Guest Authors,  Writer's moments

Author Spotlight: Meet Audrey Schuyler Lancho

One of the best parts of being in a writer’s circle is meeting new authors. Audrey Schuyler Lancho and I met when we were both part of a sprinting group with Bryn Donovan last fall. We didn’t really get to visit all that much because the focus was sprinting. I got a lot of writing done, but in the minutes between sprints, I got to chat with the other writers in the group. It was fun!

Audrey Lancho is the author of emotionally moving and uplifting historical and contemporary clean romance. Audrey’s Victorian romances include Seven Days at Mannerley and the forthcoming A Telephone at Mannerley, published by Vinspire Publishing. Audrey lives in North Carolina with her Spaniard husband and two young sons, is bilingual in Spanish, and enjoys church, time with friends, yoga, her kids’ sporting events, and funny movies. She’s a freelance fiction editor and an editor at a literary agency. She does both of these jobs from home while entertaining her preschooler and watching plenty of Pixar. When she’s not writing or editing, you’ll find her doing crochet or a jigsaw puzzle.

Website | Facebook | Twitter |Instagram

N: Welcome to the blog, Audrey. I’m so delighted to have you with us today. So, what inspired you to start writing?

A: I’ve always written books, even as an elementary school student. I’d bind them with a cereal box’s cardboard and a stapler! In high school I continued writing prose, but of course no one knew about it––because, how embarrassing and uncool! As a twenty-something, I got really interested in my family’s genealogy, specifically my ancestors Andrew Jackson Shuler and John Adam Schuyler. I wrote a family saga based on true events from their lives, but to put it plainly, it was horrible. I learned all my writing lessons from that failed, and later, shelved manuscript and invaluable feedback from professional author friends such as Cindy Holby. It’s now just a file on my computer that I’ll always be thankful for, because it taught me what I needed, because the next book I wrote was Seven Days at Mannerley! In 2020, now heavily pregnant with my second son and just having turned 31, I quit my teaching job with my husband’s support and began to pursue writing full-time. Well, not full-time. It was more like during my baby’s nap times. He’s still a great napper, so I get 1-3 hours of work in daily.

N: What comes first—the plot or the characters?

A: The plot, all the way! If I don’t know where a book is going, I simply can’t write. I will stare at the screen with frustration during my writing time for days on end. So, I plot thoroughly, but I also give myself grace. If something needs to change, it totally can! Because as we know, the characters have a mind of their own, especially when their quirks and personalities come through.

N: This is your first novel—how exciting! What is the most surprising thing you discovered about yourself while writing your books?

A: I discovered that I need complete silence to write. I always thought I was a background noise type person, but when I really began to focus on writing fiction, I found that––to my horror––I have a very hard time concentrating or getting a good word count per day if I’m in a coffee shop or listening to music with lyrics. This also happens if I am listening to instrumental music that I know the lyrics to, like the kind they might play at Chick-fil-A. I can no longer write with the TV on in the background, either. I was surprised by this, as I can do other types of work with background noise. I guess fiction needs all of my brain power and focus, including my auditory focus!

N: Your book, Seven Days at Mannerley just released today. Can you share with us something about this story that isn’t in the blurb?

A: Absolutely! The book has a powerful message of forgiveness and redemption, which doesn’t necessarily come across in the blurb. There is an elderly character in my book that I adore; her name is Lady Blanche Huntron. She’s a fancy dame who owns the estate that Mary visits for seven days. She plays a crucial part in the story when she forgives a character for something unthinkable they’ve done, allowing that person to go free and thus changing the entire ending of the story! You may think that gives a lot away, but this book is so packed full of plot, lies, and crimes that you’ll have a hard time guessing which character Lady Huntron will forgive!

N: What kind of research did you have to do to write a rom com that takes place in the late nineteenth century?

A: Google became my best friend, and luckily there is a ton of information on Victorian life online. I found almost all the answers I needed with a little quick digging. It’s actually much easier than researching for contemporary fiction, because the answers are cut and dry. For example, if I interview someone who is in the medical field today, there are so many facets to this, that I may or may not get the answers I need for a contemporary romance about a doctor. But, if I look up, “When was anesthesia invented?”, I get a clear answer. I also listened and partially watched a lot of YouTube videos about Victorian England estates, workhouses, pubs, society, and life in general while doing chores like folding clothes or mopping. I’m a stay-at-home mom, and I’ve chosen to take on a lot of the housework during the week since my husband works all day. That means chore time could double as research time. Of course, Victorian-set shows like Dr. Brown, Tess D’ubervilles, and other British period dramas were instrumental in helping me visualize the setting of the story.

N: If you had to describe Mary, your heroine in only three words, what would those three words be?

A: Daydreamer, ambitious, good-hearted

N: If you could tell your younger writing self anything, what would it be?

A: Don’t stop! Keep going! It will pan out!

N: Are you working on anything at the present you would like to tell our readers about?

A: I’m writing my first book’s sequel––A Telephone at Mannerley! These books are so fun to write. It’ll be packed full of romance, tension, twists, mystery, and suspense. We’ve got a few blast-from-the-past characters returning for a second round, as well as a few new (hilariously immature and spoiled) rich characters. It’ll be fun! Readers can check the last pages of their copy of Seven Days at Mannerley for a sneak peak at what’s to come in October 2025. I’ve also signed a deal with Harpeth Road for a contemporary romance called The Silver Lining—but those details will be under wraps for a while more. That book will release in May of 2025. I also hope to self-publish a clean Holiday romcom this November. I’ve never self-published before, but the 70% royalty rate is too tempting to pass up! I believe I’ll give it a try and see how it goes.

N: What do you like to do when you are not writing?

A: Crosswords, crochet, jigsaw puzzles are things you’ll find me doing, especially during the cooler months. In Spring, I like to plant a garden, and of course I love attending my kids’ sporting events. I go to church and have a big group of friends that I love to get together with. We also cherish spending time with family members.

N: What did you want to be when you grew up?

A: A famous actress––for real! Now that’s nowhere near what I’d like to do. But a cameo would be cool if I ever get a book turned into a Hallmark movie!

N: Favorite book when you were a kid?

A: I loved Roald Dahl books and The Secret Garden.

N: If you could choose three people, living or dead, to invite to a dinner party, who would they be and why?

A: My grandma, Nanny. She passed away in 2022. She’s better off where she is, but we miss her terribly! I’d also love to chat it up with Jane Austen, as she was such a great studier of human behavior and described society in such a hilarious way. Finally, Dolly Parton, because she’s a gem and I love her music. I also think (or hope) all three of these ladies would get along just fine over a charcuterie board. (If Dolly couldn’t make it, I think Shaquille O’Neal would be a great replacement. I think he’s such a multi-talented individual with a great heart and a great sense of humor!)

Seven Days at Mannerley

The suitcase she found changed everything. The contents? A fancy dress and an invitation in another girl’s name. Mary would go to the ball, enjoy how the rich lived, and then quietly slip back into her real life as a poor barmaid. But when Mary’s one night out turns into a seven-day stay at Mannerley estate, she quickly makes friends, and finds suitors.

While she’s relishing in the affections of the heir, Arthur, and captivating Indian doctor, Mr. Singh, a former workmate recognizes Mary and extorts her: she must steal Arthur’s watch or have her true identity exposed, risking prison, or even death. After pulling off the heist, Mary scrambles to cover her tracks. All the while Agnes, the real owner of the fancy ball gown, is making her way ever closer to Mannerley. Happily ever after seems as unlikely as a barmaid among dandies, when Mary’s only possible escape is a confession and the hope her scandalous true love will risk his reputation to defend and forgive her.