USA Today bestselling author @michellemcleanbooks turns the Duke trope on its head with a witty, laugh-out-loud Regency perfect for fans of Eloisa James and Sarah MacLean.
Four Weddings and a Duke is coming on October 25th from @entangled_publishing: Amara
Michelle McLean is a jeans and t-shirt kind of girl who is addicted to chocolate and Goldfish crackers and spent most of her formative years with her nose in a book. She has degrees in history and English and is thrilled that she sort of gets to use them. Her novel Truly, Madly, Sweetly, written as Kira Archer, was adapted as a Hallmark Original movie in 2018.
When Michelle’s not working, reading, or chasing her kids around, she can usually be found baking, diamond painting, or trying to find free wall space upon which to hang her diamond paintings. She resides in PA with her husband and two teens, the world’s most spoiled dog, and a cat who absolutely rules the house. She also writes contemporary romance as USA Today bestselling author Kira Archer.
The story of this book encapsulates within it a further story – war and how music is often used to look at society and current events and comment on its ills, and well known events, especially folk music.
This book looks at the effects of the Vietnam / Afghanistan War in a different way. And we realise just how many Folk songs reflect war over the ages.
The author contends that folk songs repair the social fabric that is torn by war – they reward the hero and punish the villain. They contain a psychological truth.
The book’s story contains references to Rose Conelly – the song known as “Down in the Willow Garden“, which is a traditional Appalachian murder ballad about a man facing the gallows for the murder of his lover: he gave her poisoned wine, stabbed her, and threw her in a river. Appalachian music is considered by some scholars to be a distinct type of folk music originating from the Irish / Celtic songs of the area’s settlers. And the troubled economy and poverty of the settlement of the area.
And the subject matter was dark. Originally, they almost always were sung unaccompanied, and usually by women fulfilling their roles as keepers of the families’ cultural heritages, and rising above dreary monotonous work through fantasies of escape and revenge. These ballads were from the British tradition of the single personal narrative and are to do with sexual struggles from the female standpoint. A large percentage of the American variations tend to be about pregnant women murdered by their boyfriends. Crow Jane is a ballad about a girl who was multiply raped and her revenge as another instance. See mustrad.org.uk and their short history of these ballads.
And of course there is the very famous House of the Rising Sun – which has had its original lyrics changed many times as it was considered offensive for the main stream, but there is a theory that the song is about a woman who killed her father, an alcoholic gambler who had beaten his wife.
If the songs were accompanied, it was frequently by someone using the Piedmond Guitar style of playing – a type of finger plucking.
The English Folk Society, often just known by its address – Cecil Sharp House, was founded in 1898, by a number of individual folk song collectors and enthusiasts such as Francis James Child who collected 1600 traditional ballads from England and Scotland, and their American variants in 1916-8, and you can hear the songs he collected in Appalachia on Radio Three, in the programme played in Andy Kershaw’s Folk Connections on Sunday 31 Jan 2016, and which may still be available to listen to.
So, what is all the above to do with this romantic comedy? Well, only in so much as the heroine, Abby, sings these songs, and they are mentioned and to some extent discussed in the story. And the songs reflect the life experience of Abby’s penpal, Mike. And I personally love folk songs and have been to a lot of Folk Clubs in my time.
Don’t get me twisted though… I’m Sloane f*****g King, and I’m no damsel in distress.
Author Interview – lots of fun!
Can you tell your readers something about why you chose this particular topic to write about?
What appealed to you about it? Why do you think it is different and your approach is unique?
How long do you think about a topic before deciding to write about it? Do you have a set of notes or a notebook where you write down topics that appeal before making a decision as to which topic this time?
How long does it take to research a topic before you write? And for this book?What resources do you use? In general and for the last book that you wrote?If you need specialist knowledge to write a book, how do you obtain it? For instance, do you interview people? Go to the location? Use Google Earth? Apps?
I didn’t choose Sloane. Sloane chose me. And when she started talking, it was listen or be driven crazy. Honestly, boredom will always be my fallback answer. But it’s so much more than that. She spoke to me emotionally; we both struggled to open ourselves up to others. I wanted to work through that, and so did she. Or maybe she was me… Though I’m the opposite of a badass.
As for why I think this story is different? I think that has to do with my approach. It’s a chronicle of the past, so it’s in past tense, but you’re very much present in the moment. Sloane has a way of sucking you into her world and not letting you go. Taking time away from her was harder than giving birth. I’m not even joking.
** This, though… This answer will forever be my answer. > I don’t write down topics to research or give myself time to consider them. I feel moved, so I go with the flow. I adapt to the character who takes up residence in my mind, and I tell their story as they tell it to me.
The only things I do research are simple things that will often get cut from the book, anyway. Instead of 600 types of swallows (the bird) in Japan or the patterns in currents around small islands… I research super weird topics with Sloane. Because she’s murdery. And yes, I know that’s not a word, but I’m using it. I can tell you about the weather in Northern Ireland, explain the engine specs of an Audi R8 Coupe, talk for days about cutting the jugular, and even go in-depth on the details of a charred… person. We get gory in our search history.
** This is also still true. > I try to veer away from heavy research, because I’m like the White Rabbit in Alice in Wonderland. I hop into one black hole, and then I pop up all over the place, constantly reminding myself that I’m going to be late.
Do you write at home or away from home? If at home, what does your space look like? Are you a tidy person?
If away from home – where and why?
I write at home. I’m far too ADHD to write anywhere else, because… distractions. You can find me holed up in my corner office with a great view. The view is the laundry I’m neglecting to get For the Ghastly and Beautiful finished. And the corner office is quite literally the corner of my bedroom. My space is both tidy and chaotic, just like me. I’m an organized train wreck of a dragon, sitting atop my horde of paperbacks and stationary.
** Good news and bad news… I got that laundry folded and put away, but there’s more now. And I finished a different book. So I’m back to writing in For the Ghastly and Beautiful. I laugh while my deadline approaches. Catch me next week with no sleep and ten-pound bags under my eyes.
Do you keep a timeline and character traits pinned up on your wall? On post-its?
If not how do you remember important items about your characters like height, weight, colouring, likes and dislikes etc?
Ohhh, man, do I! Not on my walls, and certainly not on post-it notes… But I have both digital and paper series bibles for everything. Each character I’ve ever mentioned in my solo series have sections of their own that include physical, mental, and emotional details… And so much more. I’m talking zodiac and enneagram, family trees, friend connections, past addresses and jobs… I profile them until I—Okay. I’m basically stalking fictional characters. Let’s call a bowl a bowl.
** Ask for pictures. I swear… I know all the things! Favorite candy, holiday traditions, shoe size… I’m a total stalker.
Do you people watch to find characters for your books? How do you do this?
What is the funniest thing you have seen that you have incorporated into a book?
Or do you add some traits from your family and friends into your characters?
How many of the accidents – funny or otherwise, or bad experiences in your stories are based on your own experiences? Or those of your friends?
** Okay, maybe I should stop referring to myself as a stalker before someone takes me seriously.
I love to watch people—in a non-stalking way. I also enjoy picking apart tics and traits from the people I know to include as bits and pieces of my characters. Often, I’ll ask them questions to see how they would respond to situations that my characters are in. This has been extremely helpful in a non-pnr story that I’m working on. But I’m not allowed to talk about that just yet…
What music – if any – do you think inspires you to write? Is it different for each novel or the same?
My music tastes are eclectic. On my spotify account, you’ll find public playlists for every book/series that I have published. I have a dozen hidden playlists that I’m building for future books. Music is definitely a big inspiration for me. While writing, I listen to the corresponding songs… So right now, I’m listening to a playlist specifically for Ada and For the Ghastly and Beautiful. And I’ll listen to it until I’m done with the book.
The songs are usually mood setters, but aren’t exactly tied to any one scene or chapter. Some songs remind me of only one character, while others help put me in the mental state the characters are in. This means in the Where the Mongrels Are playlist, you won’t find nearly as many chaotic, fight-worthy songs as you will in The Chronicles of Sloane King or The Chronicles of a Toy Monster playlists.
** Wow… Yes. All this… The Chronicles of a Toy Monster has some interesting music choices on it, but I didn’t build it alone. Now, the playlists for The Chronicles of Sloane King? Those lists are all over the place. From rock to classical, rap to a country song or two… But I love every single one of them.
How easy is it to write a good sex scene? Or baking scene? And do you have to have experienced these things, do you think, to write about them successfully?
** Preach, MF. Tell them how much you hate the writing of the spice…
I’m getting better, though. It’s been rough. Pun intended.
I hate writing sex scenes. Let’s just get that out of the way now. But I strive for them to be believable, even if I am writing paranormal and we’re breaking desks or something. The amount of times I’ve been in a position, fully clothed, to get the angles right is freaking ridiculous. It’s just… way better than the stick figure drawings that I make!
Do you have to have experience? To me? Yes and no… I can explain how to bake a cake or what it tastes like without actually making or eating it. That’s where research comes in.
But I think you’d need at least the fundamental knowledge of the feelings of sex to make it believable. I don’t know, though. Someone may come along and challenge my way of thinking.
Is it easy to write humour?
** I feel like this is insightful AF… But that’s probably just me.
Uhm. Maybe? I’m not intentionally funny, not often anyway. And I think everyone has a different definition of humor. I’m dry, sarcastic, and dirty, so that’s what I find funny. Recently, I read a review that said sexual innuendos were childish… and that made me snort. Some characters are just that way, you know? And when they’re so set in their own definitions of humor—no matter how vastly different from the next character—it makes writing their brand of humor as easy as breathing.
What about ‘snark’? Is it good or bad?
I love snark. Better yet, I AM snarky.
I think it can be both good and bad, depending on when, where, and why it’s used. Ada and Sloane are snarky with some of their mates, but Sloane is that way with her antagonists as well. She uses it to bait… Ada uses snark to distract herself.
My kids use snark to make me lose my mind.
See? Good and bad, depending on the circumstances.
** Snorts at myself.
Onyx is snarky, too… But not as much as the others. It’s a part of me that will always make it into my books and be intertwined into my characters.
Were you inspired by any folk stories? If so, which ones? And what was it about them that inspired you?
Okay. This question is tricky, but also very valid.
I highly enjoy folklore and myths of all kinds. While you won’t find many, if any, in the Mongrels world… They are deeply woven into The Chronicles world. Unintentionally at first, but the more I wrote the more I realized that I could twist tales into the characters I had. I’ve warped Greek mythology and Irish folklore, and even ideals of Death and his flaming horse into my stories. There’s plenty of little nuggets. Some people find them; others don’t.
** Find them! For Sloane’s sake. Find them. I love when people are like, “Holy shh, I just caught that.”
Also… If you’ve read Sloane’s story, you’ll totally get the Sloane’s sake thing.
What, in your life, are you most proud of doing?
Which of your books / series are you most proud of?
This hits home for me in an emotional sort of way. There are many things that I’m proud of, such as my children and their accomplishments, or my family… But finishing that first book is high on my list.
For as long as I can remember, I’ve always been a writer and a storyteller. Publishing was something that my dad encouraged me to do. When I lost him, I lost myself. Writing brought me back, but it wasn’t an easy journey. I started with poetry; this helped me express emotions that I didn’t understand. Then one day, Sloane slapped me in the face so hard it was a near physical feeling.
As far as something that I’ve done? I’m most proud of myself for finishing my first book. Second comes hitting the publish button. I’ll always be proud of Druid Dreams, because that book brought me back to myself.
** Aww. This hasn’t changed… But I’m also proud of my latest book, too. And my growth as a person.
What is your favourite genre?
Well… Uhm… Reverse harem, obviously. Paranormal or contemporary, and in every trope I can get them. But secretly? Or not so secretly… I love sci-fi non-romance.
** Accurate. I haven’t read a M|F book since Annette Marie closed Guild Codex: Demonised. Demonized? I’ll have to look it up. But the point still stands… Although… I have some dark contemporary M|F books on my TBR.
What would you take on a desert island to read if you could only take 3 books?
The Time Machine by HG Wells
Dracula by Bram Stoker
The Odyssey by Homer
What have you done with the things you wrote when in school?
Mmm… I think my mom still has a few things. I might as well. But that requires me to pull down the boxes in the top of the closet, and I’m not much up for reminiscing right now.
** Ooooff. That statement hits harder after losing another close family member.
Do you have any pets?
If so, what are they?
And what are they called?
Do they help you write? Eg our cats like to sit on my desk/computer and play with my mouse.
What is the funniest thing they have done while you are writing?
I do have pets; an English Mastiff named Woody, an American Bully named Pink, and a black cat named Saint. They’re… somewhat helpful. Woody’s bed is near my desk, and I can always tell if I’m going to have a good writing night by how loud he’s snoring. If he sounds like a train, then I’m good to go. But if he’s quiet, then I might as well shut it down and go to sleep. Pink and Saint just hang out, being distractingly cute.
** False. Saint is an as$. I mean, he’s still cute… But he brought a bird into my house last week. We are not on speaking terms.
If you could be an animal, which animal would you be? Give three reasons. You may NOT choose to be a dog or a cat.
Oh! A flamingo… or a Buffalo. I don’t know why I’d choose the latter. Maybe because they’re docile until they’re not? They look really soft, too. And they have purple tongues.
But a flamingo? They’re graceful… and no matter how hard I try to stand on one leg for hours at a time, I can only handle about eight and half minutes before I fall. Also, I wonder if eating algae would make me turn pink or just make me sick. And they’re migratory, so no cold weather. That last one is the only reason I need, just saying.
** Yeah. I definitely want to be a buffalo today. I still don’t know why though.
How many ‘packs’ should a hero have? Are 8 too many and what might a character lick off them? Why?
Five or seven! Hear me out… When that lower ab is just one thick muscle, it makes the perfect plate. Have the upper abs nice and cut, ridges and all… That’s fine. But I like that one wide lower ab for a multitude of reasons, ranging from caramel syrup to a salty brim for tequila shots. Just not at the same time.
Wait… I see this was for character reasons… But I stand by my answer.
** 100% still stand behind this. I would also like to add icing and a crushed cupcake to this. I know it’ll be messy, but that’s half the fun.
I cheated and added on to my previous answers… But I can just say… It was amazing to read back on this and see what I was thinking. It’s been a long time since I answered something so honestly. And the chaos above is the genuine me.
M.F. Adele resides in the outskirts of the Rocket City in Alabama. She lives in her overactive imagination, often fueled by caffeine and no sleep. When she isn’t writing, M.F. is outdoors with her family, obsessing over spicy margaritas and cigars, or reading books by her favorite authors.
If you’re looking for M.F. Adele, you can find her on social media in her group:
M.F. Adele’s Hellacious Hybrids.
M.F. loves to interact with her readers, hear character theories, and share embarrassing stories.
Cosplay Worthy by @quianaa2001 is a complete standalone romance with a HEA and it’s out NOW!
“Putting you out of your misery and replying to the man… anddd done!” she shoved my phone back into my hand.
I stared down at the screen and sure enough she had replied.
Layla: I’d really like that. When are you coming into town?
My breath caught in my throat. Before I could recover my equilibrium, my phone buzzed.
Vic: In about 2 weeks. I’ve got a business meeting. I’ll send you my travel plans, and we can set up a time to meet.
My heart fluttered in my chest. It was happening. I was seeing him again.
“Did he respond?” Alex asked.
“…He said he’ll send me his travel plans and we’ll decide when to meet up.”
“See! Easy peasy.”
I shrugged, “I guess.”
“Oh my god! That’s why you made such a big deal about this! You like him!” Alex pointed a spatula at me.
“No, I don’t!” I shouted, the heat in my cheeks betrayed me.
“Yes, you do! Your voice does this weird ass high pitch wail when you lie. It just did it. You like him! You like him!” she sang.
“Okay, okay… You’re right I like him. I mean but it’s wrong. I shouldn’t like him. I’m a fangirl nothing more.”
“You’re saying fangirl like it’s a damn swear word. What’s wrong with being a fangirl?”
“It’s a geek thing.”
“So normal people like me wouldn’t understand is what you’re saying?” Alex huffed.
“No! That’s not what I meant!”
She rolled her eyes, “What do you mean?”
“I mean like it makes me a total creep. Like what happened with one of my online friends she liked this TV writer she met at a con. They fooled around a few times then word got out and everyone was calling her a star fucker.”
“I hardly call a TV writer a star,” Alex raised an eyebrow.
I shrugged, “A star in the world of conventions.”
“For such outcasts you nerds always be shittin’ on each other.”
“Yep, everyone is terrible always and forever.”
Quiana Glide considers herself a Jill of all nerdy trades but master of none. Pro wrestling, cartoons, books, and 80s music are her jams. Quiana has had a lifelong love of writing and has been a featured writer in HuffPost and CafeMom. She lives in Southwest Michigan with her charmingly goofy husband and her chaotic toddler daughter.
As the new café opening and the end of Bella’s time in Tokyo draw near, Bella and Ryo grow close—until they discover their circumstances may tear them apart. Can they find their way back to each other for good?
A Warm Rainy Day in Tokyo by @kanawuauthor is coming on March 31st! #Preorder your copy today ➞
“Bella, Bella,” The gorgeous stranger whispered.
I let out a quiet sigh because I loved the way he called my name. His voice was gentle, like rustling leaves on a breezy night. With a smile, I tipped my head toward him. The moon hid behind a thin cloud, but its light was enough for me to see his chiseled jaw, long nose, and full, sexy lips.
“I love your baby blue eyes, Bella Bell,” he whispered again, lowering his face to mine. “Do you love me?”
“Yes,” I whispered back, my heart thundering in my chest as his hazel eyes looked straight at me. Oh my, he is going to kiss me? Yes … yes … Wait, maybe I have to be bolder. Swallowing, I placed my hands on his muscular hips.
“Bella,” he said, caressing my red hair before his hand stopped on the back of my neck and pulled me closer.
I closed my eyes, waiting for his warm kiss to touch mine, but nothing came. Clenching my jaw, I cupped his face with my hands and coaxed it toward me. Oddly, instead of kissing me, he called out, “Bella! Bella! Bella!” At the same moment, I heard loud sounds, like someone banging on the door. What the …
As much as I wanted to ignore the annoying interruption, I opened my eyes to find that the handsome, chiseled-jaw guy had disappeared, and my hands clenched my pillow a few inches in front of my face. It wasn’t real … but who dared to disturb my dream? I couldn’t moan for too long because the banging became louder, followed by my mom’s irritated voice. “Bella, how many times do I have to wake you up?”
Ugh, couldn’t Mom have woken me up a bit later, at least after I got my kiss? I groaned.
Jumping out of my bed, I opened the door to see my mom glaring at me. She was wearing a blue blazer and pencil skirt, ready for work at a local library as the senior librarian. In her late fifties, she looked great. She had fair skin and no wrinkles, and was a bit heavy at almost five feet tall. Her new hairstyle, short with blonde highlights made her look younger. I could see a flicker of jealousy in my dad’s eyes whenever a man glanced at her in awe. How I wished I had inherited her fair skin and would look like her when I was older. However, my older sister got our mom’s looks and I looked more like our dad. But thanks to the height from my dad, I was three inches taller than my mom.
A whiff of jasmine from her perfume hit my nose like the fresh air of spring. But my mom’s eyes and expression were far from gentle: They were more like a brewing storm.
“Bellalina Elizabeth Bell.” Her voice was loud and high when she called my full name—which she did whenever she was super upset. “You aren’t a kid anymore. You are almost twenty-two, for God’s sake. Why can’t you wake up on your own? I can’t believe that I have to wake you up like this in the morning,” she scoffed, and turned her body toward the kitchen. “Wipe your drool and brush your hair before going out.”
The corner of my mouth was damp as I wiped it with the back of my hand. As I followed my mom down to the kitchen, I tied my shoulder-length hair back with the hairband that was always around my wrist.
“That’s your fault,” I grumbled, and sat on the tall chair at the kitchen island where she’d already put a half gallon of orange juice, a box of cereal, breakfast sausages, six boiled eggs, and a pile of toast, jam, and butter. “I found an effective way to wake up without your help, but you complain about that.”
My mom almost rolled her bright blue eyes at me, but she restrained herself. “You set five different alarm clocks to wake you up every day. Five alarms, Bella. You refused to use your phone alarms and bought five metal twin-bell alarm clocks instead. And those are loud enough to wake up the whole neighborhood.”
“But that’s effective,” I protested, helping myself to a glass of orange juice. “You know I’m not a morning person. Then when I found a way that works, you don’t like it.”
“Those damn alarm clocks can wake up the whole neighborhood,” she said slowly as if I didn’t comprehend her words the first time. I widened my eyes, and my mom sighed.
She opened her mouth to say something but was interrupted by Mel’s entrance. Mel was willowy, five-ten with tan skin and freckles on her nose.
Kana Wu, an autodidact author, has loved writing since her childhood. She used to work as an analyst and later an accountant before deciding to be a writer in 2018.
Her debut novel, No Romance Allowed, was published in October 2019, and it received two awards as Finalist in the 2020 International Book Awards and Reader’s Favorite Awards. It was also a winner in the Romance category for the 2020 TCK Publishing Readers’ Choice Awards Contest.
She lives in Southern California with her husband and her two rescued Jindo dogs.
Be the first to know when Kana has a special offer or a new book by checking her website or following her on social media.