Sunday, April 29, 2012

Guest Blog by Isabel Cooper - Surprising Characters

Please welcome Isabel Cooper to The Qwillery! Lessons After Dark, the second novel in the Englefield series, was published on April 3, 2012.

Surprising Characters

It’s always the minor characters who really surprise me.

See, because romance novels are mostly about the relationship between the hero and heroine, I generally start with a decent idea of who they are and what they want. I may find myself developing aspects of them that I didn’t expect, but there isn’t very much about them that comes completely out of nowhere, or that takes a major change in direction from where I think I’m going at the beginning of the story. What I end up having them do is often different; who they are really isn’t.

Secondary characters, on the other hand, are often complete blanks when I’m going in. At most, I have a couple of basic characteristics to develop; sometimes, as with Gillespie in No Proper Lady, I don’t even know that they’re going to appear at all. With Arthur Waite and William Fitzpatrick, two of the major secondary characters in Lessons After Dark, I had a rough idea of them when I started writing: the two oldest boys, troublemakers, one rich and one less so, both on the arrogant-and-sexist side, as per Victorian teenage boys.

I’d expected Arthur to be the villain of the piece, insofar as there is one. He’s older, he’s wealthier, and he starts out making some of the more obnoxiously sexist comments about Olivia. When I started writing, the book was going to involve him getting in considerably more trouble, causing considerably more hardship for his fellow students, and eventually setting in motion the final and more dangerous events of his own free will: not because he was evil or malicious, even then, but because he was arrogant and seventeen and dumb.

Except a couple of things happened. First of all, Arthur kept getting smacked down as the book progressed, to the point where I really couldn’t believe that he wouldn’t learn better. (I know—people don’t. But I’m far, far less cynical as a writer than I am as a human being.) And the qualities that I intended to make him just-not-villainous contributed to the notion that he could, and should, get over himself by about midway through the book.

At the same time, William, who had been more of a cipher when I started out, started showing some of his own issues: again, nothing overtly evil, but the sort of thing that would lead him to test boundaries and try to prove himself. I realized (with considerable help from my editor, Leah) that the story needed a somewhat more otherworldly force to really tie the plot together. And finally, the more I wrote about Englefield and the kids there, the more I remembered what it was like for me to be a teenager, saying and doing things I totally meant at the time and regretted like hell about six weeks later.

So William gained a somewhat more troubled personality; Arthur went from a proto-Chuck-Bass-style jerk to a kid who gets in over his head and (sort of) gains the good sense to realize it; and Olivia and Gareth ended up joining forces to deal with a far more supernatural opponent.

I’m rather fond of this kind of surprise.

About the Englefield series

Lessons After Dark
Englefield 2
Sourcebooks, April 3, 2012
Mass Market Paperback and eBook, 352 pages

A woman with an unspeakable past…
Olivia Brightmore didn't know what to expect when she took a position to teach at Englefield School, an academy for "gifted" children. But it wasn't having to rescue a young girl who levitated to the ceiling. Or battling a dark mystery in the surrounding woods. And nothing could have prepared her for Dr. Gareth St. John...

A man with exceptional talent…
He knew all about her history and scrutinized her every move because of it. But there was more than suspicion lurking in those luscious green eyes. Even with all the strange occurrences at the school, the most unsettling of all is the attraction pulling Olivia and Gareth together with a force that cannot be denied.

No Proper Lady
Englefield 1
Sourcebooks, September 6, 2011
Mass Market Paperback and eBook, 352 pages

•Publishers Weekly Best Book of the Year
•Library Journal Best Book of the Year
•RT Book Reviews Seal of Excellence and Finalist for Best Book of the Year

When a half-naked woman suddenly appears on his country estate, Simon Grenville doesn't have time to be shocked. Demonic beasts are hot on his heels until the beautiful stranger unsheathes several knives strapped to her skin-tight trousers and kills them. As he stares at her fierce, heart-stopping face, Simon knows he's in a hell of a lot of trouble…

Joan is from a time where demons run rampant and humanity is fighting for its existence. To prevent this terrible future, she is sent back to Victorian England to kill the magician responsible for unleashing the dark forces. But Joan is a soldier more used to sparring than dancing. To get close to her target, she'll need Simon to teach her how to fit into polite society. Joan doesn't mind practicing proper flirtation on Simon, but she can't allow herself to be distracted by his gentle hands or devilish smile—the very future depends on it.

About Isabel

Critically acclaimed author Isabel Cooper lives in Boston with her boyfriend and a houseplant she’s kept alive for over a year now. She maintains her guise as a mild-mannered project manager working in legal publishing; all the while, she’s writing dark, edgy and magical romance novels. Her debut novel, No Proper Lady, was named a 2011 Publishers Weekly Best Book of the Year in the romance category, a 2011 Library Journal Best Romance of the Year and received an RT Book Reviews Seal of Excellence for the month of September 2011. For more information, please visit

The Giveaway


What:  Two commenters will each win a copy of Lessons After Dark (Englefield 2) from The Qwillery.

How:  Leave a comment answering the following question:

What are some or your favorite Paranormal Historical Romances
or Historical Romances? 

Please remember - if you don't answer the question your entry will not be counted.

You may receive additional entries by:

1)   Being a Follower of The Qwillery.

2)   Mentioning the giveaway on Facebook and/or Twitter. Even if you mention the giveaway on both, you will get only one additional entry. You get only one additional entry even if you mention the giveaway on Facebook and/or Twitter multiple times.

3)   Mentioning the giveaway on your on blog or website. It must be your own blog or website; not a website that belongs to someone else or a site where giveaways, contests, etc. are posted.

There are a total of 4 entries you may receive: Comment (1 entry), Follower (+1 entry), Facebook and/or Twitter (+ 1 entry), and personal blog/website mention (+1 entry). This is subject to change again in the future for future giveaways.

Please leave links for Facebook, Twitter, or blog/website mentions. You MUST leave a way to contact you.

Who and When:  The contest is open to all humans on the planet earth with a mailing address. Contest ends at 11:59pm US Eastern Time on Sunday, May 6, 2012. Void where prohibited by law. No purchase necessary. You must be 18 years old or older to enter.

*Giveaway rules are subject to change.*


  1. One of my favorite historical romances is the Outlander series by Diana Gabaldon.

    +1 comment
    +1 follower

    Tracey D
    booklover0226 at gmail dot com

  2. That must be amazing with the secondary characters. My favorite historical novels would be by author. I enjoy so many but Julianne MacLean, and Suzanne Enoch are just a few.

  3. O_o_o! Great giveaway, I've read No Proper Lady and loved it! :)
    There are quite a lot of historical paranormals I love:
    all of Amanda Quick (she almost always has something paranormal in her novels), Diana Gabaldon, Libba Bray, The Gathering Storm by Robin Bridges, Firelight by Kristen Callihan, Leanna Renee Hieber...
    +1 comment
    +1 follower
    +1 blog mention:
    impy80 at hotmail dot com

  4. the first paranomal HR i love is under the same sky by genevieve graham and so many HR i love : all lisa kleypas, johanna lindsey, anne gracie, vicky dreiling's book because HR is my fave beside PNR and YA

  5. +JMJ+

    My favourite Paranormal Historical Romance is probably Forbidden Magic by Jo Beverley. Thanks for this chance! =)

    +1 Comment
    +1 Follower (GFC)

    shreddedcheddar [at] hotmail [dot] com

  6. I just Finished reading THE SEDUCTION OF PHAETON BLACK by Jillian Stone and was very impressed with it. I am looking forward to her next in the series. I have read and loved others but this is my current favorite.

  7. I think the writing team of Lydia Dare does a great job of blending PNR with Historical romance. I think Lessons After Dark and No Proper Lady both sound exciting

    geishasmom73 AT yahoo DOT com

    +1 comment
    +1 Twitter follower @GeishasMom73
    +1 Tweeted the post here:

  8. I like Amanda Quick and Kristen Callihan's Historical PNRs!

    +1 comment
    +1 Blog Follower
    +1 Tweeted (!/RebeLovesBooks/status/196640897050488832)


  9. Twitted about your giveaway at:!/cherrymischivus/status/196654465120604160

    Goodluck to everybody entering! :)

    Cherry Mischievous
    (not an entry)

  10. I just finished a great book: THE SEDUCTION OF PHAETON BLACK by Jillian Stone. Phaeton is a paranormal investigator working for Scotland Yard about the time of Jack the Ripper. It a great read with lots of action and suspence and a bit of 'lovin".

    1 - comment
    1 - blog follower
    1- Facebook post

  11. I love Lorraine Heath's historical romances and especially Waking Up With the Duke! I haven't read any paranormal historical romances, but would really like to.

    +1 Comment
    +1 Follower of The Qwillery
    +1 Tweeted:!/yadkny/status/196664729761091585

  12. I hang my head in shame: I haven't read any parnormal historical romance...ever! But I absolutely LOVE paranormal romance and it's all I practically ever read so I want to expand my paranormal horizons to include historical romance too! So that is the best answer to the question instead of lying;)

    GFC: books4me

    +3 total

    books4me67 at ymail dot com

  13. Because I've always been a fan of historical romance and then paranormal romance, having the two in one book is my idea of a winning combination. :D
    Some of my favorite paranormal historical romances are: Firelight by Kristen Callihan, and although they're also categorized as steampunk - The Parasol Protectorate series by Gail Carriger - Soulless, Changeless, Blameless, Heartless, Timeless and Zoe Archer's Blades of the Rose series - Warrior, Scoundrel, Rebel and Stranger. As far as historical romance goes, anything that Eloisa James, Julia London, or Julia Quinn writes is a favorite. I have No Proper Lady on my TBR shelf and will be reading it soon.

    Barbed1951 at aol dot com
    GFC: Barbara E.

  14. Karen Marie Monings', Highlander series...amazing..a must read.


  15. oops...forgot my email for the comment on Karen Marie Moning Highlander series.

  16. The first time-travel book I read, Lynn Kurland's 'A Dance Thru Time'.

    email follower - sallans d at yahoo dot com
    tweeted -!/DianeSallans/status/196703665149583360

  17. I like Lisa Kleypas's historicals.

    I follow the blog.


  18. I love Historical Romance & anything by Lisa Kleypas works tho there are a few other authors who are also on my autobuy list. My fav Kleypas book is Somewhere I'll FInd You

    +3: comment, follower, tweet!/LindaThum/status/196747211722330112
    Thanks for the opportunity to win

  19. I have a hit and miss with historical romance, but if that one have some paranormal aspect, I'm in. My favorite historical paranormal romance is The Blades of The Rose series by Zoe Archer

    +1 comment
    +1 follow
    +1 tweeted :!/r3n87/status/196778504430419969

    Thanks for the giveaway
    sawamura_foxman AT yahoo DOT com

  20. I love Historical Romance. I read a lot of Eloisa James & Diana Gabaldon among many others.

    GFC: Mary Preston


  21. Some of my favorite historical authors are Amanda Quick, Julie Garwood, Catherine Coulter or Karen Marie Moning to name only a few. Thanks for wonderful giveaway
    +1 Comment
    +1 GFC: LadyVampire2u
    +1 Tweet:!/LadyVampire2u/status/196923120991469568

    LadyVampire2u AT gmail DOT com

  22. Hmm, actually I don't think I've read a paranormal historical romance so far. I have read some erotic historical romances but no paranormal, HR is my favourite romance subgenre, so I'm very intrigued to see it combined with paranormal elements :-D

    Thank you for the chance!

    +1 commented
    +1 follower as Stella (Ex Libris)
    +1 tweeted:!/Stella_ExLibris/status/196996429699497984

    stella.exlibris (at) gmail (dot) com

  23. I loved Diana Gabaldon series! It's so great!

    +1 comment

    aliasgirl at libero dot it

  24. I love Lisa Kleypas' Historical Romances.

    +1 comment
    +1 follower-Janhvi Jagtap
    +1 tweet-!/justjanhvi/status/197989921665990656

    justjanhvi at gmail dot com

  25. My favorite romances are historical and I want the book to have a problem to overcome. I enjoy being amused but I also like "dark" heros or heroines who have to confront a problem whether from their past or in their current situation. I love the unexpected and enjoy authors that write "out of the norm".

    One of my favorite debut authors is Heather Snow who in Sweet Enemy who gave her readers not only conflicts to overcome but an unexpected scenerio to embrace and enjoy!

  26. I quite enjoyed No Proper Lady. And I like too many historical romances to name titles or authors. I can say that Diana Gabaldon's Highlander series is a fave para rom. (Oh, Jamie!)

    +3: commenter, follower, (and-I'm-pretty-darn-sure) retweeter. ;)