Another Author of the Month at MyShelf.Com

Author of the Month
Bertrice Small [October 2003]
Chosen by Janet Elaine Smith, author

     I first got “acquainted” with Bertrice Small when a friend and I used to swap books after we had finished them. One day she gave me a copy of one of Bertrice’s books, and I was amazed. Perhaps even shocked. You see, this friend was a little old lady, the retired dean of the University of North Dakota’s College of Nursing; she stood less than 5 feet tall, but she was a giant in her own right. Her name was Margaret “Peg” (Heyse) Cory. She was never married until after she had retired. It was then that she finally gave in to the man who had pursued her for many years.

     When I had finished reading Bertrice’s book, I returned it to Peg, along with the comment, “I was really surprised that you had read this book, Peg. It was really sexy!” Peg grinned at me and said “Janet, when you get to be my age, you have to take it anyplace you can get it!”

     It was many years later, long after Peg had passed on, that I got further acquainted with Bertrice, through our mutual friend Deb Stover, and her Wednesday night chats. Now, I have a special file in my e-mail, marked “BS advice.” No, it isn’t that kind of “BS.” It is advice on everything from publishing tips to marital advice from my friend, Bertrice Small.

     There are only a couple of things I have learned that bother Bertrice. One is her age. I love her line about it. “Age is a number, and mine is unlisted!” The other thing is the correct spelling of her name. She is not, nor ever will be, a Beatrice. She is a Bertrice—a one-of-a-kind. A true treasure. It was a delight to interview her, and I hope you will enjoy it as well.
Peg, this one is for you.


Janet: When did you write your first book, and was it published?

Bertrice: I began to write my first book, THE KADIN, in the late 1960’s. I offered it for publication in 1973. It was sold immediately to G.P.Putnams Sons. That was in February 1973. Unfortunately, 6 months later the editor was fired, and the contracts to the books she was working on were canceled. I did not have to return the advance. My then agent, a lovely man, loved the book so much he wanted it in hardcover, but no hardcover house would take a chance on it. Finally I told him to take the book to Avon. It sold immediately, and I became one of the original Avon ladies.


Janet: When was it sold, and is it still available?

Bertrice: Yes, in February 1978, and it's still in print.


Janet: When did you first decide that you wanted to be a writer?

Bertrice: I always wrote from the time I could hold a crayon, and before that I made up stories, and made my cousins act them out.


Janet: How many books do you have published to date?

Bertrice: 32 full length novels as of October 2003. #33 will be out in February. 4 erotic novellas as of December 2003.


Janet: I know that you write for more than one publisher at a time. Can you share with us why?

Bertrice: I need to earn a living. It's economics. It used to be you could work for one publisher, do one book a year. But as inflation has runrampant I need to do 2 books a year to keep up with it, and support myfamily. It's hard work.


Janet: Your books are set in the United Kingdom. Have you been there? Do you always travel to the site where your book is set to do your research? Or how do you do your research?

Bertrice: Yes, I've traveled over a lot of the world in my single youth.<G> You can research anything with a book. I know a lot of people like the Internet, but I need a book in my hand, open on my desk. I have books on everything: the landscape, the weather, plus the usual clothing, food, manners, religion, etc. Whatever I need to set the picture formy readers realistically. I never stop reading.


Janet: The love scenes—or sex—in your books are HOT! Are you just a very lucky lady who has been able to “research” all of them, or do you just have a very good imagination? Is there anything you consider “over the top” that you won’t do?

Bertrice: I think I'm a lucky lady, but I also have a vivid imagination, anda lot of books on sex. You can do only so much in a lifetime. Unfortunately. I find violence and pain over the top, and I don't usethem in my love scenes. And I prefer willing participants.


Janet: Your early books were out in mass market. Do you find it is harder to sell your Trade Paperbacks, since they are more expensive?

Bertrice: No, only the first 3 books I wrote were mass markets. I was the third author after Kathleen Woodiwiss, and Rosemary Rogers, to go intotrade 23 years ago. SKYE O'MALLEY was my first Trade. And ever since then my books have been published first in trade, then in mass market. The only exceptions have been BLAZE WYNDHAM, which was published originally as a hardcover, and BETRAYED, which was one of Ballantine Books hardcover mass market experiments. I have no control over the prices charged by my publishers. I am fortunate to have a solid hard core of wonderful readers who quickly snap up my trade editions.


Janet: Do you have any fun stories about your fans that you could share with us?

Bertrice: Oh, I have many, but my two personal favorites are when I went to an RT conference, and two ladies came up to me, fell to then kneesbowing and saying, "We are not worthy! We are not worthy!" I insistedthey get up. LOL. But my all-time favorite is the time I received aletter from a reader who gave me the very dickens for writing such sexybooks, and then closed by asking when the next one would be out. <G>


Janet: Do you write every day, and do you have a certain set schedule you follow?

Bertrice: Yes. I write from about 10 a.m. in the morning until 5 p.m. at night. I take an hour sometime during that time to eat, and take a 20minute nap. I also work Saturdays, but my schedule then is looser. I do not work on Sundays. I work 52 weeks a year, except this year, which was a very extra busy one for me. I took 6 weeks off to catch my breath. It was GREAT!


Janet: I know you participate in a few of Deb Stover’s online chats, and I have seen your name as a “guest author” on a few other chats as well. I also know you won’t go anyplace if a new West Wing is on. Do you find it helpful to participate in such things?

Bertrice: I think it's interesting to learn what's going on, and how readers feel, and hear author gossip. I live at the east end of Long Island, and have usually been the last to know. I really don't have a lot of time to get involved on the 'net. What time I have away from my work I like to spend with my family, and friends.


Janet: You have a nickname—Sunny. How did that come about?

Bertrice: I gained the nickname Sunny because years ago I worked for a man who usually arrived at work most mornings somewhat the worse for wear. I would bring him coffee and see that he got something to eat, and I was always pleasant. One day he said to me, "You're just like sunshine, Bertrice." After that everyone in the office called me Sunny. I considered it preferable to what people had previously called me. <G>


Janet: Of all of the characters you have created, do you have a favorite? Or is that like asking a mother which one is her favorite child?

Bertrice: It is like asking if a mother has a favorite child, however, I dohave a personal passion, not really a preference, for Francis Stewart-Hepburn, the 6th earl of Bothwell.


Janet: What can we expect next from Bertrice Small?

Bertrice: I'm currently working on a short erotic novel for NAL. I will say no more than that, but thanks for asking.


Janet: Thank you, Bertrice, for taking the time to share a bit of the woman behind the scenes (and the pen) of all of the wonderful stories you have given all of us over the past years. May we see many, many more in the future.

A review for Bertrice Small's new book, Until You, will appear in Nov. at

Booklist --AmazonCom--
The Kadin
Love Wild and Fair
The Spitfire
A Moment in Time
To Love Again
Enchantress Mine
Blaze Wyndham
Love Remember Me
The Love Slave
The Innocent
A Memory of Love
The Duchess

The O'Malley Saga
Skye O'Malley
All the Sweet Tomorrows
A Love for All Time
This Heart of Mine
Lost Love Found
Wild Jasmine

Skye's Legacy
Darling Jasmine
Just Beyond Tomorrow

The Friarsgate Inheritance
Until You

2003's Honorary List

Bertrice Small

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