Writer’s Corner for February, 2005

As the author of Lord of Scoundrels, twice named the all time favorite romance novel by AAR readers, as well as the highly regarded Captives of the Night, The Last Hellion, and Lion’s Daughter, you’d think Loretta Chase might be tempted to rest a bit on her very impressive laurels. But after a hiatus of several years, romance lovers rejoiced when Ms. Chase returned in 2004 with the thoroughly delightful Miss Wonderful, following up in March 2005 with Mr. Impossible, a book certain to become a new favorite of many AAR readers. AAR’s Jane Jorgenson talked with her recently just as Mr. Impossible – yet another AAR DIK for the author – begins to hit bookstores.

–Jane Jorgenson


Let’s get right to it Loretta, there’s been a long time between books…why?

I needed a rest . . . and I write slow!

It seems that the level of sensuality in your Regency-set historicals has gone down a notch, from Hot to Warm, with your last two releases. One of the reasons so many loved Lord of Scoundrels was the love scenes and how integral they were to the characters and the progression of their relationship. Can we look forward to more Hot or is Warm where you plan to stay?

I can’t honestly say, I don’t know. It all goes together: Characters, plot, mood, sensuality. I don’t consciously decide on the temperature of a story. They all seem sensual to me – they’re love stories, and part of the bonding between hero and heroine is the physical intimacy. As to whether the sensuality level has dropped or not, this is not something I can address in any logical way because what turns each of us on is individual and personal. Certain stories and characters strike chords with Reader A and not with Reader B. I have no control over individual preferences, and it would futile to try to please everybody, so that’s not part of the writing equation. I have to write the story in the way that seems true to me.


Related to that, with the recent releases, the entire tone has been lighter. Is this where you’re at now or is this something that the market (and/or your publisher) has dictated?

If only I had that much control! I wish I could dictate to the writing gods, but I’m at their mercy. If I were to send in a request for, say, a really intense story, they’d just laugh. Another time I might long to be lighthearted and witty, and they will send me some angst-ridden tale. All I can do is write the story that comes, the way it comes, in the mood it demands. As to the outside forces, publishers have never dictated to me – except for the evil deadlines – and I am very careful to pay no attention whatsoever to what’s going on in the market, for that way madness lies.

I’m a reader who reads romance, and just about everything else I read, for the heroine – and I know I differ then many romance readers who read for the hero. But that’s why I’ve loved your books. In fact, and I know this is practically heretical as far as many readers on AAR go, but the The Last Hellion is my favorite of your books because of Lydia Grenville. Who are you writing for? Who grabs your imagination first?

I only wish this were a consistent process, but it isn’t. Usually, the one who’s crying out for help tends to get my attention first. But no matter who I start with, I try to keep hero and heroine in equilibrium. The hero is not everything to me. The women are crucial.

And too, we all want to believe that we are the one person in the world who can change a bad boy into a one-woman man.

Has publishing changed in the years between books?

Publishing has been changing for as long as I have been published. I’ve noticed the shrinkage in traditional Regency romance and I’ve noticed that a number of authors have changed genres in recent years, but that’s the extent of my observations. I don’t know all that much about the business because most of my world is inside my own head.

Have readers changed in the years between books?

If they have, they have not made it obvious. They seem to be as nice as they always were. What has changed is communication, thanks to the Internet. Now that I have a Web site and author email address, I hear from them more often. Some of the messages are incredibly inspiring. There are readers who’ve sent a couple of sentences and made my whole week.

Did you realize at the time you wrote Lord of Scoundrels that it would become such a long-time reader favorite? In AAR’s first Top 100 poll, back in 1998, it tied for the fifth position. It moved up to the number one position in 2000, and there it’s remained ever since (it was still number one in our 2004 poll. Why do you think we love it?

I knew when I wrote Lord of Scoundrels that it was a special book. It felt fresh from the moment I started, and the characters were unusually vivid in my mind. Even though I would go back and fix a few things if I could, I was pretty satisfied with it when it was finished – which never happens. As to why readers like it: I think this is because the writing gods smiled and all the planets were aligned just right.

You’ve got me curious now. What would you change if you could?

It’s merely this obsessive-compulsive perfectionist thing I have going. I can’t remember any scenes I ever wanted to change. What I’d fix are some phrases that are not exactly right. It’s obscure semantic/syntactical/historical detail stuff that only I would lie awake nights gnashing my teeth about.

Makes sense. One of Laurie’s favorite things about Lord of Scoundrels is that Dain is utterly flummoxed that Jessica thought he was a hottie. She said I had to ask whether he was, in actuality, a former ugly duckling who transformed into a swan but never got over his self-esteem issues, or was he truly just a hottie in your eyes?

It’s a combination. He was too traumatized by his childhood to realize, in adulthood, that he’d grown into his looks. Jessica saw the beauty in him that no one else could see. She saw through the self-protective veneer. She saw through the monster act. I never saw him as classically handsome, so maybe not everyone would appreciate that he was a hottie, but I did and she did – and so, apparently, did a lot of readers.

As our Top 100 polls indicate, Lord of Scoundrels was and continues to be a favorite of our readers. Do you have a favorite of your novels? Favorite character?

No favorite book. Favorite character is Marigold in Mr. Impossible.

Not having read Mr. Impossible yet (can’t wait), why Marigold?

I don’t know. I just love her. (Jane’s note: Marigold isn’t who readers will think she is, so I won’t spoil it for them if they haven’t read the book – but I’m very curious myself now to meet her ).

I know Mr. Impossible is due out any day now (can’t wait). What comes after that?

The next book is Lord Perfect. It is the story of the eldest Carsington brother, whom readers will meet at the end of Mr. Impossible. I had planned to do the youngest brother next, but once Benedict appeared in that epilogue, I knew I couldn’t wait. I’m having a lovely time with him and the woman I’ve chosen to disrupt his life.

Loretta, here’s one I always like to know: What’s your all-time best-loved romance?

What else? Pride and Prejudice.

What’s your all-time best-loved book?

Without a doubt, Charles Dickens’s Bleak House is my favorite book of all time. It’s just stunningly written, with I think the most brilliant opening chapter of any book ever. It’s a fascinating, compelling, multi-layered story. I could spend hours talking about the book. I have spent hours talking about it, to the dismay of my unfortunate listeners. So, unless you’ve got a couple of hours to spare, perhaps we’d best let it go with that.

Okay, okay, sounds like a perfect note on which to end. I don’t think I can top Dickens. Thanks so much Loretta for taking the time. I’ve enjoyed talking with you.