Wednesday, September 28, 2011


My guest is debut author, Isabel Cooper. She writes historical paranormal romance. 

I warn you, her article cracked me up. I love her sense of humor. I'll also tell you I read the excerpt and promptly bought the book.

Isabel shares with us how she came to write this story and The Call. My understanding is Leah suffered no lasting hearing loss. 

So I wrote this novel: No Proper Lady

It was the first romance novel I’d written, and perhaps not-so-coincidentally the first novel I’d written that actually stood up to a second reading. (I’d written a couple in college, since I needed something to think about during class, but going back to all of them was less “hey, I can fix this” and more “what was I thinking?”) I had a lot of fun in the process, since I got to write about weird dystopian futures and fancy dresses and really cute guys, and I kept myself occupied on a number of vacations and train trips. As I’d read you should do, I put the manuscript away, or at least closed the file, and waited six months to start revisions.

Six months later, it was January of 2008. My day job, reasonably enough, decided that “editorial assistant” was not exactly an essential position, considering the impending societal collapse and transition into Mad Max-style chaos. 

I had some time on my hands, is what I’m saying.

Some of this time, I used to look for another job—the endless train of hate that is pantyhose, interview skirts, and cover letters. Everyone knows it; nobody likes it. I facilitated communications! I synergized win-win situations! I got my nails done and then had to get them done again, because my lifestyle is not compatible with manicures that last more than an hour. I did some temp work, which mostly took place in tunnels under Harvard Business School, and pretended to be a Morlock. I spent a lot of time hating the weather, the T, everyone on the T, and everything in general.

But I also spent a lot of time writing. I think every friend who expressed any tangential interest in No Proper Lady got a look at the manuscript, and then had me pestering them about it a day later. (“What do you think?” “Well, my house was on fire, and a spider’s eating my face right now—“ “Yeah, but did you like the book?”) I put in scenes. I took out scenes; I actually took out a lot of scenes, since the first draft was something like a hundred and three thousand words. A background in fantasy had convinced me that a novel had to be long enough that you could use the hardback version to kill large insects, and I hadn’t researched length requirements in romance nearly enough before I first wrote.

I realized that I’d spelled the heroine’s name—or at least her alias--two different ways throughout the book, and hated everything. My computer broke, and I hated that too. My boyfriend let me use his computer, so I didn’t hate him so much.

I revised. I wrote cover letters. I wrote other cover letters. I realized that my job application cover letters were bleeding into my romance cover letters and vice versa. “Dear Ms. Jones: I am applying for a position as a heroine with nothing to lose in a world she never made.” “As passion grows between them, they will become valuable team players with an eye for customer satisfaction.”

I played a lot of music, fairly loudly, and tried to pretend that this was just a montage of hardship and would be over soon. I prayed that I wouldn’t get cavities or appendicitis.

I went on interviews, and more interviews, and developed a nervous tic any time someone asked me what my greatest weakness was. (I seriously considered answering “Kryptonite” or “the color yellow” later on. As far as I could tell, it would probably have worked out the same either way.) I started going out to lunch with friends after the interviews, because why not?

I had to get a new cell phone, because my old one succumbed to a deluge.

And then I came home from a post-interview lunch and found an email from Leah Hultenschmidt asking me to call her about No Proper Lady.

The first thing I did was make myself some tea. This seemed important. This didn’t keep me in any way from squealing like an anime schoolgirl when Leah offered to buy the book. She was very nice about the hearing damage and everything.

In the time since, I’ve gotten a new day job, written the sequel to No Proper Lady, and gotten to meet some incredible people in the romance field. It’s been awesome—and it totally makes those months in 2008 worth it.

Though I would still have preferred a montage.


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.EXCERPT

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


~Sia McKye~ said...

Isabel, welcome to Over Coffee. I'm so glad you're visiting.

I loved your article and me and my kindle are enjoying this one. Gotta love that first chapter. Your query snippet had me cracking up. :-D

Tonya Kappes said...

Hi, Isabel! Congrats on your success! Your story reminds us that there is a silver lining to every ugly day!

Anonymous said...

Thank you so much for having me, Sia, and it's great to hear that you're liking the book and the article!

Anonymous said...

Thanks, Tonya!

I figure, as long as I can laugh about things--or tell stories about them--later on, they're okay in retrospect.

Clarissa Draper said...

You're right, it was a funny post. I like how she never gave up even when things didn't work out perfectly at first. I hope she has lots of success with the novel.

Dana Fredsti said...

Hmph! Sia, your blog has eaten my comment twice now! So once again I must say how hard it made me laugh and how I am now determined to by the book!

Now stop eating my comments!

Cheryl Brooks said...

Squealing like an anime schoolgirl... LOL! I can hear you now! Great post!

~Sia McKye~ said...

Dana, I have no idea why the blog is being a pain in the ass, but it goes on fits sometimes. I'm reading the book now and it's a good read too!

Thanks for stopping by!

~Sia McKye~ said...

For some reason, many of you are reading the post but can't comment and I have no idea why that's happening. Dana and Cheryl got through and I know Dana tried several times.

You can come in as anonymous and sign your name at the end of the comment.

I apologize to all but I haven't clue why.

Isabel, I'm truly sorry

Bron said...

Congratulations on your sale. A lovely story and one I can relate to! I have added NO PROPER LADY to my TBR pile. I love historicals.

Linda Andrews said...

That was hysterical. I'm going to have to read it again to pick up the parts that I missed from laughing so hard. Oh, and congratulations with the book and the job.

~Sia McKye~ said...

Linda, I'll admit to reading the article several times and laughing each time.

Bron, Joan, the heroine, makes me grin. Imagine all the contretemps you'd faced in speech, manners, and whatnot if you found yourself in Victorian England tomorrow. This is a fun book.

Thank you both for stopping by!

Shirley Wells said...

What a great guest post. Thanks for making me laugh, Isabel. The cover for No Proper Lady is simply gorgeous. I love the colours - love everything about it. Good luck with it!

Talli Roland said...

Fantastic post, and chock full of humour! Funny how dark days can often lead to something very good. And what a lovely cover!

Judi Fennell said...

Ah, Isobel, Leah is definitely used to loud squealing! She picked my ms Beauty and The Best for the American Title contest, so it's nice to have her at Sourcebooks with me. And welcome to the Casababe sisterhood to you!

Anonymous said...

No worries, Sia--technology does these things to all of us from time to time. Thank you for letting me know!

And thank you to everyone for the comments! It's so awesome to hear from people, and I'm glad you're enjoying what I write.

Judi, I'm very relieved to hear that. ;) (And that Sia mentioned no permanent hearing damage. Hee.) It's great to be part of the Casababes, and thank you for the welcome!

~Sia McKye~ said...

Isabel, whew! I felt so bad that the comment function wasn't working properly yesterday. Seems to be just fine today. I hear you on the techie fubars. I still hate them!

And there were several Casababes that tried to comment yesterday--just sayin'.

Other Lisa said...

Hilarious! Now I want to read the book! And I'm filing away that "A spider is eating my face" for a future excuse for something...