Coffee With Debut Author Erin Langston
Rae: Welcome to the blog. I’ve got a Latte with Almond Coconut Milk and a drizzle of chocolate and caramel in my mug. What’s in your cuppa?
Erin: I’m sadly very predictable with my morning beverage of choice: coffee with an obscene amount of milk.
Rae: Congratulations on your debut novel Forever Your Rogue. I have to know, did you have any input in designing the cover? Those colors are stunning 🙂 While I will select books to read based on the book cover or snippets about an upcoming release, I’m a book cover lover so this was a must read on all accounts.
Erin: I have to give a huge shoutout to my cover designer, Erin Dameron-Hill. I indie published Forever Your Rogue, so I was able to have a lot of input on the cover, but she was the one who brought it to life. I told Erin I wanted something that evoked the joyful, dreamy, summery vibes of the novel, and above all, I wanted a smiling clinch cover. She delivered in the best possible way. All of the gorgeous pinks and purples were her idea. When I saw the cover mock-up, I almost fell out of my chair! It completely blew me away.
Rae: You mention in your bio that a portion of this book was written in the pre-school pickup line, how would you describe your writing rituals?
Erin: Haha, yes! It definitely seemed like my notes app got an awful lot of use when I was waiting for those school doors to open at 2:30 pm. My best “writing” usually happens when I’m nowhere near a computer. Running errands, cleaning my house, driving my kids–it often seems like my brain has the most space to think when I’m absorbed in another task entirely. But to be fair, the actual writing took place in regular, boring locations: at my desk, with my laptop. I do have a fulltime job, so I write first thing in the morning, before my kids get going for the day, as well as late in the evening, after they go to bed. I worked on this book in the margins of my day.
Rae: Do you prefer pen and paper, or type away at the keys?
Erin: All typing! I don’t draft anything by hand. Although I do use voice notes quite a bit, so I’ll dictate scenes and then go back and clean them up.
Rae: With so many different eras in historical romance, when was the moment you knew you wanted to write Regency Romance?
Erin: Most of the historical romances I read take place in the Regency, so it felt really natural to set my book in this time period. I didn’t even consider anything else at this juncture.
Rae: I find that reading is best when I have a beverage and a snack, do you feel the same when writing?
Erin: I tend to be so caught up in what I’m doing that I neither snack nor sip–I have to reheat my coffee about five times every morning because I keep letting it grow cold!
Rae: How extensive is your research before beginning a new story in a series?
Erin: I can only speak for Rogue because it’s my first novel, but I did research extensively before I started outlining and drafting. I needed to really interrogate the legal status of mothers in this time period, and I read a lot of scholarly journal articles and legal proceedings regarding child custody in England in the early 1800s. At the outset, I had a vague sense of what I wanted to do with this book, but I revised my story ideas heavily as I researched. It was important to me that Cora’s dilemma was authentically rooted in the reality of her time period.
Rae: I was drawn into the story of a widow who will do anything to make sure her children stay in her care while she is dealing with the aftermath of a few legal matters. What was the most challenging aspect of this story to craft?
Erin: By far, the hardest part for me was figuring out how to draw Cora into the romantic arc of the story. I had created a character that was facing constant, pressing fears for her small children–possibly the highest external stakes I could have given her. What would motivate a woman like her to be swept up in the arms of a man (even one as charming as Nate Travers)? It took me a really long time to crack into her interior and realize the extent of her yearning and loneliness, and how that layered onto Nate’s own character arc. After I figured that out, it was just a matter of letting Nate take over (wink).
Rae: Where did you find inspiration for this story?
Erin: I mention some of this in my author’s note, but the inspiration for the novel came from research I stumbled upon in the very early stages of this project. It was a legal case from 1804 about a mother trying to regain custody of her infant, who had been taken away from her by her estranged husband. The court upheld the precedent that fathers alone had legal rights to the children of a marriage. That in and of itself was heartbreaking but not shocking–but what really got to me was that this complete authority extended even after a father’s death. A mother was not automatically considered her children’s legal guardian, unless her late husband had named her in his will. Even though the law was really stringent on these matters, some women in the early 1800s still petitioned to keep their children with them. And I wanted to write a story about a fiercely determined woman and the man who falls in love with her doing whatever it takes to keep (and make) a family together.
Rae: What was your biggest obstacle while writing this book?
Erin: For me, the biggest obstacle was getting started. I had carried Cora’s character in my heart for a really long time…but I never felt like I had the wherewithal to see it through. This is not only the first novel I’ve published…it’s the first novel I’ve written. So I had a lot of imposter syndrome and doubts around being able to do this. But it got to the point where I couldn’t not tell the story. Once I got out of my head and started putting words on the page, I felt a huge sense of relief. And I am really fortunate that my husband was one hundred percent behind me and helped make space this last year for me to write. I never would have been able to do this without his support.
Rae: When you have time to refuel and read for inspiration or pleasure, what is your go to genre and how do you select those books?
Erin: I won’t lie, I had very little time to read for pleasure this year. Almost all of my “down” time was spent on writing Rogue! But lately I’ve been reading more contemporary romances–it’s helpful to read outside of my genre right now (it feels less like “work” or research). I also adore suspense and psychological thrillers…about as far from my writing life as possible! And I find books the same way many of us do…usually by asking my friends and family for their recommendations.
Rae: What is next on the horizon?
Erin: Right now, I’m giving myself some time to rest and reset. Writing and then indie publishing this novel took up a lot of my head- and heart-space, and I want to return that attention to my family. But I’m very moved by individual characters, so I imagine my next project will happen the same way Rogue did–by seeing who speaks to me and what story they want me to tell. I have a number of beloved characters we met in Forever Your Rogue, and I hope to spend time with some of them again!
Rae: Thank you so much for hanging out with me today. Readers, if you missed my review and exclusive excerpt of Forever Your Rogue click the link below.
- What is your must read book and why? Anne of Green Gables. The whole series, really, but the nostalgia factor of the first book is unmatched.
- If I visit your hometown, where am I going and what’s the best place to grab a bite? We live in a really small town, but there are so many great local places! Our favorite is a local bakery and pizzeria that makes the best woodfired pizzas and craft cocktails, and they do absolutely divine things with seasonal produce. There is not much I wouldn’t do for their roasted carrots with whipped labneh.
- What is one thing readers would be surprised to know about you? I’m such a perfectionist that I was a nervous wreck to take my driver’s test. It’s become this legendary family joke that the summer I was 17, I basically lived at the DMV…it took me five (yes, FIVE) tries to get my driver’s license. I was so anxious that I made every tiny mistake you can think of. Luckily (not to jinx myself!) once I actually managed to pass my test, I never had any issues!
- What is your guilty pleasure? An ice-cold gin and tonic, the porch swing, and my husband on bedtime duty with the kids! Nothing guilty about it–just pure pleasure.
- What are you afraid of? I suffer from horrible stage fright when I know I have to do any kind of public speaking. I’m always completely fine once I actually get going…but the lead-up is brutal for me.
- Tats or No Tats? If tats, how many and what did you choose for your first one? No tats!
- Binge watcher or weekly viewer? Which show(s)? A bit of a mix, but I tend to binge a little bit more (likely because we get behind and then have a lot of episodes to catch up on). We tore through White Lotus recently, and we love Only Murders in the Building and The Great. I’ve been faithfully watching Grey’s Anatomy, for better or worse, since I was in high school. It’s my second-longest relationship, haha.
- If you could pick a book you’ve read and make it into a movie, which book would it be (besides yours 🙂 )? I would love to see more diverse historical romances get adaptations. I have not read this book yet (I’m eagerly anticipating the release on April 4, 2023!) but from everything I’ve seen and heard about the worldbuilding and characters in Liana De la Rosa’s forthcoming Luna Sisters series, I think something like this would be incredible to see on screen. Mexican heiresses taking Victorian London by storm? Give it to me!
- What is the one thing you can’t live without? My phone. It’s a sickness!
- What’s the one career that gives you the shudders? I come from a family of teachers, and my mom and sisters are all so creative and patient. One of my sisters is a middle school English teacher, and she does it brilliantly. But I would never, ever trade places with her in a million years. I truly don’t know how she does it!
- If I opened up your handbag/bag/briefcase, what item would I be shocked to see? You would probably be shocked to not see my wallet, because I notoriously forget it in the diaper bag all the time, haha.
- What app on your phone/ipad gets the most use? Spotify! I love listening to music and podcasts during my workday. I’ve been blasting the Forever Your Rogue playlist all winter!
Erin Langston is a historical romance author who crafts Regencies with heart, heat, and humor. A librarian by trade, Erin lives in the Midwest with her husband and two children. When not working, writing, or mom-ing, she can be found outside, drinking wine, buried in a book, or attempting to home-improve. A not-insignificant portion of her first novel was plotted in the preschool pickup line.