Julie Anne Long
Nine Naughty Questions
1. Headless washboard abs, a torrid embrace, the sprawling homestead, an elegantly dressed décolletage, or the vaguely kinky object against a dark background – what’s your favourite type of romance cover and why?
Some of those covers are pretty artful and striking (a certain gray necktie against a black background springs to mind), but for my genre I love covers that capture true emotion and kind of tell a story with the visual. Which is why I completely love the cover of The Legend of Lyon Redmond. Not only is there dynamic movement (which we don’t seem to see very often on covers), it’s so…poignant. The emotion, the longing, the joy, the pain, is all there. I think it captures the story PERFECTLY and I was beside myself with happiness when I first saw it.
2. What is the secret life of a romance writer? What goes on between you and your keyboard (or quill) behind closed doors?
Blood sweat and tears! I’ve typed the “e” and “t” letters clean off the keys of my laptop, that’s how impassioned it gets behind closed doors. And by night I don a black unitard and cat ears and fight crime.
3. At the heart of a romantic story is the way in which the main characters reveal their true natures to each other. How much of yourself do you put into your characters, and have their stories been affected by your personal experiences?
I think all my characters are me and I am all my characters. Very broadly speaking, that is. I think a writer can only only tell a story through the filter of her own view of the world and her own experiences, so my own experiences colour every character I create, and the actions and feelings of those characters. None of my characters or the events in my books have been drawn specifically from real life, but they’ve been shaped by my interpretation of real life, if that makes sense.
Empathy is pretty important, I think. You have to crawl right inside your characters and BE them, feel their feelings, see what they see, in order to make them seem real to the reader.
4. I’m interested in how you differentiate between romance fiction, erotica and porn. Are romance readers getting naughtier?
Nah, readers have always had a naughty streak. I think the genre has…diversified, shall we say? Fragmented? Specialized? E.g., I just read a Faith Baldwin romance written in the 30’s (she was kind of the Nora Roberts of her day—an incredibly prolific, charming writer who wrote into the 70’s, I believe, and a number of her books were made into movies), and it featured two love interests, one of whom was a married man, and she flew a plane because her father owned an airline. And none of this was treated as any big deal in the story —every character was well-rounded and sympathetic. This was a “penny romance,” basically what we consider a typical mass market today. Now today we’d find most of these themes in another genre, maybe—women’s fiction?
I don’t write erotica or porn, so I don’t have definitions of those genres at my fingertips and I don’t consider myself an expert, and would never speak for the writers of those genres. I would imagine it relates to the emphasis in the story—romance fiction might place the emphasis on the emotions, with sex a net result of that; with erotica, the emotions might originate from or result from the physicality; porn seems to be more focused on the physical, with an emotional arc not critical to the genre.
I always knew what it was called, truthfully!
6. What’s the most memorable reaction you’ve received after a friend or family member read one of your books?
One guy friend read my first book (The Runaway Duke) and asked why the heroine didn’t “karate chop in the larynx” a guy who made an untoward pass at her. I had to gently explain that most Regency Romance heroines don’t necessarily default to karate. At least he was indignant on her behalf and wanted her to be able to defend herself.
7. Romance writers are sometimes denigrated and asked when they’ll write ‘real’ books – what do you tell the haters?
I’ve been fortunate that most people I’ve personally encountered are more intrigued and supportive than anything else. Usually the denigrators are people who’ve never actually read a romance, or read one once, say, in 1985, and decided on the basis of that they didn’t like the genre. Would you decided you hated all of, say, Asian cuisine if you tasted a pot sticker and decided you didn’t like it? I use that analogy, frequently: there are a vast number of genres and sub-genres and voices in romance, and there are a near infinite number of ways to tell a love story—and that’s what a romance novel is. Don’t we enjoy romantic films? A romance is similar, in that (if the book is doing its job) you’re immersed in the story and rooting for the hero and heroine to reach a happy ending. What could possible be objectionable about that? Writing quality varies, but quality is subjective. Romance has something for everyone.
One thing I’ve encountered puzzles me: often writers who consider themselves journalists—and are frequently very good ones—feel free to make generalisations or use romance-oriented metaphors (usually involving the words “bodice ripper” or “Fabio”) that are incredibly, jarringly dated and incorrect. I wonder: why would someone who would normally be careful with facts be careless about this kind of thing? Five or ten minutes of googling would probably provide a good quick education about today’s romances.
I think the media helps perpetuate generalisations about the genre, but I’ve found that once you get a chance to patiently explain it, readers are usually intrigued and open.
I’ve glommed Liane Moriarty (The Husband’s Secret and all her others—fantastic vibrant voice, a great balance of warmth, wit and depth, great characterisations, the perfect blend of lightness and darkness) and Kerry Greenwood (Phryne Fisher mysteries—fabulous history, very unique heroine who unapologetically takes lovers willy nilly) recently. That’s a lot of books right there 🙂
9. Please tell us your favourite scene from your latest book, and why it’s particularly delicious!
Oh my goodness….I had such a wonderful time writing It Started with a Scandal that I woke up a little sad the day after I turned it in, because I was sorry I wasn’t going to be spending the day with Lavay and Elise. I had moved in with them for so long, so to speak.
I loved writing every scene, but one of my favourites is between Lavay and Elise after his assembly, where he finally learns the entirety of her secret. A little drunk, full of warring emotions, he rings for her, and manages, with a sort of controlled, tender, ferocity, reveal to her what he knows about her past…and to create a safe place (or as safe as any place that includes a dangerously appealing man can be) for her to tell him more about it…and he also grills her. And this is where they sort of…negotiate…what they’re going to do about their feelings, not to mention their overwhelming desire, for each other. There are a lot of layers of things going on in this scene and it was a bit of a crescendo.
Julie, thank you for playing.
The Legend of Lyon Redmond
by Julie Anne Long
Bound by centuries of bad blood, England’s two most powerful families maintain a veneer of civility . . . until the heir to the staggering Redmond fortune disappears, reviving rumors of an ancient curse: a Redmond and an Eversea are destined to fall disastrously in love once per generation.
An Enduring Legend
Rumor has it she broke Lyon Redmond’s heart. But while many a man has since wooed the dazzling Olivia Eversea, none has ever won her—which is why jaws drop when she suddenly accepts a viscount’s proposal. Now London waits with bated breath for the wedding of a decade . . . and wagers on the more…