SHIRLEE BUSBEE INTERVIEW
July 29, 2014
Shirlee Busbee is an award winning romance author and New York Times bestseller 7 times, who has been published since 1977. Many would find it interesting to know that she has an awesome sense of humor and takes time to connect with her readers. If you haven’t read her work or delved inside her world of love and romance, sit back with a cold glass of lemonade and read on!
I actually read your 2nd novel, Lady Vixen back in 1980 and was immediately hooked on that book and the rest of your work. When did you know you wanted to be a writer and how long did it take for Gypsy Lady to be accepted by a publisher?
I can’t give you an exact date, but I’d toyed with the idea of writing for perhaps a decade or more before I actually began writing GYPSY LADY. Funny thing – it was Howard (Handsome Hubby) who put the idea in my head. He was teasing me one night because my nose was in a book, and said “If we could put the time you spend reading in writing our fortune would be made.” We both laughed. My friend, Rosemary Rogers, ripped out the first 200 plus pages of the unfinished manuscript of GYPSY LADY and sent it to her editor, the great Nancy Coffey. Memory may play me false, but it was several months after that before I got “the letter.”
What did you do with your first royalty check?
You want me to go back into the dark ages? We’re talking maybe, 35 years ago, and I haven’t a clue. Too far back for this ole lady to remember. J
You write historical novels specifically - how did you make that choice and have you ever wanted to write contemporary romance?
My mom loved historical novels and I guess you could say, I grew up reading them. Between that and knowing Rosemary, and reading her SWEET SAVAGE LOVE, I didn’t really have a choice. Yes, I’ve wanted to write contemporary for quite some time. Warner Books did publish two contemporaries of mine, RETURN TO OAK VALLEY and COMING HOME. They were meant to be the start of a series, but I guess Warner didn’t like them because there were only the two.
Because of so many historical details, does it take a long time to write one of your books?
It doesn’t take me as long as it used to, mainly because I’ve been sticking to the Regency Era and England with which I am familiar. I always have to double check things, but there’s not the deep research there once was. I’ve stuck with the Regency Era because that’s what the publisher wanted. I enjoy moving around in the various historical eras, exploring different locations – you can get stale, or at least I can, if you’re stuck in the same time period and the same place. When I do strike out for a new era there will be months of research involved -- as there was when I first started writing. The research was the fun part.
What do family and friends think about your chosen profession?
Nearly everybody is very supportive and proud of me. Howard has always prodded and cheered me on. He even typed up the finished manuscripts of couple of the early books. Naturally, my mom, his mom and friends were excited and thrilled. Only my paternal grandmother wasn’t. She thought I wrote ‘polite porn’. But like I told her when I let her read GYPSY LADY (I didn’t want her to, begged her NOT to read it -- I knew she wouldn’t like it), “It’s not written for little ole ladies in tennis shoes.”
LOL – that’s too funny! Are there days that you get up and just don’t feel like writing? How do you get back on track?
Sure. And if anybody tells you that they’re eager and full of vim, vigor and vitality every day, they’re telling stories. There’s only one thing that works. Turn on the computer and stare at the blank page until you put something on it. I don’t care if it’s junk, I don’t care if you rip it out 16 times; there’s got to be something there for you to correct and build on. Writing is all about applying the seat of the pants to the seat of the chair – that’s stolen from Hemingway.
Have you ever been involved with anthologies with other authors, and is there anyone in particular you’d like to work with?
While I think of myself in connection with the publishing business as a team player, I don’t think I’d do well writing with other authors. Shorter stories seem beyond me, but then again I’ve never tried it, so who knows? To be blunt it doesn’t appeal.
Guess I’ve been locked in my garret alone for too long J
Other than Rosemary Rogers, who I adore, who are some of your other heroes?
I assume you’re talking authors? Love Roberta Gellis. I am amazed at Nora Roberts’ incredible output. She hits a homerun every time. Bertrice Small is wonderful. Julie Quinn, Tessa Dare & Elizabeth Hoyt bring freshness to the historical genre. Tami Hoag and Patricia Briggs are also favorites.
In Rapture Becomes Her, Emily is a smuggler. Do you know any smugglers (lol), and if not, how did you come up with such an awesomely written character? I truly enjoyed the deep love and emotional connection between Emily and Barnaby, and found myself reading those portions over and over again. It’s sometimes difficult to make the reader feel those emotions, but you do it so well. What’s your secret?
Uh, no I don’t know any smugglers…but I did a bunch of research on them. Does that count? J My secret? I suppose it’s that you write from the heart. While you try not to impose yourself on your characters, they all end up taking bits of you. Emily, all my heroines are the woman I’d liked to be. They’re all smarter, more compassionate and braver than their creator. Trust me on this.
Do you make the decisions about your book covers?
With the Ebooks I have a great deal of input on the covers, but as for all the others, even when supposedly I had cover approval in my contract, publishers do what they want and you live with it. End of story.
You’ve been married for 51 years, which is a fairytale in itself! How did you and hubby meet and what’s your magic secret for staying married to your best friend for so long?
My grandmother was friends with his grandmother. Howard actually knew Gram before he ever met me. When he was 10 he was determined to marry Gram when he grew up, but we met in our 20’s at Gram’s house, where I was living at the time and he decided to ‘settle’ for me. Like he said, “What was he going to do with Gram’s husband?” J Sort of an old fashioned meeting, but it was wonderful knowing not only him but his family. Roots are important. While I think that ‘strangers’ can be exciting and romantic, knowing the background and having common links, ideals, morals really count. Our magic secret? We’re not mind readers. If something is on your mind tell the other guy. Discuss areas of conflict. Appreciate your differences. Treat each other with kindness and respect – which doesn’t mean there aren’t times I would like to thump him one and he me. Nothing very magical about it.
LOL. Would you say that any of your male characters are based on your hubby?
Obviously, some of Howard’s traits leak through into the male characters, but they’re also mainly imagination and remember, they’re perfect, a fantasy. Poor Howard, like me, is very human.
What aspect in each of your books MUST be there?
Oh, this is easy: TRUE LOVE. HAPPY ENDING.
If you didn’t live in California, where else would you go?
We love Northern CA and if we didn’t live there, I think maybe OR. We’re definitely west coasters.
If I asked your best friend what type of person you are, what would he or she tell me?
I honestly don’t know, but I think she’d say loyal, funny, sometimes nuts and always willing to listen.
What were you like as a kid and what type of books did you read?
I was a Total Tomboy and a bit of a loner. Nose often stuck in a book. Loved reading animal books, Albert Payson Terhune’s Lad, a dog series; Walter Farley, THE BLACK STALLION etc. and the Thomas C. Hinkle, horse stories, SILVER, BLAZE etc.
What’s one of your favorite movies of all time?
HOW TO STEAL A MILLION with Audrey Hepburn & Peter O’Toole. Also DEAD AGAIN.
What authors are you reading when you get a spare moment?
John Stanford. Nora Roberts. Tami Hoag. Jayne Castle and all her other names, Elizabeth Lowell, J A Jance, Lee Child.
Where do you see Romance writing in the next 10 years?
I think it’ll still be strong, but I think that maybe less Regency and books with more historical detail. Romance is evolving right now and it’ll continue to do so. What was ‘hot’ 10 years ago is still popular, but not like it was. Nothing stays the same.
What books do you have coming up in the next year or so?
At present, I’m embarrassed to admit that I have nothing original in the works. I do plan on finishing a partial manuscript of the OAK VALLEY SERIES and I might finish the two books of THE JOSLY FAMILY SERIES. Then again I might tackle something different. Maybe something in the N. Ca. area. Don’t know whether historical or contemporary. Ask me next yearJ
Does it bother you of you see a less than stellar review and how do you handle it?
Sure it bothers me, but not much. If it’s fair (no book is perfect, trust me on this) I usually nod my head and respect the point of view. Just plain vicious I ignore. It’s only one person’s point of view and they’re entitled to it, provided, they’re fair.
When not writing, what do you do in your spare time?
Big surprise – I enjoy reading and do a lot of it. I also like to garden. Have big pots all over our deck, some with flowers (love the Oriental Lilies) some with lettuce, Basil, Parsley etc. We also raise American Shetland Ponies and when we were having the foals born, just loved that time of year. Even the sleepless night and mare stare and the 2:00 AM birthings. Nothing like a wobbly pony foal. Hope someday to be able to do it again.
Now on the Fun Stuff
- What do most sexy in a man? A sense of humor; able to laugh at himself.
- What food do you have to have to survive? Original Kettle Chips.
- What is the best gift you’ve ever received? A garden wagon from my mom.
- What really gets on your nerves enough to be called a pet peeve? Waiting in line.
- Can you cook? Yes. It’s another thing I enjoy.
- In closing – can you tell your fans something they’d be surprised to know about you? Surprised? Maybe that I’m just like them. J
What an absolutely fun interview, and she really is just like you and me! Now now you know a lot more about Shirlee Busbee and what makes her tick. We’re so happy to have had the chance to meet this very busy author, and hope you’ll take a moment to stop by her website at www.shirlee-busbee.com , or on Facebook.
©Ro – www.intheknowwithro.blogspot.com – July 2014