Curbing curiosities, or an interview with Cindy Anstey author of Suitors and Sabotage (and a giveaway)


suitors and sabotage

Suitors and Sabotage

By: Cindy Anstey

Publisher: Swoon Reads

Publication Date: April 17th, 2018

Shy aspiring artist Imogene Chively has just had a successful Season in London, complete with a suitor of her father’s approval. Imogene is ambivalent about the young gentleman until he comes to visit her at the Chively estate with his younger brother in tow. When her interest is piqued, however, it is for the wrong brother.

Charming Ben Steeple has a secret: despite being an architectural apprentice, he has no drawing aptitude. When Imogene offers to teach him, Ben is soon smitten by the young lady he considers his brother’s intended.

But hiding their true feelings becomes the least of their problems when, after a series of “accidents,” it becomes apparent that someone means Ben harm. And as their affection for each other grows—despite their efforts to remain just friends—so does the danger. . .

1) What is on your desk or where you write? What do you need to write? Do you have a writer’s survival kit?


Cindy: My writer’s survival kit is quite basic: something to write with and something to write on. Ideally, however, I prefer to have my computer on hand as well as a thesaurus and (many) research books. With my Chocolate Labrador under the table and a coffee at my elbow, I’m ready to go.


2) What is your writing process? Are you a plotter or a panster? Which do you prefer: drafting or revising?


Cindy: I am definitely a plotter. In fact, I rewrite the plot many times when it skews away from the original story line. I have to ensure clues and red herrings aren’t lost and the romance develops realistically. Still, I enjoy revising, honing the story to it’s finest.


3) Describe your book in 5 words or less


Cindy: Regency romp, friendship, ruins, peril.


4) A book goes through a lot of different versions and rounds of editing before it’s complete.  What are some “fun facts” or behind the scenes info you can share about the characters from your book or the world you created for it that may or may not have made it to the final draft of the book? (~3 or more)


Cindy Fun Facts:


4a) The original title was A Lesson in Manors. The editors at Swoon Reads came up with Suitors and Sabotage (S&S); a title I much prefer. As you might guess, titles are not my forte.


4b) Jasper had a smaller role in my first version, and he disappeared entirely at the end of S&S until one of my beta readers asked about him. I was quite happy to bring the puppy back. (Strange that there should be a retriever in the book… but he is a St. John’s water dog not a Labrador retriever. There is no connection between Jasper and Chester (my dog). Although, if Labrador Retrievers had existed in 1817… well, who knows.)


4c) All the manors described in the book are castles, houses or estates throughout England that I visited when we lived in Belgium. I moved walls around, gave the houses different names and changed the locations but I found it easier to imagine my characters walking/sitting/eating in rooms I have actually seen.


5) What drew you to write romantic adventures set in the nineteenth century and the compelling young ladies who have them?


Cindy: The nineteenth century is an exciting time of huge changes. It begins with a horse driven society, where people are limited in their understanding of the world, and it grows into a society steaming (excuse the pun) toward what will develop into modern technology.


In the Regency period (1811-1820) young ladies of good family were still overly protected and their lives controlled by their parents. And yet, not all young ladies obeyed the rules. I find these girls interesting, the ones that are either forced by circumstances to fight for what they want or they are rebelling against authority. I enjoy writing about characters that skirt the rules of society while maintaining their own sense of self and dignity.


6) Who was your favorite character to write and who gave you the most trouble?


Cindy: It’s probably not surprising that Imogene Chively and Ben Steeple, my two main characters, would fall under the favorite category. I could not choose between them. However, Mr. and Mrs. Beeswanger would jump to the fore, if I could only consider minor characters… or Sir Andrew and Lady Steeple. Oh, who am I kidding; I like them all. Except the villain, of course. Although, he/she (no spoilers) is rather pathetic. Sympathy is warranted, not dislike.


As to who gave me the most trouble, I would say Emily Beeswanger. She is a charming vivacious girl who, if allowed, would overshadow Imogene’s shy retiring manner. It was hard to keep her in check while showing her to be a good friend at the same time.


7) If you could ask a character of your choice from SUITORS AND SABOTAGE one question what would it be?


Cindy: re Suitors and Sabotage: Why do you, Mrs. Beeswanger, remain friends with Mrs. Chively when she treats her daughter so wretchedly?


8) What scene from the book are you most proud of (because of how you handled the atmosphere, characters, dialogue, etc)?


Cindy: I particularly enjoyed writing a scene where Imogene Chively and Ben Steeple jump into a pond and hide under her parasol. Their near-kiss adds significantly to the tension building between them. Great fun!


9) Is there a scene that you had difficulty with and just had to “power through” to finish the book? Or a scene that made you very emotional?


Cindy: If I have difficulty with a scene, I know I have approached it from the wrong direction or I need to delete it. So no, ‘power throughs’. However, I found the second to last chapter difficult to write in an emotional sense because I dislike upsetting my characters. Silly, I know…but I want everyone happy.


10) What are the top five things we should know as a reader before starting SUITORS AND SABOTAGE (about the main character, their love interest, the antagonist, their world/home town, their situation, etc)


10-1) In the Regency Period, girls of the gentry had their first introduction to formal society between the ages of seventeen to eighteen—often in London. This book begins just after Imogene has had her first Season and made a conquest.


10-2) Over the summer, families often visited at the country estates of friends. They used to stay at least a week, as traveling was arduous due to appalling road conditions.


10-3) Introductions were required before ladies and gentlemen could converse. Someone of respectable standing, known to both parties, preformed these introductions.


10-4) Girls were encouraged to ignore any advances from younger sons. First-born sons inherited their estates and were, therefore, the best ‘catches’.


10-5) Tea was an afternoon break, less formal than what it would become in the Victorian period. Tealeaves were expensive and kept under lock and key.



11) What is next for you? What are your currently working on?


I will stay in the nineteenth century, as I love the disparity between the repressed polite society and the hedonism of their private lives.

Whenever she is not sitting at the computer, throwing a ball in the backyard, gardening or reading, Cindy can be found–actually, not found–adventuring around the world with her hubby.

She has lived on three continents, had a monkey in her yard and a scorpion under her sink, dwelt among castles and canals, enjoyed the jazz of Beale St and attempted to speak French.

Cindy loves history, mystery and… a chocolate Labrador called Chester. Love, Lies and Spies is her debut novel.

Find the author:

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Disclaimer: The synopsis and cover picture were pulled from the book’s Goodreads page. Neither belong to us. The author image, info, giveaway, and more were provided by Xpresso Book Tours.

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