Annie’s Book Stop of Worcester is happy to shine our Friday spotlight on Historical (fill in the blank) author Vanessa Riley. When asked how she would like to be introduced, Vanessa’s response was:
“I’m Vanessa Riley. I write Historical Fiction and Historical Romance and Historical Mystery set in the (Georgian, Regency, & Victorian) eras. I love to focus on hidden histories, dazzling multi-culture communities, and strong sisterhoods. I promise to pull heart strings, offer a few laughs, and share tidbits of tantalizing history.”
The next question I asked Vanessa is, where can people find your work? (Besides Annie’s Book Stop of Worcester–though they should totally check here first!)
Everywhere. I love Indie Bookstores. My website has a page dedicated to my favorite indies.
How can we follow your work and share your awesomeness?
My website, VanessaRiley.com has all my social media, highlights on my research and more. https://linktr.ee/VanessaRiley is also a good way to see events and shop links.
For readers unfamiliar with your work, how would you describe what you write? What can readers expect from your books?
I write love history and want that to be front and center in my stories. I typically focus on 1750s-1830s when the world was in chaos and everyone wanted freedom—freedom from Kings, freedom of religion, freedom from colonization, and freedom of enslavement. I try to bring you stories that show women developing their voices and their agency to do wonderful things for themselves, their sisters, family or community.
What kind of research went into writing Island Queen, your latest book? What is your favorite research story? What cool facts and findings didn’t make it into the book, but you loved discovering?
I adore research. I try to find anecdotes and minute things that makes the reader feel as if they are there—back in history, on an island, or in the middle of a revolution.
What was the inspiration for Island Queen? What were the steps you took to bring it from initial inspiration to the finished book?
For Island Queen, I found a cartoon showing Prince William Henry (future King William IV of Britain) lovingly embracing a woman, a black woman. I had to know her story as much as I had to know their story. It took over six years of research to put all the pieces back together and return the life of Dorothy Kirwan Thomas to the world.
What is your favorite part of being a writer? Of the whole writing and publishing process?
I actually love the revision process. The story is done, and I can focus more on world building and threading themes and word choice. It is a happy place to get to refine the vision of a book during revisions.
What piece of advice would you want to share with other writers?
To write the most dangerous story that you can. That is where the best stories come from and where every word counts.
What else can we expect from you in the near future?
Next year, you’ll get the conclusion of the Rogues and Remarkable Women Series: A Duke, The Spy, An Artist, and A Lie (April 2022)
My next Historical Fiction, Sister Mother Warrior in Summer 2022. This tells the story of the two women who shaped the Haitian Revolution.
In fall, we get my first Historical Mystery, Murder in Westminster.
Thanks so much for taking the time to answer our questions, Vanessa!