PJ: Good Morning, Julie and welcome to the Romance Dish! It’s such a pleasure to have you with us today. Congratulations on the release of What I Did for a Duke! This book has been getting amazing buzz around the internet, including a 5-star review from Janga here at the Romance Dish. Please tell us what readers can expect to find in this story.
What can you expect to find in the book? Some have called the story a “revenge” plot; I never really thought of it in that light, though I suppose it certainly seems that way in the beginning. I suppose I never looked at it as such because I knew my hero pretty well, and knew what was in store for both him and Genevieve Eversea. ;) We have an older, mature man (he’s almost 40 years old). And by mature I don't mean in terms of the number of years he's been alive; I mean in the way he's processed his life experiences—how he's integrated his triumphs and mistakes, his conquests and scandals and losses and his loves, into his character. He's a truly formidable man. At this point in his life, he sees himself with unflinching (and sometimes dryly witty) clarity, and he genuinely doesn't care what anyone thinks of him (even when the ton thinks he poisoned his wife) because he has such a strong sense of self. And I think when you take a man like this who personifies power and danger and maturity and make him vulnerable to love...well, to me, nothing's sexier.
So we have this Duke, who experiences a betrayal and sets out to right what he perceived to be a great wrong. But he doesn’t bargain for Genevieve Eversea—quiet, gentle, sensible Genevieve—or so her family believes. (Families often have blinders on when it comes to what's in front of their noses, and the Everseas are no different). When her world starts to fall apart (right in that first chapter), is when this really begins to chafe. And she's not entirely faultless in this.. Her cool self-control (which evolved in part as a defense against the unpredictable family members) is working against her and could be part of the reason she begins the story with a broken heart.
It takes just the right man to unravel that control. ;) To recognize her wit, and tap the sensual curiosity and passion and even a bit of that Eversea recklessness simmering beneath her surface. The duke ultimately teaches Genevieve to be unafraid of her true self, but he gives her the freedom to do it, because he sees her clearly and accepts her for everything she is without putting her in a box.
It’s a love story of true equals, I believe, brought together, ironically, by what each perceives to be an enormous loss—the duke of his fiancée, Genevieve of Harry. And from what I understand, it’s hilarious good fun, with lots of emotion, steamy sex, and an ending one reviewer told me she loved so much she read it over and over and over, which I loved hearing, because it reminded me of the way one listens to a favorite song over and over.
PJ: Thanks for that wonderful summary! I agree with that reviewer. I've read several parts of the story, including the ending, many times already and I'm sure I'll continue to re-visit them many more! There are so many wonderful scenes in this book. What’s the one scene from What I Did for a Duke that you would never cut?
Julie: Oooh…that’s a tough question. I feel like (I hope!) they’re all necessary to the story. When it comes to favorite scenes…I love their first real conversation: Genevieve newly devastated by a secret heartbreak and trying to disguise it, the duke calculatedly determined to charm and win her the way he's always been able to charm any woman he chooses to charm…but gradually they disarm, surprise, then actually almost enjoy each other's obvious subtle wit and intelligence. This is where they begin to recognize each other as people who may not be quite what they seem, and as equals. And this is the beginning of defenses coming down. You get clues in this scene, too, about the duke's vulnerability: she whips out his former fiancee's name as a weapon (because Genevieve is no milksop and she's fighting dirty, if subtly) and it stops him in his tracks.
And there’s another scene—I don’t want to give too much away—where the duke has just laid his heart on the line, but Genevieve doesn’t realize it. I love him in this moment: his dignified vulnerability, and the way he handles what must be devastation without her knowing it, is so quintessentially him, and echoes an earlier scene, in which she handles a similar situation in much the same way. We know, of course, that he doesn’t give up.
PJ: The first kiss between Genevieve and Moncrieffe, as well as his explanation of what a kiss should be, has readers (including me) sighing with pleasure. What are some of your favorite kissing scenes from books or movies? What makes them special?
Julie: Good questions!! And thank you for the opportunity to remember this:
One of the most beautiful, erotic, charged kisses is this scene in Last of the Mohicans. (and we have to provide a little video to go with it, don’t we?)
It takes my breath away every time. These are two very beautiful, very strong people, who are in ways exotic and forbidden to each other. They don’t know whether they’re going to live or die within the next 24 hours; the attraction has been building for some time, it’s forbidden, its undeniable, it’s nearly unbearable. And the thing that knocks me out about that scene is the fact they don’t exchange a single word. You can feel his intensity as he searches for her through the crowded camp, though his movements are very controlled, very purposeful; his expression giving away nothing. He finds her among the crowd; they look into each other’s faces…and he leads her away. Without a word exchanged. As if there’s no question about what will happen next. There’s a desperation and beauty and primal potency to that kiss. It’s as intense as a sex scene, I think. He’s so swooningly masculine; they’re in many ways, as different as they are, such equals, so perfectly matched.
And this is the potency a first kiss should have: it should be earned. The moments leading up to it should be as tense as a crossbow drawn back. The reader should want it as badly as the hero and heroine, and feel as satisfied and transported and transformed as the hero and heroine in the wake of it. There are different ways to use kisses in a romance, but that first kiss is so meaningful, a pinnacle, and can be more intimate than sex.
PJ: Wow! Reading your description in the above paragraph is almost as good as reading the first kiss scenes in your books! I agree with you about that scene in Last of the Mohicans as well. It's one of my all-time favorites scenes from any movie. I have the DVD and watch it often.
What I Did for a Duke is the fifth of your Pennyroyal Green series; a series that has climbed higher on my list of all-time favorites with each new book. How many more books will there be in this series? How long will we have to wait for Lyon and Olivia’s story?
Julie: You’re so sweet! I’m still in awe of the fact that I could be among anyone’s all-time favorites. I’m very honored. And you know, I set out to develop the series premise to be sort of panoramic and flexible and rich in possibility, the stories limited only by the characters and circumstances I can dream up. Everything and everyone introduced so far is eligible to appear again and take a strong role in future stories. And I have LOTS of ideas for stories. I’ll be introducing new and resolving old story threads, so it might help to pay attention to details as you read the books, as they might become important later. ;) And as for Olivia and Lyon…I honestly can’t say yet. My publication schedule is determined by my publisher. My deadlines so far have been 7 to 8 months apart, and my publisher decides when the books appear. If you want to stay apprised, find me on my Facebook Page (http://www.facebook.chom/AuthorJulieAnneLong) or sign up for my mailing list at my website—click “get JAL’s newsletter.”
PJ: Any helpful advice for the writers among us who are still trying to sell that first book?
Julie: The one thing I can tell you definitively is that every author’s journey to publication—and through publication— is different—and that’s pretty much the only thing you can count on. ;) When I’m in a group of aspiring authors, or even published authors, I’m often reminded of the parable of the Blind Men and the Elephant: four blind men are invited to touch an elephant and then describe it. One of them seizes hold of the trunk and says very definitively, “the elephant is like a snake.” Another seizes hold of the elephant’s tail and says, “I beg to differ. An elephant is exactly like a rope.” The third one touches the elephant’s flank and says, “You’re crazy! An elephant is like a wall!” And so forth.
In other words, because our careers are so uncertain and ever-changing, authors seek out certainty by leaping to conclusions based on a limited set of facts, and everyone interprets circumstances based on their experiences. And pretty much everyone’s wrong. LOL. The best advice that I can give any author or aspiring author is contained in a pair of articles I wrote with my agent, Steve Axelrod, called “Why Publishing is Making You Crazy—and What You Can Do About It: the Tao of Publishing.” Here’s a link: http://julieannelong.typepad.com/julie_anne_long/2008/12/why-publishing-is-making-you-crazyand-what-you-can-do-about-it-the-tao-of-publishing.html
If you read it and have questions, feel free to ask me in the comments below.
And if you’re an aspiring author…write. Because when you’re a working author, you’ll have deadlines to meet, no matter the circumstances of your life, and you’ll be contractually obligated to meet them. You’ll need to get the work done no matter what. I think if you truly love it and want a career as an author, you’ll find a way to do it. e.g., I wrote my second book, To Love a Thief, mostly in 45 minute bursts to and from work on the N Judah Train in San Francisco.
PJ: What do you enjoy doing on the days when you aren’t writing?
Julie: On days that I’m not writing, I’m usually updating my website, answering emails or Facebook or Twitter, messages, packing up contest prizes, running to the post office, and so forth. It’s a 7-day-a-week job! LOL.
PJ: I know that music played a large role in your life at one time. Do you listen to music while you write? If you do, what was the playlist for What I Did for a Duke?
I pretty much always listen to music as I write; it’s a way of offering a pacifier to my busy little brain so the story-creating part can get to work writing a story. LOL. I listened to a lot of different kinds of music when I was writing WIDFAD. I usually do exploratory wade-ins with music before I commit to listening to something while I’m writing, just to see what fits the mood of a particular scene. When I feel that internal “click” I know. I listened to quite a lot of Arvo Part as I wrote What I Did for a Duke; a lot of the Decemberists, Neko Case, Robert Plant and Alison Kraus, Ray La Montagne, and lots of others. With other books, I might obsessively listen to one thing or one composer over and over, like Debussy. It all depends!
PJ: You live in San Francisco, a city I’ve always equated with romance. Have you ever thought about writing a story (historical or contemporary) set in that area?
Julie: Hmmm….I suppose you’re right—it might just be a city of romance…it’s a little mysterious (fog-shrouded), characterized by dramatic highs and lows (those hills) and celestial vistas—like any good love story. Hee! Actually, I’d love to, and I’ve thought about it quite a bit. Oh, my goodness, if you only knew how many ideas I have. I keep wishing on stars and dandelions but my staff of helpful houseboys just never seems to materialize. And it’s really all a matter of finding the time to develop ideas properly.
PJ: Here's hoping you're able to find the time to develop those ideas! :)
Julie, you’ve created a group of wonderful heroes and heroines for us to enjoy. Which of your heroines is most like you and which of your heroes is closest to your ideal man?
Julie: Truthfully, there’s a little bit of me in ALL of them—the heroines AND heroes. I try to get inside them and identify strongly with their needs and motivations, and to do that I have to call upon my own experiences in loving and being loved, in being disappointed, in being mischievous, in communication, miscommunication, and so forth. And all the men I’ve written, truthfully, are in some ways the ideal men to me, because of their love for the heroines. Because isn’t that ultimately what we all yearn for, after all—to be the one-and-only, absolutely perfect match for some fabulous man, to be mutually loved, admired, seen, understood, respected, adored, wanted? In that respect, I think all of my heroes perform admirably, at least by the end of the stories. I’d settle for any of ‘em. Though at the moment I’m quite partial to the Duke of Falconbridge. I like a man who patently isn’t a child. I don’t mind a bit of boyishness—to that end, a rascal like Colin Eversea suits me well, too—but...
PJ: Can you give us a sneak peek into what you’re working on now?
Julie: I’m aiming to finish a follow-up to TO LOVE A THIEF that many readers have long wanted – it’s Alice’s story. I’m setting myself a deadline of the end of this month, which might be sort of impossible, but it gives me something to shoot for. I’ll let readers know when that’s ready for prime time! The next book in the series, HOW THE MARQUESS WAS WON, will be out in January 2012.
PJ: Oh, that's wonderful news! I've been hoping Alice would get a story! Julie, thank you so much for graciously answering all of my questions. Do you have a question you'd like to ask our readers?
Julie: I’ll give away a signed copy of The Perils of Pleasure to a random commenter—and whoever guesses the answer to this JAL trivia question (if anyone does!) will be an instant winner!
In LIKE NO OTHER LOVER, the second book in the Pennyroyal Green series, a flirtatious and unnervingly psychic gypsy girl named Martha Heron blurts the word “Lavay” to Violet Redmond. If you’ve read I KISSED AN EARL, you’ll know what happens to Violet a result. But in which JAL book did Martha Heron first appear?
Okay, everybody! You have a chance to be an instant winner by being the first person to correctly answer Julie's trivia question and also be our random winner by leaving a comment. Julie will be stopping in throughout the day to chat and answer your questions!