Writer's Corner for September, 2006

Quick Q&A with Loretta Chase

2005 Loretta Chase Interview

Originally scheduled for this month was a Writer's Corner interview with another author. When she was unable to meet that commitment, Loretta Chase stepped in for a last moment - but delightful - quick Q&A with Sandy Coleman.

Loretta, first and foremost, thanks so much for stepping in at the last moment! Since this will just be a quickie – we don’t want to take too much time from your WIP, after all – as our AAR readers already know, you’ve switched publishers, yes?

It’s my pleasure to talk with you again. Yes, Avon is publishing the fourth book in the Carsington series - Not Quite a Lady - which is also the first book of my new Fallen Women series.

Can we count on the fact that you’ll keep on keeping on at your new publisher? In other words, I don’t think there’s anything broken and in need of fixin’.

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Thank you. I’m always finding things broken. But Avon want me to keep doing what I’ve been doing, so I’ll just keep trying to do it better.

You told us in our last interview that you are at the mercy of the writing gods. I hadn’t yet read Mr. Impossible when we spoke then and can I just say “wow”? The interplay between Daphne and Rupert was so incredibly delicious that I find myself wondering what - or who - came first? The story? Daphne? Rupert? Marigold?

I’m so glad you liked it. I loved writing that book. How it came into being? I knew I had to write a story about another Carsington brother. But I also had a compelling need to set it in Egypt. It’s hard to remember the exact sequence of events, but I think Daphne came first. Certain characters from Victorian fiction haunt me, and in this case it was Dorothea in Middlemarch. She was so much a victim - of her time, of herself. She triggered the idea of a woman in similar circumstances but with a much stronger character and a powerful intellect. And somewhere in the process of developing the idea of Daphne, Rupert sprang to life: She’d be the brains and he’d be the brawn. He was one of those characters I understand absolutely and who are totally alive and 3D in my mind from the get-go. As to Marigold - my sister gave me the idea, actually, and I ran with it.

And I might ask the same question about Lord Perfect? Also, do you ever envision revisiting Peregrine and Olivia?

Lord Perfect was not part of my Carsington brothers plan. In Miss Woderful, I’d married off the two eldest brothers. But I had this nagging feeling about an unhappy marriage. Then Benedict appeared at the end of Mr. Impossible, widowed. He was one of those characters, like Ismal of The Lion's Daughter, who take a powerful hold of my imagination as soon as they appear on the page. So Benedict came next, and my cunning plan for a trilogy turned into a quartet. As to Peregrine and Olivia - they’re definitely in my mind for a story. I haven’t yet decided where or when. I think it must be in Egypt, though, and probably set in the 1830s - just a bit before or after Victoria comes to the throne.

So, where did the writing gods lead you with the next one?

They led me to a fallen woman. Not Quite a Lady's Lady Charlotte Hayward has a dark secret. But a completely dark book isn’t my style. So along with the past that comes back to haunt her, I’ve given her an aggravating hero. Darius Carsington is sexy and brainy and completely unmanageable.

Loretta, one of our readers posed an interesting question recently regarding our more “literary” (whatever that means) romance authors: Did you choose romance or did romance choose you?

I chose romance. I had not been a romance fan originally, and I came out of an academic environment in which such fiction was scorned. But when it came time to think about writing an actual novel from beginning to end, I wanted to write what was the most fun to read, and that was genre fiction. It seems the closest to the kinds of literature I liked best - the 18th and 19th century English novels, most of which were written for a mass audience. I chose romance because it’s based on a love story and has a happy ending - and historical romance because it allowed me to continue exploring the 18th and 19th century - and get paid for it.

Your backlist has been slowly but surely reappearing in print, which is a good thing since tracking down your out of print titles has gotten to be an expensive proposition! Are there any plans to reprint The Last Hellion or The Mad Earl’s Bride?

I’ve recent been told that Avon is bringing out both The Last Hellion and Lord of Scoundrels in new packaging. I don’t yet have an schedule for this, but I would guess it would be in 2007-2008 sometime. The Mad Earl’s Bride is still in print in the Three Weddings and a Kiss anthology - at least according to Amazon.

In our February 2005 interview, we asked if you thought that romance publishing had changed much over the years and your response was that publishing is always changing. Since that time I’d argue that what’s changed about publishing even in that short period of time – historical romance publishing, at any rate – is an ever-increasing lack of diversity. The era in which you published Lord of Scoundrels seemed to offer readers many more choices, in terms of voices and styles and periods. We’ve heard the argument over and over again that Regency-set books sell better than books set in other periods, but I’m starting to believe that it’s a self-fulfilling prophesy. If Regency-set books are virtually all that’s available, then readers will buy Regency-set books. Though you’re an author who always manages to write the freshest of books set in the period, do you think that publishing will ever be Regency-ied out?

I definitely think it’s possible for audiences to get sick of one type of book and I do think there’s a danger of overdoing the one type. It seems a shame that we are only seeing variety in the straight historical novels. But a number of historical romance authors have turned to writing straight historicals, and it’s possible that the popularity of these books - set in the Tudor period, say, or the time of Charles II - will inspire authors once again to set romances outside the Regency/Victorian period, and will give publishers the impetus to buy such books. Meanwhile, desperate readers may want to take a look at Amazon UK. I was amazed to discover recently that Harlequin Mills & Boon are publishing Roman era and Viking romances.

Loretta, even though this is a bit OT, knowing that Bleak House is your favorite novel, I have to ask if you were as impressed as I was with the recent BBC adaptation? Weren’t Gillian Anderson and Charles Dance truly amazing?

I thought it was so fabulous that I bought the DVD - which is something I rarely do. Charles Dance was simply brilliant - but then, he always is. Gillian Anderson totally amazed me. But I thought the entire cast was terrific. I was stunned by how much of the dialogue came straight from the book (yes, I’ve got it pretty much memorized). They did a fine job of trimming down Dickens’s ten thousand characters to a manageable size, without destroying the complexity completely. Scene after marvelous scene. Beautifully directed, acted, shot. Yes, I was really impressed.

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