NY Times Best-Selling Author, Virginia Henley Guest Blogger TODAY at Passionate Reads!

3 Sep

Hello Passionate Readers!

Joining us to today is NYTimes Best Selling Author Virginia Henley! We are thrilled to have her here  and here’s what she has to say about “That beautiful cock” and sooooo much more!

PR (Shannon Emmel): Welcome to Passionate Reads, Virginia! Thanks for taking the time to blog with us!

 Virginia:  It is a pleasure to blog with you. I was most flattered when you invited me.

 PR:  I’ve known you and been a fan for years, but  for some of our new readers, tell us a bit about YOU…

 Virginia: I was born in Bolton, Lancashire, England, and immigrated to Canada where at fourteen I meet my future husband, Art.  We’ve been together ever since and now live in Florida on the Gulf of Mexico. I have just adopted a rescue dog, a miniature Schnauzer, I call Lily, who was kept in a cage for four years for breeding purposes. She was very frightened, timid, and apprehensive four months ago when I got her.  I was determined to spoil her and turn her into a cheeky little bitch.  I believe I have succeeded.

 PR: You are the mistress of opening with a “hook” that grabs the reader’s attention and then keeping them going all the way to “the end”…

Let’s cut to the chase: “What a beautiful cock!”  We want details please!

Virginia:  That is the first line of THE PIRATE AND THE PAGAN.


This book is set in the time of King Charles’ II Restoration, an extremely bawdy period. After the repression of Oliver Cromwell, the people of England were ready to enjoy themselves to the full. I decided that this book would be extremely sensual and true to the times.  I had probably attended a couple of workshops where the importance of a first line was stressed. If you could grab a reader’s attention with that first line, you had them hooked.  The book opened in Cornwall where my heroine and her young brother were so poor they were almost starving to death. So she steals a rooster from a nearby estate, hence the first line, “What a beautiful cock!”

Little did I realize that first line in THE PIRATE AND THE PAGAN defined my career. It is the line that everyone remembers from all the books I’ve written.  The model on the cover is Guy Davis. Kathryn Falk, the founder of Romantic Times Magazine saw him standing in a theater line in New York and asked him if he’d like to be a model.  She phoned me and gave me his name, then got hold of Sharon Spiak, the artist who was designing my covers at that time.  Kathryn insisted that I must have Guy Davis on my next cover. I had absolutely no clout in the industry at that time, and didn’t believe this was in the realm of possibility. Of course I hadn’t reckoned on Kathryn’s hutzpah!

I arranged to buy the cover of Romantic Times for THE PIRATE AND THE PAGAN, then a few months later I was informed that this was the RT edition that would be given away at the San Antonio, Texas convention, and Kathryn had invited my cover model to attend.  When I arrived, Carol Stacy, RT’s publisher, met me in the lobby and handed me 500 colored flyers of the Romantic Times Magazine cover with my book ad on it.  I remember that the convention was big and took up two hotels across the road from each other. Let me tell you, I worked that convention like a hooker. Every single soul I met, I handed them a flyer.  They may not have known who I was when I arrived, but before that convention was over, everyone in San Antonio knew who Virginia Henley was!

PR: You are a classic “Old School” author and one of the great “Divas” of the romance industry. How did you get started?


Virginia:  Like many other authors, the catalyst for me was Kathleen E. Woodiwiss.  I got her book, THE WOLF AND THE DOVE from the library. It combined history with a love story, and I knew immediately that I could do this. History is my passion. I went to school in England where they fed me a steady diet of English history.

 Wow–sex and history, a combination few women can resist! I took the book out three times and then I tried to buy it from the library.  When they said no, I decided to steal the book. I still have it on my shelf, and to prove how guilty I felt, I wrote inside: THIS BOOK BELONGS TO VIRGINIA HENLEY.

 It took me four years mailing my book around and most publishers wouldn’t even read it unless it was submitted by an agent. Finally I found an Avon editor’s name in a book dedication, so I wrote to her and told her a bit about myself and a bit about the book I had written and she made me an offer for it. They say that four years is the average time for an author to become published. I felt peed off at that because I never want to be considered AVERAGE!

PR: When did you first know you wanted to write? Who /what influenced you?

 Virginia:  I was always a voracious reader and history was my passion. I devoured Shellabarger, Dumas, and Costain, but until the historical romance came on the scene I never actually thought about writing.  Bertrice Small, Woodiwiss, Shirlee Busbee, and Rosemary Rogers influenced me. I cut their pictures from a magazine and stuck them up on my refrigerator until I was published.

 PR: You’ve seen many changes in that industry during your career. Tell us about some of those changes and how you’ve adapted.

 Virginia:  Over my thirty year career I’ve seen many changes in the industry.  Many best-selling romance authors changed genres and began to write mysteries, suspense, thrillers or chick lit to keep up their numbers and garner new audiences.  I never changed from writing historical romances. They are what brought me to the party and I’ve stuck with them.

 History and sex is like a one-two punch that satisfies my readers and I get thousands of letters asking me to never change and never stop writing. When I first began, I was considered extremely risqué and daring.

I always called a cock a cock and wanted to put my reader in bed between my hero and heroine and let her in on all their secrets.

 These days of course, with the great popularity of erotica, my stuff is mild in comparison. To be honest, I can’t say that I’ve had to adapt to the changes too much. My books are popular in the book clubs. I’ve been published in paperback, hardcover, and now my books are released in Trade size, then 12-18 months later they are released in mass market size.

 There has been a revolution in the publishing industry with the advent of ebooks. All my Dell and Signet books, and my Kensington anthologies are available for downloading from Amazon and Barnes & Noble, etc. and very soon there will be more ebooks sold than print books. I have two good friends, Marsha Canham and Julie Ortolon, who cleverly got the rights back to a lot of their backlist books and self-published them on Amazon and Smashwords.

These ebooks are earning lots of money for them, and they urged me to try it. Unfortunately, I can’t get the rights back to most of my backlist, but I got two historicals back from Avon, and I own two novellas, and one short story. You can find them at these links:

 WILD HEARTS http://www.amazon.com/Wild-Hearts-ebook/dp/B0052E87IG/ref=sr_1_1?s=digital-text&ie=UTF8&qid=1314805828&sr=1-1

BOLD CONQUEST http://www.amazon.com/Bold-Conquest-ebook/dp/B005578L04/ref=pd_sim_kinc_1?ie=UTF8&m=AG56TWVU5XWC2

LOVE AND JOY http://www.amazon.com/Love-And-Joy-ebook/dp/B005CX92K4/ref=pd_sim_kinc_2?ie=UTF8&m=AG56TWVU5XWC2

HOT AS FIRE (CONTEMPORARY NOVELLA) http://www.amazon.com/Hot-As-Fire-ebook/dp/B0056VBZPC/ref=pd_sim_kinc_2?ie=UTF8&m=AG56TWVU5XWC2

FREE READ  at Amazon, Smashwords, Barnes & Noble, Sony, Apple, etc.:

LETTER OF LOVE (SHORT STORY) http://www.amazon.com/Letter-Of-Love-ebook/dp/B005DMMEMM/ref=sr_1_1?s=digital-text&ie=UTF8&qid=1314806163&sr=1-1

Later this year, I will be uploading an original historical romance as an ebook. THE PEACOCKS OF PARADISE is a Plantation novel. These books, once such favorites, fell out of fashion, probably because slavery was no longer politically correct. I shall take my chances, LOL.

This truly is a new “digital age” and like everything in life, the world wide web has an upside and a downside. The great part is that readers in almost any country can download and read our books. The bad part is that there are thousands of illegal sites that “pirate” our books and steal our livelihoods. Authors don’t receive one penny from these unscrupulous businesses. It takes a great deal of time and effort to get them taken down, and the next day there are dozens more, reproducing like mushrooms.

 PR: You have a new book coming out is just a couple of days?


Virginia:  My next book THE DARK EARL will go on sale September 6th, the day after Labor Day.  This is the third book in what I call my PEERS OF THE REALM series, and it follows THE DECADENT DUKE, and THE IRISH DUKE. It will be published by Signet Eclipse in Trade size and will also be available in ebook form at all the online book stores.  It has also been chosen as a featured selection of the Rhapsody Book Club.

 I love to hear from my readers, so drop me an email, “friend me” on Facebook,  and don’t forget to visit my website: http://www.virginiahenley.com


Those of us at  Passionate Reads would like to thank, Virginia Henley for being with us today at Passionate Reads and leave everyone with  reminder that THE DARK EARL comes out on Tuesday, 9/6!

Here’s a little “sneak peak”…

 Is it about the man…or the manor?

 It’s love at first sight for Lady Harriet Hamilton–love with Thomas Anson’s ancestral home, that is.

 Thomas’s father, the Earl of Lichfield, has gambled away the family’s honor, and now it’s cost them everything at Shugborough Hall. The estate sale is shameful enough for Thomas without some little brat sneaking around his property, but vivacious Harry has caught him sneaking around as well…

When they meet again year later, neither Harry nor Viscount Anson has forgotten their encounter. While Thomas has grown into the exact opposite of his reprobate father, Harry is outspoken, audacious, and now, Thomas must admit, quite a beauty. But he’s committed to restoring the family holdings, not chasing after a wife. If only she wasn’t hurling herself against his principles–and having such a good time doing it…

26 Responses to “NY Times Best-Selling Author, Virginia Henley Guest Blogger TODAY at Passionate Reads!”

  1. Kaily Hart September 3, 2011 at 8:29 am #

    Great interview, ladies! Virginia ,I love your books and stories. It was wonderful to learn more about you. So glad you stopped by Passionate Reads!!

    • Virginia Henley September 3, 2011 at 8:53 am #

      Kaily, I thank you for being a loyal reader. And I thank you for being the first to comment on my blog. I hope you have a wonderful day.

  2. Marilyn Campbell September 3, 2011 at 8:59 am #

    Welcome Virginia! Thank you so much for visiting today.Like Shannon, I have never forgotten that one opening line. Your stories always delivered entertainment, passion and surprises. Thank you!

  3. marshacanham September 3, 2011 at 9:32 am #

    Terrific blog, Ms Henley, and truly, only you would have “cock” as a tag word LOL. But seriously, I’m honoured to have been your friend for the past *gasp* 30 years, through all the ups and downs involved in this crazy business. Hopefully we have a good many more ahead.

  4. Bruna Britti September 3, 2011 at 10:02 am #

    Nice interview. I have one of her books, in portuguese (because I live in Brazil =) It’s a bit old, is called “Depois daquela noite”, and now, after this awesome interview, I’m going to read it! I love romances. ❤

    (sorry for my english, bit terrible) 😛

    • Virginia Henley September 3, 2011 at 12:45 pm #

      I feel honored that someone who lives in Brazil has one of my books (and in Portuguese begod!) Your English is wonderful; do not apologize.
      It was generous of you to take the time to read and reply to my blog.

  5. Sean Henley September 3, 2011 at 10:11 am #

    Great job Mom. I immensely enjoyed reading this.
    I couldn’t be prouder of you for all your accomplishments and I’m simply in awe
    that you’ve been able to keep up with all the new technology.
    Never quite thought of you as a “Diva” Wow, who knew?
    Love you so much. keep up the good work.

  6. Lauren Fraser September 3, 2011 at 11:26 am #

    Great interview. I’m so thrilled to have you as a guest on Passionate Reads, Virginia. I’ve really enjoyed learning more about you.

    • Virginia Henley September 3, 2011 at 12:47 pm #

      Lauren, thanks for your generous comment. I hope you have a wonderful Labor Day weekend.

  7. Julie Ortolon September 3, 2011 at 11:50 am #

    I lied. I know I said I was racing out the door to go to a festival, and couldn’t read your interview until this evening, but curiosity got the better of me. So glad I gave in. Great interview, Virginia! It’s hard to imagine a time when you weren’t the Queen of Romance.

  8. Jen B. September 3, 2011 at 12:21 pm #

    I have never read any of your books. Thanks for the great interview. I have added you to my wish list. I look forward to reading some of your books. And I love that opening line!

    • Virginia Henley September 3, 2011 at 12:48 pm #

      I did a few books with shocking openings, but of course it is all in the readers’ mind. Perfectly innocent scenarios when you get to the second page.

  9. Johnny Ray September 3, 2011 at 1:05 pm #

    Thank you so much for this information. You have made me look at historicals in an entirely different way. You have the master ability to tell a story and keep the reader spellbound–frozen in a different time and place.

    Johnny ( Sir John) Ray

    • Virginia Henley September 3, 2011 at 6:03 pm #

      Sir John I thank you. Very soon, I will be reading you!

  10. voraciousreader September 3, 2011 at 4:52 pm #

    What a great interview! It’s wonderful learning more about a favorite author. Thanks Passionate Reads for inviting Virginia! And thank you Virginia for participating!

    I have to say that I’ve been a fan of yours Virginia, for so long. I have always read romance books, and all because of the romance…the hugging, kissing and just the affection that was written. UNTIL I picked up your The Dragon and the Jewel. I discovered that there was something missing the the romances that I had been reading and it was YOUR way of writing a romance!! Oh…My…Good…Golly!! I fell so very much in love with Simon and Eleanor. But Simon….Simon…what a MAN!! I honestly think I read and reread this book for two months straight!

    And then I read The Marriage Prize. Oh, boy…it was the first time EVER that I lost it with a book. I cried like it happened to ME!! It still gives my heart a pang to think about ‘what you did’!!

    I, personally, cannot THANK YOU enough Virginia, for your writing, the way your mind works and the wonderful talented gift that you share with us readers.


    • Virginia Henley September 3, 2011 at 6:07 pm #

      I thank you so much for reading my blog today and your generous praise for my writing.
      I really got smacked in the head from my readers for what “I” did to Simon de Montfort. I protested that I did not do it, history did it, but they never forgave me for portraying his death.
      You thank me for writing them, but believe me, I thank you for reading them!

  11. Connie Taxdal September 3, 2011 at 8:20 pm #

    Wonderful interview, Virginia!

    You always leave a reader entertained no matter what or where you’re writing. You were the speaker the first time I attended a TARA meeting and let me tell you, I never enjoyed myself more or laughed so much.

    I have read everyone of your books and most of them are in my bookcases as I write. They are torn, cracked, and smudged from loving use.

    Your books are unique – as are you.


    • Virginia Henley September 4, 2011 at 4:41 am #

      I’m always genuinely surprised when people say I have entertained them. I honestly believe that I’m shy, and say outrageous things as a defense mechanism. Once when I was being interview on Canadian radio and was asked the inevitable question, “Do you practice your sex scenes?” I replied, “Yes, that’s why my husband is so short–it’s from banging his head on the headboard!”

  12. Erica Anderson September 4, 2011 at 4:51 pm #

    Wow! Thanks for visiting Passionate Reads, Ms. Henley! That is totally awesome! And I love the fact that your son commented. How cool is that?

    • Virginia Henley September 4, 2011 at 5:24 pm #

      My son Sean instant messaged me today and asked if I minded him commenting on my blog. He does my website for me whenever he gets a minute, and I can honestly say he’s my best friend.

  13. Crystal Kauffman September 4, 2011 at 5:14 pm #

    Welcome Virginia! For me it was your Lords of Desire that really was a pinnacle for me as both a reader and a writer. It’s still on my keeper shelf.

    • Virginia Henley September 4, 2011 at 5:25 pm #

      Thanks so much, Crystal. I really liked that story too. LOL. The idea of smugglers is fascinating.

  14. Bond September 5, 2011 at 6:03 am #

    I love your books too, Virginia. I haven’t read Lords of Desire but I will definitely download that one.

    • Virginia Henley September 8, 2011 at 8:02 am #

      I adore my loyal readers. Thanks so much, Bond. (That feels strange; I feel I should call you James!

  15. infinitieh September 5, 2011 at 10:49 pm #

    I can’t wait to read “The Dark Earl” which I have already pre-ordered! It has my favorite cover model, Paul Marron, on it.

    • Virginia Henley September 8, 2011 at 8:05 am #

      Oh, thank you for telling me the name of the cover model. I had no idea.
      But after The Irish Duke, I asked for a more mature-looking model. Since my heroes are all dark, dominant, and dangerous, I prefer men to boys! LOL.
      If you truly enjoy the book, I would truly appreciate a review on Amazon.
      The Dark Earl got a wonderful review from Publisher’s Weekly, but they are only displaying one mediocre review and it pees me off!

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