As promised, I’m concluding my interview with Wench Loretta Chase today. (If you missed Part One, here’s the link: Interview with Loretta: Part One ) Read on for the truth about the hero in LORD OF SCOUNDRELS, whether Albania really is a romantic setting, and a few tantalizing hints about what Loretta has in store for her next book. Look for Loretta’s absolutely amazing new book, Not Quite a Lady, in stores now, and be sure to post a comment or question below — she’ll be choosing a reader at random to win a signed copy of NOT QUITE A LADY. Wonder if you missed any of Loretta’s fantastic books? Check out the booklist on her website, complete with excerpts: Loretta’s Booklist
5. While most historical romances today are set in Regency England, you’ve wandered much farther afield, placing your books in non-traditional locations like Egypt, Albania, and Italy. What about these more exotic settings appeals to you? What are the challenges and rewards of stepping so far outside the genre’s box?
The main reason for trying something different is to keep my readers–and me–from getting bored. Even when I set a story in England, it’s important to find an angle that’s new to me, so I can bring that freshness to the writing. Too, the characters have to be the right ones for the setting. Charlotte’s story is about family, on several levels, so the intensely domestic country setting–away from the glamour and the masquerade that is London Society–was crucial, I thought. OTOH, setting a story in Egypt–as is the case with MR. IMPOSSIBLE–called for a man who loved danger, because Egypt at this time was extremely dangerous. So the exotic settings allow me not only to research new places but also to create different kinds of characters and character dynamics. And it gives me a chance to learn all kinds of interesting trivia.
6. You’ve written some of the BEST heroes ever to grace historical romance: the perfect mix of intelligence, wit, action, dashing charm, and very real masculine pig-headedness. While each one is memorable in a different way, there is definitely a Loretta Chase hero. Are there any real-life men that have influenced you? What qualities to you regard as essential for a good hero? What do you try to avoid?
Oh, thank you! My husband has been most instructive about men. His insights are vital because I grew up with sisters, so I had no clue about the male brain for many years. I actually thought they thought the same way women did!
My big challenge is to try to think like a man without going over completely to the Dark Side and losing my readers. Because the hero is, after all, a kind of ideal male figure. Very masculine, and yet able to connect on some essential–and not simply sexual–level, with women. Some qualities simply need to be there or I can’t love him: a sense of humor, kindness (even if it’s buried deep down), courage (and that includes psychological courage). He doesn’t have to be a mental giant but he does need to be quick-witted. I suppose the main thing is, he has to be totally worthy of the heroine. Oh, and he needs to be tall.
7. LORD OF SCOUNDRELS is cited by many readers (including me) as one of the top historical romances of all time. Writers aren’t supposed to have favorite books any more than mothers have favorite children, but I’ll ask anyway: Do you have a favorite among your books? Why?
I love LORD OF SCOUNDRELS. I’m not sure I’ve ever had more fun, start to finish, writing a book, and I’m very proud of its continuing popularity. But I’m a Gemini, and Change and New are bywords. My favorite book is either the book I’ve just finished–because it’s finished! Yay!–or the one I’m working on, because it’s all new, and I’m discovering things every day.
8. You’ve often said how much you enjoy the books of Charles Dickens, and in fact the orphaned boy in NOT QUITE A LADY is named Pip, the hero of Dickens’ GREAT EXPECTATIONS. Do you regard Dickens as an influence on your writing? How? What other writers have influenced you?
There are lots of influences, a host of 18th & 19th C British authors, poets, and playwrights. Some of these books, like MIDDLEMARCH, have provided the spark for certain of my stories. But Dickens is the strongest influence, absolutely, because of the way he used language. I know that many people find him too wordy but I love his words, whether it’s dialogue or narrative. His words make everything in the story come alive, not simply people but the environment, furniture, utensils. Everything seems to have a personality. In some ways, it’s like seeing a world through a child’s eyes, and I often feel, reading him, that I’m watching a great animated film. I do believe there’s a lot of Dickens in Disney, for instance.
Sometimes I see a setting before I see the characters, and in this case, I saw Venice. I knew Byron had lived there for a time, so I hunted up the relevant volumes of his Letters and Journals, and immediately found all kinds of wonderful stuff–the stuff of which novels can be made by the nerdy. I think he must have been one of the horniest men who ever lived. Where he found time to write all those long poems is beyond me. Apparently, sex inspired him–and in Continental Europe, it turns out, sex was more readily available, because morals there were quite different from English morals and the double standard was less…double.
Beyond the fascinating research, I find it hard to talk about a book in progress. I have ideas of where it will go but things always change in the course of writing. So for now I’ll just say it’s amazing what can go on in an early 19th C gondola.
Many, many thanks, Loretta — both for this interview, and for the pleasure your books have brought. *G*
Readers, now it’s your turn to ask Loretta a question or two. She’ll be choosing a winner for a signed book next week from the names of everyone who posts, so don’t be shy….