Lady Beast’s Bridegroom is out tomorrow! Jude was kind enough to answer some questions for us.
You can get your copy of this delightful historical romance HERE!
Did you always know you wanted to be an author?
I have always told stories. My mother swears that I started as an infant, babbling away to my toys in the playpen before I learned to speak. I consumed stories, too, finding them everywhere. I listened with fascination when my grandfather and his cousins shared anecdotes. I taught myself to read so I could continue whatever book my mother had put down at night.
I don’t know how old I was when it dawned on me that people actually wrote the stories in those books, but certainly, by the time I was seven, I would answer the perennial adult question of “What do you want to be when you grow up, dear?” with “An author and a mother.”
The first simply required me to marry my personal romantic hero and let nature take its course. The second was a bit more complicated. I wrote, of course. I wrote lots. I started dozens of works and even finished some of them. I worked for many years as a commercial writer, producing plain language translations of commercial and government documents, and writing for and editing a number of trade magazines. I was a freelance journalist and columnist. I even had some short stories accepted for publication.
But life—in the form of chronic illness, disabled offspring, and other challenges–kept getting in the way of my deep desire to write, finish, and publish novels. Until I decided not to let it do so any more. With my health relatively stable and my children and dependent grandchildren grown, I wrote a novel. And I published it. I haven’t stopped since. I’m an author.
What drew you to the era you write in? Is there something about the time period you think most people don’t know about?
I write mostly in the Regency era. It was a time period on the cusp of change. An agricultural economy was giving way to an industrial one. Animal, wind, and water power was giving way to steam. Absolute monarchy was giving way to the voice of the people. The social structures, moral attitudes, and economic practices we take for granted today did not exist. And yet, as a time of change, it has startling echoes in our modern day.
I love the things that are the same about the Regency, but I also love what is different, and so much is. People who read romance are familiar with the idea that gentlemen should sleep around and unmarried ladies should be virgins, but there is so much more. Truth is, indeed, stranger than fiction.
In Regency times, women played an important part in the military, not only as laundry maids, cooks, and prostitutes, but even dressed as males to go to war on land or sea. Ladies were archers and fencers. Some women of the lower classes were boxers.
Marriage is often presented as the only choice for women, but one third of women never married. And their own letters and diaries suggest that for those with fortunes, not marrying was a reasonable choice. And while men saw women as adjuncts to their husbands, all around them were examples of female business women, women who worked in a trade or other business, and other women who didn’t so much break the male-created mould of femininity as refuse to get into it.
I write strong determined women, and the Regency certainly had them.
Do you know where the story is going before you begin, or does it come to you as you write? Do scenes come to you fully formed or are you as surprised as the reader?
I have no idea how a story is going to develop when I start it. Usually, I start with a character and go from there, but if I start with a plot, it is not more than a sketchy outline. My first step is to create a hero’s journey for each of my main characters—at least the hero and the heroine, and sometimes the chief villain as well. Once I understand the mental journey that they have to travel in order to heal (or, in the case of the villain, succumb) to the wounds of their past, I can see where the plot has to go. Even as I write each scene, I am constantly surprised by the direction my plot elves take it. (Other authors have muses. I have an infestation of plot elves.)
This means I tend to write, then think, then write again. I write about 500 words at a time, go and do something else, then write some more. On a good day, I might write half a dozen times or more. On my best day ever, I wrote over 5,000 words. On my worst days, it might be 50 words. As long as I write every day, I eventually get there.
When it’s difficult to physically travel, how do you find ways to escape?
Stories have always been my escape of choice. As an adolescent, I was frequently told that my reading choices were escapism and that I should read more “serious” books. Today, I would point out to those who criticized my reading matter that escapist reading is perfect for those who are trapped—in my case, by family dramas, chronic illness, a job that I hated.
I read (and still read) many different genres, but my favourites are historical romance, historical, sf, and mystery.
Through some very difficult years, I imagined my own stories, and every single one was an escape. I would return to the hard work of real life refreshed and able to cope.
Now I write escapist books, and I’m proud of it. I try to give my readers good descriptions, to help them to travel to another place, another time. I hope I succeed.