An interview with Joan Wolf

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Joan Wolf’s first romance was published was published in 1980, and she has been one of the most respected authors in the genre ever since.  She made a name for herself with her marvelous Signet Regencies, then moved into historical romance.  She has also published contemporary romances, pre-history romances, and medieval mysteries along the way.  Countless readers have enjoyed her wonderful characters, and her wonderful horses as well.    ( http://joanwolf.com )

The Word Wenches are honored to have Joan with us today for an interview timed to coincide with the May reissue of one of her most Joanandpendleton_framed beloved stories.  Joan, how did you start writing?

Joan Wolf:   I actually wrote my first book when I was about 10. I wrote it with a friend who was as horse-crazy as I was.  I remember that it was about a wild stallion in the west and the girl who tames him.  As we had never been west of the Bronx, or ridden anything other than the trail horses at our local public stable, we obviously violated the first rule of writing – write what you know.  But it kept us busy and out of trouble for one whole summer.   

Arrangement225 I always liked writing.  I actually loved doing term papers.  I was the obnoxious person who had her paper done a week before it was due. However, I never really thought about writing fiction until I retired from teaching high school English to stay home with my new baby.  New baby.  New town.  New state.  I was very lonely.  My plan had been to write my Ph.D. dissertation (on Shakespeare), but we didn’t have enough money to pay a babysitter so I could go up to the Yale library to do research.  This was the time when romance was just starting to become popular, so I decided to try my hand at writing a romance novel while my son napped.  I have never regretted not writing that dissertation.

MJP: What drew you to writing romance and historical novels?

JW: I had always adored Georgette Heyer’s books and when I came to write a book of my own, I found I really knew quite a lot about the regency period from reading her. I wrote regencies for quite a while (it was what my editor wanted), but then I branched off into other areas of history.  I have always adored history.  I get that from my dad.  I do not exaggerate when I say that we used to sit at the dinner table and go through the list of the Plantagenet kings from Henry II to Richard III.  (Come to think of it, I wonder why I never wrote a book about the Plantagenet kings?)

MJP: That will be great if you do it, Joan!  What was your first book, and how well do you think it characterizes your latest work?  How has your work changed, and what has stayed the same from the beginning?

JW:  My first book was called The Counterfeit Marriage.  I have never ever re-read it.  It was so sappy.  Drippy, actually.  Fortunately, Hilary Ross, then editor at NAL, Fools_masquerade thought it was publishable and she bought it from me – along with a contract to do two more regencies. By the time I did the fourth one – A London Season – I think I hit my stride.  Anyway, that’s certainly the first of my books that I would recommend anyone to read. 

The change in my books from then to now is a progression of ‘cleaning up’ my writing.  As I went along, my prose became sparer and clearer.  When I think of the profusion of adjectives that litter my first books, I am horrified.

Bornofthesun225 What has remained the same is my belief that character is the most important thing in a novel. A book can have the most exciting plot in the world, but if the characters don’t come to life and grip the reader, then the book is not for me.

MJP:  What was the biggest mistake you made when you first began writing?

JW:  My biggest mistake was to stay with my first agent and my first publisher for so long.  There was a window of time when I think I could have jumped my sales considerably if I had been given the right push. Ah well.  “Of all sad words of tongue or pen, the saddest are these, ‘it might have been.’”

MJP:  Staying too long seems to be a common mistake among long term career Avalon_original writers.  But now for the fun stuff!  In May, Chicago Review Press is reissuing The Road to Avalon, Joan’s Arthurian novel that was first published in 1988.  Almost twenty years later, it’s still being read and loved.  Can you tell us something of how you came to write The Road to Avalon

JW:  I fell in love with King Arthur when I was in high school and went to see Richard Burton in Camelot on Broadway. I cried my little teenaged eyes out at the end of that play, and after that I began to read everything I could on Arthur.  The whole time that I was writing regencies, and short contemporaries, and straight historicals, I was planning to write a book about Arthur.  I just wanted to make sure that I was ready, that the book would do him justice. 

I think it may have.  Certainly the response to The Road to Avalon has been amazingly enthusiastic. Even after all these years I have new people writing to tell me that they have discovered the book and that they absolutely loved it.  I even had a whole class of high school students (who had to read the book for school) write to Oprah and ask that she make it one of her recommended books!  I’m absolutely Avalon_new delighted that it is being re-published.  Unfortunately, I don’t think it’s going to be available in most stores.  People are probably going to have to order it over one of the Internet sites – Amazon or Barnes and Noble.  ( http://tinyurl.com/2lqhse  or   http://tinyurl.com/3xh5xj  The new cover is shown on the right; the old cover is above.)

MJP:  I read The Road to Avalon when it came out, and even twenty years later, the story and characters were vivid in my mind when I reread the new edition.  There are many Arthurian books.  What do you think makes The Road to Avalon so special?  Would you share some thought on Arthurian stories, which are collectively known as the Matter of Britain?

JW:  One of the things that struck me as I read the literature about Arthur was that the king was rarely the central character in any of the books or poems that were supposedly about him.  The books often featured Lancelot and Guinevere, or Merlin, or Gawain, or anyone except Arthur. Even in T.H. White’s marvelous book The Once Once_and_future_king and Future King, Arthur appears rather like a little old man in bedroom slippers.  I began to think about why this was so, why Arthur never seemed to be made the hero of his own story, and I came up with an answer.

It’s very hard to make a great hero out of a man whose wife prefers another man.  Arthur, in short, is a cuckold –hardly a heroic position to be in.  And the Lancelot-Guinevere love affair is too integral a part of the story not to include it.  It’s essential to the legend.

I got around this problem by giving Arthur a great love of his own.  And I used another Arthurian character who was very much at hand – Morgan le Fey – to do this.  I must say, I think it worked out very well.

Sutcliffsword_at_sunset The book about Arthur that I like the most is Rosemary Sutcliff’s Sword at Sunset.  I read this when I was in college, and I loved the way she set Arthur in the historical time in which he probably lived – shortly after the Romans had pulled out of Britain.  This is the time period in which The Road to Avalon is set.

MJP:  Which book, if any, was the most difficult for you to write, and why?

JW:   The most difficult books for me were the last three books that I wrote: White Horses, To the Castle, His Lordship’s Desire.  I have suffered all my life from migraine headaches and, while I was trying to write those books, the medications I Tothecastle had been taking for years ceased to work and I had a headache every single day.  I wrote all three of them with cardboard taped over my left eye because of the knife-like pain that constantly stabbed behind it.

It was truly a horrible time.  I was hospitalized for ten days at the Michigan Institute for Head and Neck Pain (to no avail),  and I underwent disc replacement surgery in my neck to see if that would help. (It didn’t)  I was so drugged up I could hardly stand.  Really really bad time.  If people were disappointed in those books, there was reason to be.

I’m happy to report that the headaches are now gone – due to a massage technique Trigger_point_therapy_workbook called trigger point therapy. (I highly recommend the book – Trigger Point Therapy Workbook by Clair Davies).   I am enjoying writing much more now that I am healthy again.  (Note from MJP: other authors have also reported great results in controlling pain with the techniques found in this book.)

MJP: What do you consider key elements of a great story?

JW: For me, it’s character.  When I think of a book I love, I always think of the characters.  If an author can make a character come alive and live in your brain as if Poisonedserpent225 she was a real person – that’s a good book.  This is why I enjoy getting mail from readers asking me questions about my characters, or asking me if I’m going to write a book about one of my secondary characters. It makes me feel as if I’ve done my job.

MJP: Are there any trends you hope to see in romance in the next few years?

JW: I find the present-day insistence on frequent sex scenes in a romance to be a problem for me – and for any other historical writer, I should think.  Well-bred young women who lived before the 20th century did not have sex before they were married.  Many of my old regencies dealt with the growing relationship between the hero and the heroine.  They fell in love because they were the right people for each other.  Each filled an emotional need the other had. This growing love is finally expressed in marriage and sex.

The problem with writing historical romances is: if you’re writing a novel about two people who aren’t married, how do you keep getting them into bed, as seems to be required?  I have to confess, I haven’t figured it out yet. 

MJP:  What is the best part about being a writer?  The most frustrating?

JW: The best part of writing is when you have a day when everything has gone well and you can look at the scene you’ve written and say, YES!!!

The most frustrating part of writing today for me is the necessity to write specifically ‘for the market.’ The market has a series of niches which editors want their books to neatly slot into – for example, it’s a given truth in today’s publishing world that that all romances must be ‘hot.’ Georgette Heyer wouldn’t have a prayer today.  Her characters don’t even kiss until the last page – even if they’ve been married for the whole book!

It’s getting more and more difficult to sell a book that doesn’t fit into the parameters set by ‘the market.’ If I sent The Road to Avalon out today I’d probably be told that ‘the last book we did on Arthur didn’t sell very well.  It’s been over done.  Sorry.’

Highmeadow225 Unfortunately, thus is the way of the publishing world today, and a writer either conforms or doesn’t get published.

I want to thank Mary Jo Putney and the Word Wenches web site for giving me this opportunity to talk to you. It’s been extremely enjoyable to babble on about myself.  And now, if you’ll excuse me, I have to go back to my latest book and try to figure out where I can fit in some sex.

MJP:  Your thoughts on publishing are in line with some discussions we’ve been having here, Joan. Thanks so much for visiting us today! 

Comments and questions for our guest?  Memories of your favorite Joan Wolf story?  (That’s a tough choice, but I have a particular fondness for an outrageously delicious Valentine’s novella she once wrote.)  And order your copy of The Road to Avalon today!  You won’t regret it. 

Mary Jo

84 thoughts on “An interview with Joan Wolf”

  1. I wonder how many 10-year-old girls are at this very moment writing novels about wild stallions in the wild west? That was what I was doing at 10. There were collies in it too.
    I’m utterly in awe of your determination/grit/strength, JW, in carrying on with the writing while suffering those migraines. I’m going to get my hands on those books for sure.
    Thanks for provoking a great deal of thought.

    Reply
  2. I wonder how many 10-year-old girls are at this very moment writing novels about wild stallions in the wild west? That was what I was doing at 10. There were collies in it too.
    I’m utterly in awe of your determination/grit/strength, JW, in carrying on with the writing while suffering those migraines. I’m going to get my hands on those books for sure.
    Thanks for provoking a great deal of thought.

    Reply
  3. I wonder how many 10-year-old girls are at this very moment writing novels about wild stallions in the wild west? That was what I was doing at 10. There were collies in it too.
    I’m utterly in awe of your determination/grit/strength, JW, in carrying on with the writing while suffering those migraines. I’m going to get my hands on those books for sure.
    Thanks for provoking a great deal of thought.

    Reply
  4. I wonder how many 10-year-old girls are at this very moment writing novels about wild stallions in the wild west? That was what I was doing at 10. There were collies in it too.
    I’m utterly in awe of your determination/grit/strength, JW, in carrying on with the writing while suffering those migraines. I’m going to get my hands on those books for sure.
    Thanks for provoking a great deal of thought.

    Reply
  5. Joan, I am thrilled to see you here! Your book “The Guardian” was one of the first romance novels I ever read, and I still enjoy it so much.
    I absolutely love the scene where the boat is sinking and Stephen rescues them. And I think you wrote first person beautifully.
    Thanks for sharing your thoughts with us. 🙂

    Reply
  6. Joan, I am thrilled to see you here! Your book “The Guardian” was one of the first romance novels I ever read, and I still enjoy it so much.
    I absolutely love the scene where the boat is sinking and Stephen rescues them. And I think you wrote first person beautifully.
    Thanks for sharing your thoughts with us. 🙂

    Reply
  7. Joan, I am thrilled to see you here! Your book “The Guardian” was one of the first romance novels I ever read, and I still enjoy it so much.
    I absolutely love the scene where the boat is sinking and Stephen rescues them. And I think you wrote first person beautifully.
    Thanks for sharing your thoughts with us. 🙂

    Reply
  8. Joan, I am thrilled to see you here! Your book “The Guardian” was one of the first romance novels I ever read, and I still enjoy it so much.
    I absolutely love the scene where the boat is sinking and Stephen rescues them. And I think you wrote first person beautifully.
    Thanks for sharing your thoughts with us. 🙂

    Reply
  9. I totally agree, Joan, that someone of your immense creative talent ought to be allowed to write within the parameters you know best, and to market parameters. It truly irks me that publishing thinks the only way they can sell books is through sex and violence. I know they understand that characterization is important and romance sells, so why they insist on forcing authors to follow lemmings over a cliff is beyond my comprehension.
    I’m utterly thrilled to hear your migraines are conquered!

    Reply
  10. I totally agree, Joan, that someone of your immense creative talent ought to be allowed to write within the parameters you know best, and to market parameters. It truly irks me that publishing thinks the only way they can sell books is through sex and violence. I know they understand that characterization is important and romance sells, so why they insist on forcing authors to follow lemmings over a cliff is beyond my comprehension.
    I’m utterly thrilled to hear your migraines are conquered!

    Reply
  11. I totally agree, Joan, that someone of your immense creative talent ought to be allowed to write within the parameters you know best, and to market parameters. It truly irks me that publishing thinks the only way they can sell books is through sex and violence. I know they understand that characterization is important and romance sells, so why they insist on forcing authors to follow lemmings over a cliff is beyond my comprehension.
    I’m utterly thrilled to hear your migraines are conquered!

    Reply
  12. I totally agree, Joan, that someone of your immense creative talent ought to be allowed to write within the parameters you know best, and to market parameters. It truly irks me that publishing thinks the only way they can sell books is through sex and violence. I know they understand that characterization is important and romance sells, so why they insist on forcing authors to follow lemmings over a cliff is beyond my comprehension.
    I’m utterly thrilled to hear your migraines are conquered!

    Reply
  13. Joan, you are a favorite author of mine. I loved your book The Pretenders. It was written in first person and the characters were so real and interesting.

    Reply
  14. Joan, you are a favorite author of mine. I loved your book The Pretenders. It was written in first person and the characters were so real and interesting.

    Reply
  15. Joan, you are a favorite author of mine. I loved your book The Pretenders. It was written in first person and the characters were so real and interesting.

    Reply
  16. Joan, you are a favorite author of mine. I loved your book The Pretenders. It was written in first person and the characters were so real and interesting.

    Reply
  17. I’ve been so looking forward to this interview, Joan! I have many of your books in my huge collection of Signet Regencies. I love those old Regencies, and that’s how I discovered you.
    I was very interested in your comment about migraines and trigger point therapy. I had bad headaches most of my life until I reached “a certain age” when they completely stopped. I suspect hormones often play a significant role in headaches. How fortunate that your migraines have fiinally gone away.
    Thanks so much for a wonderful interview, Joan. I hope The Road To Avalon sells like hotcakes!

    Reply
  18. I’ve been so looking forward to this interview, Joan! I have many of your books in my huge collection of Signet Regencies. I love those old Regencies, and that’s how I discovered you.
    I was very interested in your comment about migraines and trigger point therapy. I had bad headaches most of my life until I reached “a certain age” when they completely stopped. I suspect hormones often play a significant role in headaches. How fortunate that your migraines have fiinally gone away.
    Thanks so much for a wonderful interview, Joan. I hope The Road To Avalon sells like hotcakes!

    Reply
  19. I’ve been so looking forward to this interview, Joan! I have many of your books in my huge collection of Signet Regencies. I love those old Regencies, and that’s how I discovered you.
    I was very interested in your comment about migraines and trigger point therapy. I had bad headaches most of my life until I reached “a certain age” when they completely stopped. I suspect hormones often play a significant role in headaches. How fortunate that your migraines have fiinally gone away.
    Thanks so much for a wonderful interview, Joan. I hope The Road To Avalon sells like hotcakes!

    Reply
  20. I’ve been so looking forward to this interview, Joan! I have many of your books in my huge collection of Signet Regencies. I love those old Regencies, and that’s how I discovered you.
    I was very interested in your comment about migraines and trigger point therapy. I had bad headaches most of my life until I reached “a certain age” when they completely stopped. I suspect hormones often play a significant role in headaches. How fortunate that your migraines have fiinally gone away.
    Thanks so much for a wonderful interview, Joan. I hope The Road To Avalon sells like hotcakes!

    Reply
  21. I’ve also really been looking forward to this interview. I have almost all of your books except for a few that are hard to find. The Guardian and A London Season are two of my favorites. What are you working on now?
    About The Road to Avalon, I must confess that I have never liked stories about Arthur. In fact, I actively avoid them partly because they’re so sadly tragic and partly because of that snake in the grass Lancelot. (Though I did accidentally read a short story I liked where he was in love with the Lady of the Lake and was reunited with her after he died.) I’ve never even read Mary Stewart’s Merlin trilogy, and I adore Mary Stewart.
    So, I’m really torn. On the one hand, Joan, you’re one of my auto-buy-keepers and on the other, Arthur.
    PS — The Road to Avalon has a gorgeous cover! I’ve always loved that painting.

    Reply
  22. I’ve also really been looking forward to this interview. I have almost all of your books except for a few that are hard to find. The Guardian and A London Season are two of my favorites. What are you working on now?
    About The Road to Avalon, I must confess that I have never liked stories about Arthur. In fact, I actively avoid them partly because they’re so sadly tragic and partly because of that snake in the grass Lancelot. (Though I did accidentally read a short story I liked where he was in love with the Lady of the Lake and was reunited with her after he died.) I’ve never even read Mary Stewart’s Merlin trilogy, and I adore Mary Stewart.
    So, I’m really torn. On the one hand, Joan, you’re one of my auto-buy-keepers and on the other, Arthur.
    PS — The Road to Avalon has a gorgeous cover! I’ve always loved that painting.

    Reply
  23. I’ve also really been looking forward to this interview. I have almost all of your books except for a few that are hard to find. The Guardian and A London Season are two of my favorites. What are you working on now?
    About The Road to Avalon, I must confess that I have never liked stories about Arthur. In fact, I actively avoid them partly because they’re so sadly tragic and partly because of that snake in the grass Lancelot. (Though I did accidentally read a short story I liked where he was in love with the Lady of the Lake and was reunited with her after he died.) I’ve never even read Mary Stewart’s Merlin trilogy, and I adore Mary Stewart.
    So, I’m really torn. On the one hand, Joan, you’re one of my auto-buy-keepers and on the other, Arthur.
    PS — The Road to Avalon has a gorgeous cover! I’ve always loved that painting.

    Reply
  24. I’ve also really been looking forward to this interview. I have almost all of your books except for a few that are hard to find. The Guardian and A London Season are two of my favorites. What are you working on now?
    About The Road to Avalon, I must confess that I have never liked stories about Arthur. In fact, I actively avoid them partly because they’re so sadly tragic and partly because of that snake in the grass Lancelot. (Though I did accidentally read a short story I liked where he was in love with the Lady of the Lake and was reunited with her after he died.) I’ve never even read Mary Stewart’s Merlin trilogy, and I adore Mary Stewart.
    So, I’m really torn. On the one hand, Joan, you’re one of my auto-buy-keepers and on the other, Arthur.
    PS — The Road to Avalon has a gorgeous cover! I’ve always loved that painting.

    Reply
  25. Mary Jo and Joan, I cannot thank you enough on many fronts. I suffer chronic neck and head pain, and no medication I take can been working. I just finished reading your interview and have ordered the pain trigger book as well as “Avalon.”
    I’m an aspiring writer and the first book I wrote (currently boxed up) was around the time of Aethelred. I’ve done a lot of research into the early middle ages and they fascinate me no end. I’ve fantasized about writing about the time of Bede. So, I’m beyond thrilled to find a book about Alfred the Great. Thank you both of you once again.

    Reply
  26. Mary Jo and Joan, I cannot thank you enough on many fronts. I suffer chronic neck and head pain, and no medication I take can been working. I just finished reading your interview and have ordered the pain trigger book as well as “Avalon.”
    I’m an aspiring writer and the first book I wrote (currently boxed up) was around the time of Aethelred. I’ve done a lot of research into the early middle ages and they fascinate me no end. I’ve fantasized about writing about the time of Bede. So, I’m beyond thrilled to find a book about Alfred the Great. Thank you both of you once again.

    Reply
  27. Mary Jo and Joan, I cannot thank you enough on many fronts. I suffer chronic neck and head pain, and no medication I take can been working. I just finished reading your interview and have ordered the pain trigger book as well as “Avalon.”
    I’m an aspiring writer and the first book I wrote (currently boxed up) was around the time of Aethelred. I’ve done a lot of research into the early middle ages and they fascinate me no end. I’ve fantasized about writing about the time of Bede. So, I’m beyond thrilled to find a book about Alfred the Great. Thank you both of you once again.

    Reply
  28. Mary Jo and Joan, I cannot thank you enough on many fronts. I suffer chronic neck and head pain, and no medication I take can been working. I just finished reading your interview and have ordered the pain trigger book as well as “Avalon.”
    I’m an aspiring writer and the first book I wrote (currently boxed up) was around the time of Aethelred. I’ve done a lot of research into the early middle ages and they fascinate me no end. I’ve fantasized about writing about the time of Bede. So, I’m beyond thrilled to find a book about Alfred the Great. Thank you both of you once again.

    Reply
  29. I have a shelf filled with Joan Wolf keepers. The earliest are The American Duchess and Her Lordship’s Mistress, the original editions rather than the reprints. I still enjoy rereading them; they serve as wonderful evidence of how deeply satisfying a well-written love story can be without a high “hot” quotient.

    Reply
  30. I have a shelf filled with Joan Wolf keepers. The earliest are The American Duchess and Her Lordship’s Mistress, the original editions rather than the reprints. I still enjoy rereading them; they serve as wonderful evidence of how deeply satisfying a well-written love story can be without a high “hot” quotient.

    Reply
  31. I have a shelf filled with Joan Wolf keepers. The earliest are The American Duchess and Her Lordship’s Mistress, the original editions rather than the reprints. I still enjoy rereading them; they serve as wonderful evidence of how deeply satisfying a well-written love story can be without a high “hot” quotient.

    Reply
  32. I have a shelf filled with Joan Wolf keepers. The earliest are The American Duchess and Her Lordship’s Mistress, the original editions rather than the reprints. I still enjoy rereading them; they serve as wonderful evidence of how deeply satisfying a well-written love story can be without a high “hot” quotient.

    Reply
  33. Joan,
    Nice to see you in the Wenches bar! Sympathies on the migraines. I have friends who’ve had such severe migraine problems, too, and it turns one’s life upside down.
    On the “have sex early and often” trend in romances…
    In recent years, I have become a big fan of movies from India, i.e. Bollywood. It’s a sexually conservative culture, so although there’s often sexual energy and tension in a Bollywood love story, there’s typically no sex before marriage, no onscreen sex, no onscreen kissing, and no dialogue about sex.
    So… the hero and heroine usually have to have a -relationship- to keep their story going for 3 hours (which is the typical Bollywood film length). What a concept.
    And the more I watch Indian movies, the more bored and exasperated I get with our own US cinema and TV whenever I see characters meet… and 10 minutes later, they’re hopping into bed.
    Oh, good grief. And: YAWN!
    And ditto with instances of romance novel characters whose lives revolve around their genitals.
    LauraR

    Reply
  34. Joan,
    Nice to see you in the Wenches bar! Sympathies on the migraines. I have friends who’ve had such severe migraine problems, too, and it turns one’s life upside down.
    On the “have sex early and often” trend in romances…
    In recent years, I have become a big fan of movies from India, i.e. Bollywood. It’s a sexually conservative culture, so although there’s often sexual energy and tension in a Bollywood love story, there’s typically no sex before marriage, no onscreen sex, no onscreen kissing, and no dialogue about sex.
    So… the hero and heroine usually have to have a -relationship- to keep their story going for 3 hours (which is the typical Bollywood film length). What a concept.
    And the more I watch Indian movies, the more bored and exasperated I get with our own US cinema and TV whenever I see characters meet… and 10 minutes later, they’re hopping into bed.
    Oh, good grief. And: YAWN!
    And ditto with instances of romance novel characters whose lives revolve around their genitals.
    LauraR

    Reply
  35. Joan,
    Nice to see you in the Wenches bar! Sympathies on the migraines. I have friends who’ve had such severe migraine problems, too, and it turns one’s life upside down.
    On the “have sex early and often” trend in romances…
    In recent years, I have become a big fan of movies from India, i.e. Bollywood. It’s a sexually conservative culture, so although there’s often sexual energy and tension in a Bollywood love story, there’s typically no sex before marriage, no onscreen sex, no onscreen kissing, and no dialogue about sex.
    So… the hero and heroine usually have to have a -relationship- to keep their story going for 3 hours (which is the typical Bollywood film length). What a concept.
    And the more I watch Indian movies, the more bored and exasperated I get with our own US cinema and TV whenever I see characters meet… and 10 minutes later, they’re hopping into bed.
    Oh, good grief. And: YAWN!
    And ditto with instances of romance novel characters whose lives revolve around their genitals.
    LauraR

    Reply
  36. Joan,
    Nice to see you in the Wenches bar! Sympathies on the migraines. I have friends who’ve had such severe migraine problems, too, and it turns one’s life upside down.
    On the “have sex early and often” trend in romances…
    In recent years, I have become a big fan of movies from India, i.e. Bollywood. It’s a sexually conservative culture, so although there’s often sexual energy and tension in a Bollywood love story, there’s typically no sex before marriage, no onscreen sex, no onscreen kissing, and no dialogue about sex.
    So… the hero and heroine usually have to have a -relationship- to keep their story going for 3 hours (which is the typical Bollywood film length). What a concept.
    And the more I watch Indian movies, the more bored and exasperated I get with our own US cinema and TV whenever I see characters meet… and 10 minutes later, they’re hopping into bed.
    Oh, good grief. And: YAWN!
    And ditto with instances of romance novel characters whose lives revolve around their genitals.
    LauraR

    Reply
  37. Laura, interesting you should mention Bollywood movies and their conservative approach to sex compared to US movies. A lady in my critique group watches the Bollywoods for much the same reason, plus she says they are just plain entertaining.
    It’s gotten to the point that when reading a romance, I try to guess if the sex scene is gratuitous or legitimate. It seems sad to me that some of my favorite authors who previously wrote decent books where the sex, if any, was appropriate and natural, are still writing decent books but they’ve been asked to ramp up the sex … and sometimes it shows.
    OTOH, I just read a book where the hero is so infatuated with the heroine that he can’t keep his hands off her. He keeps sternly telling himself he’ll behave next time, and then the next time comes, and he’s all hands again. It was written in such a cute way that it was funny.

    Reply
  38. Laura, interesting you should mention Bollywood movies and their conservative approach to sex compared to US movies. A lady in my critique group watches the Bollywoods for much the same reason, plus she says they are just plain entertaining.
    It’s gotten to the point that when reading a romance, I try to guess if the sex scene is gratuitous or legitimate. It seems sad to me that some of my favorite authors who previously wrote decent books where the sex, if any, was appropriate and natural, are still writing decent books but they’ve been asked to ramp up the sex … and sometimes it shows.
    OTOH, I just read a book where the hero is so infatuated with the heroine that he can’t keep his hands off her. He keeps sternly telling himself he’ll behave next time, and then the next time comes, and he’s all hands again. It was written in such a cute way that it was funny.

    Reply
  39. Laura, interesting you should mention Bollywood movies and their conservative approach to sex compared to US movies. A lady in my critique group watches the Bollywoods for much the same reason, plus she says they are just plain entertaining.
    It’s gotten to the point that when reading a romance, I try to guess if the sex scene is gratuitous or legitimate. It seems sad to me that some of my favorite authors who previously wrote decent books where the sex, if any, was appropriate and natural, are still writing decent books but they’ve been asked to ramp up the sex … and sometimes it shows.
    OTOH, I just read a book where the hero is so infatuated with the heroine that he can’t keep his hands off her. He keeps sternly telling himself he’ll behave next time, and then the next time comes, and he’s all hands again. It was written in such a cute way that it was funny.

    Reply
  40. Laura, interesting you should mention Bollywood movies and their conservative approach to sex compared to US movies. A lady in my critique group watches the Bollywoods for much the same reason, plus she says they are just plain entertaining.
    It’s gotten to the point that when reading a romance, I try to guess if the sex scene is gratuitous or legitimate. It seems sad to me that some of my favorite authors who previously wrote decent books where the sex, if any, was appropriate and natural, are still writing decent books but they’ve been asked to ramp up the sex … and sometimes it shows.
    OTOH, I just read a book where the hero is so infatuated with the heroine that he can’t keep his hands off her. He keeps sternly telling himself he’ll behave next time, and then the next time comes, and he’s all hands again. It was written in such a cute way that it was funny.

    Reply
  41. Hi, Joan!
    So sorry to be late welcoming you to the Word Wenches. I’ve been busy, busy.
    Another hearty endorsement for Trigger Point Therapy. I wasn’t in as bad shape as you were, but I went through years of back pains and spasms with various medical people coming up with various suggestions. When I read TPT I realized the problem was in my shoulder and I had it sorted out in an amazingly short period of time.
    I also love The Road To Avalon for exactly the reason you give. It makes both Arthur and Guinevere people I want to spend time with. I never could get enthralled by careless adultery, especially when it created such havoc. And I loved it being set in reality.
    I firmly believe the tide has turned on the super sexy historicals. I think the readers who want lots of sex in the books and to heck with plausibility are happily enjoying the erotic romances. This gives some stretching room in historical romance, with more story, more historical texture, and just as much sexual delight as fits.
    Truly, I do believe this.
    Here’s hoping for lots more Joan Wolf books.
    Jo

    Reply
  42. Hi, Joan!
    So sorry to be late welcoming you to the Word Wenches. I’ve been busy, busy.
    Another hearty endorsement for Trigger Point Therapy. I wasn’t in as bad shape as you were, but I went through years of back pains and spasms with various medical people coming up with various suggestions. When I read TPT I realized the problem was in my shoulder and I had it sorted out in an amazingly short period of time.
    I also love The Road To Avalon for exactly the reason you give. It makes both Arthur and Guinevere people I want to spend time with. I never could get enthralled by careless adultery, especially when it created such havoc. And I loved it being set in reality.
    I firmly believe the tide has turned on the super sexy historicals. I think the readers who want lots of sex in the books and to heck with plausibility are happily enjoying the erotic romances. This gives some stretching room in historical romance, with more story, more historical texture, and just as much sexual delight as fits.
    Truly, I do believe this.
    Here’s hoping for lots more Joan Wolf books.
    Jo

    Reply
  43. Hi, Joan!
    So sorry to be late welcoming you to the Word Wenches. I’ve been busy, busy.
    Another hearty endorsement for Trigger Point Therapy. I wasn’t in as bad shape as you were, but I went through years of back pains and spasms with various medical people coming up with various suggestions. When I read TPT I realized the problem was in my shoulder and I had it sorted out in an amazingly short period of time.
    I also love The Road To Avalon for exactly the reason you give. It makes both Arthur and Guinevere people I want to spend time with. I never could get enthralled by careless adultery, especially when it created such havoc. And I loved it being set in reality.
    I firmly believe the tide has turned on the super sexy historicals. I think the readers who want lots of sex in the books and to heck with plausibility are happily enjoying the erotic romances. This gives some stretching room in historical romance, with more story, more historical texture, and just as much sexual delight as fits.
    Truly, I do believe this.
    Here’s hoping for lots more Joan Wolf books.
    Jo

    Reply
  44. Hi, Joan!
    So sorry to be late welcoming you to the Word Wenches. I’ve been busy, busy.
    Another hearty endorsement for Trigger Point Therapy. I wasn’t in as bad shape as you were, but I went through years of back pains and spasms with various medical people coming up with various suggestions. When I read TPT I realized the problem was in my shoulder and I had it sorted out in an amazingly short period of time.
    I also love The Road To Avalon for exactly the reason you give. It makes both Arthur and Guinevere people I want to spend time with. I never could get enthralled by careless adultery, especially when it created such havoc. And I loved it being set in reality.
    I firmly believe the tide has turned on the super sexy historicals. I think the readers who want lots of sex in the books and to heck with plausibility are happily enjoying the erotic romances. This gives some stretching room in historical romance, with more story, more historical texture, and just as much sexual delight as fits.
    Truly, I do believe this.
    Here’s hoping for lots more Joan Wolf books.
    Jo

    Reply
  45. Joan, your books are always a special treat, as is your company. But i’truth, I read you before I knew you, and was a huge fan even then. Your writing just hauls a reader in and… aww gee,I guess I lbew my cred when I admitted you’re a friend. Don’t matter. It’s true.
    Write more. If I want lotsa sex I’ll buy the illustrated Kama Sura – funny, isn’t it? With everyone liking Bollywood because it’s so discreet and yet it’s the same country that birthed the Kama Sutra! I guess they decided that since they defined it, they aced it, and didn’t have to go further.
    Anyway, ruminations aside – write more!!!!

    Reply
  46. Joan, your books are always a special treat, as is your company. But i’truth, I read you before I knew you, and was a huge fan even then. Your writing just hauls a reader in and… aww gee,I guess I lbew my cred when I admitted you’re a friend. Don’t matter. It’s true.
    Write more. If I want lotsa sex I’ll buy the illustrated Kama Sura – funny, isn’t it? With everyone liking Bollywood because it’s so discreet and yet it’s the same country that birthed the Kama Sutra! I guess they decided that since they defined it, they aced it, and didn’t have to go further.
    Anyway, ruminations aside – write more!!!!

    Reply
  47. Joan, your books are always a special treat, as is your company. But i’truth, I read you before I knew you, and was a huge fan even then. Your writing just hauls a reader in and… aww gee,I guess I lbew my cred when I admitted you’re a friend. Don’t matter. It’s true.
    Write more. If I want lotsa sex I’ll buy the illustrated Kama Sura – funny, isn’t it? With everyone liking Bollywood because it’s so discreet and yet it’s the same country that birthed the Kama Sutra! I guess they decided that since they defined it, they aced it, and didn’t have to go further.
    Anyway, ruminations aside – write more!!!!

    Reply
  48. Joan, your books are always a special treat, as is your company. But i’truth, I read you before I knew you, and was a huge fan even then. Your writing just hauls a reader in and… aww gee,I guess I lbew my cred when I admitted you’re a friend. Don’t matter. It’s true.
    Write more. If I want lotsa sex I’ll buy the illustrated Kama Sura – funny, isn’t it? With everyone liking Bollywood because it’s so discreet and yet it’s the same country that birthed the Kama Sutra! I guess they decided that since they defined it, they aced it, and didn’t have to go further.
    Anyway, ruminations aside – write more!!!!

    Reply
  49. From MJP:
    I’m just back from a weekend conference, and having fun reading the comments.
    Keira, I really hope that the trigger point therapy is as effective for you as it has been for many others. It seems to relieve pain in people for whom other techniques haven’t worked. Let us know if you benefit by this!
    Jo, I so hope you’re right that the subcategory of erotica will satisfy readers who love that, so historical romance can return to a wider range of sensuality rather than the current pressure for hot, hot, HOT! I read for story and character, and many of my keeper romances have no explicit sex at all, but they’re wonderful stories that I love. (And I love plenty that are explicit, too–it comes down to the story.)
    I think you should give her book a try, since her spin on the Arthurian legends is fresh and very positive.
    Mary Jo

    Reply
  50. From MJP:
    I’m just back from a weekend conference, and having fun reading the comments.
    Keira, I really hope that the trigger point therapy is as effective for you as it has been for many others. It seems to relieve pain in people for whom other techniques haven’t worked. Let us know if you benefit by this!
    Jo, I so hope you’re right that the subcategory of erotica will satisfy readers who love that, so historical romance can return to a wider range of sensuality rather than the current pressure for hot, hot, HOT! I read for story and character, and many of my keeper romances have no explicit sex at all, but they’re wonderful stories that I love. (And I love plenty that are explicit, too–it comes down to the story.)
    I think you should give her book a try, since her spin on the Arthurian legends is fresh and very positive.
    Mary Jo

    Reply
  51. From MJP:
    I’m just back from a weekend conference, and having fun reading the comments.
    Keira, I really hope that the trigger point therapy is as effective for you as it has been for many others. It seems to relieve pain in people for whom other techniques haven’t worked. Let us know if you benefit by this!
    Jo, I so hope you’re right that the subcategory of erotica will satisfy readers who love that, so historical romance can return to a wider range of sensuality rather than the current pressure for hot, hot, HOT! I read for story and character, and many of my keeper romances have no explicit sex at all, but they’re wonderful stories that I love. (And I love plenty that are explicit, too–it comes down to the story.)
    I think you should give her book a try, since her spin on the Arthurian legends is fresh and very positive.
    Mary Jo

    Reply
  52. From MJP:
    I’m just back from a weekend conference, and having fun reading the comments.
    Keira, I really hope that the trigger point therapy is as effective for you as it has been for many others. It seems to relieve pain in people for whom other techniques haven’t worked. Let us know if you benefit by this!
    Jo, I so hope you’re right that the subcategory of erotica will satisfy readers who love that, so historical romance can return to a wider range of sensuality rather than the current pressure for hot, hot, HOT! I read for story and character, and many of my keeper romances have no explicit sex at all, but they’re wonderful stories that I love. (And I love plenty that are explicit, too–it comes down to the story.)
    I think you should give her book a try, since her spin on the Arthurian legends is fresh and very positive.
    Mary Jo

    Reply
  53. Mary Jo: My copy of the books are on the way. I’m really looking forward to owning a copy of “Avalon.” Any relief from this pain would be great. I’ll be sure to report back. A million thanks to you and to Joan for telling me about it.

    Reply
  54. Mary Jo: My copy of the books are on the way. I’m really looking forward to owning a copy of “Avalon.” Any relief from this pain would be great. I’ll be sure to report back. A million thanks to you and to Joan for telling me about it.

    Reply
  55. Mary Jo: My copy of the books are on the way. I’m really looking forward to owning a copy of “Avalon.” Any relief from this pain would be great. I’ll be sure to report back. A million thanks to you and to Joan for telling me about it.

    Reply
  56. Mary Jo: My copy of the books are on the way. I’m really looking forward to owning a copy of “Avalon.” Any relief from this pain would be great. I’ll be sure to report back. A million thanks to you and to Joan for telling me about it.

    Reply
  57. Thanks to everyone for their enthusiastic and supportive comments about my books. I can assure you that I haven’t thrown in the towel yet. There may be another Joan Wolf book one of these days.
    Thanks again,
    Joan

    Reply
  58. Thanks to everyone for their enthusiastic and supportive comments about my books. I can assure you that I haven’t thrown in the towel yet. There may be another Joan Wolf book one of these days.
    Thanks again,
    Joan

    Reply
  59. Thanks to everyone for their enthusiastic and supportive comments about my books. I can assure you that I haven’t thrown in the towel yet. There may be another Joan Wolf book one of these days.
    Thanks again,
    Joan

    Reply
  60. Thanks to everyone for their enthusiastic and supportive comments about my books. I can assure you that I haven’t thrown in the towel yet. There may be another Joan Wolf book one of these days.
    Thanks again,
    Joan

    Reply
  61. Thanks to everyone for their enthusiastic and supportive comments about my books. I can assure you that I haven’t thrown in the towel yet. There may be another Joan Wolf book one of these days.
    Thanks again,
    Joan

    Reply
  62. Thanks to everyone for their enthusiastic and supportive comments about my books. I can assure you that I haven’t thrown in the towel yet. There may be another Joan Wolf book one of these days.
    Thanks again,
    Joan

    Reply
  63. Thanks to everyone for their enthusiastic and supportive comments about my books. I can assure you that I haven’t thrown in the towel yet. There may be another Joan Wolf book one of these days.
    Thanks again,
    Joan

    Reply
  64. Thanks to everyone for their enthusiastic and supportive comments about my books. I can assure you that I haven’t thrown in the towel yet. There may be another Joan Wolf book one of these days.
    Thanks again,
    Joan

    Reply
  65. Thanks to everyone for their enthusiastic and supportive comments about my books. I can assure you that I haven’t thrown in the towel yet. There may be another Joan Wolf book one of these days.
    Thanks again,
    Joan

    Reply
  66. Thanks to everyone for their enthusiastic and supportive comments about my books. I can assure you that I haven’t thrown in the towel yet. There may be another Joan Wolf book one of these days.
    Thanks again,
    Joan

    Reply
  67. Thanks to everyone for their enthusiastic and supportive comments about my books. I can assure you that I haven’t thrown in the towel yet. There may be another Joan Wolf book one of these days.
    Thanks again,
    Joan

    Reply
  68. Thanks to everyone for their enthusiastic and supportive comments about my books. I can assure you that I haven’t thrown in the towel yet. There may be another Joan Wolf book one of these days.
    Thanks again,
    Joan

    Reply
  69. Hello,
    THANKS SO MUCH for this great interview… I do like it ! “To the castle” hits the shelves here in France yesterday and of course, now, i’m through it… Road to Avalon sounds terrific and I’ll have a look on Amazon to see if I can order it !
    Lots of love from your french reader !

    Reply
  70. Hello,
    THANKS SO MUCH for this great interview… I do like it ! “To the castle” hits the shelves here in France yesterday and of course, now, i’m through it… Road to Avalon sounds terrific and I’ll have a look on Amazon to see if I can order it !
    Lots of love from your french reader !

    Reply
  71. Hello,
    THANKS SO MUCH for this great interview… I do like it ! “To the castle” hits the shelves here in France yesterday and of course, now, i’m through it… Road to Avalon sounds terrific and I’ll have a look on Amazon to see if I can order it !
    Lots of love from your french reader !

    Reply
  72. Hello,
    THANKS SO MUCH for this great interview… I do like it ! “To the castle” hits the shelves here in France yesterday and of course, now, i’m through it… Road to Avalon sounds terrific and I’ll have a look on Amazon to see if I can order it !
    Lots of love from your french reader !

    Reply
  73. Joan,
    I so enjoy your books and I believe I do own every one of them, including some very hard to find contemporaries written in the mid 80’s. Like Mary Jo, I am quite fond of the Valentine novella and every time I reread that story I hopefully check the next page wishing it was going to go on longer. I particularly enjoy those novels that you have written in first person and The Arrangement has a fond place in my Top Ten list. Road to Avalon is a fantastic story and I hope they will reissue the rest of your Dark Ages books in the coming months as well. I’m very glad that your headaches have responded to some treatment and I hope that a publisher soon realizes what a treat you provide for us whenever a new Joan Wolf book is released.

    Reply
  74. Joan,
    I so enjoy your books and I believe I do own every one of them, including some very hard to find contemporaries written in the mid 80’s. Like Mary Jo, I am quite fond of the Valentine novella and every time I reread that story I hopefully check the next page wishing it was going to go on longer. I particularly enjoy those novels that you have written in first person and The Arrangement has a fond place in my Top Ten list. Road to Avalon is a fantastic story and I hope they will reissue the rest of your Dark Ages books in the coming months as well. I’m very glad that your headaches have responded to some treatment and I hope that a publisher soon realizes what a treat you provide for us whenever a new Joan Wolf book is released.

    Reply
  75. Joan,
    I so enjoy your books and I believe I do own every one of them, including some very hard to find contemporaries written in the mid 80’s. Like Mary Jo, I am quite fond of the Valentine novella and every time I reread that story I hopefully check the next page wishing it was going to go on longer. I particularly enjoy those novels that you have written in first person and The Arrangement has a fond place in my Top Ten list. Road to Avalon is a fantastic story and I hope they will reissue the rest of your Dark Ages books in the coming months as well. I’m very glad that your headaches have responded to some treatment and I hope that a publisher soon realizes what a treat you provide for us whenever a new Joan Wolf book is released.

    Reply
  76. Joan,
    I so enjoy your books and I believe I do own every one of them, including some very hard to find contemporaries written in the mid 80’s. Like Mary Jo, I am quite fond of the Valentine novella and every time I reread that story I hopefully check the next page wishing it was going to go on longer. I particularly enjoy those novels that you have written in first person and The Arrangement has a fond place in my Top Ten list. Road to Avalon is a fantastic story and I hope they will reissue the rest of your Dark Ages books in the coming months as well. I’m very glad that your headaches have responded to some treatment and I hope that a publisher soon realizes what a treat you provide for us whenever a new Joan Wolf book is released.

    Reply
  77. Joan, I want to congratulate you on the wonderful interview, and on the re-release of The Road to Avalon! I enjoyed reading both immensely.
    As both a current employee at Chicago Review Press, and a former bookstore employee, I wanted to comment on the availability of the book. The books will be available in bookstores as well as online. (In fact, an ad just ran in an enewsletter that goes to booksellers and book industry people daily, which linked to a page including Road to Avalon, which was one of the titles featured in the ad. Here’s the link to the marketing piece–http://www.chicagoreviewpress.com/marketing/rediscoveredclassics.pdf
    To help tip the scales from online back to the brick-and-mortar, I’d recommend that people go into their favorite stores and request the books. Show that there’s a demand and a desire to have the book stocked on the shelves!

    Reply
  78. Joan, I want to congratulate you on the wonderful interview, and on the re-release of The Road to Avalon! I enjoyed reading both immensely.
    As both a current employee at Chicago Review Press, and a former bookstore employee, I wanted to comment on the availability of the book. The books will be available in bookstores as well as online. (In fact, an ad just ran in an enewsletter that goes to booksellers and book industry people daily, which linked to a page including Road to Avalon, which was one of the titles featured in the ad. Here’s the link to the marketing piece–http://www.chicagoreviewpress.com/marketing/rediscoveredclassics.pdf
    To help tip the scales from online back to the brick-and-mortar, I’d recommend that people go into their favorite stores and request the books. Show that there’s a demand and a desire to have the book stocked on the shelves!

    Reply
  79. Joan, I want to congratulate you on the wonderful interview, and on the re-release of The Road to Avalon! I enjoyed reading both immensely.
    As both a current employee at Chicago Review Press, and a former bookstore employee, I wanted to comment on the availability of the book. The books will be available in bookstores as well as online. (In fact, an ad just ran in an enewsletter that goes to booksellers and book industry people daily, which linked to a page including Road to Avalon, which was one of the titles featured in the ad. Here’s the link to the marketing piece–http://www.chicagoreviewpress.com/marketing/rediscoveredclassics.pdf
    To help tip the scales from online back to the brick-and-mortar, I’d recommend that people go into their favorite stores and request the books. Show that there’s a demand and a desire to have the book stocked on the shelves!

    Reply
  80. Joan, I want to congratulate you on the wonderful interview, and on the re-release of The Road to Avalon! I enjoyed reading both immensely.
    As both a current employee at Chicago Review Press, and a former bookstore employee, I wanted to comment on the availability of the book. The books will be available in bookstores as well as online. (In fact, an ad just ran in an enewsletter that goes to booksellers and book industry people daily, which linked to a page including Road to Avalon, which was one of the titles featured in the ad. Here’s the link to the marketing piece–http://www.chicagoreviewpress.com/marketing/rediscoveredclassics.pdf
    To help tip the scales from online back to the brick-and-mortar, I’d recommend that people go into their favorite stores and request the books. Show that there’s a demand and a desire to have the book stocked on the shelves!

    Reply

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