My August guest, Kelly Miller, writes Regency Romance inspired by Jane Austen.

Image of Kelly with her dog

Regency England is a long way from California, but that hasn’t stopped Kelly from winning multiple awards for her novels.

Welcome to By the Letter, Kelly and thank you for being here.

Tell us where you live and what a typical day might look like for you.

I have always lived in California. A typical day for me includes a bit of writing/editing, keeping up with social media, playing the piano, and caring for my three elderly pets: Coco, a Jersey Wooly rabbit, Zoey, an English cocker spaniel, and Lacey, a Shetland Sheepdog. I believe physical exercise is essential to mental and physical health, and I generally get at least 10K steps each day. [Ed note: wholeheartedly agree, which is why I need my walk each day, preferably in the Forest.]

What kind of writing do you do and what led you to that?

I write Regency romances based upon the work of Jane Austen. Most of my books are variations of Pride & Prejudice, but one is a variation of Persuasion. While they are all Historical Romances, I have one paranormal variation and two mysteries.

Darcy Secret book cover

I love romantic suspense and include that whenever I can. My latest release, The Darcy Secret, includes a fair amount of romantic suspense.

Find The Darcy Secret here.

Why do I write this genre?
For some reason, reading books in this genre inspired me to write one of my own. As a retired person, I had the free time to try something new. I strive to portray the Regency Era authentically. While it isn’t easy, I enjoy the challenge it presents. When I write, I have Etymology Online Dictionary open, among other reference sites, and constantly look up origins of words/phrases.

How does writing begin for you? Is it an idea, a conversation, a title or an image?

My stories start with an idea. For instance, Mr. Darcy’s Perfect Match, began with the notion of Elizabeth, after having received Mr. Darcy’s letter in Kent, convincing her Uncle Gardiner to write to Mr. Bingley and inform him that his friend and sisters hid the fact that Jane had been in London. I generally do not outline my stories and just write as I go, in the “pantser” style. It is always a great feeling to complete a story this way, since I did not know ahead of time how I would get there.

What is the most essential aspect of the story? The characters, the settings, or the plot?

I think characters that readers either care about or at least find interesting is most essential, but you need a good plot too. There is something about the Regency setting that I find fascinating, so that is where all of my books are set.

What challenges face you when writing?

I retired before I ever started writing, so I had plenty of time to write…at first.

Death takes a holiday at Pemberley book cover

But then my first book, Death Takes a Holiday at Pemberley, came out, and I realized I would need to promote it. Everything about marketing was excruciating for me because I am an introvert who hates attention. Yet I felt an obligation to my publisher who took a chance on me, an unknown writer, and did not want their investment to be a bad one.

Find Death Takes a Holiday at Pemberley here.

So, I began to promote my book on social media, little by little. Over time, it got easier, and I accepted it as another required aspect of being an author. Today, I am on Twitter, Facebook, Instagram, & TikTok. I don’t even mind doing interviews, since it’s all for the good of my book babies. Of course, now, keeping up with social media is so demanding that it is challenging to find the time to write!

What is your most recent book about? What inspired this particular story?

I am fond of suspenseful stories with twisted characters who do unexpected things, such as Rebecca by Daphne Du Maurier. The Darcy Secret, is written in that style. This story was the second manuscript I ever wrote. I set it aside for a long time, and it went through several rewrites before I deemed it ready for publication. It also is my first book release since I parted from my publisher and self-published, so the entire process was a learning experience and fraught with tension. I expect the next time will be much easier.

Writers draw constantly on their imaginations. How do you keep your well of creativity full?

The funny thing is, I lived most of my life secure in the belief that I was a left-brained person who had very little capability for creativity. No one is more surprised than I am that I have written so many books (7 and counting).

What do you do to relax?

Writing keeps me sitting more often than I would like, so I take every opportunity to stay active. I play the piano, sing, and take walks.

Are you close to other writers and how does that help you?

Yes! I share a bond with other writers I have connected with on social media. We support each other, share similar frustrations, and rejoice in each other’s successes. Although I adore these wonderful, supportive, and talented writers, I know them only on social media…so far. I also belong to a local writing group, and while the members are very nice, I am not close to anyone in it.

What do you want your readers to feel when they have closed the last page of your book?

I would love for my readers to feel that I transported them to Regency England and immersed them in a story that touched their hearts and minds. I hope they come away with a mixture of satisfaction for the journey and sadness for it being over.

What do you like to read yourself?

I will read almost everything, although I try to avoid poetry since I do not feel qualified to evaluate it. I find it fascinating to experience the various writing styles of my peers. There is always something to learn from other writers.

What’s the best thing someone has said about your writing?/your most thrilling writing experience

It’s always great when someone enjoys one of my books, but it’s especially gratifying when it is unexpected. For instance: my husband’s co-worker who had no familiarity with Jane Austen’s work has become a big fan of my books and was inspired to read Pride & Prejudice. Also, one of my brothers-in-law loves my books. He told me that he limits himself to reading a chapter a day to “make it last.”

What are your future writing plans and especially, when can we expect a new book from you?

I have two completed manuscripts. I am editing the one that I will publish next and will soon give it to my first reader: my husband. Later this summer, I expect to start reviewing the audiobook for The Darcy Secret. Now that I am self-publishing, I no longer need to wait for anyone else to decide when I will publish my next book. However, I am in no rush to get the next one out. I will probably publish my next by the end of 2023.

Find all of Kelly’s books, and where to find her, here.