Originally from California, Nina Rowan holds a PhD in Art History from McGill University, Montreal, with a specialization in 19th century French and Russian art. She began writing when she was an undergraduate at UCLA and lived a dual life as a student and a pseudonymous erotica author. She has studied Indian and Southeast Asian art and film, worked as a curatorial assistant at the Los Angeles County Museum of Art, and traveled in India and Europe.
A librarian-at-heart, she also holds an MA in Library and Information Sciences, a course of study that renewed a deep-seated interest in folklore and fairy tales. In addition to being an eternal student, or likely because of it, Nina possesses an abiding love for research that involves dusty, old books. She also thinks popcorn should be one of the four food groups. She lives in Wisconsin with her atmospheric scientist husband and two children.
While randomly trolling the internet, (..cough..) I stumbled onto Nina. After contacting her, she was kind enough to send me an ARC of her debut novel A STUDY IN SEDUCTION, and guys, I’m pretty sure you’re going to love it. It’s a complex story with a very intelligent heroine, a hero mired in scandal, and a plucky pre-teen. There’s even a quote from ELOISA JAMES on the cover!
I asked Nina 10 questions:
1) This is your debut novel. When did you start writing? What was THE CALL like?
Nina: I started writing way too long ago to actually calculate HOW long…cough*twenty-five-years*cough…Actually, I’ve been writing fiction since I was a kid and started submitting to romance publishers when I was an undergrad. I published a few pseudonymous novels, but A Study in Seduction is my first “big” debut. The call was wonderful, of course! I was thrilled not only to have contracted for three books, but also to be working with Grand Central/Forever Romance.
(PS: You started early!)
2) Tell us a bit about your novel. What inspired it?
Nina: A Study in Seduction is a sexy, intense Victorian historical about a brilliant female mathematician and a viscount who is fighting scandal. When Lydia challenges Alexander to a wager for a locket that contains a dark family secret, they embark on a battle of wits and hearts…in which only one can be the winner.
The book was inspired by my discovery of a gifted 19th century mathematician named Sofia Kovalevskaya, who formulated highly innovative work in mathematics and broke through the barriers of Victorian society to become the first woman to earn a doctorate summa cum laude and a full professorship. I thought it would be fascinating to create a heroine who is secure in her own intellect, but then is confronted with her attraction to a man who both challenges and arouses her.
(PS: This is why I love historical romances. You learned something new every time.)
3) Who was the first character you wrote?
Nina: Lydia. She was very loosely based on Sofia Kovalevskaya, so I started with her, though I made her much more isolated and introverted than Sofia was. Then I had to figure out why Lydia was like that!
(PS: Lydia’s still too smart for me 🙂
4) Your heroine is unique in that she is not the typical ‘lady’, ‘miss’, or ‘governess’. I keep comparing your heroine Lydia Kellaway to Minerva Highwood in Tessa Dare’s A WEEK TO BE WICKED. Both women are intelligent and are not shy about it in a time where educated women were the minority. What made you go in this direction?
Nina: I think women like that are fascinating and make very memorable characters! Also both their internal and external struggles with their own intelligence provides a great way to layer on the conflict, not to mention giving the hero more than he bargains for. I love it when a hero meets more than his match in the heroine.
(PS: Poor Alex.)
5) What made you create a mathematical genius as opposed to a different field? (Beyond high school math my eyes glaze over.)
Nina: I suspect that when people think of intelligent 19th century women, they tend to think of queens and empresses or writers rather than scientists and mathematicians. So since women were most definitely involved in those fields, I thought it would make for an interesting and challenging character. Also, even today we don’t tend to think of mathematicians as being women, which made the historical setting of A Study in Seduction all the more inspiring.
(PS: Another reason Lydia reminds me of Tessa Dare’s Minerva!)
6) I particularly like that your hero, Alexander Hall, Viscount Northwood, is of Russian ancestry. It branches out of the normally British and/or French heritage of the genre. What made you do this?
Nina: Thank you! My mother was of Russian descent, so I have a personal connection to Russia, plus I have always found it to be an amazingly complex country with a fascinating history. I especially thought it would be interesting to set the story during the time of the Crimean War when there was a great deal of conflict between Great Britain and Russia, so the political and societal climate enhanced the conflict. I also like the idea of characters who have divided loyalties, whether to people or countries.
(PS: Adds to the drama too)
Now for some fun questions:
6) What was the first romance novel you read? (Or who was your first romance author?)
Nina: The classic. Sweet Savage Loveby Rosemary Rogers. I loved it.
7) You recently attended RWA12 in Anaheim, California. What was it like? Was it your first conference? How did if feel attending as a published author?
Nina: It was marvelous! It was my first national conference, and I was thrilled by all the workshops and the chance to meet so many wonderful authors and editors. My favorite part was definitely my first signing with the other Grand Central/Forever Romance authors—I could have sat there for hours signing books and chatting with people. I learned a lot at the conference, had a huge amount of fun, and am already looking forward to Atlanta next year.
8) If you could be someone else (dead or alive) for a day, who would it be?
Nina: Pablo Picasso. I’d love to know how his mind worked.
9) Give one thing people would be surprised to learn about you.
Nina: I received my first publishing rejection letter when I was twelve years old.
10) Quick! You’re being pulled back into the Victorian era, what is the first thing you grab to take with you?
Nina: My family! (Is that a fair answer since there are four of us?)
Check out the trailer:
How to enter:
(open internationally to anyone with an eReader/eReader app)
Do you want to club me over the head because I left out a VERY important question or two? Leave a comment or question in the comments section.
Comment/questions gives you one entry.
You have from 8/27/12 12:01 EST to 9/2/12 12:01 EST to enter.
Winner will be announced 9/2
Terms & Conditions:
Must be 18 years or older
No purchase necessary
Open INTERNATIONAL and/or to anyone with an eReader or eReader app
Do not leave your email in the comments section
Leave a meaningful comment/question in the comments section for 1 entry
Fill out the form for extra entries