If you've been to Julia's website, you've seen her sitting in a beautiful red velvet (or is it velour?) two seater, kicking back with what looks like a glass of red wine. Very cool and comfortable setting.
[Does Moonlight, Lace and Mayhem need something like that here, to make readers feel more at home?]
As many of you know, Julia writes historical novels, but she also writes contemporary fiction. However, our focus will remain on the historical side of things today because well, that's our focus for this month, and the interview questions will reflect that.
Q. Most of your historicals appear to take place during the 1800’s of British history, which equates to the Georgian Era. What is it about this time period that fascinates you? Why this time over others?
A. In the last few years I have written books set in both the Regency and the Georgian era. My latest series is set just before the Regency. I like that time period because it was prosperous and was ruled by civility. To me, it’s a very sexy time period because men where real men, but they were chivalrous, and women were beginning to emerge as capable in their own right. I also like the aesthetics of the period, with the costumes and big houses and furnishings, and ornate carriages, etc. It’s just fun for me personally to spend time there.
I wouldn’t mind writing in other time periods, but the truth is that I have written so many historical novels set in this time period that I am well-versed in the era’s society and politics and I have quite a lot of research materials for that time period. I’d need more time to research a new period. But I’d be up for it.
Q. How do you choose the settings for your books? How do you decide whether to use Scotland, London or some other British location?
A. It really comes down to my personal preference. If I’ve written a couple of books set in London, I want to write one in another part of Britain just for a change and a fresh location. I am writing a quartet of books for publication beginning next year that are set in a fictional village two hours south of London. I did it that way so I can build a close community, but go easily step into the London highlife. The best of both worlds!
Q. According to your website, you’ve traveled to many places. What experiences during your travels have contributed to your historical novels?
A. I think it helps me portray the places where I set my books. I have walked through many Georgian mansions, and I have driven all over the U.K., so I think I can describe the landscape. The other benefit is that when I go to some of these historical sites, you can often find obscure books or maps that I would never find in the United States, which help me add authentic details. But I guess the best part of traveling to the places I write about is just soaking up the atmosphere and hopefully transferring some of that onto the pages.
Q. Tell us about some of the exotic places that you’ve been to. Where was your favorite place to visit? Least favorite? Sexiest place? Details, details, we want details! Pictures too!
A. The most exotic place I have been is probably the Sultanate of Oman. That was many years ago, but it was such an experience. There is a modern society, but there is a society that still lives as they did dozens and dozens of years ago. I also visited a Bedouin tribe. I heard later that they named a camel for me. I have no idea why. I have traveled through Europe, as well, but it seems like we always end up in the U.K. again. I really love it there. I think I must have been a queen or something in a previous life.
The most romantic place is, of course, Paris. France in general. I don’t know why, but it just has the feel to it.
Let’s talk about the heroes.
Q. In your mind’s eye, what makes for a truly great hero? Which hero(es) of your books best illustrate this?
A. I think great heroes can take on a lot of characteristics, but at their core, they have to be the kind of guy who will do anything—absolutely anything—for the woman he loves. He has strength of character, he is loyal, he is noble, but he is a little dangerous. And he can be softened by the right woman.
I try to write heroes that have flaws and may act in ways that are not politically correct, but are redeemed by love. One that comes to mind is Adrian Spence in The Dangerous Gentleman, or Rhodrick Glendower in The Perils of Pursuing a Prince. Both men were isolated by their actions and prejudices from society and had to overcome some personal flaws before they could win the hearts of the women they fell in love with.
Q. Many writers have a picture of a real person in mind when they start creating a hero. What about you? Who inspired the heroes in your historical novels? What visuals did you use to help create them? Again, we want details and images please!
A. I am not generally inspired by real people (other than perhaps Colin Firth as Mr. Darcy, who, as you know, wasn’t exactly real) when I create my heroes. They are truly created out of my imagination.
Q. Which was your favorite hero that you’ve written and why?
Oh man, that is a tough question. I don’t know if I can choose just one. I will always have a soft spot for Michael, my first hero, in The Devil’s Love. I also liked Rhodrick Glendower, just because he wasn’t a beautiful man. But I really like them all, and it’s hard to choose a favorite.
Now let’s talk about your heroines
Q. In your mind’s eye, what makes for a truly great heroine? Which heroine(s) of your books best illustrate this? Which ones least illustrate this? Why?
A. I like heroines who can pull themselves up by their bootstraps when they need to, and aren’t afraid to take men on. I like it when they have to dig deep, but I also like them to have some innocence in them, too. By that I mean I don’t think they have to know the reasons why they do what they do, but just react from some place that is all girl. In my very fist novel, Abby was very naïve at times, and she made some bad choices. But the girl knew what she wanted and went for it. In Book of Scandal, Evelyn had to overcome so very deep pain to find herself and her love for her husband again.
Q. Who or what was the underlying inspiration behind your heroines? What visuals did you use to help you create them?
A. The heroines I write are composites of women I have known or read about. I suppose they all have a little of me in them, too, although that part isn’t particularly inspiring, LOL. It’s just familiar.
Q. Which was your favorite heroine that you’ve written and why?
A. Like Michael, I have a soft spot for Abby in The Devil’s Love. I also like Lauren in Wicked Angel, and I really liked Claudia in The Ruthless Charmer. But like me heroes, I like all of my heroines for different reasons. I can’t choose a favorite. They all appeal to me.
Q. What new books can readers look forward to in the near future?
A. I have a lot of things in the works! In October 2009, the last book of my historical Scandalous Series, A Courtesan’s Scandal (following Book of Scandal, Highland Scandal) will be released. In that one, the Prince of Wales orders the Duke of Darlington to keep a secret for him the duke would rather not keep.
In 2010, One Season of Sunshine, another book set in Cedar Springs, Texas will be out, as well as the start of a new historical quartet, The Secrets of Hadley Green. That series is set in 1807, in the village of Hadley Green south of London. An old crime wreaks havoc in the lives of several people as they try to determine what truly happened all those years ago. In the course of discovering the truth, several secrets are revealed and unlikely pairings occur because of it. I have just started writing the series and I love it. It’s a little different than my other historicals because there is a bit of a mystery.
Any questions or comments for Julia? One lucky commenter will win a copy of Julia's historical Highland Scandal and another lucky commenter will win a copy of Julia's contemporary Summer of Two Wishes. According to my friends at Jack's Bar (Robyn Carr's Chat Group), Summer of Two Wishes makes for a pretty good read.
Remember, if you don't comment, you can't win the book (Please indicate if you have a preference)!
I want to thank Julia for joining us today and giving us some great answers!