Heating Up the Bookstore

On September 19, the newly acclaimed romance novelist Allegra Gray visited Hamilton to discuss her debut novel, Nothing But Scandal. After reading aloud an excerpt from the book, Gray discussed her experiences with writing and literature, and even gave her own advice about pursuing writing as a career.

Nothing But Scandal follows the story of Elizabeth Medford, a young woman living in 1814 England who is being pressured to marry her awful distant cousin Harold Wetherby. Elizabeth is disgusted by this proposal and would do absolutely anything to avoid this miserable marriage. Therefore, she devises an outrageous plan to ruin her reputation by involving herself with the irresistible Duke of Beaufort, Alex Bainbridge. Little does Elizabeth know, however, that the Duke has secrets of his own, which could put them both in danger.

Gray openly discussed her interest in literature, especially after completing her graduate work in English Literature. Even working as an English professor at the Air Force Academy, she knew she wanted to do more and actually become a creative storyteller. She found her forte in the romance genre.

“The first thing I did was begin writing. I did a lot of experimentation to find what I liked to both read and write. I gravitated towards romance because I love the dialogue and snappy banter between the characters,” Gray said.

Attendees of the book talk heard this exact type of dialogue when Gray read aloud the first few pages of Nothing But Scandal.

“The story is driven by the characters. Dialogue and action are my strong points,” Gray said.

Gray was also drawn towards the Regency Era in England (1811-1820) based off inspiration of other renown authors who also wrote in this time period, including Jane Austen and Georgette Heyer.

“I first started reading romance novels from the Regency Era, and that got my interested in the time period,” Gray said.

Gray also cites historical figures from the time period and merges them with her own fiction. For example, her next novel, Nothing but Deception, which is scheduled for release next summer, is centered around spies assisting Napoleon in his rise for power.

Besides the Regency Era, Gray discussed her interest in another, less popular era for historical romance novel.

“I also looked into the medieval period because of my academic background in that field. However, there’s less market for it in the romance field,” Gray said.

Despite this, Gray stated that she and her agent have been discussing a new trilogy that will be set in the medieval period.

Gray spent a majority of the book talk discussing her personal experience with publishing a novel, and she did not leave out any details. She explained the process beginning with the actual writing, searching for an agent and finding the right publishing company.

“It’s hard to break into the market,” Gray said. “I wanted my books to be available for everyone, and you need the right publishing company and agent to do that.”

Gray also mentioned how large bookstores like Barnes and Nobles and Borders impact the success of a new author.

“The number of books we actually decide to publish are based almost entirely on Barnes and Nobles book orders,” Gray said.

By the end of the discussion, it was clear how important writing is to Gray. She stated it best at the end of the discussion, when she described how her passion for writing overcame all the obstacles that stood in the way of being a successful novelist.

“Writing is something I take seriously,” Gray said. “That’s the reason I made the jump between ‘I want to write a book’ and ‘I wrote a book.’ It’s something you’ve got to want to do.”

Her insight and experiences can be an inspiration to any aspiring writer, no matter what genre.

Contract Andrea Hackett at [email protected].