Author Spotlight: Sasha Cottman
Describe yourself in one word: feisty
What is your background with regard to writing?
I fell into writing about seven years ago when I accidently enrolled in a romance writing course. I wasn’t someone who had read lots of romance books or ever wanted to be a writer, I was just looking for a distraction from the corporate world. Of course once I had read a few romance books I understood the appeal and fell in love with the genre.
When did you first begin writing with a view of embarking on a career as a published author?
I joined Romance Writers of Australia six years ago and decided I would like to see if I could actually finish a book and submit it to a publisher. I never expected to get published, let alone get a phone call from Destiny Romance two weeks after I had submitted my first novel, Letter from a Rake.
Tell us a little more about An Unsuitable Match:
An Unsuitable Match follows on from the events of the first book in the Duke of Strathmore series, Letter from a Rake, but it is a standalone novel. Lady Clarice Langham finds herself celebrating the marriage of the man she herself was expected to marry, but he is marrying someone else. David Radley has secretly loved Clarice for many years and finally decides it is time he declares his love to her. Her father and his new heir, Thaxter Fox, are against the match. Fortunately Clarice has her feisty grandmother Lady Alice on her side and she is determined to see her granddaughter married to someone who truly loves her.
The course of love never runs smoothly, and of course Clarice and David’s romance is no different. What were the key challenges in writing their romance?
The key challenge was to keep the level of tension in the story right to the very end. Writing an irredeemable villain into the story added to the heightened tension. Against that I wrote the character of Lady Alice Langham who provides some great moments of levity throughout the story. Lady Alice has been a real hit with many readers and I have been asked to write more of her into future stories (stay tuned).
What kind of research was involved in the planning of An Unsuitable Match? Was there anything surprising that you learned during the research process?
Writing historical romance involves a fair amount of research, especially if you are going to take the story outside of the traditional London ballrooms and streets. You have to research how long it would take for a carriage to drive from London to Norfolk. What sort of food people ate in those days (I actually have recipes which I recreate on my website blog http://www.sashacottman.com/in-the-regency-kitchen from that period) many of which we still eat today. The most surprising thing I learned from the research process was that after I had chosen the village of Sharnbrook in which to set part of the novel, I discovered some of my family actually live in the village. I was fortunate to visit Sharnbrook in April 2014 and see the countryside where I had set the story.
What one character trait will most endear both Clarice and David to your readers?
I think their bravery shines through in the story. David, despite the overwhelming odds, never gives up on his quest to win Clarice’s heart. Clarice in turn has to face her personal demons before she is able to open herself to David’s love.
What do you want readers to know about the romance genre?
Romance is a great read, and there are some truly gifted romance authors, especially in Australia. The romance genre is an amazing collective of authors and readers. I am continually amazed at the support and friendship that exists in this worldwide community. From another perspective, the romance publishing industry is worth USD$1.08 billion annually (BookStats) and holds 13% of the adult fiction market (Nielsen Books sales tracker). As an accountant in my professional career those are significant figures.
If you weren’t writing, what would you be doing?
Rewatching episodes of Outlander until it comes out of hiatus in April 2015.
What’s next for you?
I am currently editing the third book in the Duke of Strathmore series which is Lucy’s story. Lucy is the sister of Alex from Letter from a Rake and David from An Unsuitable Match. It is lovely to get emails from readers asking when Lucy is going to get her own story. Hopefully very soon.
What book is currently on your nightstand?
Dragonfly in Amber by Diana Gabaldon is the book I am currently reading on my Kindle. I have developed the Outlander obsession which is currently sweeping the globe after the launch of the TV series. Google Sam Heughan if you don’t understand what I mean, I guarantee you will be hooked.
What advice would you give your 16-year-old self?
Exercise more and go and live overseas for a year. I am now working on both those goals.
It’s almost Christmas (yes, already!), tell us: what are you hoping to find under the tree this year?
Clean washing and an unpacked suitcase. My family and I are travelling to Vietnam before Christmas and we get home on Christmas Eve.
Favourite Christmas recipe?
I’m a terrible cook. If you come to my house for Christmas please bring a plate of food and some wine.
Favourite Christmas tradition?
Buying a hallmark Christmas ornament for our daughter and having her dad give it to her. She was ten before she finally asked me if I bought the ornaments.
Share with us your biggest New Years Resolution for 2015:
To get really fit. I recently bought a fitbit (a wristband that tracks steps, distance and calories burned) and have been walking 15,000 steps a day. I need to build muscle.
Favourite travel experience?
Standing on the side of the active Mount Yasur volcano on Tanna Island in Vanuatu. A very surreal experience watching lava as it explodes in the volcano pit a few hundred feet below you. Only a week before we went the mountain was off limits to visitors.
Number one thing to do on your bucket list:
To live in London for a year. I was born in England and would love to go and feel like I am not a tourist in the land of my birth. All those museums at my fingertips would be magical.
Milk, dark or white chocolate? Dark most of the time, but I do like milk.
Red, white, bubbly? Bubbles preferably Billecart-Salmon, or a good Australian chardonnay such as Annie’s Lane.
About the Author:
Born in England, but raised in Australia, Sasha has a love for both countries. Having her heart in two places has created a love for travel, which at last count was to over 55 countries. A travel guide is always on her pile of new books to read. Sasha lives with her husband, teenage daughter and a cat who thinks sitting on the keyboard is being helpful. Her family have managed to find all but one of her secret chocolate hiding places. On the weekends Sasha loves walking on the beach while devising new ways to torture her characters.
An Unsuitable Match
The Favourite Heiress…
Once engaged to the future Duke of Strathmore, the beautiful Lady Clarice Langham now finds herself in the humiliating position of celebrating his marriage – to another woman. As a result of the scandal, it seems her reign as London’s most eligible debutante has come to an end. But things begin to look up when handsome and charming rake David Radley makes it clear that, at least as far as he’s concerned, she’s still the catch of the season.
The Illegitimate Son…
The eldest son of the Duke of Strathmore, David Radley has been raised alongside his father’s legitimate children. But while he is generally received as part of the family, not everyone thinks he should be, and especially not Clarice’s father, the Earl of Langham, who forbids her from having anything to do with him.
An Unsuitable Match…
David’s been in love with Clarice for years, and it isn’t long before the attraction between them develops into something deeper. Yet he senses Clarice is hiding something and until she reveals her secret, she won’t be free to follow her heart. Despite everything, David will not give up on Clarice, not even when another seems set to claim her…