I am so addicted to Elizabeth Hoyt’s Maiden Lane series that, whenever a new book is released, I’m like a child at Christmas excitedly waiting to open that special present. I’ve always had lots of questions buzzing about in my head that I wanted to ask Elizabeth about this amazing series. So you can imagine how thrilled I was when she agreed to do this interview. I was literally jumping up and down and, if you have never seen a 67 year old jumping up and down, it is not a pretty sight!
Welcome to Rakes and Rascals, Elizabeth. It is such a pleasure to have you join me here today.
Thank you for inviting me, Carol!
R&R: First of all, I’ve always wanted to know how the idea for the Maiden Lane series came about?
Elizabeth: It was several things coming together at once: I wanted to write books in a more complex world—one that readers would want to stay in for more than just a trilogy. I wanted the time to develop characters and plotlines over several books while at the same time keeping each book squarely focused on the romance of the couple in that book.
Then I read about the gin craze in early eighteenth century London. That gave me a time and place. I started thinking about swashbucklers such as Scaramouche by Rafael Sabini and Dr. Syn the Scarecrow (a Disney movie from the 1970s about a hero who disguises himself with a scarecrow’s mask.) I wanted that same sense of sweeping adventure and intrigue. That got me the Ghost of St. Giles and I suppose everything evolved from there.
R&R: Why did you choose the early 18th century as the setting for the series and what aspects of that period particularly appealed to you?
Elizabeth: Swords. Basically swords, wigs, big dresses and swashbuckling. Also, London was really rich in change and upheaval at this time period. It was the largest city in Europe with a lot of people coming into it from all over Britain and beyond. There was a huge gulf between the very rich and very poor. And it was the time of the Enlightenment—the ushering in of modern thought and civilization. I find it endlessly fascinating.
R&R: The notorious St. Giles area of London features predominantly in the books and you have always brought it so vividly to life. I’ve often wondered if you consulted any contemporary documents in your research and whether William Hogarth’s etchings might have been a useful resource?
Elizabeth: I’ve read some stuff from the time period—newspapers articles, death and birth records, diaries, etc, but I have to confess that I love visual documents like Hogarth’s engravings. I have several books of his engravings and I can spend hours examining them—his artwork, especially his crowd scenes, are so very rich in information.
R&R: When you started writing the series what was foremost in your mind, the story or the characters?
Elizabeth: I always start with character and then work outward: what makes this person the way they are? Who would challenge them most?
R&R: Do you work with any sort of storyboard to keep track of all the different threads and characters running throughout the series?
Elizabeth: No, not really. I have a spread sheet with statistics for each character—eye and hair color, which books they appeared in—very simple, and I have a timeline I keep for significant events like birth and deaths, but most of it is in my head.
R&R: Did you always have in mind which hero and heroine would be paired together or have there been some surprises along the way?
Elizabeth: Usually I know, sometimes for a long time in advance. And sometimes things change at the very last minute. I sent an email to my editor a month ago, telling her I had a new idea for Asa Makepeace’s heroine (two books after DARLING BEAST.) The heroine I had picked for him was just too close in personality to him—and also a new character suddenly popped into my head. ;-)
R&R: Is there any line you would not cross when writing a love scene?
Elizabeth: LOL! Well, I’m writing mass market romances and as my editor, the very, very smart Amy Pierpont once said to me, the point of mass market is that it appeals to a large pool of people. It’s not niche. So, while I have nothing against the sex that would appear in erotica, that’s not the type of book I write.
R&R: What has been the most challenging aspect of writing the series?
Elizabeth: Keeping each book interesting and different and as good as I can make it. Actually, that kind of pertains to any book I write. ;-)
R&R: What has been the most fun aspect of writing the series?
Elizabeth: I really like setting up a long plotline—one that plays out over several books. It’s intellectually stimulating. And some characters are just fun to write. The Duke of Montgomery in Darling Beast is an example.
R&R: In the latest book, DARLING BEAST, I think Apollo is possibly the most tortured hero so far in the series. What aspects of writing his character did you find the most rewarding?
Elizabeth: You know, aside from his tortured past, Apollo is kind of a regular guy. A really nice guy. But he’s also pretty self-aware (which not all my heroes are) which was kind of refreshing. I liked writing about him working through who he was now after years of enduring Bedlam. Because at the beginning of the book I’m not sure he knows who or what he is.
R&R: Lily, the heroine, is a comedy actress and very different from your other heroines. Did you base her on any real actress of the time?
Elizabeth: I’m glad you asked that! I did quite a bit of research into theatre, playwrights, and actresses of the time period–I was surprised at how many female playwrights there were. I didn’t base Lily on any one actress—although she’s a breeches role actress like Nell Gwyn.
Her writing process, however, is quite similar to mine (although I don’t act out my dialogue) and I have cursed trying to write wittily on several occasions. ;-)
R&R: Finally, I’m dying to know whether the intriguing Valentine Napier, Duke of Montgomery will be getting his own book.
Elizabeth: I hope so! I am having problems trying to figure out his heroine though. And he’s going to be one of those characters with a bit of a long arc…
Elizabeth, it has been a privilege to have you on Rakes and Rascals today and thank you so much for answering all my questions.
Thank you, Carol—it’s been fun!
About DARLING BEAST
(Maiden Lane, #7)
Genre: Historical Romance (Georgian)
A MAN CONDEMNED . . .
Falsely accused of murder and mute from a near-fatal beating, Apollo Greaves, Viscount Kilbourne has escaped from Bedlam. With the Crown’s soldiers at his heels, he finds refuge in the ruins of a pleasure garden, toiling as a simple gardener. But when a vivacious young woman moves in, he’s quickly driven to distraction . . .
A DESPERATE WOMAN . . .
London’s premier actress, Lily Stump, is down on her luck when she’s forced to move into a scorched theatre with her maid and small son. But she and her tiny family aren’t the only inhabitants-a silent, hulking beast of a man also calls the charred ruins home. Yet when she catches him reading her plays, Lily realizes there’s more to this man than meets the eye.
OUT OF ASH, DESIRE FLARES
Though scorching passion draws them together, Apollo knows that Lily is keeping secrets. When his past catches up with him, he’s forced to make a choice: his love for Lily . . . or the explosive truth that will set him free.
Caliban—no, Lord Kilbourne—was coming toward her and Lily wasn’t entirely certain what to do. She’d been aware of him this entire time, for his eyes seemed to burn into her back no matter where she moved in the room. It really wasn’t fair: it was he who had disappeared into thin air without so much as an explanation or word to her whether he was all right or not. And now he’d turned up at a house party of all things, still using that ridiculous name, Mr. Smith. Had he even invented an appropriate Christian name to go with Smith? A thought struck her, low and terrible. Dear God, she didn’t even know his proper Christian name! She’d let him kiss her and yet didn’t know the first thing about him. The realization made her bitter and a little unwise.
“What’s your real name?” she demanded as he made her side, and if she had to blink back wetness from her eyes, she told herself it was tears of anger.
He glanced around, presumably making sure no one could overhear him. Fortunately, Mr. Phillip Warner had moved away to flirt with his own wife and no one was within earshot.
He replied in a very low voice, “Apollo Greaves, Viscount Kilbourne.”
Apollo? Apollo? She nearly goggled.
Well, he certainly couldn’t use Apollo with Smith—what an entirely inane name. Almost as bad as Caliban when one considered it. What mother looked down at an infant son and thought, god of light? No one could live up to a name like that. Especially since he had a twin sister…
Lily’s brain stuttered to a stop and she realized simultaneously both who Apollo-the-god’s twin sister was and who Apollo-the-man’s twin sister must be.
“Your sister is Artemis Batten, the Duchess of Wakefield,” she hissed.
“Hush,” he muttered.
“Your sister’s a bloody duchess.”
“Yes?” He looked at her oddly, as if everyone had a duchess as a sister.
“Which means the duke is your brother-in-law.”
“He’s rather an ass, if that makes any difference.”
“It doesn’t,” she said decisively. “It truly doesn’t. Why are you even talking to me? I’m the blasted help.”
“You are not and you know it,” he said impatiently. “I need to talk to you. To explain—”
“I’m paid to be here,” she said with as much dignity as possible under the circumstances. “And you’re born to all this”—she waved her hand at the room, which, ill-lit though it was, still had a gold ceiling—“and more. You and I have nothing—absolutely nothing in common. I don’t know why you’re here, but I’ll thank you to stay away from me.”
She pasted a smile on her face and moved away from him as gracefully as she could. There was no need to cause a scene, just because her heart was breaking. Ridiculous, really. When he’d been a penniless workman in a garden, shabby and mute, he’d been well within her reach. Now that he was cleaned up and dazzling in his expensive clothes—that waistcoat alone must have cost more than she’d make in a half a year—he was as high above her as the sun itself.
Apollo, indeed. Perhaps his name really did fit him.
The author of the New York Times bestselling Maiden Lane series and the Legend of Four Soldiers series as well as the Prince Trilogy, Elizabeth Hoyt writes “mesmerizing” (Publishers Weekly) historical romances. She also pens deliciously fun contemporary romances under the name Julia Harper. Elizabeth lives in central Illinois with three untrained dogs, two angelic but bickering children, and one long-suffering husband. Central Illinois can be less than exciting, and Elizabeth is always more than happy to receive missives from her readers. You can write to her at: P.O. Box 17134, Urbana, IL 61873.
Connect with Elizabeth:
I will be picking THREE winners and each winnerwill receive a signed copy of DARLING BEAST together with a copy of Elizabeth’s contemporary romance HOT, written under her alternative name, Julia Harper .
For four years, play-by-the-rules bank teller Turner Hastings has brooded over her uncle’s wrongful imprisonment. But when two bumbling crooks stumble into her branch (barely disguised in Yoda and Sponge Bob masks) and hold up the place, she sees a chance to do something she’s never thought possible: get revenge. She takes advantage of the melee to pull a heist of her own, seizing info from a security box that will exonerate her uncle.
Sent to investigate a bank robbery in small town Wisconsin, Special Agent John MacKinnon discovers the robbers were two not-quite-so-bright thugs and one woman. Now, Turner is on the run. With SA MacKinnon on her trail, she’s breaking into the bank president Calvin’s house, kidnapping his Great Dane, and for the first time in her life, setting out to break a few rules. But when Calvin hires a hit-man, MacKinnon will have to decide between his career–and saving Turner.
The Giveaway is open Internationally and to enter just leave a comment or a question for Elizabeth. The Giveaway will run until midnight (GMT) on Sunday 9th November and I will announce the winners on Monday 10th November.