Questions About Eloisa's Books
»Have you ever thought of writing a historical romance set in another period, say in the present or medieval period? What about pirates or Vikings? And do you ever think of writing a novel that’s not a romance at all?
» Peter Dewland in the Pleasures series did not have any wish to marry, but I've never really understood why, even though his brother Quill did. Is there a specific reason? Will you write a book about him someday?
Questions About Eloisa
Questions About Everything Else
Griffin Barry stole my heart in The Ugly Duchess. Does he make appearances in any other books?
Yes! Sir Griffin Barry first appears in The Ugly Duchess as a rascally pirate; we learn a bit about his broken marriage. Griffin then stars in Seduced by a Pirate. This novella takes place after The Ugly Duchess, when he returns to England and his wife. Lastly, the novella With this Kiss is the story of Griffin's oldest (adopted) son, who falls in love with the daughter of the hero of The Ugly Duchess. Seduced by a Pirate and With this Kiss are novellas that can be bought separately as e-novellas. Or they can be bought together, in print, under the title As You Wish.
I've noticed that the Earl of Mayne appears in a lot of your books. Did he ever get his own story?
Yes, he did! Garret Langham began as a secondary character in the Duchess series. (Duchess in Love, Fool for Love, A Wild Pursuit and Your Wicked Ways). Readers adored him and begged for more, so he continued into the Essex Sisters quartet (Much Ado About You, Kiss Me, Annabel, The Taming of the Duke and Pleasure for Pleasure). By this point, Mayne had his own fan club, the Bon Bons! Pleasure for Pleasure is Mayne's story, in which he finds his own happily ever after.
Why isn't there a chess game in A Duke of Her Own? I was looking forward to more chess-in-bed!
The reason there's no chess in the book has to do with Villiers's own development: He started out the series completely obsessed by chess, and using the game as a substitute for intimacy and sex (thus the chess games with Jemma). He fell in love with Jemma through chess; we could even say because of her chess ability. Therefore, it was important that in the process of the books he move away from that substitution of chess for life, and toward an understanding of how important intimacy and love is. He got a fever and nearly died; he had a break from playing; and then there's the signal game with Jemma when he doesn't even care if he wins (she can't believe it). That's the turning point for Villiers: when he's more absorbed in his children than playing a chess game. That's why I couldn't put a chess/sex game in his own novel: because he had to fall in love with Eleanor without a whiff of chess around. At the end I made it clear that she could play, just so they could have fun in the future... but their relationship had nothing to do with that sort of winning & losing.
What happens to the orphans in A Duke of Her Own? Who fed them and took care of them after Eleanor and Leo left the orphanage?
“How are the orphans doing now?” Villiers asked, breaking into the cool little silence that followed Lisette’s speech…
“Oh, very well!” Lisette replied. “The baker’s wife from the village has moved in temporarily. The committee is going to hire a new director."
By the treasure hunt, the orphans are already much happier (and better fed), and the ladies’ orphanage committee has gathered:
Finally, I wanted to remove the orphanage from Lisette's neighborhood altogether, so later Eleanor is found writing a letter:
Eleanor looked up from a note she was writing to Lisette, commiserating over the fact the orphanage was being moved to another county entirely, when Villiers entered the room and closed the door behind him.
I assure you that the orphans were very well cared for, and that Eleanor and Leo never forgot about them. Indeed, they watched over that particular set of orphans throughout their lives, because without those orphans they would never have found the twins, nor—arguably—each other..
Have you ever thought of writing a historical romance set in another period, say in the present or medieval period? What about pirates or Vikings? And do you ever think of writing a novel that’s not a romance at all?
It takes an enormous amount of research to write in a given historical period; even moving from the Regency to the Georgian period involved my reading books on everything from clothing to food – and those periods are basically next door to each other. So I probably won’t venture into another era in the near future. I did try a contemporary romance once, but it was a disaster – my baseball players sounded like Regency dukes, and if you’ve ever watched a press conference, you know just how far in left field I was! I do toy with the idea of writing an historical novel that doesn’t fall into the romance category, but unless a plot grabs me, I’ll stay right where I am: I love writing (and reading) romance.
Will you write a novel for Lisette, Tobias, Louise, Gideon, or (fill in a character you loved)?
I keep a list of characters whom I would like to revisit some day, either in a novel or in a short story. But the truth is that by the time the last book in a given series hits the shelves, I’ve leapt on to a new novel, and my imagination is taken up with a new world. What’s more, that world is likely as populous as my others – meaning that I can’t arrange for everyone to have a happy match. If I ever return to the Desperate Duchesses series, it would likely be to create a series around Villiers’s children. It would be fun to see how the ton handled that particular group of rather wild, beautiful, and illegitimate youngsters, grow into adults.
Do you have a list of all the characters in your books? I noticed a couple of characters with the same names in different books.
I don't keep a list, and that (unfortunately) has resulted in a few characters with the same or similar names among my various novels. Of course, some of those characters actually are the same people. The Earl of Mayne, for instance, appears in five books. Sometimes I bring minor characters back into a different novel if it works for them in terms of the novels' time-lines. My next series is set in the Georgian period, which was before the Regency, so one thing I'm doing for fun is bringing in some minor characters who are ancestors of my Regency characters. All kinds of insider information about characters can be found in my handy Connected Books section on my Bookshelf page.
Do you have a list of all your books I could take to the bookstore with me?
You can find a Printer-Friendly book list right here. You can also order each novel through an on-line bookstore by clicking on the novel cover under Bookshelf.
Believe me, I fell in love with Esme too! Esme's story goes through the entire Duchess series, from Duchess in Love, to Fool for Love, to A Wild Pursuit , and finally Your Wicked Ways. I guess there's a part of me that would like to write books as long as Dickens's long, baggy novels; spreading her story through several books gave me the chance to write a complex tale that covered a few years.
Peter Dewland in the Pleasures series did not have any wish to marry, but I've never really understood why, even though his brother Quill did. Is there a specific reason? Will you write a book about him someday?
I won't write a book about Quill's brother, because Peter is gay. There's one moment when Peter says he'll never get married, in Chapter Ten of Enchanting Pleasures, and Quill understands something "he had certainly known, without thinking, all along." That understanding is that his brother is fundamentally uninterested in sleeping with women, although Peter does love to be friends with women. I picture him as someone unlikely to have relationships with people of either sex, although his fundamental orientation (as we understand it today) would be toward another male. For him, the great pleasure in life comes from being exquisitely dressed and having charming friendships, not from deep sexual passion such as Quill and Gabby will share.
I heard you have extra chapters and free novellas on this site. Where are they?
I do have extra chapters and free novellas for you—but they've been taken off the site for a short while so they can be revamped and reformatted and rereleased better than ever.
What are some of your favorite books/writers?
When I was a child, I kept a boxed set of C.S. Lewis's Narnia series right by the door to my bedroom. I had marked on the top: Take first in case of fire . I guess this was a note to my parents: leave your daughter and take the books? It certainly shows my passionate commitment to reading! Another favorite book was I Captured the Castle, by Dodi Smith. It's a love story about an eccentric family of writers, and since my father is a poet, I identified with the heroine. The only problem was that I grew up on a farm, and Dodi's heroine was living in a castle. Plus, very handsome, rich men moved next door to her, and that never happened to me.
Are you really married to a knight?
Yup. I met my husband, Alessandro, on a blind date when we were both graduate students at Yale University. He's from Florence, Italy, and he's a cavaliere , which means knight in Italian. Unfortunately, he doesn't have a horse or a suit of armor.
How do you manage being a mother, and a bestselling author, and a professor?
Sometimes I wonder about that myself! The truth is that my husband is incredibly supportive. I can't say that writing books is pure joy - against all logical explanation, each book seems to be harder to write - but writing them is enormously pleasurable. Teaching Shakespeare gives me the same joy. And motherhood, when it doesn't involve getting people to school on time, is just as marvelous. So though I get tired sometimes, I feel that I am tremendously lucky.
How did you get started writing romance?
Like many things in life, my start as a romance writer sprang from a combination of love and money. I had a love of romance – and I needed money. At the point at which I started writing, my husband and I were both badly paid assistant professors. And the worst of it was that I had big student loans (with degrees from Harvard, Oxford & Yale…you can imagine). I wanted a second child, but my husband disagreed. “We can’t afford a second child,” he told me over and over. I wrote Potent Pleasures in a desperate bid to grow my family. When I finished the manuscript, I sent a letter describing my book (including its hero, who had annulled his first marriage on the grounds of impotence) to five literary agents, attaching a letter. Four of them winged back to me with notes like “This will never sell” scrawled on the front. The fifth asked for the whole manuscript. A few months later, a bidding war among publishers erupted. The final offer was just over my student loans; our daughter was born around nine months later. After that, of course, the story becomes more complicated. I had to write three romances to earn that advance. By the end of three romances, I was so in love with writing that I just kept going… but to my husband’s great relief, I didn’t have a child per book!
What happened to the Readers Pages?
EloisaJames.com is currently undergoing some renovations! All the content you are used to only being able to access while logged in as a Registered Reader will soon be available to everyone. Right now the login area is not available, but hang on to your login credentials! You will soon be able to use them to keep your contact information current in order to continue to receive Eloisa's special postcard mailings. (New login accounts will still be able to be created, as well.)
What happened to the Eloisa James & Julia Quinn Bulletin Board?
Julia and I loved the community that came together on our Bulletin Board, but as Facebook has become increasingly dominant, we felt that the Bulletin Board had run its course. That said, become my fan on Facebook to continue the conversation!
Do you have any tips so that I can get started writing my own book?
If you're thinking of writing a romance, you should join the Romance Writers of America. They have loads and loads of local chapters. My local chapter is only a half hour drive away from me, and they meet once a month. You can go a few times for free and see if you like it. Then find a critique partner through your chapter--someone who is also starting to write, or even a critique group. Critique partners help enormously with figuring out the ins and outs of writing fiction.
Second bit of advice: On the days when you have a bit of time, sit down and say to yourself, "I'm going to write two pages, no matter how terrible they are." Nora Roberts says that she can work with a page of bad prose, but she can't do anything with a blank page -- and she's right.
Where do you get the ideas for your covers?
In truth, I don't have anything to do with my cover designs. Sometimes I love them, and sometimes I'm less enthusiastic. Publishing companies spend a lot of time thinking and designing covers; they're the experts. Sometimes when I've thought a cover would be a total failure, it was a huge success - I thought that Your Wicked Ways was too green, for example, but that was my first New York Times bestseller!
Will you ever visit my town?
I wish I could do more book tours, but at the moment I'm raising small children, and being a professor, plus writing a book or two a year, and I just don't have time to do many book signings. If you sign up for my newsletter, I'll send you an email if I'm ever doing a booksigning in your state.
How do I get published by your publisher (Avon)?
I really think that Avon is a fabulous publisher of historical fiction – which makes it pretty hard to get a book accepted there. You can't do it without a literary agent; Avon doesn’t take novels from the slush pile. So you need to find an agent. My first suggestion is that you join the Romance Writers of America. They have monthly meetings and a monthly magazine with loads of great information about agents and publishers -- they do interviews with agents almost every month. Another thing you could do is watch out for a contest in which the final judge is an Avon editor. I know several people who’ve got published by winning contests. Good luck!