Reckless desire sends Charlotte Daicheston into the garden with a dashing masked stranger. He's powerful, unforgettable, a devastatingly handsome footman who lures her - not against her will - into a grand indiscretion at a masquerade ball. Then he vanishes.
Several years later, after Charlotte has made her dazzling debut in London society, they meet again. But the rogue is no footman. He's rich, titled, and he doesn't remember Charlotte. Worse, he's the subject of some scandalous gossip: rumor has it, the earl's virility is in question.
Charlotte, who knows all too intimately the power of his passion, is
stunned by the gossip that
has set society ablaze. At last, there can be a storybook
ending ... unless, of course, Charlotte's
one mad indiscretion had not been with him at all ...
To her legion of adoring suitors, it comes as a shock when Lady Sophie York rejects an offer of marriage from the dashing, wealthy Patrick Foakes, an infamous rake - and accepts Patrick's friend, amiable but dull Braddon Chatwin, Earl of Slaslow ... even as Patrick's stolen kisses sear her lips.
But it is Patrick, in disguise, who scales a ladder to retrieve his
friend's fiancee - never
expecting the elopement to be his own. Neither does Sophie, Braddon, or
the rest of the tattling
ton. One hasty wedding later, the passionate innocent and the
sophisticated rogue play out their
own intricate dance as Sophie, who vowed never to marry a libertine,
masters what it takes to
keep a man where he belongs. And Patrick learns the ultimate lesson in
Eloisa first came to our attention when she wrote her stunning debut romance, POTENT PLEASURES. Now I have to ask you, being the Rebels that we are, how could we resist a book with a title like this one? And what a great story! Her next book, MIDNIGHT PLEASURES, will be released this month. It is a delightful sequel that will be sure to add the name Eloisa James to many "automatic buy" lists. It is my pleasure to introduce this extraordinary new author ...
Donna: Eloisa, please tell us a little about yourself; where you live, background, family, work....what you do when you aren't writing romance.
Eloisa: I grew up on a farm on Minnesota - about as far as possible from the glamorous ballrooms I write about! Now I live in New Jersey, with my husband and two children. My husband grew up in Florence, Italy, so we spend quite a bit of time there in summer with his relatives. That's possible because we're both professors - he teaches Italian lit and I teach English lit (when I'm not writing romance). When I'm not working, I spend all of my time chasing after my 6 year old and 2 year old. My 2 year old is particularly demanding - she's developed a bellow that can be heard two counties away.
Donna: Did you always want to be an author?
Eloisa: No, I didn't. My ambitions were along the lines of saving the world and curing cancer. I was also very melodramatic and quite certain that I wouldn't live past the ancient age of 18, so my future didn't seem that important.
Donna: What made you choose to write romance?
Eloisa: I read it. All the time. And I always have. We didn't have a television when I was growing up. My parents basically thought television was a waste of time. The general effect was that I read a lot (and thus ended up teaching literature and writing romance), but I also find sad/tragic/violent stories very hard to handle. I think television helps desensitize people - anyway, I find myself crying hysterically in sad movies (a drag, because my husband's favorite movie genre is the film noir). Of course, it could be just because I'm a total wimp.
Donna: How does your family feel about you writing romance - are they supportive?
Eloisa: My husband is extremely supportive and has read my manuscripts (once he got over the shock of finding out that my first hero, Alexander, had black hair shot with silver). His name is Alessandro and he has similar hair, so he was morbidly sure that all his colleagues would pick up POTENT PLEASURES, figure out who it was, and make jokes about him. But what do you know, Italian Literature professors have not yet discovered the delights of romance, and so his reputation is unharmed.
Donna: Where do you get ideas for your books?
Eloisa: I steal mine from Renaissance literature, because that's what I teach. In my second book, for instance, Patrick climbs up the ladder to fetch Sophie from her bedroom - so that she can elope with his (Patrick's) best friend. And he ends up not coming down that ladder as promptly as he should have. I borrowed that plot device from a very obscure play written in the 1600s. Of course, the rest of my novel is very different from the play, but that plot device sparked my interest.
Donna: Do you ever use personal experiences when writing your stories?
Eloisa: All the time. I don't think any novel is worth reading - romance or otherwise - unless it has a great deal of truth in it. I'm not a glamorous Englishwoman. But when I wrote the birthing scene in POTENT PLEASURES, I was suffering from an irrational fear that my sister would have a difficult labor. There's genuine fear there. And there's a lot of truth in MIDNIGHT PLEASURES too, although I won't wreck the plot by telling you which parts.
Donna: What type of research did you do for your books?
Eloisa: For MIDNIGHT PLEASURES, I had to learn quite a bit about Turkish rulers and Napoleon's reign; for ENCHANTING PLEASURES (due out from Delacorte in August 2001), I learned a lot about the East India Company.
Donna: How did you go about selling your first book? How long did it take?
Eloisa: I was lucky; it didn't take very long at all. I sent a prospectus and one chapter to five agents. Three turned it down and the fourth requested the whole manuscript - which I hadn't finished! So I wrote a quick ending and mailed it off. Within a month or so, it had been multiple-submitted and became the subject of a little bidding war between Dell and Avon.
Donna: How do you plan your stories? Do your characters ever try to take over and rewrite their scenes?
Eloisa: That's one very weird thing about being a novelist. I used to hear people talk about characters 'doing their own thing' and changing the story, and I thought it sounded crazy. But that's exactly what happens. You start a scene going one direction, and end up in a totally different place.
Donna: How long does it take you to write a story?
Eloisa: One year. I'm slow, I have another job, and I have (most importantly) small children.
Donna: Do you let anyone read what you have written before you send it to your editor?
Eloisa: Yes. My husband reads it, and I have a wonderful critique partner.
Donna: Do you belong to a local writer's group?
Eloisa: I'm a member of the New Jersey Romance Writers of America - a fabulously supportive group.
Donna: What is the hardest part of writing a story?
Eloisa: Actually sitting down at the computer and writing it. They bloom in your head, but sitting down and writing is hard work.
Donna: Is that difficult to write the sex scenes for your books? Is it made anyeasier knowing that the majority of romance readers are female?
Eloisa: It's actually a fun part of writing. There's no getting around the fact that you have to be feeling sexy yourself, though. Otherwise the scene doesn't feel genuine. All I mean by that is that sometimes a sex scene doesn't happen in the morning, or when you've had no sleep, or when there's no wine within reach.
Donna: What kind of books do you read for pleasure? Who are some of your favorite authors?
Eloisa: In no particular order, I love Laura Kinsale, Judith McNaught, Connie Brockway, Jennifer Crusie, Susan Elizabeth Phillips, Loretta Chase - lots of other people whose names I can't remember at the moment.
Donna: What has been your favorite question or comment by your fans?
Eloisa: I love hearing either what people think of my characters, or how parts of their lives are like my book. I got a lot of great letters about Charlotte's labor in POTENT PLEASURES - those are particularly interesting, as a writer.
Donna: How were you, as a debuting author, able to get your first book published in hardcover? Do you think this affected the initial reader exposure?
Eloisa: It just happened. I actually argued against it. I remember calling my agent and insisting that she intervene. At that point I had never bought a hardcover romance (since then I've succumbed to Jennifer Crusie in hardcover), and I just couldn't see them fitting into my budget. So I thought nobody would read my book. And I think it was hard, for a first novel to go into hardcover. I made historical mistakes in the hardcover, because I didn't know that readers cared. If the book had appeared in paperback, I think readers would have been more forgiving of a first-time author. As it was, I had some truly vicious letters. But I learned a lot from it, and now I'm very proud of being in hardcover!
Donna: The covers of your books are intriguing. They catch your interest and you just have to know the story behind the picture. Were you happy with the covers?
Eloisa: I love both covers. Dell wanted to do something new and fresh, since I was an unknown name going into hardcover - and I think they've done a wonderful job! POTENT PLEASURES just won the Artemis Award for best cover from the Romance Writers of America (Long Historical category).
Donna: I read that when POTENT PLEASURES was released in paperback, that you had made revisions. Why was this done?
Eloisa: Well, that's what I was talking about above. I totally messed up on some historical details in POTENT PLEASURES. For example, I knew that men didn't wear pajamas in the period, but I didn't like the sound of a nightshirt. And I didn't have any idea that it would matter to someone. I'm afraid that I'm a very uncritical reader, which is kind of weird for an academic. In fact, the only time I remember criticizing a book for being unhistorical was a romance in which Queen Elizabeth I put out her hand and said, "Put it here!" Even then, I finished the book. Probably all first-time writers write for themselves, because that's the audience they know. I can assure you that the paperback of PP and the new hardcover (MIDNIGHT PLEASURES) are as accurate as I can make them!
Donna: Charlotte is a very strong, yet naive heroine. Is there some of you in her?
Eloisa: I would be proud to claim her, but she appeared all on her own.
Donna: Charlotte and her parents, especially her mother, had a very strong relationship. Is this something you brought from your own experience?
Eloisa: I love my mother very much - but in this case, I think it was more of myself thinking about being a mother. How would I react if my daughter came to me with Charlotte's story? (I guess I would hope to react as well as Charlotte's mom.)
Donna: Alex is such a strong and sensual hero - is he based on a real person?
Eloisa: Well, my husband would say no. I would only claim the good stuff for my family members.
Donna: Alex is the perfect hero up until the wedding night. And he did redeem himself later, but couldn't you have tortured him just a little more? *G*
Eloisa: I hate to tell you this, but he used to be even less tortured! The reason is that I study gender relations in the Renaissance. With the evidence that Alex had regarding his wife's infidelities (including her lack of virginity), he could have murdered his wife and been let off in a court as justified. But my editor made only one real change to PP: she said, "He needs to GROVEL, Eloisa." SO - he grovels!
Donna: Alex was such a wonderful father to little Pippa. Do you think he was ahead of the times?
Eloisa: In some ways, yes. Obviously men had very little to do with their children until recently. But in terms of love and emotion, no. There are heart-breaking poems and diary entries, dating from the 1600-1700s, in which fathers write about the deaths of their children.
Donna: You created several secondary characters that we come to care about. Was it difficult to create the depth of so many characters in one story?
Eloisa: Nope. For me the trouble is keeping my focus on the main couple.
Donna: Even though they were never actually in the story, I found the story of Charlotte's sister, Winifred, and her American intriguing. Will you ever write her story?
Eloisa: Goodness - I never even thought of that! Probably not, since Winifred is already married!
Donna: I especially love stories that have secondary love stories within. You did this in both books. Will you continue to write this way?
Eloisa: Yes - ENCHANTING PLEASURES has a secondary love story - Lucien's. Lucien is the Frenchman, an ex-marquis, who turns up in both PP and MP.
Donna: In MIDNIGHT PLEASURES, Sophie is very different from Charlotte. She is a delightful mix of of worldliness and innocence. Was her character harder to develop that Charlotte's?
Eloisa: Actually, both women came to me as themselves. I've had more trouble with Gabby (Gabrielle), the heroine of ENCHANTING PLEASURES. Gabby is a plump, untidy girl who fibs easily. I absolutely adore her, but my critique partner became concerned that she wasn't "romancey" enough. Sophie was such a love to write - she keeps sneaking back into the manuscript of ENCHANTING PLEASURES as well!
Donna: Patrick and Alex were identical, yet very different. Was it difficult creating Patrick without making him too much like his twin brother, Alex?
Eloisa: No, Patrick was very very different, from the moment we meet him in POTENT PLEASURES - he's singing, and he has a wicked smiling glint in his eye. Whereas Alex is a wounded one, a bit more bruised by life.
Donna: On page 165 of the ARC of MIDNIGHT PLEASURES, there is a big "S" to begin the sentence at the beginning of the chapter. The first word in the second center is "exhaustion." This was funny because the word "Sexhaustion" sort of jumps out at you in exactly the right point of the plot! (I know, probably only a Rebel would have noticed this! *G*)
Eloisa: Awk! I had to run over to my copy of MP - you're absolutely right! I will say one thing regarding Sexhaustion - for whatever reason, I seem to be getting more and more sensual as my trilogy continues.
Donna: One of the secondary characters that begs for his own story is Quill Dewland. Do you have plans to write his story?
Eloisa: Quill is the hero of ENCHANTING PLEASURES!
Donna: Can you give us any hints about future stories?
Eloisa: Quill is a wonderful person, but he has a terrible problem: although he's mostly over his injuries, he suffers a terrible migraine after any kind of rhythmical exercise (OK ladies! What kind of rhythm am I talking about???!!). ENCHANTING PLEASURES is the story of his marriage to Gabby. It is (she said modestly) a lovely story.
Donna: Will you ever write other types of romance?
Eloisa: I'd like to write one contemporary - a baseball contemporary. I'm dreaming it up now. But my next book after ENCHANTING PLEASURES is another regency historical, currently entitled SWEET WILLIAM.
Donna: How does the internet affect you as an author?
Eloisa: I love hearing from readers - and so far, I'm able to write each one back. That's a great feeling.
Donna: What are some of your favorite web sites and discussion boards?
Eloisa: I've only just discovered the whole discussion board thing. I've only been to RBL - and it's great!
Donna: What is the best way that we as readers can help to promote new authors such as yourself?
Eloisa: Just talk about our books. Make a buzz. Thank you!
Donna: Do you have any advice for the aspiring authors here at RBL?
Eloisa: Join the Romance Writers of America! If I'd joined RWA earlier, I would have quickly discovered that most regency readers love accuracy, and saved myself a lot of tears.
Donna: Do you have anything you would like to say or questions you would like ask the readers here at RBL?
Eloisa: Please - if there's something you enjoyed about
one of my books, let me
know! I dream up new books all the time, and knowing what parts of a
book really touched readers helps me shape new plots.
Eloisa, we thank you for taking time from your very busy schedule to do this interview with us. You have such a bright future ahead of you, and we hope that you will let us share it with you. We welcome you to RBL and hope that you will stay around and join us.
Index of Author Interviews.
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