header('Cache-Control: max-age=259200'); Interview with Historical Romance Author Shirlee Busbee – Kristen Koster
Feb 032012

New Cover for WHISPER TO ME OF LOVEA few months ago when I first decided I was going to try my hand at author interviews, I had been “talking” online with several other authors and a few of the well-known ones in my genre so I figured the worst I could do was ask and get told no. Imagine my surprise when the very first person I asked to do an interview, Shirlee Busbee, floored me by saying yes! And yes, there was much fangirl squeeing. My mom is a big fan of her books and since I’d snitch her romance novels to read, I became one too.

So today, to celebrate her Feb 7th re-release of WHISPER TO ME OF LOVEamazon tracking pixel, I’d like to welcome Shirlee Busbee and thank her for being my guinea pig and being an inspiration in so many ways!

AND we’ll be doing another giveaway! One random commenter today will take home a signed copy of WHISPER TO ME OF LOVE!


Let’s not waste any more time. Let’s see how Shirlee handled the questions I sent her way.

1. What drew you to writing Historical Romances in general and specifically to setting stories during the Regency Era?

I guess we can blame it on my mom. She read what passed for Historical Romances and I just sort of gravitated in that direction. It isn’t so much the Regency Era as the time period from about 1790 to 1815 that interests me. There was so much going on at that time. The French Revolution. Napoleon’s rise to power. The War of 1812. The Barbary Pirates, and, of course the English Regency.

2. What’s the strangest bit of historical trivia you’ve picked up in your research?

Well, duh. You have me there. Can’t think of a thing. I’m sure there was something at the time that caught my attention, but nothing springs to mind. Sorry.

These next few questions assume that time travel is possible. So, if you could go back to Regency England:

3. What modern conveniences would you miss most? What would you miss least?

Electricity and a microwave. Indoor plumbing would be a must. I mean can you imagine getting up in the dead of night and the dead of winter and hiking out to the water closet a couple of times a night? Of course, they did have ‘Thunder Mugs’ but still!
Miss the least…The internet! 🙂

4. What would be the hardest for you to adapt to in the Regency Era?

A woman’s position. Not being able to speak my mind and being under my husband’s thumb. Being unable to call my own money MINE.

5. Where would you fit into the society? Where would you like to visit most?

Well, since my dad was a Naval Officer, I suspect I’d have been a lesser member of the ton.
Visit? That’s a hard one. I think probably Cornwall. The countryside, mostly coastal towns.

6. You’ve been married for 48 years to your best friend, Howard, so I’m going to consider you a firsthand expert on HEAs. What describes your perfect Romance Hero and what’s the secret to keeping a successful relationship going that long?

Okay, I’m guessing what a HEA is (I know, I’m a dummy). The perfect Romance Hero is intelligent and honest. He’s also kind. That he’s also handsome is nice. Rich, or at least comfortable, is good.
The secret of our relationship, is consideration and respect for each other (even when we disagree). H. and I swear we never argue, we do have very loud, very passionate discussions :-). Oh, and very important, laughter.

You’re not a dummy, I had to look it up the first time I ran into it too! HEA = Happily Ever After, for anyone still wondering. =)

7. You know your first book, Gyspsy Ladyamazon tracking pixel, is one of my all-time favorite romance novels, even if it’s not set in Regency England. I have to admit I was blown away by your first novel story on your blog. I was going to ask how you went from Business School and being a draftsman to writing romance, but you already answered in that post about your husband’s joke and his continued support as well as encouragement (pestering?) from your coworker, Rosemary Rogers. Fate, indeed.

What advice would you go back and give yourself if you could? Would you aim to give that advice before or after you spent 18 months writing 4 pages by hand on a legal pad? Would this advice differ from what you’d say to an aspiring author today?

My advice would be given before I wasted the 18 months, producing only 4 pages. If you’re going to be a writer, don’t play at it. Do it. Diligently and faithfully. If you read interviews with successful writers, the one thing they stress is best summed up with Hemingway’s quote, “apply the seat of the pants to the seat of the chair.” It’s that simple. Oh, and you’ll have always something else to do, but you have to make time to write and again, DO IT.

8. I don’t know how I missed the original release of Whisper to Me of Love back in ‘91, I’m a sucker for stories involving a thief! Which character (Morgana/Pip or Royce) or which situation came to you first that made you realize you had to write this story?

I knew I was going to use Royce because he appeared as a secondary character in a previous book (and don’t ask me which one — I’d have to go look it up), but when I started Royce’s book, Pip and her story just sprang to mind. I’m a seat of the pants writer and asking me to explain why or how has me as mystified as anyone. The story just evolves and the twists and turns it takes is as big a surprise to me as it is the reader. I can’t tell you the times when it all comes together and I’m like, “Wow. That turned out great.”

9. Are you still a voracious reader? What are some of your favorites?

Oh, yeah. I read constantly and if I don’t, I get all twitchy and weird. I call it refueling my batteries :-).
Favorites? Hmm. First you have to remember that I don’t, as a rule, read a lot of Romances. I do read them, but I prefer mysteries. I do love a book that combines both. Enjoy, Nora Roberts (who doesn’t?). Karen Robards. Tami Hoag. Some Historical Romance writers, I like — Elizabeth Hoyt, Julia Quinn and Tessa Dare (but since I write Historicals, I seldom read them). For straight romance, you can’t beat Linda Lael Miller. I also thoroughly enjoy Partricia Briggs, Paranormals featuring Mercy Thompson, but I also read a lot of books by Lee Child, John Sanford, Jeff Abbott, and Steven Martini. And, of course, Georgette Heyer. My list is endless and jumps all over the place.

10. You’ve seen a lot of changes both in terms of technology and the publishing business. What’s made your life easier and which changes have you found the most challenging as a writer?

You would ask :-). Okay, I love, love my computer. Especially spellcheck. The most challenging is learning how to negotiate through FB, Twitter and the like. Recently, for the first time, I had to edit my latest book, DESIRE BECOMES HERamazon tracking pixel, due out in July 2012, electronically and it was terrifying. I am so not computer smart and it’s been a real challenge stumbling my way through new methods.

Photo of Shirlee Busbee, romance author.Author of historical and modern romance, Shirlee Busbee has enjoyed tremendous international success since her first novel Gypsy Lady was published in 1977. Shirlee’s books have been translated into numerous languages and she is a household name to romance readers around the world with over nine million copies of her books in print. She is the recipient of numerous awards for excellence in writing, including the Romantic Times Reviewers’ Choice Award and Affaire de Coeur’s Silver and Bronze Pen Awards.

Born in San Jose, California in 1941, Shirlee grew up traveling the world with her parents, two sisters and three brothers as her father was a career navel officer. She attended high school in Morocco. Returning to California, Shirlee attended the Burbank Business College of Santa Rosa, then met and married Howard Busbee in 1963. While working in Solano County, she met her life-long friend and mentor, Rosemary Rogers. Shirlee followed Rosemary into the world of romance writing, with the much acclaimed success of her first novel, Gypsy Lady. Shirlee went on from that success to carve her own niche in the historical romance genre.

Shirlee and her best friend, Howard, celebrated their 48th anniversary in 2011. The couple resides in Northern California on a lovely ranch were they are kept busy with their beloved Mini Schnauzers, prize winning Shetland Ponies and of course Shirlee’s writing!

Visit Shirlee at her website and blog or “like” her Facebook page or follow her on twitter. She’s hands down one of the friendliest people I’ve met online!

Order from: Powell’s | Amazon (Kindle) | B & N (Nook)| Indiebound

Your Turn: What’s your favorite historical trope (Marriage/Betrothal of Convenience, Cinderella Story, Girl hiding as Boy, etc.)? Or just tell us the best thing you’ve ever heard while having sweet nothings whispered in your ear!

Don’t forget, one random commenter today will get a signed copy of WHISPER TO ME OF LOVE.

  17 Responses to “Interview with Historical Romance Author Shirlee Busbee”

Comments (17)
  1. Hi, Shirlee! It’s your new fan, Regan. Kristen is a fellow member of RWA San Diego chapter so I was thrilled to see she was featuring you today. It is interesting to read about your beginnings and your likes/dislikes. I, too, am an avid historical romance reader and wondered if you’d ever read Penelope Williamson, Nadine Crenshaw, Kathleen Givens or Marsha Canham, four favorites of mine.

    The first book of yours I read was LADY VIXEN, and it was the start of a wonderful relationship with you and your books. As I told you, I love how you use real characters, such as the pirate Jean Lafitte, to bring realism to your story as you seamlessly wove history into a compelling tale. It’s what I call a “dense” historical: one where the writing is so complex and so tight the reader gets double the story expected. And you do it so well. I was living it…and so, no surprise, I couldn’t put it down! I’ve already purchased WHISPER TO ME OF LOVE (it’s up on Amazon).

    I can hardly wait for your guest appearance on my blog in April!


    • I agree, Regan! Lady Vixen was good. I remember really liking Midnight Masquerade and my mom always mentions Tiger Lily, too. I foresee some checking of the shelves! But yes, the wonderful way Shirlee weaves the history with the story is quite skillful and really brings the characters and their world alive.

  2. What a terrific cover, and how nice that some of these classics are becoming available again. Is there a WIP in the works, Shirlee?

  3. I love Scandal Becomes Her ! And I am with you, Shirlee, indoor plumbing is a must. The older I get the more I appreciate the proximity of restrooms! And like you I have to read or things get ugly quickly! Do you have any favorite research resources you go to again and again?

  4. How had I never read your books? Must fix this. Love that your personal reading list includes Mercy Thompson, she is an all-time favorite heroine. Trope? Easy, the entire historical genre. Every bit.

    • Yay! Job accomplished! I love introducing authors and books I love to people! I haven’t read the Mercy Thompson books yet, but have to admit, I’m intrigued with you all talking about them!

  5. I enjoyed the interview. The book sounds very good.

    I enjoy all historical tropes.

  6. I’ve been a fan too!!!
    Great interview!
    My favorite Historical trope is the Arranged Marriage. I know. Not very original, but I still love it.

  7. I like it the scarred hero stories or the intelligent heroine who has to hide it ones..

  8. I read many of Shirlee’s early novels and enjoyed them. I like the friends to lovers trope.

  9. What a great interview! I think you do great with Twitter, Shirlee. 🙂 And you’re definitely better at Facebook than I am. (I’m still trying to work out the kinks there. LOL) I like the arranged marriage trope, since I like to see people working out a situation that seems so unworkable in the beginning.

  10. My favorite plot for romance novel is enemy turns lover such as The Spanish Rose by Busbee 🙂 In fact, this is THE Book that I realized I like this plot.

    There’s only a small number of writer that their work is consistently good to read, but Busbee works is definitely one of them.

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