Interview and Giveaway: Lenora Bell

Long and Short Reviews welcomes Lenora Bell who is celebrating the upcoming release of her newest book What a Difference a Duke Makes, the first book in her School for Dukes series on March 27. Leave a comment for a chance to win a copy of the book + a $25 Amazon gift card.

Read our review here–this book got our highest rating!

Lenora is from a tiny, isolated town in Southeast Alaska.

“By tiny, I mean less than 2000 people,” she told me. “It’s one of the most beautiful places on earth. What I love the most about it is the silence. When you step off that ferryboat or that six-seater plane, the silence just hits you. It’s so powerful.”

I wondered if she uses a pen name and discovered that she does – Lenora is a variation of her real first name, and she choose Bell for the last name as a way to pay homage to the Brontë sisters who used it as their pen name. Charlotte Bronte first published Jane Eyre under the name Currer Bell.

Lenora told me she always wanted to be a writer.

“I was raised in a literary household where we wrote poems to express our feelings and reading was as essential and natural as breathing,” she explained. “I didn’t know that I wanted to be a historical romance author until I read an article about Eloisa James in 2005 and thought to myself, ‘I want to do that!'”

She’s suffered from perfectionism and writer’s block her entire life, once turning in a college paper six years late. She focusing now on letting go of the perfectionism and trying to write the best book possible at this point in her life. There are two specific books that help her when she’s feeling stuck, Big Magic by Elizabeth Gilbert and Story Genius by Lisa Cron.

I asked, “How do you develop your plot and characters?”

“I start with images: actors who look like the characters, locations, houses, and themes. I print everything out and create a storyboard. Next, I use Lisa Cron’s Story Genius method of diving deep into the childhood, background, worldview, motivations, and misbeliefs of my characters. I’ll spend a month doing that and writing character sketches, defining moments, and memories (often in first person) before I start writing the book itself.”

Lenora pitched What a Difference a Duke Makes to her editor as “Mary Poppins meets Jane Eyre,” so was thrilled that early reviews from Kirkus, Publishers Weekly, and RT Book Reviews picked up on all the little Mary Poppins/Jane Eyre Easter eggs she wove through the story for readers to find.

Currently she’s working on For the Duke’s Eyes Only, the second book in the series, and told me she’s having a blast. This is the first enemies-to-lovers story she’s written, and she thinks it’s her new favorite trope “because there’s just so many sparks flying and passions igniting.”

You might notice a theme in her titles. She likes to find old song titles and change one word to Duke.

When she’s not writing, she and her husband love to travel. Also, they are both musicians (he plays banjo and she sings) so they also enjoy playing music together and collecting vinyl. She also likes to volunteer wherever she’s living – literacy for girls and anti-trafficking are two causes she avidly supports.

“I’m also a thrift/vintage store addict with WAY too many vintage dresses, purses, and shoes,” she admitted.

Being a musician, it’s not surprising that she listens to music while she’s writing.

“I choose music to fit the mood of the scene I’m writing. I’ll listen to Chopin for quieter scenes, Neko Case for strong heroines, Tom Waits or Mark Lanegan for those gruff rogues,” she said. “I’ll mix in some jazz, blues, or opera for passionate scenes. Sometimes I’ll crank the hip-hop if I need to write faster.”

“What is the most surprising thing you discovered while writing your books?” I wondered.

“While researching a side character, Lady India (the heroine of Book Two) I discovered an eccentric British socialite, adventurer, and archaeologist named Lady Hester Stanhope who lived from 1776 to 1839. She was infamous for wearing male clothing, riding astride, and mounting a successful archaeological excavation on the Gaza coast in 1815. Which goes to show that unconventional and adventurous women have always existed!”

Finally, I asked her to share her best fan letter with us.

“I love the story I received from a reader who had two toddlers, a busy job, and was having a hard time carving out the space for intimacy with her dear husband. He saw my book on her nightstand and suggested that he could read a few chapters out loud to her. Let’s just say she definitely enjoyed the reading. It’s stories like these that inspire me to write. I want to make people happy and bring love and joy to readers.”

Wanted: Governess for duke’s unruly children

Edgar Rochester, Duke of Banksford, is one of the wealthiest, most powerful men in England, but when it comes to raising twins alone, he knows he needs help. The only problem is the children have chased away half the governesses in London. Until the clever, bold, and far-too-enticing Miss Mari Perkins arrives.

Lost: One heart to an arrogant duke

Mari knows how to wrap even the most rebellious children around her finger. But their demanding, wickedly handsome father? He won’t be quite so easy to control. And there’s something else she can’t seem to command. Her heart. The foolish thing beats so wildly every time the duke is near.

Found: A forbidden passion neither can deny

As his employee, Mari is strictly off-limits. But what if she’s the one breaking all his rules? In the game of governess versus duke, how can Edgar maintain his defenses when the only thing he wants to do is let the tempting beauty win . . .?

About the Author: Lenora Bell is a USA Today bestselling, award-winning author of historical romances. She blames the long, dark winters in her tiny Alaskan hometown for making her a lifelong bookworm. A teacher with an MFA in Creative Writing who has lived on five continents, Lenora currently shares an old farmhouse in the Pacific Northwest with her carpenter husband and two tiger-striped rescue kitties. She loves to hear from readers!

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Comments

  1. What do you find to be the most challenging part of writing? And the most rewarding?

    • Hi Peggy, thanks for the question! For me the most challenging part is meeting deadlines because I’m that most wonderful of combinations — a procrastinating perfectionist 🙂 The most rewarding is when I hear from readers who say they liked the book. Cheers! LB

  2. Congrats on the award nomination! I loved Blame it on the Duke, and would love to read What a Difference a Duke Makes.

  3. Courtney says:

    Hi, Lenora! I can’t wait for this book! Although I must be very slow, uneducated about popular music, or just too befuddled about the duke obsession in romance (most likely a mix of the three), but I had no idea all your book titles were from songs! And it’s only now I’m seeing the reference in this current book! Gah!

  4. alisha woods says:

    Congrats on your Rita nomination

  5. Nikita Navalkar says:

    I love Lenora Bell and her books! And I’m so excited to read this one!

  6. Elaine Mattheus says:

    It’s wonderful to read Long And Short Reviews’ enthusiasm for What A Difference A Duke Makes! Thank you for the fun recommendation.

  7. Gena Gilliam says:

    So excited for this one!! I hope it’s as good as her previous books.

  8. Lynsay F. says:

    Looking forward to this book.

  9. I can’t wait to read this!

  10. Mamata Poch says:

    I’ve never read her books yet but am super excited to start!

  11. Heathercm2001 says:

    I’m really looking forward to this book. Congrats on your RITA nomination! 🙂

  12. Barbara Bates says:

    Congratulations!

  13. What draws you to writiing historical romances ? And what is the hardest part?

  14. Susan Higgison says:

    Loved the Disgraceful Dukes series!

  15. Rachel R. says:

    I am so looking forward to reading this! Congratulations on your Rita nomination! Thank you for the chance! 😊

  16. Congrats on your Rita nomination – I’ve been eagerly looking forward to this book!

  17. I already pre-ordered the book on my e-reader–can’t wait to read it! ❤️

  18. Janette Gryniewicz says:

    I can’t wait to read this one! It should be sitting at my door when I get home from vacation!

  19. Cathy Thomas says:

    I loved reading Lenora Bell approaches writing her books – by starting with the character development.

  20. I’m so excited to read this one… are you planning to follow with all the other secondary characters from The Disgraceful Dukes series?

  21. Is it hard to start writing. I mean where do the ideas come from?

  22. Elizabeth Dougan says:

    Congratulations on the nomination. I can’t wait to read the book. X

  23. I always enjoy reading about authors who also is amazing and kind person, that’s it Lenora!
    Thank you for the lovely interview and great review!
    Enjoyed reading 🙂

  24. Mary Dieterich says:

    This sounds like a fun book! I love it when the governess gets the best of mischievous children. Congrats on your RITA nomination!

  25. Diane Diamond says:

    I’ve read all of your books so far, and have really loved them. Huge congratulations to you on your Rita nomination.

    I was wondering how difficult it is to make your stories stand out against so many other Authors who write the same genre and sometimes, a very similar story line as yours.

  26. Congrats on your RITA nomination first of all. It’s well-deserved. Love your books and they always keep me entertained. 🙂

    Looking forward to your new book. Sounds fun!

  27. Paris Dove (Belle) Lisamarie Whiting says:

    Thank you so much for the opportunity!!! I love your stories!!!!!!!! I am counting down the days till your next book! I am so excited!!! Thank you for always keeping in touch with your fans!
    Have a blessed day!!!!!

  28. Angela Daprato says:

    Love, love Lenora Bell…can’t wait to read this new one. Twins are always bringing something to enjoy! And I knew about the song titles. I love history and literature, so am please when I catch references. Standout writing. Always.

  29. As I love Governess stories, I’m really looking forward for this one !

  30. Audra Holtwick says:

    I love reading about new authors to me, more books on my TBR pile.

  31. Just can’t wait for ” What a Difference a Duke Makes” Everyday makes a difference when I don’t have this book!Lol

  32. Lisa Powers says:

    Thanks for the chance to read!! Great highlight on this author. I always love learning more about the authors and their books and their writing process. 🙂

  33. Christine C. says:

    Thank you for this interview! I’m always fascinated to hear about an author’s writing process!

  34. What a fun article!! Thanks for sharing and for the chance to win!
    – April W

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