Vivienne interviews LAURA LEE GUHRKE

1) To begin with, allow me to congratulate you on your work. And then he kissed her is among my faves, ever. I like to think of the girl bachelor series as a whole, as a continuum, and of the heroines as our grand-grand mothers. Did you plan this series as a whole or did you have all the characters in mind from the start?

Thank you. I also think of the girl-bachelors sort of like my great-grandmothers! I had long talks with my grandmother about her life as a child. She died not long after I became a writer, but I will always be glad I had her perspective. As to the series, I did not actually plan it out ahead of time. I don’t plot well, but write very much by the seat of my pants. I didn’t even realize it was going to be a series until about halfway through the book.

2) All the novels of this series have writers and publishers as main characters. Why?

Well, AND THEN HE KISSED HER kind of started it all, and the hero is a publisher, which proved to be a useful tool for me creatively. There were not many occupations for the aristocrats of the 1890’s that were acceptable, so to earn money, many became writers. It just works well for this series.

3) Can you reveal us something about With Seduction in Mind, which will be released in September? The title is so promising and I' m looking forward to reading it...

The heroine, one of the girl-bachelors of Little Russell Street, keeps getting fired from jobs, and in desperation, she finally decides to become a writer. The hero has been a successful writer for years, but he’s got writer’s block. I don’t want to give too much away, but she ends up being hired by his publisher (Harry, from AND THEN HE KISSED HER is the hero’s publisher) to write a book he’s been contracted to do. He doesn’t want her help, and tries to get rid of her by seducing her.

4) Is there a bit of Laura Lee in the girl-bachelors beautiful and strong heroines?

Of course!

5) 'Gone with the wind' ends with no traditional happy ending. Did you ever think of an open ending like that?

No, I really hate open-ended endings. I don’t mind an unhappy ending, I love a happy ending, but I hate an ambiguous ending. I think it’s coy and unfair of writers to leave readers guessing as to what the ending meant. Just my two cents.

6) What kind of historical or social researches do you do before starting a novel or a new series?

I do a lot of in-depth reading from the period/place I’m writing about. I’ll read novels that were out at the time, plays, newspapers, etc. I also go back and skim my favorite research books (I have quite a few Victorian/Edwardian books now) just to remind myself of how things were at that point in history.

7) Do you follow a precise schema, or do you ever change your mind during the writing?

I change my mind all the time. When I start a book, I have a vague idea of what I want to do, but beyond that, I’m pretty open. As the book goes on, I waver and dither a lot, but somehow, I get further along. About halfway, I start to figure it all out, and usually I realize that what I did was just what I’d subconsciously intended all along. I knew, but didn’t know I knew. If you know what I mean. ;) 

8) Would you anticipate us anything about the novel or the series following the girl-bachelors?

I’m just in the very beginning stages of a new series, and though I don’t know much yet, I can say that the series involves three dukes, three weddings and one motorcar. Now you know almost as much about it as I do.

9) What do you think of e-books?

I think ebooks are great from the standpoint of accessibility and convenience and for getting books in the hands of younger readers, and I think they are slowly growing in popularity, especially now that there are truly good ebook-readers on the market. On the other hand, the risk of illegal downloading, “cracking” ebooks and making them available to those who have not actually bought them, is a serious problem for publishing and for writers.

10) Which are your fave reads? Which are the authors you prefer (romance and not)?

Some of my personal favorite authors are Julia Quinn, Lisa Kleypas, Liz Carlyle, and Elizabeth Boyle. I’m also really liking some newer authors, like Anna Campbell. As to non-romance, I’ve been on a Tudors sort of kick lately, glomming Phillipa Gregory like crazy. Other non-romance faves: Christopher Moore, Patricia Gaffney (I like her romance novels, too), and I’m currently reading THE LAST LECTURE, by Randy Pausch.

11) Is there another author's novel you would pay to have written?

Many! I admit I’m prone to a teeny bit of jealousy when I read a truly gifted writer. 

12) How long does it take you to write a novel? What's your working schedule?

Usually, a book takes me about nine months from start to finish, kind of like having a baby. I write every day, Monday through Friday, for at least 4-5 hours a day. I work longer hours and weekends if I am behind schedule and getting close to my deadline.

13) In She's Non Princess the heroine is Italian. Never thought of Italy as the setting for one of your next novels?

I have thought of it, but realistically, the sales of historical romances set outside of Britain are much, much lower, for some reason. Readers like British settings best. Since I love writing British settings, it all works out.

14) Some of your books have an Italian version. After The Marriage Bed , also She's no princess will be soon released by I Romanzi Mondadori. Do you check translations and the relative cuts (Italian translations have an average maximum of 300 pages), or the cover arts? Have you ever taken an Italian copy in your hands? If yes, what do you think of it?

You know, it’s really funny to see your work in a translated edition. Even though I don’t speak Italian, I can usually tell what scene I’m reading when I start looking it over. I can’t do that with the Japanese ones, though!

15) Many romance authors write both contemporary and/or romantic suspense and historical novels. Never thought of writing contemporaries?

If I had an idea for a contemporary novel that really excited me, I would certainly pursue it. That’s never happened to me yet, but I wouldn’t be surprised if it did. Writers need to stretch our creativity from time to time with something fresh. 

16) What do you think of vampires and werewolves novels?

I could never write one. Vampires are dead people who eat blood. And werewolves are so…well, so hairy. I just can’t write about that. I enjoy reading it, I just could never write it. Creatively, it just doesn’t interest me.

17) Do you attend romance writers meetings? Someone ( an American thriller writer whose name I can't reveal) told me once that romance writers do a lot of arguing and quarreling during their meetings. That made me laugh a lot. Is that true?

I don’t attend many romance-writer events, but I have attended enough to know that there is always some quarreling going on, but that’s human nature, I think.

18) Do you think there is still a stylistic difference between American romance writers and their English "cousins"? Is there any rivalty between you?

Rivalry? No, I don’t think so, at least not any more than there is between all writers. From a stylistic standpoint, there are differences, although everyone seems to be gravitating toward a more “American” style, even in British-set historicals.

19) Is romance publishing industry suffering the current crisis in the States?

A little, but not as much as other publishing here. Romance is holding its own.

20) Hard cover or always paper back cover, for you?

Personally, I don’t like to read hardcover books. I read in bed or in the tub, and either way, hardcover books are more difficult to read.

21) Your covers are often fantastic. Do you intervene personally on the cover art final choice?

I have very little say over what goes on the cover. I give ideas, but the art department may or may not use them.

22) Which of your novels could become a good movie, and why, on your opinion, so few historical movies (or tv movies) are made after historical romance novels (movies that romance readers would for certain appreciate)?

Historical films are expensive to make (costumes, settings, etc. are costly) and aren’t really fashionable right now. Everybody seems to be into futuristic and super-hero films right now. Of all my books, I think CONOR’S WAY would make a good movie. Also, AND THEN HE KISSED HER .

23) Are today bloggers' reviews important for the success of a romance novel?

Reviews are always important. Buzz about our books is always good. I do think blogging is less of a factor now than it was a couple years ago. These things go in and out of fashion.

24) Sex descriptions are hotter and hotter in romance today. Are they really always indispensable, or do they merely help to make a novel an easier seller?

It depends on the type of book. Some of my books do better with more sex, or hotter sex. Others have a sweeter feel. It all depends. I thing in a romance what is necessary no matter what is sexual tension—keeping the reader in a state of anticipation about the couple, keeping the emotional situation tight and the attraction going.

25) May I ask you the origin of your family name?

It’s German. I’m told it literally means “cucumber.” I wasn’t really thrilled about that, but what’s a girl to do?

26) Please, tell us a bit about yourself. Whatever you like.....

I hate talking about myself! Truly, I’m very bad at that sort of thing. I love the outdoors, and where I live, we can do a lot of outdoor stuff, like skiing, wakeboarding, camping, mountain biking, that sort of thing. I love gardening, and I have quite a pretty garden, if I do say so myself. I have a dog, a Golden Retriever named Barney, who thinks my house really belongs to him, and…heck, I don’t know what else to say. I hate talking about myself. 

Thank you Laura Lee !


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