Marie Force knows her way around a seaside romance. She is the author of 70 contemporary romance novels across multiple series, including the Gansett Island books and the Fatal series. Her Gilded series, which marks her first foray into historical romance, debuts with Duchess by Deception, to be published by Kensington in 2019.
When it comes to reaching readers, Force’s approach has been a hybrid one—her Gansett Island books (she just published the 19th in the series), along with the Butler, Vermont, series; the Treading Water series; and the Quantum series, are self-published. “I’m fortunate to be rather prolific,” Force says, “and I love the flexibility of the hybrid model that allows me to tend to five series at the same time.”
Her new partnership with Kensington has enabled her to reintroduce the Gansett Island series (previously available only as e-books) in mass-market paperback editions. “One thing I’ve seen over my 10 years as a published author,” Force says, “is there isn’t a huge crossover between e-book readers and paperback readers, so it’s a great opportunity to put this series in front of a whole new audience.”
The Gansett Island series is close to Force’s heart. The books are set on a fictionalized remote island based on the real-life Block Island, R.I., a place that Force knows quite well, as it’s where she spends a part of each summer. “There’s something so compelling about the isolation of island life that adds to the atmosphere of the series,” Force says, “and the McCarthy family and their friends continue to interest and amuse me—and my readers.” Those readers are rabid fans. They’ve bought more than seven million copies of her books worldwide.
Force’s transition from contemporary to historical romance may seem like quite a sea change, but it’s been a long time coming. She started writing Duchess by Deception in 2010 but was wary of introducing a historical series early in her career, so she set it aside and focused on developing her contemporary romance brand. However, her editor at Kensington, Martin Biro, thought the time had come; when she mentioned that she had an unfinished historical manuscript, he was on board. “That led to the deal for the Gilded series,” Force says, “and I’m thrilled to have the team at Kensington helping to launch this new-to-me genre.” Force is going to begin writing the second in the series later this summer, “but,” she says, “I won’t have eight years to write this one!”
Force has found that one difference between writing contemporary romance and writing historical romance (in this case, set in the Edwardian era) involves navigating the social mores of another time. “The early 20th century was an exciting period of innovation and modernization,” Force says. Her research led her to read sources on 1902 England to craft the novel. “The duke featured in Duchess is a forward-looking peer who many think is eccentric because of the innovations he chooses to invest in,” Force says. “He’s quite a bit ahead of his time, so that made him fun to write.”
Force has no plans to stop writing her contemporary romance series. She continues to see the advantages to both indie and traditional publishing models. She’s excited to have Kensington behind her on some previously published and forthcoming original novels, including Five Years Gone, a stand-alone project that Force will self-release as an e-book, following Kensington’s release of the trade paperback edition two weeks earlier, on September 25.
In addition to writing, Force makes time to reach out to her fans. “I host a reader weekend in my home state of Rhode Island each year,” Force says, “and readers come from all over to attend and to visit Block Island, the real-life Gansett Island. There’s no substitute for the personal touch with the readers who have given me this dream-come-true career.”