Tea and Haggis Chips with Jenn McQuiston

mhs_2088.e1.lrwebsmWelcome Jennifer McQuiston to the tearoom as our second debut author this month. Jennifer thank you for joining us, please tell us about yourself and what you write.

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conference in 2011, I announced to a crowd of people in one of the workshops “My name is Jennifer McQuiston and I write unpublished historicals”, which caused a few chuckles.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 WhatHappens FINALthat 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)

179184_4258708309055_212927655_nAnd finally, Jennifer, how do you like your tea?

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 teHaggis Chips oica 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.

You can find Jennifer McQuiston at her website, Facebook, and twitter. What Happens in Scotland is available in March at Amazon, or Barnes and Noble

She’s giving away to one lucky commenter a taste of Scotland — yummy Haggis chips.  Who will be brave enough to try it?


30 thoughts on “Tea and Haggis Chips with Jenn McQuiston

    • Thanks Kim! But folks, she doesn’t count in the running for haggis chips. She’s my CP – and she’s already tried them! 🙂

  1. Amy, thank you so much for hosting me here today! Less than a week until release… and the caffeine from my 3 cups of tea this morning is not doing me any favors to settle my nerves. 🙂

  2. As you know, I am excited for your book *and* your release day! But, but, but… The blurb for book two just knocked me sideways. I LOVES me an unrequiited love story. I canNOT wait to get my hands on that book!! Congratulations, Jen!

  3. I feel as though I’m a part of one of those stories that’s told through multiple POVs because I was there for part of this. I remember quite vividly that I was in the middle of Wednesday night supper at the church. I get a call from Jenni telling me her good news and sit back down only to get a call from Romily telling me her good news. (Or vice-versa…it’s all a blur because I was juggling the phone, feeding the kids, and getting ready for one of them to perform for the Wednesday supper crowd) I’m absolutely BURSTING with double joy and try to explain to the people at my table who are all, “That sounds nice.”

    Nice? People, not one, but TWO of my friends got the call today. I was ready to stand on a chair and announce it. *sigh* But the nonwriters of this world do not get it. The joy of critiquing for both of you is that I’ve read all of the books in question. I knew they were going to sell. They had to sell because they are awesome. Go ahead and preorder What Happens in Scotland AND Summer is for Lovers. Oh, and in that weird quirk of fate, Romily’s Find Me comes out on the same day as Summer is for Lovers.

    I’m a writer, and I can’t make this stuff up.

    Oh, and I love my tea–stirred, not shaken.

    • Someday soon we will be telling the story of how Sally Kilpatrick sold!! And I can’t wait to shout it out! (Folks: once, before I started critiquing with Sally regularly but knew of her, I accidentally wrote a character named Sally Kilpatrick (I blame it on my naughty subconscious!). Only problem was that it was a pregnant 16 year old… and then I sent it to the real Ms. Kilpatrick to read. I didn’t even realize I had done it. You can imagine her surprise.)

  4. What a fun call story and how amazing that you and Romily got your calls on the same day! As Sally said, you can’t make this stuff up. 😉

    I’ve read an ARC of WHAT HAPPENS IN SCOTLAND and strongly encourage everyone to pick up a copy of this book. I’ve now read it twice and, while I loved it the first time around, I loved it even more the second. It’s such a fun, feel-good story!

    Don’t enter me in the giveaway. I was lucky enough to win Jennifer’s raffle basket at last fall’s M&M conference so I’ve already received my bag of Haggis chips, 😉

  5. Thanks everyone! It is nice to meet you Marnee.
    Ashlyn, I am glad you like the sound of the Brighton story called Summer is for Lovers! (It “may* be titled Brighton is for Lovers in the sneak peek at the end of What Happens in Scotland, but do not be scared off by the name change!)

  6. How did I not realize and you and Romily sold on the same day?! I’m so excited for the release of these books. I can’t wait to get them on my keeper shelf. They’ve been preordered and I’ve been waiting FOREVER.

  7. Welcome to the tearoom, Jenn!!! Love this story and Sally’s reaction to you and your cp selling on the same day. Fabulous Call story!!!

    Don’t know if you remember me but we sat together when this book won the HHRW award. Ahem… you were passing rum, no… or was it? I digress. LOL! Seriously, I adored watching your series of successes, and witnessing one of them firsthand. Can’t wait to read your debut release and the series to follow!!!

    • Oh yes, I remember you vividly! That was a smuggled-in bottle of Jim Beam, and as I recall, you were part of a group that enthusiastically embraced all that naughtiness. 🙂 I am so glad you remember that too… that was a fun conference. As you can probably tell, I tend to be someone who doesn’t exactly follow all the rules. What Happens in Scotland is a good example of that… a traditional love story is not supposed to reach a Happily Ever After in 24 hours, but I *think* I managed it with this one. And there is a chunk near the beginning of the book where the hero and heroine are not together (but ARE frantically looking for each other and discovering clues about the other as they go), which can be surprising for folks expecting a traditional romance. But oh, it has been fun to rattle the bars of the traditional expectations for romance!

  8. Hooray for WHIS!!! It is a truly awesome book, y’all. Everyone needs to pick up a copy. Or three 🙂

    Ah, J, I still remember the single text you sent me alluding to your sale and THEN YOU DIDN’T RESPOND TO ANY OF MY TEXTS FOR THE REST OF THE DAY!! Yeah, yeah, I know. You had meetings. You were saving the world from zombie outbreak. I get it. You’re important. But I looked like a total moron as I squeeled at my phone during your first text and then sent you (what was it? 20? 30?) more texts back, begging for more info. My fingers were flying. I was totally channeling my 13-year-old girl self. I’m so proud of what you did with WHIS…but am totally looking forward to telling everyone I was the inspiration for your amazing second novel. I expect an invitation to attend your forthcoming world tour 🙂

    • Hi Romily! At least you didn’t call it my “forthcoming world domination”… But yes. That entire day was a blur. I don’t know how you focused on anything I did at all, quite honestly!

  9. Pingback: Tea and Haggis Chips with Jenn McQuiston | Knitting Journeys

  10. Random.org picked lucky # 1, actually, so I am going with the first person I see on this list I haven’t already sent a bag of haggis chips too (host not included). Which lands us on Ashlynn MacNamara! Ashylnn, will email you to sort out how you want these tasy haggis chips. 🙂 Thanks everyone for stopping by to chat!

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