. Unsweetened iced tea is my go-to staple at a restaurant, and believe-you-me Atlanta restaurants always serve excellent iced tea. In the afternoon, if I need a pick-me-up, I drink Saluda’s green tea or Lipton with a little Splenda. I am not sure why I prefer Lipton over other choices… I even take it with me when I travel. I have tried flavored teas and I am not a fan.
She’s giving away to one lucky commenter a taste of Scotland — yummy Haggis chips. Who will be brave enough to try it?