Interview with Teresa Medeiros

Teresa Medeiros is THE shooting star in Germany this year. "Nobody's Darling" was her first big break in Germany and it seems as if "Charming The Prince" is going to top the success of "Nobody's Darling". Five of her books will be published in 2000 in Germany and we can hardly await them!

Please also check her website for further information about her books: http://www.win.net/~romance/terbio.htm

Angela: Can you tell us something about yourself? Where you come from, your hobbies etc.

Teresa Medeiros: I'm an only child and former Army brat who always had a lot of imaginary friends when I was growing up.  I was born in Heidelberg in 1962 when my dad was stationed in Germany with the military. I always wanted to be a princess, a movie star, or a writer.  After living in Tennessee and North Carolina, we settled in Kentucky when I was twelve. I wrote and worked as a registered nurse for nine years before retiring from nursing to write full-time in 1992.  I've been married to my very own hero, Michael, for sixteen years now.  Reading has always been my first hobby, but I also love church activities, movies, bicycling, and everything to do with STAR TREK and BUFFY THE VAMPIRE SLAYER.

Angela: How did your writing career start and what did you do to celebrate when your first book has been published?

Teresa Medeiros: I started writing my first book when I was twenty-one.  I sent it to one publisher and waited a year for my first rejection.  Then I got smart and sent out a letter to twenty-two different publishers. Within three months, I sold the book and signed a three-book contract.  To celebrate, I put on my nicest dress and went shopping.  (But I didn't buy much since that first advance is pretty skimpy!)

Angela: Your books are a wonderful mixture of humor and poignancy. Do you also prefer to read such books (like the books from Susan E. Phillips)? How do you achieve this mixture in your works?

Teresa Medeiros: I truly believe that life is a mixture of laughter and tears (my life certainly has been!) so I tend to reflect that belief in my books.  I'm a very subconscious writer so I can't explain exactly how I achieve that effect--I just know when it feels like I'm telling the truth.  I've always been a person of passionate feelings so it's never been hard to convey anger or laughter or sadness.  I feel those emotions right along with my characters!  And how did you know Susan Elizabeth Phillips has been one of my favorite contemporary authors from the beginning?  I especially love her earlier books where she breaks your heart, then makes you laugh in the next breath.  I don't mind "dark" humor, but I don't tend to respond well to writers with absolutely no sense of humor in their work. It just doesn't feel realistic to me.

Angela: Where do you get your funny ideas from (like a heroine that hates children and is suddenly confronted with a whole herd or plays many instruments but can't sing)? Is this your imagination or do you get ideas from movies, other books etc.?

Teresa Medeiros: I'm inspired by everything--imagination, movies, scraps of conversation I overhear in public places, children's books.  The inspiration for CHARMING THE PRINCE (which I'm told will be published in Germany as REBELLIN AUS LIEBE), came from an episode of XENA, WARRIOR PRINCESS.  Xena's double, Meg, was rocking a baby's cradle with her foot while cocked back in a chair singing "99 Bottles of Beer on the Wall" and I just thought, "Hmmm, what if I did a heroine who hated kids who ended up with a hero who had a slew of them?"  As for the heroine who could play musical instruments, but couldn't sing, well, I only had to look as far as the mirror for that inspiration.

Angela: I read some of your older books and I noted that they are more serious and darker than the books you wrote within the last few years. Was this a change of style and planned? Or was it a growth of yourself as an author?

Teresa Medeiros: To be honest, my mother has been very sick for the last five years and it's been hard for me to delve into those darker emotions.  I think writing books with a lighter tone has helped me get through these difficult times.  I've had touches of comedy in every book I've written, but I guess it's been more overt in the last few books.  The most important thing to me is that the tone suits the story I've chosen to tell. I actually think comedy is harder to write than melodrama.  It requires a more deft touch because I prefer for it to be character driven, and not just slapstick. (Although there's nothing wrong with a little slapstick, either!)

Angela: Some of your heroines doesn't comply with our standards of beauty which makes them even more likeable because readers can identify with them. Do you prefer writing about those "girl-to-next-door-heroines" yourself and will you maybe write about e.g. overweighted, handicapped or mousy heroines one day?

Teresa Medeiros: I don't know many perfect women, but I know many beautiful women, both inside and out. Those are the women I choose to write about.  In my first hardcover release, THE BRIDE AND THE BEAST, which will be out in the U.S. in June of 2000, my heroine is overweight.  The hero has to teach her that eternal truth: whenever you love someone, they are beautiful in your eyes.  It is his love that gives her the confidence to believe in herself. Of course, in FAIREST OF THEM ALL (May '95), I enjoyed turning that stereotype upside down.  My heroine, Holly, is the fairest woman in all of England, but she considers her beauty a curse because no man ever looks at her as a person. So she disguises herself as a hideous hag and ends up winning the love of a man who truly appreciates her "inner" beauty.

Angela: Your heroines are also strong women that fight for their love. What do you think about the Alpha-Heroes and those weak, whining heroines of the 70's and 80's?

Teresa Medeiros: I enjoyed the romance fiction of the 70's and early 80's, but we've come a long way, baby!  I heard a wonderful speech by Jude Deveraux once and she explained that the often violent sex in those books was simply a result of women being able to explore their sexual fantasies through fiction for the first time ever.
So you ended up with rape fantasies, multiple partner fantasies, etc.  But once that was done, the readers were ready for more tender emotion and plot-driven books such as the ones we have on the market now.  I try to write Alpha heroes, but they always end up spoiling it all by showing off their tender sides. My only true qualification for a hero is that he would run into a burning building to rescue a basket of kittens.

Angela: "Nobody's Darling" was a big success in Germany because readers loved this book. What do you think about this and is Germany the first foreign country where your books are published?

Teresa Medeiros: I was absolutely thrilled to learn that NOBODY'S DARLING was a big success in Germany!  I've sold books to Poland, Czech Republic, China, Norway, France, Sweden and Italy in the past few years, but this is the very first time I've ever gotten any feedback on how they were received.  It means even more to me because I was born in Germany. I immediately forwarded the news to my dad and he was so proud!  He and my mom had some of the happiest times of their marriage in Germany.

Angela: You used some fantasy elements in "Touch Of Enchantment" like a dragon. Are you interested in fantasy books and/or will you write a book with more fantasy elements one day? (Like Disney-fantasy movies...?) Do you plan to write another sequel to "Breath Of Magic" and "Touch Of Enchantment" or another paranormal book?

Teresa Medeiros: I'm not ruling out any more fantasy or paranormal elements in my work, but I don't have anything planned at the moment. I've always loved fantasy.  I spent a lot of time playing the role-playing game
"Dungeons and Dragons" when I was a teenager. (My minister was a "dungeonmaster".)  Most of my favorite television shows have fantasy elements--THE X-FILES, BUFFY THE VAMPIRE SLAYER, BEAUTY AND THE BEAST, STAR TREK.  I used to read a lot of fantasy novels when I had more time to read.

Angela: This is maybe a mistake from me but I got the impression that all your books contain a problematic parent/child relationship?

Teresa Medeiros: You're the second interviewer to ask me that recently.  Maybe I need psychotherapy!  But seriously, in the early romances and Gothics written when the genre was young, it seemed as if the heroines were always orphans because this engendered immediate sympathy with the reader.  At least my characters HAVE parents. I think the parent/child relationship is what shapes our response to future relationships and frequently my hero and heroine have to overcome or make peace with their pasts before they can fully embrace a future with the one they love.

Angela: Your covers are stepback covers with neutral front covers. Did you request these covers or was this a decision from your publisher? What do you think about your covers? Do you have influence on the models or the pose?

Teresa Medeiros: My U.S. publisher, Bantam, has an incredible art department so I'm able to sit back and let them do their jobs while I do mine. I think all of my covers have been beautiful.  Some have worked better on
the shelves than others, but I'm proud of every one of them.  My favorites are the ones without a "typical" clinch.  I love it when the hero and heroine are side by side as in LADY OF CONQUEST or embracing each other with wordless tenderness as in TOUCH OF ENCHANTMENT and CHARMING THE PRINCE.  In the original cover for A WHISPER OF ROSES, my hero was reclining on the grass while my heroine loomed over him, which was a nice twist.

Angela: The cover of "Charming The Prince" is one of the most beautiful book covers I have ever seen (inside AND outside cover!). It also doesn't offer the typical clinch and the models look exactly as I imagined hero and heroine. Did you like this cover? Did you request a cover from Cherif Fortin/Lynn Sanders as their covers are indeed beautiful artwork and become more and more popular? Who had the idea with "Sleeping Beauty's Castle" on the front cover?

Teresa Medeiros: I thought this cover was spectacular, too. I was already familiar with the work of Fortin and Sanders and was thrilled when I saw the finished stepback artwork because it was so incredibly classy. The castle perfectly conveyed the "fairy tale" theme of the book.  There's another gold castle on THE BRIDE AND THE BEAST (June 2000), but this one is perched atop a bridal bouquet. Once again, I must credit the art department at Bantam for these amazing concepts.

Angela: You don't restrict yourself to one historical period like other authors. You write contemporaries, regencies, medevials etc. What period is most difficult for you? What do you like most and why do you like it? How do you research?

Teresa Medeiros: I have a short attention span! I always say that my favorite time period is whichever one I'm not working in at the moment. Whenever I finish a medieval, I swear I'll never write another one. Then while I'm working on the next book, I find myself casting my medieval research books longing glances. I think I'll always
return to that time period between other books.  My 1996 time-travel, BREATH OF MAGIC, was set primarily in contemporary New York City and that was a blast to write because it felt so fresh to me.  I'm currently entertaining the idea of doing another contemporary.  As for research, I have to buy a ton of books and keep them at my elbow because I never know what facts I'll need until I'm deep into the story.  I like to think of my settings as frames for the story I want to tell.

Angela: Unlike other authors you don't publish your e-mail addy on your website. How do you stay in contact with your fans? Do you get a lot of fan mail? Do you attend booksignings and the RT Conventions? Will you publish your e-mail address when more of your books have been published in foreign countries because only a few fans will write fan mail to another country because it's easier for them to use e-mail?

Teresa Medeiros: I used to have my e-mail addy on my website, but I soon discovered that I was spending all of my time answering e-mail instead of writing.  I figured my readers would rather have more books from me than e-mails!  But I hadn't thought of it as an easy way to reach my foreign fans so I may have to rethink that idea.  I receive a fair amount of fan mail and respond personally to each letter.  I also love to meet readers at bookfairs and booksignings.  I've attended a few RT conventions in my day.  My favorite part is always the bookfair, where you actually have a chance to meet the people who read your books.  What a charming group they are!

Angela: What did readers say about the brat Emily from "Once An Angel"? Did they like her because I must admit that was hardly able to like her although she had this terrible childhood that turned her into that little devil... Was Shirley Temple her model?

Teresa Medeiros: I honestly didn't get any negative feedback about Emily.  I like to think she was well motivated and her cynical veneer hid a very tender and wounded heart.  She was so much fun to write because she got to do all the naughty and wicked things I can only fantasize about.  I think heroes and heroines should always have admirable qualities, but I don't mind sprinkling in a few flaws to make them interesting.  ONCE AN ANGEL was my tribute to one of my favorite children's books of all time--A LITTLE PRINCESS by Frances Hodgson Burnett.  The movie version starred Shirley Temple so whenever I pictured the hero gazing at the heroine's picture as a child, that is what she looked like. But Shirley never got to be so naughty, did she?

Angela: Do you have a favorite hero/heroine/book among your books? What are your favorite books and authors?

I fall in love with all of my heroes to a certain extent, but with some more than others.  I especially adored Sebastian from HEATHER AND VELVET, Billy Darling from NOBODY'S DARLING, and Gerard Claremont from THIEF OF HEARTS. As for heroines, Emily from ONCE AN ANGEL and Holly from FAIREST OF THEM ALL were both a lot of fun to write because they never sat around waiting for things to happen to them.  They
made things happen for themselves. I'm sure I'll leave some of my best friends off this list, but some of my favorite romances include: SOMETHING WONDERFUL by Judith McNaught, A KNIGHT IN SHINING ARMOR by Jude Deveraux, and HONEY MOON by Susan Elizabeth Phillips.  I love all the usual romance suspects--Jill Barnett, Pamela Morsi, Rebecca Hagan Lee, Antoinette Stockenberg, Kimberly Cates, Theresa Weir, Elizabeth Bevarly, Anne Stuart, Julie Garwood.  Outside of romance, I love Stephen King, Alice Hoffman, Larry McMurtry, Anne Lamott, Charles Dickens, and Charlotte Bronte.  THE WINDFLOWER by Tom and Sharon Curtis (who also wrote as Laura London) is my favorite book and romance novel of all time.

Angela: How many books do you write a year? Your last book release was "Charming The Prince" in April 1999 (which will be released in Germany in May 2000). Aren't your fans becoming impatient....? ;-)

Teresa Medeiros: I usually write a book a year.  I'm not a fast writer, but I try my best to give my readers something worth waiting for.

Angela: What are your future plans? Do you know which other books will be translated into German and can you tell us a little about them and your future books?

Teresa Medeiros: As I mentioned before, THE BRIDE AND THE BEAST, my first hardcover, will be released in the U.S. in June of 2000.  Out of my twelve books, I've sold a total of five to Germany.  My two time travels, BREATH OF MAGIC and TOUCH OF ENCHANTMENT will be released by two different German publishers.  BREATH OF MAGIC tells the story of a clumsy time-traveling witch who travels from the Puritan witchhunt days to contemporary New York City to thaw out the heart of a frosty billionaire.  TOUCH OF ENCHANTMENT follows their daughter when she is accidentally transported back in time and lands smack dab in the path of a knight in shining armor.  CHARMING THE PRINCE, or REBELLIN AUS LIEBE as it will be known in Germany, is a lighthearted Cinderella story about a bold knight who's afraid of nothing on earth--except for his twelve children and falling in love with the woman he finds to care for them.  I've also sold THE BRIDE AND THE BEAST to Germany.  This is a beauty and the beast story about an unfortunate virgin who is sacrificed to the "dragon" who is terrorizing her Scottish Highland Village.  The hero in this book teaches her to believe in something even more unlikely than a fairy tale--true love.

© Isolde Wehr und Angela Weiß, April 2000, Die romantische Bücherecke

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Dieses Interview entstand im März 2000 zwischen Angela W. und Teresa Medeiros für:



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