A BIG Casa welcome to debut author Isabel Cooper, whose debut novel, No Proper Lady hits stores this month. Let's celebrate!
First of all, thanks for the opportunity to ramble about my first Sourcebooks release: NO PROPER LADY. There’s nothing like getting published to make me jump around and squeal like an anime schoolgirl, so I’ve been doing that a fair amount for the past year--every new development is very exciting!
Over the years, I’ve discovered that I have the same approach to writing that I do to cocktails or desserts. One element is great and all, but I have the most fun when I’m putting different things together and seeing what happens. Maybe amaretto and milk do go with peach schnapps; maybe raspberries would taste great with maple syrup; maybe it’d be great fun to mix historical romance with vaguely Lovecraftian monsters. Why not give it a try, anyhow?
NO PROPER LADY came from one of those experiments. It was fun to write--and fun to tell friends about. Joan’s an assassin from a future where demons rule the Earth! Simon’s a gentleman occultist in Victorian England! They fight crime--or at least try to stop Simon’s ex-friend from writing the book that ends the world. To get to Alex Reynell, the evil magician in question, Joan has to pass as a Victorian lady, which is not an easy task for a post-apocalyptic warrior chick. Luckily, she has Simon to help her...as long as they can keep their minds on the mission and not each other.
Here’s an exchange from the beginning of the novel, when Simon and Joan work out just what their plan is going to involve--and Simon starts to realize how challenging working with Joan will be.
“Give me until we go to London. That should be time enough—it’ll take a month or two to get you ready.”
The look Joan gave him was so searching as to be, from another woman, entirely indecent. From her, though, it was just evaluation: Can you do what you say? Simon half expected her to look at his teeth.
“I’m in,” she said. “Where do we start?”
“With you.” Ideas began to fall into place like tumblers in a lock. “We’ll say you’re from America, one of the Western states. That’ll explain why nobody’s heard of you, and it’ll cover what we can’t fix.”
“Fix?” she asked, dryly amused.
“Fix. You’ll have to learn to act like a lady. At least in public.”
“Damn, I thought so. Lay it on me.”
“For one thing, ladies don’t curse. No profanity, no blasphemy, no vulgarity.”
“No shit?” she asked, quirking a grin. Simon had to laugh in response. “What if I’m, um, angry?”
“Ladies aren’t supposed to get angry most of the time,” he said, and wasn’t surprised to see the face she made. “If someone makes improper advances or swears around you, or so forth, then you should be very cold and correct. Or faint.”
“Faint. Yeah, I don’t think that’ll be happening. Not unless it gives me a major tactical advantage.”
“Oh, it does.”
Joan smiled again, impishly, and suddenly Simon didn’t think he’d have to worry about her being pretty enough. He shifted in his chair, trying to ignore his body’s response.
Her question didn’t help either: “Were you an innocent bystander or the one making the improper advances?”
“That,” he said, “depends on the occasion.”
“Mmm. Anything else?”
“Quite a bit. There are a number of rules you’ll have to follow…while implying that you’d be willing to break some of them for the right man.”
One of the most entertaining parts of this novel was the makeover plot. I’m a giant fan of makeovers--although not so much the one in The Breakfast Club--because they’re a chance to become someone new, because I like seeing people acquire new talents, and because they’re so often set to cool songs in movies. ;) They’re like the civilian version of the training montage, though Joan’s isn’t as civilian as all that, and I’ve loved the training montage since I was eight and saw Kristy Swanson flipping through a bunch of tires as Buffy.
Do you like to see characters going through training or otherwise “upgrading” themselves in your books? If so, what kind of training do you prefer?
Thank you so much for celebrating with us today, Isabel! For the giveaway: Please answer Isabel's question about training to be entered to win one of two copies of No Proper Lady. US and Canada addresses only, and please leave an email address so we can contact you directly. Good Luck!
NO PROPER LADY BY ISABEL COOPER – IN STORES SEPTEMBER 2011
It’s Terminator meets My Fair Lady in this fascinating debut of black magic and brilliant ball gowns, martial arts, and mysticism.
England, 1888. The trees are green, the birds are singing, and in 200 years demons will destroy it all. Unless Joan, a rough-around-the-edges assassin from the future, can take out the dark magician responsible. But to get close to her target she’ll need help learning how to fit into polite Victorian society to get close to her target.
Simon Grenville has his own reasons for wanting to destroy Alex Reynell. The man used to be his best friend—until his practice of the dark arts almost killed Simon’s sister. The beautiful half-naked stranger Simon meets in the woods may be the perfect instrument for his revenge. It will just take a little time to teach her the necessary etiquette and assemble a proper wardrobe. But as each day passes, Simon is less sure he wants Joan anywhere near Reynell. Because no spell in the world will save his future if she isn’t in it.ABOUT THE AUTHOR: Debut author Isabel Cooper lives in Boston and maintains her guise as a mild-mannered project manager working in legal publishing. She only travels through time the normal way and has never fought a demon, but she can waltz. Her next book, No Honest Woman, will be in stores in April 2011. For more information, please visit http://isabelcooper.wordpress.com.