LA MIA BIBLIOTECA ROMANTICA MEETS LORETTA CHASE

 Loretta Chase's interview, the original version.
 
LMBR: Loretta: do you happen to know how much appreciated you are  by the Italian romance readers? You have some feed back from our country?

LORETTA CHASE: My Italian readers have definitely let me know they appreciate me.  I’ve done more interviews and blogs for Italian websites than for any other non-U.S. sites—and believe me, I appreciate Italian readers!  There’s definitely a difference in their questions, comments, and discussions, an intellectuality I find very intriguing and stimulating.  They’re always giving me things to think about!

LMBR:   Do you have any control over italian translations, covers, cuts? (there are cuts, yes).

LORETTA CHASE: Translations and covers are not in my control.

Because European readers have contacted me about the way the stories are abridged or edited, I know that translations are not exactly like the English edition.  You can imagine how frustrating this is to an author who rewrites and rewrites and takes so much care with every word.  But if an author complains about covers or changes to her text, it’s like she’s talking to the wind.  Readers have much more power than the authors.  Readers are the ones who spend money on the books. Publishers have a financial incentive to listen to them—so please, readers, if you’re unhappy with covers or translations, let the publisher know.

LMBR:   You travel a lot in your novels: are you planning –after Your Scandalous Way – to come back to Italy?

LORETTA CHASE: I’m planning to spend a few weeks in Italy in the late spring.  That is to say, I’ll actually be there, not just in my imagination.  Then I’ll have a chance to practice my Italian on people who will probably not understand a single word I’m saying.  Seven definite articles!  Ten thousand preposition forms—oh, those preposizioni articolate!  Please!  The most beautiful language is also the most difficult.  But yes, I do know how to order a glass of wine.  Also, I know that one does not ask for eggs and bacon for breakfast or request milk with coffee in the afternoon—so I’m pretty well prepared, don’t you think?  And of course I expect to be inspired to set all or part of a story in Italy again.

LMBR:  In my Country your last two novels haven’t been released, yet (I read them in English). I loved so much Last night’s scandal,  it’s really  the spin off that we, Lord Perfect’s addicts, were waiting for. For which reason you‘ve waited four years (more or less) to write it?

LORETTA CHASE: Thank you for telling me you loved it!  After Lord Perfect was released, so many readers let me know they were waiting for Olivia & Peregrine’s story.  This is gratifying, but it makes the writer acutely aware that people already know the characters, and whatever one does with them must not violate the reader’s image.  So yes, it took four years to think about the characters and understand them thoroughly and develop a clear picture of the kinds of people they would become as adults.  What would be most important to them?  How would they discover they were meant for each other?  There were hundreds of other questions to answer, but these were the most crucial.

I’m told there will be an Italian edition soon, from Arnaldo Mondadori, who will also publish The Last Hellion.


LMBR: I loved it, but I found Don’t tempt me is a little unbalanced, the two parts of the story being IMO not perfectly amalgamated. As if only in a second moment you decided to make of it a 400 hundred pages novel. As if the first part  (that I really loved) were born like a novella. Am I totally wrong? 


LORETTA CHASE: I’m glad you loved it, even if things didn’t feel quite right to you.  If the two parts of the story didn’t seem fully integrated, if the second part didn’t seem as strong as the first part, then it’s a failure or flaw in the way I wrote it.  But I did plan two parts.  This was a book, like The Lion’s Daughter and Lord of Scoundrels, that needed to be divided into Before the Marriage and After the Marriage.  In these three stories, some major issues have to be resolved, if the marriage is to succeed.  Marriage becomes a test of the love bond, and its challenges help the characters develop into the people they need to be. 

LMBR: I love the way you describe dresses and fashion, and quotidianity, it’s so accurate (I know you have also a blog dedicated to it).  While reading Don’t tempt me, I really saw Zoe’s dresses. The one she wears for the presentation at court

(and for what happens after that in the coach) is amazing. All the sequence of the presentation at court IS amazing, and so historically accurate. It could be used in a history book (not what happens after it). In Last Night’s, skirts become larger, huge, and it’s more complicated for the heroine to walk about and move and make other things with them on (I’d make a mess of everything around me!). As a writer, do you like this passage from the regency fashion to the early victorian? The simple description of a dress is useful also to describe the personality or the feelings of the character wearing it?

LORETTA CHASE: Viviana, this is such a fine compliment—thank you so much! This, to me, is part of the way a story comes alive.  Once I have a clear picture of my characters’ world, I feel I’m there, with the characters.  If I feel this, I can communicate it, and then my readers can feel it, too.  To me, this is the fascinating part of history.  And yes, I’ve joined with author Susan Holloway Scott to devote a blog to the subject, to show readers that history isn’t all wars and politics:  It’s everyday people with their daily lives, which parallel our lives in many interesting ways.

As to the change in fashion—as a writer, I love the transition from the Regency to the early Victorian period.  The Regency had simple, elegant, vertical lines.  Then little by little, they add ruffles and flounces; the sleeves start getting puffier, and then the skirts start billowing out. Imagine how women had to adapt—how they had to change the way they moved—and the way, little by little, the clothing gets more restrictive, in the same way that the society becomes more restrictive.  But at the same time, the workmanship of these fashions is quite stunning.  We need to look at actual clothes (not illustrations, which are very stylized), and imagine a person wearing these clothes and moving—standing, sitting, walking, dancing.  Then, add the soft light of gaslight or candlelight and imagine the effect:  silk and satin and lace . . . ruffles and bows and flounces fluttering like flower petals or butterflies . . . the whispery sound of the silk skirts and those

layers of petticoats underneath . . .  To me it’s easy to understand why this pre-Victorian time is called the Romantic Era.  And yes, you’re right:  I go into detail about dress when it’s important to the character or the scene.  What they’re wearing tells us about the characters.  Very often I describe clothing from the man’s point of view, because he’s not thinking in fashion terminology. He sees things more simply:  It’s comical or it’s sexy or maybe a little of both.  His way of seeing a woman tells us something about him; it also tells us something about how he feels about her.

Well, it’s obvious how enthusiastic I am about this subject.  I can talk on and on and on forever . . .

LMBR:By the way, your next series will be set in the early Victorian Period, with a three young women coming from a  family as disreputable as the DeLucyes. I can’t wait to read the first novel. Are really the three young ladies in business? It’s  scandalous Mrs Chase!
Would you tell us something about this new series? I know that the title of the first novel is Silk is for Seduction
and that  it will be released in July 2011.

LORETTA CHASE: It’s scandalous, I know, but they’re definitely in business.  Marcelline Noirot and her sisters are distantly related to the DeLuceys as well as an equally disreputable French aristocratic family.  They’re talented dressmakers who’ve come to London determined to conquer the fashion trade—and they’ve got the imagination, wile, guile, and audacity to succeed.  Silk Is for Seduction starts in Paris in 1835, during Longchamp, when the ultimate in high fashion is on display.  You can expect to encounter fabulous clothes, gorgeous men, and, of course, extremely devious, ambitious women.  I love these three women, and I think I’ve created the kinds of heroes who’ll be able to stand up to them.
(There’s an excerpt at my website: http://www.lorettachase.com/books/silkisforseduction.php)


LMBR:What I really appreciate in your writing, is the perfect balance between the ironic or funny side of the plot and the dramatic side of it. I love your  secondary characters, some are really funny. I think of Zoe’s sisters and of those two wonderful, wicked old ladies in Last Night. Do you like to create such secondary characters? How can you join this perfect equilibrium between fun and drama or action?

LORETTA CHASE:You’re making me feel pretty wonderful.  You see, when I started writing, my two great inspirations were Charles Dickens and Jane Austen.  I loved the way they balanced drama and comedy to create colorful secondary characters.  Because of them, I
try to create well-populated books.  The hero and heroine are front and center, but the secondary characters create the world with which they interact and in which they live; thus, they add dimension to the protagonists.  The secondary characters offer a way, too, of bringing in the everyday details of life, as well as giving me many opportunities to create people who don’t need to have heroic qualities, who can simply be people.  It’s hard for me to envision a story without seeing the secondary characters.  And it does allow me to add a kind of comedy that wouldn’t be appropriate for the main characters. You can imagine how much fun it was for me to create those wicked old ladies, for instance.

LMBR:   What, in your opinion, is then the perfect cocktail for writing a good romance?

LORETTA CHASE:That’s the question everyone would like the answer to, especially the publishers!  There isn’t one special blend that will create a splendid work every time.  So many writers have written wonderful romances—and they all have a different way of doing it.  But I do believe that a good romance must, above all us, make us believe absolutely in the love between the hero and heroine. Whoever they are, whatever they look like, whatever their strengths and weaknesses, whatever they’re trying to accomplish, the one thing we readers need to believe in is their love.  It must be clear that these two people are made for each other and meant to be together, that one completes the other, and that the two together become something greater than who or what they are separately.

LMBR:  After so many wonderful characters, plots, awards and bestsellers, what gives you the enthusiasm of writing a romance?

LORETTA CHASE: Well, it’s my job, and I’m one of the lucky people:  I’m passionate about what I do.  I love books.  History fascinates me.  So do human relationships.  When it comes to these topics, my enthusiasm can be easily aroused.  A James Bond movie got me curious about Venice, so I started researching it—and then I had to set a story there.  Meeting the milliners at Colonial Williamsburg, (http://www.colonialwilliamsburg.com/) and learning about what it was like to make clothes in the 18th & 19th century (the historians there are knowledgeable about eras before and after the colonial time) got me excited about dressmaking, which led to my new series.  I never know what will excite me next, but I know something will.

LMBR:             What do you like to read, Mrs Chase? Do you also read your colleagues’ novels?

LORETTA CHASE: I don’t read very much in my own genre for a number of reasons:  I’m easily influenced, subject to envy (“Why didn’t I write that?”), and have a hard time losing myself in the story, because I’m reading as a writer, not a reader. It’s much easier for me to read, say, detective fiction, because it’s completely different.  Too, I read quite a bit of non-fiction (history, mainly—I know, I know:  How surprising!)  But every year I do read a dozen or more romances, of various kinds, so I’m not completely out of touch—though I might be years behind.

LMBR:        What will be next, generally speaking, in romance novels? Which is the new trend in romance in your opinion?

LORETTA CHASE: I have no idea what’s coming, and will as surprised as everyone else, probably.  Right now, it seems that more authors are setting historical novels late in the 19th or early in the 20th century.  This is a trend I hope will continue and grow.  Also, I’d like to see more historical romances set in other parts of the world as well as the U.K.

LMBR:    Many romance addict readers, and I with them, consider Lord of Scoundrels a must, one of those novels every romance reader has to read. In an ideal romance hit parade, I’d put it  among the first ten, ever (Lord Perfect would follow). What, IYO, makes Lord of Scoundrels so special to romance readers? When writing it,  did you feel that it would become a must of the romance genre?


LORETTA CHASE: What a gratifying hit parade!  It’s especially pleasing to learn you’d put Lord Perfect there, too, because, from a writing standpoint, I feel it’s one of my stronger books, structurally.  But this is a tricky subject for me.  I love all of my books:  I couldn’t write them if I didn’t love them.  Yet I don’t love them all in the same way.  I see each of them as having certain strengths.  When I wrote Lord of Scoundrels, I felt that the hero and heroine were strong characters and that it was a very strong book altogether.  So I
believed that readers would really like it.  But I never guessed it would be regarded with so much affection, or that it would continue to be well regarded for so long.  I really don’t know what, exactly, makes it special. 

LMBR:     Have you ever been tempted to write a contemporary?

LORETTA CHASE:Now and then I think about it, because I do like to read them—but I’m not sure my voice would fit a contemporary.

LMBR:I thank you so much for your kindness and …for your books.I’m sure our readers will be delighted to hear from you.

LORETTA CHASE: Thank you, Vivienne.  It’s been a pleasure. 








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