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Wednesday, August 10, 2022


The author's office
Today we sit down for a chat with historical/Regency mystery author J.L. Buck, who also writes fantasy as Ally Shields. Learn more about J.L. at her website and blog and Ally at her website and blog. 

When did you realize you wanted to write novels? 

When I was nine. I loved Walter Farley’s horse books. When I had read them all, I decided to write mine own, a 150-page, handwritten story entitled Golden King. From that point on, I always thought I’d be a writer somebody. In college, I planned to be a journalist, then marriage and kids came along, and I began teaching to help support the household. Life intervened again, and I headed to law school. When I finally retired, I began to write my first true novel.


How long did it take you to realize your dream of publication? 

A:  In years, it wasn’t a lengthy process. I began writing what became my first published novel in 2009, and it was published in 2012. In between, were 160 rejections from agents and publishers. It took a lot of persistence, re-writing, and belief in my story.


Are you traditionally published, indie published, or a hybrid author? 

I have been published by two small presses. My sixteen fantasy novels were published under a pen name by one publisher, but when I switched to mysteries, I had to find a new publisher. Fortunately, it didn’t take so many rejections the second time. 😊


Where do you write?  

Since I knew what I wanted to do in retirement, I set up a small office in my home just for writing. I much prefer writing on a desktop, so I have it set up with a sturdy desk, printer stand, credenza, shelves, and cabinets to store info, and a rolling storage bin that houses most of my historical books.


Is silence golden, or do you need music to write by? What kind? 

Actually, neither. Silence drives me nuts, and I end up singing to music. I prefer a TV running in the background to provide white noise – even better if it’s showing a series I’ve already watched.


How much of your plots and characters are drawn from real life? From your life in particular?

None of the plots are drawn from real life, although I have woven some historical events into my Regency mysteries. Character traits are frequency pulled from people I know or people I have observed. When I spend time in waiting rooms, long lines, or places like airplanes, I frequently watch the people round me for new traits that may appear in the next novel. So far, no one has said, “Oh, I know who that is.”


Describe your process for naming your character?

I have several lists of names that were popular during the Regency-era. When I have to name a new character, I run my finger down those lists until something strikes my fancy.


Real settings or fictional towns? 

I use both.


What’s the quirkiest quirk one of your characters has? 

Lady Anne Ashburn has the ability of total recall.


What’s your quirkiest quirk?

I do my best writing late at night in gown or pjs.


If you could have written any book (one that someone else has already written,) which one would it be? Why? 

As long as we’re dreaming, I would love to have written The Lord of the Rings trilogy. It is so beautifully written, tremendously re-readable, and I believe will still be read 100 years from now for its relatable characters and engaging plot.


Everyone at some point wishes for a do-over. What’s yours? 

Many years ago, I had an opportunity to teach in Australia. I’d love to know where that would have led.


What’s your biggest pet peeve?

Just one??? Tech support based in another country that does not speak my language.


You’re stranded on a deserted island. What are your three must-haves?

My kindle, my notebook, and a bottle of wine.


What was the worst job you’ve ever held?

Collection agent for Boston Law Book Co. Getting money from lawyers is nearly impossible.


Who’s your all-time favorite literary character (any genre)? Why?

If I can only choose one, it would be Sherlock Holmes who introduced me to the mystery genre that has given me thousands of hours of reading pleasure.


Ocean or mountains? 



City girl/guy or country girl/guy? 

Country girl


What’s on the horizon for you? 

I’m currently writing the Viscount Ware mysteries under a four-book contract (they are all drafted), and I hope to have them available to readers within the next eighteen months. After that…I love these characters and have my fingers crossed that the contract will be extended.


Anything else you’d like to tell us about yourself and/or your books?

I want to thank you for hosting me. I’m delighted to visit your blog.


The Dead Betray None

A Viscount Ware Mystery, Book 1


An aristocratic spy and a highborn lady cross paths over a dead body.


1811 England seethes with discontent. A self-indulgent prince regent sits on the throne of a country at war with France, on the brink of war with America, and facing growing rebellion at home. 


Lucien, Viscount Ware, recently home after four years on the Continent as a spy for England, finds life in the haute ton tedious. He secretly agrees to handle a few delicate matters for the Crown's private spy unit at Whitehall. A housebreaking at a country house party seems a strange assignment until he discovers that a French cipher, the key to Napoleon's war codes, was among the stolen items. As he follows its trail to London's notorious rookeries and into its glittering ballrooms, he faces a growing threat of treachery from more than one direction.


Lady Anne Ashburn missed her London season while caring for her invalid mother in the north country. A new nurse allows her to visit relatives, where she becomes embroiled in a blackmail plot. To avoid a terrible scandal, she goes to London to face down the scoundrel threatening her family.


The night of the elegant Christmastide Ball, Lucien finds Lady Anne standing over a corpse. What happens after that—the risks they take, the intrusion of a notorious crime lord, society gossip, and good intentions gone awry—sends them spiraling into danger and potential disaster for England’s war effort.


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JL Buck said...

Thanks so very much for inviting me to your blog! You run a terrific site.

Lois Winston said...

You’re welcome JL! And thanks for the lovely compliment.