Monday, June 9, 2008

The Amazing Loretta Chase!

Posted by Christine Wells

Loretta Chase is undoubtedly one of the most beloved historical romance writers of all time and we're lucky to have her with us today to talk about her new release, Your Scandalous Ways.

Loretta, welcome to Romance Bandits! We’re so excited to have you in the Lair.

Thank you Bandits! I’m delighted to be here.

Christine: Setting is always important in your novels and you often use it as a metaphor for character. Can you tell us why you chose Venice for this particular novel and how you used the setting in Your Scandalous Ways?

Loretta: I came to Venice the dumb way. The James Bond movie, Casino Royale, that inspired my hero, James Cordier, also got me intrigued with Venice. There’s one of those big special effects scenes in a building undergoing repairs. Most of those crash-explode-fireballs-body-parts-flying kinds of scenes do not stay in my memory banks. But this scene stuck in my mind because of all the water--under the building! I had one of those shattering insights: “Venice is built on water! Who knew?” Um, a lot of people, it turns out. Still, there are quite a few, like me, who didn’t fully grasp the situation. And that was all it took, really: curiosity to find out more. As I researched the place, I quickly became convinced that it was the perfect setting for my characters. Setting is part of how I tell a story, so I tend to exploit locales as much as possible. Venice has a distinctive culture. It was more permissive & egalitarian than London. It revived Byron after the scandal that drove him from England, so it seemed the perfect place for my characters to be reborn. It also has a distinctive architecture, very over-the-top and exuberant--which fit my exuberant & over-the-top characters. And there are those wonderful canals and the gondolas with their black cabins: perfect for so many kinds of scenes, from comedy to mayhem to smoochies.

Christine: James and Francesca are an unconventional pair. What drew you to write about these characters?

Loretta: The need to go where Loretta Chase has never gone before. I’ve done spies, but I hadn’t dealt with someone who was as jaded and tired of his job as James. And I’ve always wanted to rewrite operas like La Traviata or movies like Camille and have the ho heroine not die of consumption in the end, but triumph over her situation and get her happily ever after. The convention in literature is to make courtesans--and all “fallen women”--tragic figures. They come to a bad end, they’re ashamed and unhappy at heart. But I had read Harriette Wilson’s memoirs, and she did not go for the “cruel-world-drove-me-to-this” scenario. She was unrepentant, naughty, and funny. Though she certainly had her faults, she inspired me. I wanted to try to capture that spirit, that sense of fun--and explore the kinds of freedom a “fallen woman” could have, that was denied her more respectable sisters. It was also fun to create the kind of man who would accept her, fully, and love her--especially if he’s fighting his feelings the whole way.

Christine: I was drooling over the fabulous jewels your heroine, Francesca, wears. Were any of these based on real pieces?

Loretta: Absolutely. I relied on JEWELLERY: THE INTERNATIONAL ERA 1789-1910, Volume I 1789-1861. The pearls came from a miniature of the Empress Josephine. The peridot wager was inspired by a beautiful color photo of a peridot and diamond set that’s in the Victoria and Albert Museum. For Francesca I also borrowed some of the beautiful emerald and diamond and sapphire and diamond sets in the book. More recently, I acquired the luscious GEORGIAN JEWELLERY 1714-1830, whose pages will help me adorn my new heroine. I think jewelry is underused in historical romance, and I intend to remedy the situation singlehandedly, if necessary.*g*

Christine: Jayne Ann Krentz talks about each author having a core story, one they retell in every novel. Do you have a core story or a particular theme that often emerges from your books?

Loretta: You know, I’ve asked myself this question, but I haven’t a clue, really. I’m too close to the work. I do tend to deal with second chances: people whom life has treated harshly or who have made dreadful mistakes. I give them a chance to do it over and make things right the second time. And I always seem to deal with the status of women, one way or another. But mainly I think readers are more liable to notice a core story than I am, and I’d be interested to learn what they think my core story or theme is.

Christine: You obviously take great delight in researching your historical romances. Why do you choose to write historical romance rather than straight historical fiction?

Loretta: Short answer: Happily Ever After. I’ve toyed with the idea of a historical novel but keep coming up against two really depressing elements: (1) the low status of women--no rights, no real power and (2) life is hard and then you die. At heart, I’m a comic, not a tragic writer--not necessarily ha-ha throughout, but with a comic view of the world and a need to end things happily. If I could be George McDonald Fraser I might give historical fiction a shot, but so far, I don’t seem to be him. So far, my voice seems to be one made for love stories.

Christine: Well I, for one, am very glad of that and I'm sure your readers are too! Now, for the final frivolity--if you were a Loretta Chase heroine, which Loretta Chase hero would be your perfect match?

Loretta: I try to make the heroes & heroines perfect matches for each other. The heroines are the kinds of women I’d like to be if I could be several remarkable women--like, on different days. The heroes have to be the kinds of men these women can not only fall in love with but spend a lifetime with. Since models from real life are not exactly thick on the ground, I must make these men from scratch. This requires a major investment of energy and imagination. By the time I’m done creating my demi-god, we are permanently bonded. It’s not that I love them all the same, but I love them all, for different but equally compelling reasons.

And now, over to our readers! What do you think? Do you like to see powerful women in historical romance? Or any romance? Do you like to see a heroine just like you, or a heroine you would aspire to be? Loretta is generously offering a copy of Your Scandalous Ways and SIX Your Scandalous Ways bookmarks to assorted lucky readers.


Joan said...

Welcome Loretta!

Joan said...

Your Scandalous Ways sounds lovely, Loretta. Looks like another Barnes and Noble run is coming up for me. We're honored to have you with us.

I'm in total agreement that the lure to write historical romance fiction is the promise of the HEA. I love weaving history into the dynamics of a burgeoning relationship.

And to write strong heroines, women of worth beyond their times who can match and meet their heros is less challenge than it is FUN.

I've never been to Venice, but a friend of mine went last year on a two week cruise that ended there. She and her husband spent three extra days exploring the wonders of that ancient city and dodging the pigeons. :-)

Speaking of pigeons (sort of), the GR has landed safely in the Bluegrass State. (Too late, darn it to help with my mulching, but still...)

Anna Campbell said...

Joan, I think you could encourage the rooster to add to your garden's general health - snork! Congratulations!

Christine, what a bonzer interview!
Loretta, welcome to the Banditas. Pull up a chair, grab a margarita. There's a special Murano glass goblet we've been keeping for you in the china cabinet. Your Scandalous Ways is fantastic! Congratulations on producing another classic.

The collected works of Loretta Chase have their special slot on my keeper shelves. I was wondering if you would ever revisit some of those beloved early characters. I loved the way Ismal and co reappeared briefly in connecting stories without being the 'focus' of the activity. Are we going to visit Ismal and Leila any time soon? Or Dane and Jessica?

Also, I wondered if you could share with us some authors whose writing you admire. I'd love to know the masters the master learnt from!

Natalie Hatch said...

Joan snaffled the GR...
I love strong women, ones who don't take the mysogynistic era to heart, but forge their own way through. That said, there are soo many novels out there with simpering women who let men do the arse kicking. It's good to see that Loretta is writing female characters with (excuse the pun) balls. Someone who gives as good as she takes. Now all the rest of us have to do is follow the lead and get our heroines out there taking over the world. Who knows this could spark a revolution in romance?

Christine Wells said...

Hi Loretta, another warm welcome to the Lair!

I like strong heroines, too, and strength can manifest in all sorts of different ways. Making the best of a bad lot and not only doing that, but triumphing is certainly something I love to see in a heroine.

Anna, you've earened my everlasting gratitude for introducing me to Loretta's novels. Now where did I put that other kidney?LOL

Natalie, I like kick-ass heroines, but I like ones who show strength in other ways, too. It's pretty unrealistic to think a woman of the Regency era can best a man physically in most cases, but outwit, entrance, confuse and tempt him, she certainly can, as Francesca shows!

Joanie T, congrats on landing the Golden Rooster!

Gillian Layne said...

Joan, congratulations on the GR! :)

Christine, wonderful interview! Loretta, I love many of your books because of the sharp, witty prose and the way you match your heroines with just the right story to bring out her unique strength. Not Quite a Lady is one of my favorites, and I'm looking forward to Your Scandalous Ways.

I love powerful women in history and historical romance. It's especially satisfying to see these women find their perfect heroes. :)

Natalie Hatch said...

I don't know who it was that mentioned North + South on this blog, but I watched it the other night... now there was a heroine who held her own and didn't simper. So perhaps regencies can't go stomp on the bad guys faces with stilettos (because they weren't invented yet) but she can certainly use her brains to outwit them Christine you are right. Although a modern heroine being transported back to Regency times to kick arse would be interesting.. oh, what? Someone's already done that? darn, next idea.
Thanks Loretta for coming onto this blog.

Christine Wells said...

Hi Gillian, you only have to read a paragraph of one of Loretta's books to get pulled in by her wonderfully strong voice, don't you? And her dialogue is always spot on.

Natalie, the question is, who has NOT mentioned North & South on this blog?LOL Wonderful conflict in that story--the hero and heroine had true ideological differences over a very tough question, they weren't simply bickering. And Richard Armitage wasn't bad to watch, either:)

Helen said...

Congrats Joan have fun with him

Fantastic interview Ladies I ordered this book and am waiting for it to arrive hopefully it will be this week. I have read one of your books Lord Of Scoundrels and absolutley loved it I have another 2 of yours on my TBR pile and can't wait to read them they all sound fasinating and the adventures you will be taking me on woohoo can't wait.
As for heroines I like a strong heroine but I have read so many different types and there are not many that I don't like it depends on the story and what type of hero there is.
As I said great interview can't wait to read this new book and all of your others.
Have Fun

Anna Campbell said...

Hey, Madame, you keep your paws off my Richard!!! Just because you coaxed Loretta into the lair doesn't give you RA privileges, my girl!

Loretta, I'd love to know how a book gestates for you. Do you come up with characters, a plot, a setting, a problem? Do you plan in detail before you write? What is your creative process? Is it the same for every book?

louisa said...

Great interview, Christine! I am having a real live Fan Girl moment here. Loretta, I ADORE your books!! Like Anna, I have a special spot on my keeper shelf for my Loretta Chase books. In fact I had to retire my first copy of Lord of Scoundrels before it fell apart I have read it so much. I now have a brand new copy to read and read and read.

If I were a Loretta Chase heroine it would have to be Jessica! Not just because she has "balls" as Natalie says, but because she is all woman. She is insightful and sensitive enough to see Dain for what he is and to appreciate him. She is also one of the most capable women I have ever read. I like heroines who are feminine AND capable.

I love your idea of rewriting operas so the heroine gets her HEA. As a retired opera singer who had to sing some of those tragic roles I thank you. It just isn't fair to get to sing all those lovely arias, kiss the hero and then die! Especially if the tenor or baritone is cute. (And fortunately most of my leading men were!)

What is your favorite opera, Loretta? And I am jotting down the names of those lovely jewelry books for my research shelf. Any other research books you recommend. I know, I know. The Banditas are laughing because I am always asking visiting authors what research books they use.

I am just so thrilled you stopped by the Banditas Lair. They throw the best parties and have the very best guests! Somebody get Ms. Chase a cabana boy, or two!

louisa said...

In case you Banditas are wondering, Louisa is in the Lair, but I will always be Doglady to you! My CP has been bugging me to let Louisa have a life. Louisa AND Doglady say "Nice nab of the GR, Joan!" Maybe he can wander down and commiserate with Big Brown on his Belmont loss. He is still a great champion to me.

Minna said...

Oh, I too love powerful women in history and historical romance.

Natalie Hatch said...

ah yes let's talk Richard Armitage shall we Anna... when I first saw him I thought ooh, noooo, that's not the hero is it? but then after a while of his stomping around he grew on me.
Loretta when you create your hero do you have a picture in mind, such as Anna's favourite? or do you grab bits and pieces of guys here and there and kind of Frankenstein them together? Oh no, I now have this visual of a Hugh Jackman/Brendan Fraser/Gerald Butler hybrid stomping his way around a bedroom... (ah I hear you ask but which part is which?) lol.

Jane said...

Hi Loretta,
Did you visit Venice for research? I heard that a gondola ride now costs about $150, but you can't not ride in one when you're in Venice. I love reading about a strong heroine whose temperament matches the hero and knows how to take action. Ooh, can we also revisit with Vere and Lydia?

Congrats on the GR, Joan.

Christine Wells said...

Helen, you are going to love Your Scandalous Ways!

Coaxed?? Foanna, you are using a euphemism, right? Oh, oops. I wasn't supposed to mention our nefarious ways of getting guests to visit the lair. Sorry Banditas! We coax, we do NOT kidnap. That's our story and we're sticking to it. Actually, the promise of a massage from Sven has most authors lining up at the door, not to mention his way with a mango daiquiri.

Christine Wells said...

Snork! Louisa/Doglady, it's going to be difficult to get used to the persona, but congrats on biting the bullet and bringing Louisa out to play. I thought you'd like that comment about the opera. And yes, we definitely are breaking out the cabana boys in honour of Loretta's visit.

Christine Wells said...

Actually, Natalie, Rupert in Mr. Impossible always reminds me of a more refined version of Brendan Fraser.

And Jane, I second the request for more Vere and Lydia. LOVED those two!

Annie West said...

Loretta and Christine, thanks for a beaut interview. I thoroughly enjoyed this. Am thrilled to see you here, Loretta, as I have a soft spot for your stories.

I've read 'Your Scandalous Ways' after reading Anna C's review of it. In fact it was Anna who introduced me to your work years ago, for which I'm very thankful (but unlike Christine, I'm not giving up a kidney!).

I loved the wit between your characters in this latest book and the way they challenged each other and always rose to each new challenge. Just lovely! I also enjoyed the fact that your heroine was unrepentant about the way she earned a living and the way she embraced life. Good on her!

So glad you mentioned strong female characters. One of the things that attracts me to your books is the way your heroines are strong (in all sorts of different ways) and a match for the hero. Yet you always ensure that they are believable in their historical setting. To me that's treading such a fine line. I want to believe the story is real and true to its period, but at the same time I want to see that inner core of strength in the heroine. Let's face it, if your delightful Rupert Carsington or Dain didn't have a woman every bit their equal the story wouldn't be half as satisfying.

Loretta, if you have time, I'd be interested to know whether you find a pattern in your writing - are you more likely to get a good picture of your heroine first, or of your hero? Or does it vary from book to book?


Anna Campbell said...

Hey, Annie, how many kidneys do you think I want? Sheesh! Christine can keep me supplied with kidneys. Perhaps you can just cook me your wonderful 1,000 garlic clove chicken whenever I see you. Although given the close confines of the lair, that mightn't prove a popular choice with my fellow Banditas.

Christine, yes! More Vere and Lydia. I thought he was just gorgeous!

Natalie, I'm afraid your stitched together hero isn't QUITE working for me. The ingredients are good, though. ;-)

Louisa aka Pam, there's some lovely stuff about Rossini in YSW. I think you'll get a kick out of it!

Natalie Hatch said...

Yes but Christine Brendan when he was really fit, not when he lets himself go...
Anna, I know, it'd be like Weird Science, putting together the ultimate man, plus you have to infuse him with different characteristics from books. Mr Darcy's smouldering passion for starters?

Christine Wells said...

Hi Annie, lovely to see you here. And hey, I keep offering Foanna kidneys, but then I distract her with truffle brie and Thai chili crab dip and she forgets about it. So far, my kidneys are still my own;)

Fo, I think Pam/Doglady/Louisa has so many aliases, she must be a secret agent. We might have to take her to the lair and *coax* her true identity out of her. Bwahahaha! Oh, and can I vote no on the 1,000 garlic clove chicken? Although it does sound divine!

Mmmm...Vere. Very hot! I loved the way he called her 'Grenville'. Such a guy thing--to me it showed he thought of her as an equal. Nothing sexier than that, IMO!

Margay said...

I love reading about strong women, whether it's in historicals, contemporaries, paranormal, whatever, but especially in historicals. Why? Because I truly believe that women were a lot stronger in those days than they were given credit for. They had to endure so much and often in silence because they weren't given a voice to speak with. So I love to read about the ones who stir up a little trouble or controversy - or both - and give their men a run for his money! I also love the ones who are secretly making money on the side and don't need to marry money. But I especially like the ones who don't allow themselves to be pushed around or used by men, in whatever genre.

Sue said...

i love your idea of having a strong heroine and hero who have made msitakes and are given a second chance to do thngs over. Can't wait to read it.

Maureen said...

I really enjoy reading stories with stong heroines. I definitely like a heroine who has characteristics I admire and can relate to.

Anne Carrole said...

Can't wait to read the book. Re: heroine's and heroes: I love my heroine strong as long as my hero tames her--and of course they both have to be flawed--where's the fun in perfection. Love all your stories Loretta!

Christie Kelley said...

Welcome Loretta! Looks like I have a new book on the top of my TBR pile. It sounds fantastic and I'm doubly interested because the last book in my series will be set in Venice for the first few chapters.

I so agree with you about historical fiction and the HEA. People ask me why I write romance and my first answer is always that I want the HEA for my characters.

As far as really strong women, I think they're very important. The funny thing is after reading your question about strong women, I finally realized why I'm having issues with this book I'm revising. She isn't a super-strong heroine.

I'd love to hear the answers to Anna's questions about which writers you admire too.

Terry Odell said...

I like heroines who aren't aware how strong they really are until they're tested. I think we all want to believe that if push came to shove, we could do what we had to do.

hrdwrkdmom aka Dianna said...

I loved Lord of Scoundrels, to date it is my favorite of your writings. I thought the heroine was just so cool and so very determined.
Congrats on the GR Joan, you can send him on over to WV if he is going to help with yard work.

Deb Marlowe said...

Raising a Fan Girl hand here too!

I just adore your work, Loretta. The very best out there. I'm dying to hear the answers to Anna's questions about process, because as a reader your books all flow so effortlessly and beautifully. And I know such organic writing has got to be such hard work!

I have had a few of those wonderful brainburst moments when I've written something that I think is just exactly right for my story--and I feel like doing my Meg-Ryan-in-When-Harry-Met-Sally imitation: Yes! Yes! Yes!

I can only imagine your writing day is one long Yeeeeessss! :-) Hee hee. At least, it reads that way; one amazing moment after another!

Carol said...

I'm sure the GR would love a good scratch in the'll probably find he has rearranged it for you!

Welcome Loretta, (Romance Diva)
My two favourite heroines from your books are Bathsheba and Jessica.
I hope one day you will write a wonderful story for Olivia!
The heroes are all fantastic men!
Rupert! what a guy - a regency Indiana Jones!
Alistair's story with the touch of Psychology!
I also love the historical detail in your books, I appreciate the research you put in to bring that detail to the reader. Thank you.

Cheers Carol

Joan said...

Glad you cleared that up, Louisa. I was like TWO former opera singers in the lair? What would be the odds?

Eliza Knight said...

Great interview! Your new book sounds fabulous.

I really love a strong and feisty heroine, I think it really empowers women everywhere, plus they're so much fun!

I loved Casino Royale...Daniel Craig looks amazing! Sigh...

Anonymous said...

Loretta, thanks so much for visiting! We've all been giddy at the thought of having you here in the Lair. I love your description of Venice and can't wait to read Your Scandalous Ways! My question is, how do you keep your stories fresh, and not fall into the trap of writing the same scenes with the same characters? I find it incredible that each book you write is so unique and even better than the last!

Susan Seyfarth said...

Welcome, Loretta! And thanks to Christine for a wonderful interview! I love a good historical, & I think it's a fascinating question, whether we like a heroine who is just like us, or a heroine who is more just like we wish we were. :-)

I have room for both in my heart. In a historical, I love the unconventional, anachronistic heroine who flounts convention, wears boys clothing, gets work as a pirate/spy/stable hand & wins the man of her heart. In a contemporary however, I'm a little more sensitive to the "yeah, right" factor. But tell me a good story & I'll happily disregard reality & settle in until the HEA. :-)

Thanks again for dropping by, Loretta. I'm all fired up to dig into Your Scandalous Ways now!


terrio said...

Happy to see Loretta in the Lair! That kind of has a ring to it.

Funny, I was just lamenting on the pirate ship today about my giant TBR shelf. Looks like I'll be adding another. *sigh* But it's well worth it.

One of the things I like best about your books is that they stand out from the pack. I can read one of your stories and never think "this is just like so-and-so's book." Your voice is so unique and so fun to read. Thanks for all the work and research you put into them.

I'd say I prefer a heroine that's more like me. One who doesn't have an easy life, but manages to still be strong and survive on her own. Now, if I could just find my hero, I'd be all set. *g*

Congrats on the GR, Joanie! He might be a little hung over from all that drinking he did on his lazy Sunday.

M. said...

I loved the idea of having the jewellry in the story based on real pieces. I've always thought that goldsmiths and their ilk are like the ultimate artists - working with costly, tiny materials, willingly ruining their eyesight for the sake of creating wearable and sometimes immortal art. So it has always made sense to me that many people choose to give a gift of jewelry on highly significant/emotional life moments.

Am really looking forward to reading about the key role jewels will play in YSW!

jo robertson said...

Hi, Loretta, welcome to the Lair!

My copy of YOUR SCANDALOUS WAYS just arrived from Amazon and I can't wait to dive in.

Setting is such a tricky element to manipulate in a story. Too little and the story's flat, too much and the reader is bogged down in irrelevant detail. How do you manage to find the perfect balance?

jo robertson said...

Louisa, you're a hoot. Someone, get LOUISA a cabana boy -- or two!

Joan said...

He might be a little hung over from all that drinking he did on his lazy Sunday. that's why he's holding, ears...and complaining about the loud noise of the worms where he's been scratching in the dirt

terrio said...

Joan - It's p226's fault. He gave him the R&R.

LorettaChase said...

Hi, Joan. Thanks for the warm welcome--& congrats on winning the golden cockerel. You've hit on two powerful lures to romance: the opportunity to (a) do research (which I love, love, love) and (b) create powerful women as well as men.__Anna, thank you. A margarita sounds delightful on this unseasonably hot (90s) day in Massachusetts. I've thought about revisiting those characters but so far the right opportunity hasn't presented itself--and one does run the risk of their not fitting in with the overall tone of a current work. That said, some OCD readers may notice that one minor character from Ismal's life appears in Your Scandalous Ways. If the right moment comes for cameos for Dain & Jessica or Ismal & Leila, they will appear. As to favorite writers, you can pretty much list the classic British canon. Austen, Dickens, Wilde, and Wodehouse are important re-reads. I figure, there's a reason certain books become classics, so these long-lived authors are excellent models. Yes, and I do love Byron, and was happy to give him a prominent role in Your Scandalous Ways.

Jeanne (AKA The Duchesse) said...

Hi Loretta! Welcome to the Lair! It's fabulous to have you with us. I'm bummed because my copy of your latest hasn't arrived from Amazon yet. *pout* I was hoping to have read it by the time you joined us today. :>

I love, love, love research too and have already written down the names of the jewelry books, both for me and for my jewelry making/jewelry loving sister!

Do you do most of your research online or do you use hard sources - library, Library of Congress, etc.?

Thanks for being with us today!

Joanie, congrats on nabbing the bird. I'll bet he's a bit hungover from liberty with the hens and the Sam Adams six-pack. ha! Lazy Sunday, indeed!

Barbara M said...

A heroine like me? Please, NO! But someone I would like to know, oh yes.

I loved Your Scandalous Ways, and apart from the usual great stuff about your stories - plot, characters, setting (Venice!), I really got off on all the Italian. I have a set of "Learn Italian" CDs in my car (to which I listen now and then), and it was a real kick to learn Italian through a novel as well.

LorettaChase said...

Natalie, you are so on target. Ours is a genre written by women for women, and it's a great opportunity to create women with brains and backbone. ___ Christine, thank you! That matter of making the best of a bad lot is probably one of my themes: It means the woman refuses to be a victim.___ Gillian, thank you. One other cool thing about a powerful woman is that she doesn't _need_ the hero--but when he shows up in her life and the bond is formed, they complete each other. __ Helen, thank you. "Strong" heroine means different things to different readers. With most of mine, the focus is on inner strength--so I hope that will appeal to you. __ Anna, my creative process is inconsistent. This book was fairly orderly because I _knew_ what kind of hero I was working with and the setting was clear in my mind, and the heroine took shape fairly quickly. But many stories start out as an amorphous blob of vague ideas, which gradually come into focus after weeks of trying this and that. Once things do come into focus, I make an outline, and this is my road map. It allows for detours but it gets me to my destination. If my mind were more linear, I know I could write books faster. It's not linear, though, and never will be.

LorettaChase said...

Louisa, thank you! Oh, you sang opera, lucky woman. That was one of my fantasies. It's hard to choose a favorite, though. I went on a Rossini binge for YSW, and of course I love The Barber of Seville & can sing Una Voce poco fa very, very badly. But La Traviata and La Boheme are eternal favorites. __ Minna, There have been powerful women in history but we really have to dig deep and read between the lines to find them. __ Natalie, sometimes I find photos of models, and those often work well, since I can apply a personality to a face & body. But I've had Colin Firth in mind at times for some heroes and Alan Rickman for others and Pierce Brosnan--and I can totally relate to your hybrid. __ Jane, alas, Venice almost happened but a number of circumstances conspired against it. Vere & Lydia are returning in November in a beautiful new package from Avon. If I find a place for a cameo for them in the future, they will reappear.

LorettaChase said...

Annie, thank you. Christine asked excellent questions, didn't she? And I totally agree: The hero must be worthy of the heroine and vice versa. As to picturing the hero and heroine, it varies from book to book. Too, I may have a visual image but it might take some time for me to understand what makes them tick, so one character may form more quickly than another. __ Christine, you picked up on something I've done deliberately. Calling the heroine by her last name is the hero's unconscious way of recognizing her as an equal--this is the way he'd address his friends and colleagues. Same goes for Cordier, who calls Francesca "Bonnard." Margay, I couldn't say it any better. __Sue, thank you. I hope you like the way I handle this in YSW.

Dawn Halliday said...

I will be forever thankful to Christine Wells for introducing me to Loretta Chase...oh, I think it was about three years ago now. Since then I have devoured all of her fabulous novels. Thank you, Christine! And thank you, Loretta, for writing such wonderful love stories.

To answer the question...yes. I love strong heroines, but I love it even more when they have human vulnerabilities. :)

jennybrat said...

Hi Loretta, I like a spectrum of heroines as long as they speak to me in some way. I find it easier to empathise with a heroine with human imperfections but who still has some admirable traits like resilience, compassion and the ability to laugh at herself. To me, it's not so much a question of how a heroine can inspire me as how right she is for the hero and vice versa.

I'm not sure how true a powerful heroine would ring in a historical setting but it'd be interesting to see someone try.

LorettaChase said...

Maureen, Anne, Christie: It's always a fine line, balancing admirable traits & flaws. There are so many kinds of strengths, and what's appealing in one set of circumstances can be obnoxious in another.__ Terry, you've hit on another important issue: the woman as survivor, or the woman tested by catastrophe who finds her core of inner strength. __ dianna, thank you. In Dain, Jess had a challenge if ever there was one. __ Deb, thank you! My writing day is usually, No! No! No! and banging head against wall. But those YES! days make it all worthwhile. __Carol, grazie. Thanks especially for mentioning Bathsheba & those Carsington men. I loved them and plan to do at least one more story--and yes, Olivia needs her own, but I'm waiting for her to grow up. __ Eliza, Casino Royale really did revive Bond for me. Much as I adore Pierce Brosnan, I so liked the stronger focus on character. Kirsten, I'm happy to join such a great group! As to keeping things fresh, that's so far mainly a function of my Gemini personality, and a dislike of repetition. It can slow things down, though, because I'm constantly discarding ideas as "been there, done that."

Pat Cochran said...

A warm "Welcome" to Ms. Chase - It's so nice to have you here in
the Lair! Your heroines and
heroes are such a joy to read and experience. Sharing in their stories and relationships brings such joy to our lives. I won
a trip to Venice in 1998 and that
visit was truly a joyful experience. I am so looking
forward to reading Your Scandalous Ways and, in a very small way, revisiting the Venice I so enjoyed.

Pat Cochran

Jeanne (AKA The Duchesse) said...

Oh, Loretta! Alan Rickman...yum. Now I'm going to "look" for him in your books. Grins.

jennybrat said...

Loretta, what do you do to get into a man's POV? To what extent do you think heroes in romance should behave like men in real life? I know romance are about fantasties and escapades but there have been a couple times when I read a book and just think, no man can be that perfect or that uncanny. If I were a man, I'd probably feel insecure reading romances. LOL

jennybrat said...

I confess I've never been into the Bond movies until Casino Royale. Too much focus on (to me) boring action scenes and the plots were way too farfetched.

CrystalGB said...

Hi Loretta. Great interview. I like a heroine who is strong and can stand up for herself.

LorettaChase said...

Susan Seyfarth--good point about historicals. A great deal of the joy is the escapist element, because they're so far from our own time. __ Terrio, thank you. I try to make the research not intrude, but it's gratifying to know it's appreciated.__ M--Some of the art really is immortal. It was interesting, as well, to learn how stones were reused, removed from one setting and put into another. Thanks to working in a jewelry store for a number of years, I developed a deep love and appreciation for the artistry. __ Jo, thank you. Setting can be tricky, same as costume. I treat it like characters--don't bring it onstage unless it serves a purpose--furthering plot, revealing character, creating mood, etc. Jeanne, thank you! My research is about evenly balanced these days between online and hard sources. I needed ILL for the book about secret agents in the Napoleonic era, and the library also held some of the books I used at the early stages of research. But I did buy a number of books, as I always do, because it takes many months to write a story, and I want the resources close at hand. Also, some of the picture books were so gorgeous, I had to OWN them. __ Barbara M: Grazie! YSW inspired me to learn Italian, too.__ Dawn, thank you & thanks to Christine & Anna for introducing my work to so many people! Jennybrat: Those are all admirable qualities. And you've raised a very interesting question: What is it about a powerful heroine that you (and others) think would _not_ ring true in a historical romance?

jennybrat said...

I love Judi Dench in Casino Royale. Now, that's an example of a powerful woman who can run the show behind the scenes. I can see her as a secondary character in a historical romance, like a Dowager Duchess. She could also be a mature heroine paired with a younger man but I'm thinking that'd probably work better in an erotic romance.

Donna MacMeans said...

Grumble...grumble...of all days to be having computer connectivity problems!

Loretta - love your interview. I absolutely have to read this book and Venice makes a perfect backdrop for seduction. Thanks for visiting today.

terrio said...

I think the power of a heroine in an historical has much to do with her age. Widows or women who have reached a certain age I can see weilding a bit more powerful.

It's when a young girl comes out for her first season and she's insisting she's powerful and can make her own decisions and needs no one. Women, powerful or not, are a product of their time and any woman with intelligence in the Regency (or many other eras) had to know she couldn't go it completely alone.

That's when I get flustered. When the heroine is so out of her element in the time frame of the story.

jo robertson said...

Speaking of strong heroines, I think we 21st century women often don't appreciate the strength of our ancestor sisters. I recently saw an HBO movie called "Iron-Jawed Angels" about women who fought for women's rights, notably the right to vote.

I really admire those early women who stepped outside the political and social box in which women were hemmed. I'd like to see more historicals about women at the turn of the century.

Loretta, do you think editors may broaden their scope to include early 20th century fiction? There's such a rich history there that would make a perfect setting for a strong hero and heroine.

jo robertson said...

Excellent point, Terry, about women being stronger than they think.

I, too, love a heroine who has that ephiphany of self-discovery. There's a lot of satisfaction that comes from being put into a situation where you react well and wisely and you discover some core strength about yourself.

jo robertson said...

Eliza, I adore Daniel Craig! But what is it about him? If you take the parts separately, not so inviting. The sum of the parts, however? Oooh la la!

jo robertson said...

Ah, Loretta, I see you put Oscar Wilde in your personal canon. I don't think I've seen many romance writers who list him, but I adore Wilde. What's your favorite play?

And btw, don't his plays translate wonderfully to film?

Pat Cochran said...

As you begin to bring your cast of
characters together, which one do
you "build" first? Heroine or

Pat Cochran

Jennifer Y. said...

Welcome Loretta! I am a big fan!

As for the question, I love strong heroines. Strength comes in many forms though...there is emotional stregth, physical strength, etc. I like them all.

That being said, I like when heroines show some vulnerability as well though...makes them more real.

Books are a great escape so I don't always want the characters to be the same. And it is nice to live vicariously through the heroines in a book and so I love reading about heroines who are different than I am.

Loucinda McGary aka Aunty Cindy said...

HUGE WELCOME, Loretta! Thank you so much for taking the time to visit with us.

And KUDOS to Mme. Christine for 'kidnapping' you. ;-) Oh we have our ways here in the Lair...

Any book set in Venice is a must read for me! And I too love a strong heroine. I like to think of the heroine as like the "me" I aspire to be.

Congrats on the GR AGAIN Joanie! That's twice in a pretty short time span, isn't it? Hope he enjoys his gardening duty, and if not, remind him that he COULD be on maneuvers with p226.

back to the galley proofs

jo robertson said...

Annie and Loretta, I agree about the hero and heroine being balanced. I think it's more about a character balance than a power balance. A worthiness thing. Not that he/she is so special in their own rights, but that they're perfect for that one person. I always felt that way about my real-life hero :-D.

Many romance writers/readers that I know have relatively happy marriages and/or relationships and I think we seek that reaffirmation in our fantasy-stories that we found in our personal lives.

Or that we're looking for if we haven't found it yet!

Even in today's world, the balance of power is tipped towards males, but I like how in our stories women can get the upper hand through wit, intelligence, and personal assets -- and sometimes even physicality!

jo robertson said...

Interesting comment, Loretta, about the hero's calling the heroine by her last name as a symbol of equality. I do that with my romantic suspense novels, as a sense of comaraderie, but I hadn't thought of it in an historical context -- where it would have even greater social connotation.

Anna Campbell said...

Deb, snorking at your Harry Met Sally moment. They don't come that often, but man, they're good when they do, aren't they?

And oh, yeah, Eliza, putting my hand up as a Casino Royale fan. I only saw it for the first time a couple of weeks ago and I'm still in a daze. He was utterly compelling, wasn't he?

Terrio and Helen, YSW is right up both your alleys! Seriously, read it!

Anna Campbell said...

Loretta, thanks for your answers to my questions! You shouldn't encourage me. Do you read a lot of romance? What contemporary writers do you like? I wonder with someone who has such an individual voice as you do, whether maybe loitering outside the genre might be the way you go.

limecello said...

Hi Loretta,
Thanks so much for visiting with us today! You're a new to me author, and I've been meaning to get my hands on one of your books. I absolutely love historicals, and while "demand" is too strong a word, I must prefer a strong heroine. She needs to have a spine - and I love when she can stand up for herself. (Not that's she's so bullheaded she becomes idiotic- but that's generally not a concern.)
Loved the interview -and I so want to visit Venice some day.

Buffie said...

Hey Loretta!!!! I have to say that I can't wait to start YSW. I just need a day when the kids are well occupied :)

Personally, I love a strong heroine. Every hero needs a strong woman beside him. But she still needs to be soft, loving, and comforting to her man.

LorettaChase said...

Pat, thank you. Lucky you, to have won a trip to Venice. I hope my 19th C version of the place brings back fond memories.__ Jeanne, how about those deep voices of my Carsington men?__ Jennybrat: I didn't have brothers so it was DH who helped me understand male-think. In romance, I want a balance between the real life guy and the ideal guy. A romance hero needs to be larger than life, so he should have some extra special qualities, the kind that might be rare in real life. Casino Royale worked for me because it was more grounded in the real world and less dependent on gadgetry. __ Crystalb, thank you. Brains and backbone--yes! __ Jennybrat, Dench was wonderful in Casino Royale, and yes, she would fit beautifully in a historical romance. __ Terrio, very well put--and you've beautifully expressed my reasons for creating so many heroines who have experience of some kind. Even Jessica of Lord of Scoundrels, definitely a virgin, at least grew up with a profound understanding of the male psyche, and she did have an awareness of the limitations of trying to make it on her own.

Helen said...

I just know I am going to love this book.
I have my fingers crossed that my order will arrive this week

Have Fun

LorettaChase said...

Jo, I think the early 20th C romance is way overdue. Mystery writers have been visiting this era for ages and doing great stuff with it. It's time for Edwardian romance, I say! As to Wilde--what else but The Importance of Being Earnest? __ Pat Cochran, I kind of build all the characters as I go along--it's sort of the collage or scrapbook style of character development. __ Jennifer Y, thank you. Yes, without vulnerability, a heroine lacks dimension. Buffy the Vampire Slayer had superpowers but she was vulnerable--one of the things that made devoted fans of so many of us. __ Loucinda, thank you. I hope you enjoy the Venice of YSW. __ Anna, truth is, I read mostly outside my genre. Otherwise I'm all "Why didn't I think of that?" or rejecting ideas because someone else has already done them. Too, it's hard to just sit back and enjoy them, because my editor mind goes to work.__ Limecello, thank you. It's great to be here, with so many voices weighing in on strong heroines and other topics. __ Buffie, millions of women have proved they can be strong without losing femininity or the capacity to be loving and supportive--so, yes, they're great models for romance heroines.

PJ said...

Welcome, Loretta! Terrific interview!

YSW is on top of my tbr pile and I can't wait to savor it. Venice is such an incredible city and I'm looking forward to re-visiting it through your story.

I love your heroines. As Terri (I think) said, they've been tested by life and have emerged stronger for it. As someone who has been tested by life's tragedies and found that inner core of strength I can't tell you how much I enjoy and appreciate a heroine who has done the same. Thank you for that!

Btw, I love your new photo!

kimmyl said...

I love reading your books. I love reading about strong women. It makes the story more interesting when the women stand up for themselves. I do not like women that completely take over the whole story and make the heo seem like a wimp.

Christine Wells said...

I wonder what we mean by strength and power when we talk about heroines. Do we mean power and strength in a patriarchal sense? Women in positions of traditional power are interesting to read about but their position in the hierarchy doesn't really speak to their character. In historicals, I think, it's more about writing women with strength of character and perhaps some particular talent or skill that gives her power in day to day life and in the relationship with the hero.

In YSW Francesca is intelligent and wields sexual power and she runs rings around most men because it's so unusual a combination. James is tough, intelligent and jaded, and yet she turns him inside out. Then he does the same to her. I love that!

Beth said...

Loretta, thank you so much for joining us in the Lair! I love powerful, strong women in the stories I read (and write) but sometimes it takes awhile for them to find that power and strength which is all right too *g*

To me, the most important thing is for characters to be three dimensional. Most people, no matter how strong, have some doubts and fears and we can't ignore those in our attempt to create a powerful character :-)

Great interview!

Caren Crane said...

Loretta, welcome to the Bandits' Lair! We Banditas have been all atwitter about your visit. My favorite book of all time (so far) is "Lord Of Scoundrels". I'm sure you hear that ALL THE TIME. (But really, does it ever get boring? *g*)

I adore every one of your books and find all your heroines so likeable and yet so strong! I loved Bathsheba in "Lord Perfect", but Olivia grabbed my heart! That girl needs to grow up and star in her own adventure. We know she will have plenty of them!

I prefer strong heroines, but often find I identify most closely with their flaws. Especially the ones who can't seem to hold their tongues when they REALLY should. *g* I always enjoy it when they find a man worthy of them - as I did! Happy endings all around.

Oh, and we have had discussions about everyone's dream destinations before. For a number of us, it was Venice. Thank you for taking us there in "Your Scandalous Ways"!

Suzanne Welsh said...

Loretta, welcome to the Lair! We've been looking forward to your visit for a long time.

I loved the movie The Italian Job which starts out with a gold heist in Venice. That was the first time I realized how much of the city is underwater. Are you going to use it as a dangerous setting to the hero and heroine? or Just the seduction of the gondolas?

Kammie said...

Your Scandalous Ways sounds like a wonderful story. Oh, and of my favorite romance movies is set there. I love that setting and watch it over and over again. Interesting times and so beautiful. I enjoy reading about heroines who I aspire to be. It's just enough to give me the little nudge that I sometimes need in life.

Dina said...

I enjoy the heroine to be an everyday lady. I don't mind others, but it's more like life imitating itself.

jo robertson said...

Thank you, Loretta. I think the 20th century historical romance is way overdue too! I live in northern California and we have such rich history. I can think of dozens of stories that could be told about strong women who helped forge this area.

I think you're right about women wielding power of a different kind, Christine, especially sexual power. And then, of course, motherhood. That old "the hand that rocks the cradle" thing. Of course, historically some women have held immense political and/or social power; unfortunately, not the lower or middle class woman.

I think most readers of our romances want to see their heroines bloom in their own unique ways, but also a way they can identify with. Yeah, that's me, they'd say, that's the way I feel.

jennybrat said...

"question: What is it about a powerful heroine that you (and others) think would _not_ ring true in a historical romance?

I make a distinction between strength and power when applied to women in historical settings. I think of power as the ability to control, command and influence things and introduce significant changes to society. You can be strong but not powerful. Women have low status and few rights in those days, so only a few can be said to be powerful and even then, usually in traditional female domains.

Anna Campbell said...

I don't know, Jo. Once again, I think it depends on how you define power. But lower and middle class women could be incredibly strong and incredibly powerful members of their community/family. And many of them were wage earners because they HAD to be. I think there were legal rights and status and then there was how life was actually lived and often the two didn't necessarily equate to each other. I think personality is the wild card with a lot of this stuff.

Anna Campbell said...

Loretta, I wanted to say what fun we've had during your visit to the lair. Thanks so much for all your wit and wisdom! And Christine, thanks for inviting such a fabulous guest!

flchen1 said...

Oh, of all days to not have any time to get on the computer!

Hi, Loretta! I really enjoyed your interview, and after hearing raves from many friends, finally started reading your books this year and now am diligently hunting down your backlist--your books are fabulous!

As for your questions, I do prefer heroines with spines--they don't have to be b*tches (although sometimes that's OK, too), but no doormats, please! And I enjoy heroines as I would like to be, not so much as I might be now ;)

And congrats on the GR, Joan!!

LorettaChase said...

Caren, thank you. If it ever gets boring, that will be my cue to find another job. __ Suzanne, thank you. I'll have to put The Italian Job on my Netflix list. The Venice of Your Scandalous Ways is not the spooky Venice of, say, Don't Look Now. The danger comes from outside. As the heroine points out, it was one of the safest cities in the world. __ Kammie, you've intrigued me. What movie?__ Dina, I love to read about everyday ladies but don't seem to have the knack of creating them *g* I seem to be drawn to outsiders or women placed in unusual circumstances.__ Jennybrat & Anna, I think we may be talking about different kinds of power. Political power is much more iffy for the time period. The women who wielded that kind of power usually did so indirectly, through men. I lean more toward the kind of power a woman wields when she follows a dream or overcomes obstacles, maybe achieves a degree of independence, or learns how to survive in an unfriendly environment. That's the kind of power/strength that attracts me, as a writer.

LorettaChase said...

flchen1, thank you. We are of one mind regarding doormats, definitely!
Anna, Christine & all the Bandits, tante grazie for having me. This has been so interesting and so much fun. I'd love to stay up all night and continue chatting, but haven't got the time machine working that will let me go back to being 20. And so I must say Buona notte.

Nancy said...

Joan! You snagged the GR! Congratulations.

Welcome to the Lair, Loretta. I think I prefer heroines who are types I'd like to be, as opposed to those who're more like me. I also share Terry's interest in heroines who don't discover their strength until they're tested. They sometimes, though not always, seem to me to have wider range for growth than the heroines who start strong.

I also have several books on the history of jewelry. I like browsing through them and thinking about what went into the making of those pieces.

Thanks for an interesting interview, Christine.

Terry Odell said...

Nancy - Yes, it seems to me (and pardon me for using a contemporary example) that a "kick-ass" heroine who kicks ass isn't doing anything exceptional. But take a character who would never dream of kicking ass and make survival dependent on it ... well, then you have conflict and growth.

A character who breaks out of their comfort zone seems much stronger and much more interesting to me.

Christine Wells said...

Loretta, thank you for being with us today! You've been so generous with your time and we appreciate your thoughtful answers to our readers' questions.

We will now return you to your regular schedule, if you'll just put on this blindfold, please...

And everyone, run, don't walk, to your nearest bookstore and get yourself a copy of Your Scandalous Ways!

catslady said...

I like to read about heroines that are strong/powerful and that also fits that since I'm not, it would be someone I'd aspire to be!

Virginia said...

Yes I like to see powerful women in historical romance. Your book sounds fantastic. I don't like to see the heroine to be helpless. Also they need to have a few flaws. No one is perfect.

Keira Soleore said...

Loretta, hi, hello, from a sometimes-Wenchling. A belated welcome to the Lair.

As you know, I'm so-so-so looking forward to reading YSW. And we spoke on WW about our mutual adoration of Venice of those times. From your interview, I'm going to love how you use Venice to inform on what your characters will and won't do, most of which would be unthinkable in England.

Georgian/Regency to a lot of people has been purely England. This year, I'm beginning to see a branching out into the former colonies and sometimes, wonderfully, into Venice.

You've written characters stories set in Egypt, too. Is there a place where you haven't set a story yet, but would love to? Is the place waiting in the wings for those perfect protragonists?

hrdwrkdmom aka Dianna said...

I am so excited, I will be getting my copy tomorrow!! I can't wait. I might have a new favorite this time tomorrow :-D

Anne Whitfield - author said...

I am yet to read a Loretta Chase novel, but I like the sound of Your Scandalous Ways. I've jutted it down on my list.
Thanks for the interview.