Thursday, June 28, 2012

A Chat with Elizabeth Hoyt

      When attending a writers conference at the beginning of this month, I was honored and excited  to meet one of my writing heroes, Elizabeth Hoyt. She appeared in Wausau at the WisRWA Write Touch 2012 conference and was one of the main speakers. Gathered were over 90 romance writers hyped up on chocolate and coffee, waiting to hear Ms. Hoyt speak about writing romance. During the break I was able to interview her. Following is our conversation.
       LS; You chose a very different time period for your stories than the typical regency romps that seem to be a perennial favorite among authors and readers. What made you choose Georgian England in the early to mid 18th Century for the settings of your stories? 

EH: Well, I did want to try a different time period than the usual Regency one, but I also love the Georgian period. I like the fashions—big dresses for women, heels and coatskirts for men—I like that the men wore swords and I like that the period was a time of great revolution in the way people thought and what they did. There were agricultural, mechanical, and scientific innovations.

2 minute YouTube video on Fashion 1720-1790 

LS: Yes, men wore swords as it was a very dangerous thing to merely walk the streets of London at night in the time period. It was a matter of self preservation. Many footpads and no police force patrolling the streets as we are accustomed to today.

EH: My Maiden Lane series takes place a little earlier than my previous books—in the 1730s and 1740s. I chose that period because of what was happening in London: the city was booming with new people from all over the world moving in and there was a very big problem with the sale of gin—it was a bit like crack cocaine during the 1980s. Upheaval is always an interesting backdrop for a book. ;-)

LS: With the Maiden Lane Series, you delve into not only a unique time
period for a romance novel, (1737), but also a very different setting that
has not been used by romance writers before you, specifically, the slum
district known as St. Giles in London. Why did you chose this setting? 

EH: I chose St. Giles and the fictional orphanage in it because of the gin problem I discussed above and because I’ve always been very interested in class differences. There was such an extreme range during this time period—aristocrats who literally lived in houses where nearly everything was gilded versus the very poor who might have to share a rented bed in a room crowded with strangers to sleep for the night. I don’t think I could’ve done a character like Winter Makepeace (the hero of THIEF OF SHADOWS) if I hadn’t set the series in St. Giles.

LS: Some reviewers have tried to speculate that you chose this setting so that you
could explore more elaborate and gritty sexual themes that are not typical
in a romance novel by using the slum neighborhood and environs as a
backdrop. Any truth to that? And if not, please feel free to set the record
straight here.

EH: Huh, I hadn’t heard the sexual themes theory—does that mean they think my earlier books set outside slums were less sexy? ;-)

LS: Good Heavens! Not at all. I'm just repeating an idea posted by some readers reviewing your books. I think they are all very sexy, in different ways, which explains why you are so popular. 

Lord Caire & Temperance in Wicked Intentions
LS: Lord Caire, from Wicked Intentions, Book one of the Maiden Lane Series has some very unusual sexual tastes for a hero in a mass market romance novel. His inability to endure being touched is something new, and adds a deeper psychological element to the story. Also his need to tie up his sexual partner and to cover her face during sex is another new twist for a hero in a mass market historical romance novel. (For erotica, this is nothing new, but for mainstream romance it pushes the boundaries!) 

EH: As you pointed out, he’s pretty tame by erotica standards—and many main stream readers are now reading erotica. By the way, I do think that in a romance novel the hero’s sexuality is part of the character—i.e. a writer shouldn’t just throw in a bit of kink for the heck of it. There was a  definite reason why Caire did what he did during sex and I thought it was an important part of the character.

LS: Were Lord Caire's unique sexual needs hard to pitch to your editor?

EH: No, my editor didn’t have any problem with Caire’s sexual oddities. 

LS: Do you feel that the mass market romance lines are becoming more open to deeply flawed heroes than in the past?  I ask this as we're often told that the reader must fall in love with the hero by the third chapter in order for it to be satisfying in the romance market, yet, Lord Caire's cool aloofness and his sexual proclivities could be considered off putting to the typical historical romance reader.

EH: Huh. Again, I hadn’t heard the third chapter rule before—which is probably just as well. If I were to make such a rule, I think the reader has to be intrigued by the hero by his first appearance, but that she doesn’t have to actually fall in love with him until far later in the book. I do believe in love at first sight, but it doesn’t often work that way and my heroes in particular are often assholes at the first meeting. ;-)

LS: Of your three published Maiden Lane Books, (and two upcoming books in
the works) who is your favorite hero? In other words, which one makes you
swoon the quickest?

EH: I like Caire, just because he was such a multi-layered character to write.

LS: You've developed some very interesting female lead characters, Temperence, Silence, and Lady Hero. These women appear to fit into the restrictive society in which they are a part of, and yet they secretly break the rules and follow their own desires. Which heroine is your favorite ladyamong the three above?

EH: Among these three I think I like Hero the best because she was trying her best to fit into the life in which she’d been raised.

LS: Yes, Hero was a Duke's daughter and had a lot of expectations put on her as a leading woman in society. Griffin helped her 'loosen up' quite a bit, didn't he! <Grin?|>
<<--- Hero & Griffin in Notorious Pleasures by Elizabeth Hoyt

EH: As an awful teaser, though, I have to say that I just finished LORD OF DARKNESS, which isn’t out until February 2013, and Megs, the heroine of that book, is my definite favorite of the series so far. ;-)

LS: Which couple do your readers seem to praise the most in fan letters?

EH: At the moment it’s a neck-and-neck race between Mickey O’Connor and Silence in SCANDALOUS DESIRES and Isabel Beckinhall and Winter Makepeace in THIEF OF SHADOWS.

Charming Mickey and Silence in Scandalous Desires

LS: Ah, yes, Charming Mickey, the River Pirate.
Definitely an intriguing and sexy romance hero. We first met him in book one, Wicked Intentions. Winter Makepeace, however, is also very mysterious, he has a secret side that up until now has only been hinted at in previous books. Many readers will be anticipating his story. You mention releasing a 5th Book in the Maiden Lane Series in early 2013, Lord of Darkness. Will there be 6th?

EH:  Oh, yes. The sixth book will be DUKE OF MIDNIGHT and though we don’t have a release date yet, it’ll probably come out late 2013. I also hope to continue the series past the sixth book—we’ll have to see.

LS: The Legend of the Four Soldiers Series and The Prince Trilogy proceeded your Maiden Lane Series. What will come after? Are you dreaming up another cast of characters for us? If so, give us a little hint, where will it take place and what time period?

EH: As I’ve said above, I’d like to continue the Maiden Lane series. I have a definite three-book arc planned, but I can’t say much for fear of spoilers (and because the next three books aren’t sold yet.) I can say that reader favorite, Asa Makepeace is planned for those books and his mysterious job will be revealed. ;-)

LS: And so, we have a six book series in Maiden Lane. Wonderful. We have so much to look forward to from you in the next year or two. Thank you, Elizabeth for joining us to chat about your excellent Georgian Romance Series, Maiden Lane.  We look forward to many happy reads from your pen. 

Drum Roll! And the Winner is.... Stacey Joy Netzel! Stacey is our lucky reader who will receive a Free Copy of Thief of Shadows.  

Note to our readers: Visit my earlier post for a free excerpt of Thief of Shadows, which is now in available in stories! 

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