1--What is the title of your latest release?
UNLADYLIKE LESSONS IN LOVE, first of the Marleigh Sisters series of Regency novels. A bit of mystery, a bit of spice, and lots of romping about London.
2--What’s the “elevator pitch” for your new book?
Lila Marleigh, the daughter of an English earl and his Indian mistress, owns a gambling salon and loves to defy the ton at every step. In comes Ivor Tristram, accusing her of being his father’s mistress. He’s aggravating, he’s gorgeous, and sparks fly. But they must work together to help someone very important to Lila. Can they work together, or will the friction between them (ahem) get in the way?
3--How did you decide where your book was going to take place?
I live in London, one of the most exciting places to live. There is just so much history. When you start looking at Regency and Victorian history, though, it isn’t all glittering ballrooms and tea dances. There is some very interesting grimy history, like the infamous rat pits, the pleasure gardens and the streets of Whitechapel. I love exploring these! Oh, and I tell you, these Regency folk did not hold back in the bedroom.
4--Would you hang out with your protagonist in real life?
Lila Marleigh is a bit too much like me. She gets more animated and sociable when she’s feeling vulnerable. She has strong passions and longings, and like me, she is defiantly independent and finds it hard to show her needs. We’d annoy the life out of each other – or be best friends. Could go either way.
5--What are three words that describe your protagonist?
Passionate, energetic, infuriating.
6--What’s something you learned while writing this book?
I love Georgette Heyer. Her writing is passionate and witty and hilarious. But as a brown writer, I had no idea I could have a place in Regency fiction. Shonda Rhimes opened a little door with Bridgerton and I started researching this simple question: Were there people of color in Regency England? Well, dang it, apparently, yes! William Dalrymple’s writing showed me some important facets of colonial history and so I make sure never to shy away from the fact that the early 1800s were the height of colonialism and slavery.
7--Do you edit as you draft or wait until you are totally done?
Hmm, I tell my students just write the first draft, just write the damn thing, and don’t keep editing. And I am as far the opposite of that as it’s possible to be. Thing is, I don’t have a firm plot in mind when I start. I have a premise, a whisper of an idea, and the rest comes as I write. The characters, their fears and personalities, determine what happens in the plot. So, the first third of the book has to be in solid shape for me to even know what is going to happen later on. I go back on myself…a lot.
8--What’s your favorite foodie indulgence?
9--Describe your writing space/office!
You know, my answer to where do you write is: ANYWHERE I can. I have kids. I have a job. I write on my sofa, I write on trains, I write while waiting to pick up the kids from somewhere or the other, I write on my phone, you get the picture. You know what I want for a proper writing chair? One of those really gigantic, really wide meditation chairs. That’s what I want.
10--Who is an author you admire?
Oh, so many. Georgette Heyer, of course. For me, the queen of Regency. But also fantastic authors like Shannon Chakraborty who knows how to create a world. Jodi Taylor, who writes fantastic feminist characters who are so funny. Funny, clever authors like Jasper Fforde.
11--Is there a book that changed your life?
Talisman Ring, by Georgette Heyer, which I read when I was a teenager. I guess it must have changed my life since my first Regency comes out now, baby! But I didn’t know it then. I was a lonely kid. I needed her, okay?
12--Tell us about when you got “the call.” (when you found out your book was going to be published)/Or, for indie authors, when you decided to self-publish.
I had hit an all-time low early in 2022. I’d written what is now Unladylike Lessons in Love and a very successful agent said it’s too character driven to be marketable. Then I met my wonderful agent Priya Doraswamy, who is now a great friend and who really, really gets me and knows what I’m like creatively. In Spring 2022, we met the wonderful Lucia Macro (Avon/HarperCollins) and Kate Bradley (HarperCollins, UK) and everything fell into place. But am I ever satisfied? Can I ever enjoy what’s happening? Erm, no. I’m always looking to the next thing.
13--What’s your favorite genre to read?
I read lots of fantasy, Regency and murder mysteries. I LOVE shopping for books and I adore second-hand bookshops. You can’t have too many books. And, oh, in case you’re wondering, you don’t need to have read what you own before you buy more…
14--What’s your favorite movie?
Hmm. Hard one. L.A. Confidential is one of them. I do love watching films like Moana and Encanto with my kids. We’re currently watching a full Star Wars marathon together, films and TV series. Yikes, could take years.
15--What is your favorite season?
Autumn (fall, I mean, whoops). I don’t like heatwaves and I don’t like it when it’s freezing. But a cup of hot chocolate when the leaves are crisping up, yes please.
16--How do you like to celebrate your birthday?
Oh gosh, I’ve got boring as I’ve got older. Stay in with a good book is the wrong answer, right?
17--What’s a recent tv show/movie/book/podcast you highly recommend?
I love books on creativity. Julia Cameron’s The Artist’s Way. Elizabeth Gilbert’s Big Magic. And Seth Godin’s The Practice. Get as much inspiration as you possibly can. Feed that hunger in your soul, is all I have to say.
18--What’s your favorite type of cuisine?
Chocolate is a cuisine, right?
19--What do you do when you have free time?
I don’t! I’m nothing if not chronically restless and I’ve learned just to roll with it!
20--What can readers expect from you next?
All kinds. More Regency, definitely. But I also want to go back to Arya Winters, my favorite neurodivergent baker of macabre cakes and amateur sleuth. Watch this space.
The Marleigh Sisters #1
Amita Murray takes us on a journey from the pleasure gardens of society to the dangerous streets of 19th century London, in this spectacular romantic debut by an unforgettable new voice.
“Women mind their reputation if they want to marry. I don’t want to marry.”
As the eldest daughter of an English earl and his Indian mistress, Lila Marleigh knows what it’s like to be an outsider from “polite” society. As children, she and her sisters were wrenched from their home and sent to England, never quite accepted by those who claimed to care for them. Now Lila has set herself up as hostess of an exclusive gaming club, charming the ton that flocks to her establishment each night, though it shuns her by day.
One night, Ivor Tristram comes barging through her door, accusing her of being his father’s mistress. Lila defies his expectations at every step and convinces him to navigate London’s rat pits and pleasure gardens with her, in her quest to solve a violent crime.
As they set out together to uncover the truth, an irresistible passion ignites that will shake them to the core. Lila must fight to protect those she loves, yet the biggest threat is to the sanctity of the heart she has guarded so carefully all her life.
Romance Historical [Avon, On Sale: May 16, 2023, Paperback / e-Book, ISBN: 9780063296480 / eISBN: 9780063296497]
Amita is a writer, based in London. She first discovered her love for Georgette Heyer’s sparkling banter and runaway horses when she found one of Heyer’s romantic adventures in a second-hand bookstall as a teenager. There was no looking back - as in, it took another few decades to realise that Heyer was more than just a delicious obsession. Amita’s first Regency, Unladylike Lessons in Love, comes out in 2023 and takes readers on a ride through a diverse 19th century London landscape like you’ve never seen it before. Amita’s Arya Winters series of mysteries is published with Agora.
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