Lorraine Heath, author of London’s Greatest Lovers Series and the recent release Pleasures of A Notorious Gentleman was gracious enough to answer a few of my burning questions! Check out her answers below!
And don’t forget to enter in the London’s Greatest Lovers Giveaway to win copies of the first two books in this series!
OUAC: Thank you, Lorraine, for joining us here today at Once Upon A Chapter. Your latest release Pleasures of A Notorious Gentleman is a true delight to read!
I wanted to start out by saying I absolutely loved the name Mercy for the story’s heroine. It not only has a great meaning for the character, but I think represents an overall theme for the story. Was it purposely picked or just your favorite choice?
LORRAINE: It was purposely picked. Originally, I was calling her Mary, but it didn’t seem quite right. And one day, I realized it should be Mercy.
OUAC: I think I can speak for many historical romance readers when I say the most attractive hero is the notorious rake who falls in love! I adored reading about Stephen’s growth from seducer to love-struck gentleman. Is it difficult to write a character who has such a dramatic transformation?
LORRAINE: It’s definitely a challenge, but one I thoroughly embrace. I enjoy writing characters who don’t necessarily fit into the mold of hero or heroine. The trick, of course, is to make sure I give the reader a hint of the goodness within. Otherwise, she’s likely to decide right away that she doesn’t like the character and stop reading.
OUAC: I think part of the beauty of this novel was how delicately you handled the tragic effects of those on the front lines of war…for both men in battle and women facing the aftermath. What inspired you to write a novel set during the Crimean War?
LORRAINE: War is such a life-changing event for those who are engaged on the front lines as well as those at home. One of my most popular trilogies takes place in Texas following the Civil War and revolves around three brothers who were shaped by the war (Texas Destiny, Texas Glory, Texas Splendor). While I don’t want to romanticize war, it allows for such deep characterization and I wanted to have a character in the London’s Greatest Lovers trilogy who was shaped by something beyond ballrooms and proper etiquette and petty jealousies. The Crimean War fit my time period. The more I read about it, the more I became fascinated with it. The British were not prepared for what they were to face. When Stephen tells Ainsley not to worry, that he’d be home in time for pheasant season—that is truly what they all thought. They’d pop over there, take care of business, and be home in time for pheasant season. The reality was far from the quick jaunt they expected. It created a need for women like Florence Nightingale, and it changed forever the role of women in war and the view of the nurses.
OUAC: This novel is a very serious and detailed emotional journey. The characters certainly don’t have an easy journey and the ending had so many twists and turns that just broke your heart in one chapter and touched your heart in the next. Do you feel writing the novel had the somewhat similar effect? Were there times where it was emotionally difficult?
LORRAINE: Yes. Sometimes writing can be quite draining, especially as I employ a tactic known as “method writing.” Like an actor who becomes the character, as I’m writing I imagine myself as the character so I’m feeling everything I believe that character would feel during that scene and that’s what I write. It does make it easier to stay in one point of view while I’m writing, and hopefully it lends a depth to the writing that I might not achieve otherwise.
OUAC: I also found myself thinking about this novel long after I read it. Quite a few times I would re-read my favorite parts just to revisit these characters. Did you find it difficult to let go of Mercy and Stephen, or any of your characters for that matter, even after you finish their novel?
LORRAINE: For a while, after I finish writing a story, it is hard to let the characters go, but the nice thing is that I always have characters waiting in the wings to help me along. I adored Ainsley from the moment I met him and was anxious to tell his story. Now I’m having a hard time letting him go.
OUAC: If you can answer this questions without giving any spoilers away, do you have a favorite moment or scene in Pleasures of A Notorious Gentleman?
LORRAINE: My favorite scene is where Stephen hears his son laugh for the first time. The scene is very reminiscent of something that happened with me. My first son was several months old and my mother was visiting. I’d left her to feed him and was in the living room when suddenly I heard chortling. I discovered my mother holding my son and moving him toward a mirror. When he got close enough, he would guffaw, she would laugh. I snapped a photo and wished I’d had a video camera. It was such a wonderful moment that still brings tears to my eyes.
OUAC: When can we expect Ransom Seymour, the Duke of Ainsley’s book?
LORRAINE: Ainsley’s book, WAKING UP WITH THE DUKE, will be out in July 2011.
OUAC: Is there a favorite quality or characteristic that you admire the most about one particular brother or do you have a favorite brother from this series?
LORRAINE: I admire Westcliffe’s ability to forgive, Stephen’s ability to change, and Ainsley’s ability to love. While I know I shouldn’t, I have to confess that I am quite taken with Ainsley.
OUAC: For you, what is the appeal of writing historicals?
LORRAINE: Historicals provide such a rich tapestry upon which to paint a story. As an author, I can also get away with more. It’s a little difficult to have marriages of convenience in a contemporary. A modern woman would never have put up with the way Westcliffe treated Claire. Yet society at the time made it acceptable.
OUAC: Do you have any odd or unusual writing habits/rituals?
LORRAINE: I don’t know how odd it is, but I prefer writing in the dark while playing a storm CD. I like hearing rain and thunder while I write. Although I do write during the day, I save the most emotional scenes for late at night when I can turn the lights low and all is quiet, except for the storms.
OUAC: Do you find that you have to write every day, no matter how much or how little?
LORRAINE: I do. Even if I’m not writing on my story, I might be writing down a thought or an idea that I think I might want to develop later.
OUAC: How drastic is the difference between writing a European historical romance and a western historical romance? Is one easier to write than the other?
LORRAINE: I think it is easier to add depth of character to western characters because for the most part, they’ve been shaped by adversity. But I embrace the challenge of finding ways to shape my British characters that will fall within the realm of their society. I really enjoyed writing the Scoundrels of St. James series because they grew up on the streets so they were tough, not to be messed with, and they radiated street smarts that’s not usually found in the ballrooms. It’s also inte
resting to me that the two societies—western and British—were so different at the same time. In Texas, you would find girls/women running around barefoot. Not so in British high society. In Texas, clothing was simpler. Life was hard. You didn’t have gaslights on the ranch. Dances were held in barns, not ballrooms. But I really enjoy writing both types of settings. Each offers something of interest, I think.
OUAC: Since you’ve become a published author is there one point or milestone that stands out in your mind?
LORRAINE: The first time that I had a book hit the New York Times extended list. My husband and I had come in from walking the dog, and I had a message on my answering machine. He went upstairs while I punched the play button. It was my agent saying, “I don’t know what time it is in Texas, but I hope you’re up. You’ve hit the New York Times.” I screamed, started crying, and my husband rushed downstairs to find out who had died.
OUAC: Anything else that you would like to add?
LORRAINE: Thank you so much for the lovely interview questions and for enjoying Pleasures with a Notorious Gentleman so much. I hope you’ll enjoy Ainsley’s story.
Dying to know more about Lorraine Heath? Just click HERE
Want to read the review of Heath’s novel Pleasures of A Notorious Gentleman? Click HERE
Again, thank you Lorraine for you entertaining and thoughtful answers!