Must Love Breeches: The Debut Novel by Mobile’s Angela Quarles
Most of us probably learned who Ada Lovelace was when Google Doodle celebrated her 197th birthday in December of 2012.
Not Mobile’s Angela Quarles, who by 2012 had three agents clamoring to represent her first novel-length book, Must Love Breeches.
Quarles’ novel is set in 1834, and Ada Lovelace, considered the world’s first computer programmer, is a main secondary character. Which makes perfect sense for a time-travel romance featuring a heroine who carries a smart phone in her reticule.
If you’ve ever fantasized about fitting into another century (preferably one with lots of hot guys) then time-travel romance might be for you. According to Quarles, other authors in the subgenre claim the first time-travel romance was Anya Seyton’s Green Darkness, way back in 1972. It’s been going strong since, and now that Starz has made a series out of Diana Gabaldon’s Outlander, Quarles is hoping still more fans will be drawn to this delightful form of literary escapism.
Here’s the book pitch: “She’s finally met the man of her dreams. There’s only one problem: he lives in a different century.” A “mysterious artifact” (gotta have that!) plunges Isabelle Rochon, an American newly hired at the British Museum, from a fancy-dress event re-enacting an 1834 ball into, well, the real thing. Ada Lovelace and a handsome viscount with a bad reputation immediately appear to befriend this odd “colonial,” and we’re off into the fun of watching Isabelle navigate the 19th century (pro tip: swearing is definitely Out). Judging by the cover anyway, some pretty hot stuff ensues. Quarles’ breezy, humor-filled writing style perfectly showcases her irreverent heroine caught all among the corsets and carriages.
Quarles’ story is almost as romantic as her heroine’s, at least for aspiring writers. She didn’t start writing fiction till 2005 and didn’t attempt a novel until 2008, but four years later a small press published her short novella in ebook form. Must Love Breeches, however, is her first novel-length book, “and since I work in a bookstore,” she says, “I had to have it in print.”
Quarles’ agent ultimately landed a couple of small-press offers, but she decided to take the plunge into self-publishing. She relishes the control she has over the project: “I got to pick my own cover artist, choose my editors, etc., and also decide how the interior would lay out.” Since these days authors are expected to work hard promoting their books no matter who publishes them, Quarles feels like she made the right decision.
Far from viewing the meticulous research necessary for her genre as tedious, Quarles loves it. “I had a lot of fun researching [Ada Lovelace],” she says. “What I love most is coming up with the world I want to explore, researching it, and then trying to create that story I want to tell for the reader. Most of what I write are historicals, so I love to be able to try to paint the picture for the reader, weave in those little details.”
Up next? A steampunk romance called Steam Me Up, Rawley, set in Mobile in 1890. Look for that one in January/February of 2015. After that, another in the “Must Love” series—Must Love Chainmail, set during Madog’s rebellion in 1294 Wales.
If you too “have to have it in print,” the book is available at Bienville Books (109 Dauphin St.) or online in both print and instant-gratification ebook form at major online retailers, including Apple, Kobo, B&N, and Amazon. Or you can get your very own signed copy straight from Angela this Saturday at Bienville Books between one and three. Since Quarles (“it’s an old family name from way back in Virginia”) is Angela’s pen name, you might want to stop by, just to figure out who she really is. Cause we’re not telling.