Give us a little bit about your background and when you first started publishing.
Once upon a time, I taught English in high school and college. I loved teaching, but I quit when my children were born, and then we moved to a district where they were laying off teachers, not hiring them. So I started working for a local newspaper, which turned into a more or less permanent career. It was only after retiring that I started reading romance novels. (The first one I picked up was Loretta Chase’s Mr. Impossible—nothing like starting at the top! It’s still my favorite book.) I was having so much fun that I zipped through everything I could get my hands on. Then I thought it would be fun to write a historical romance, so I tried it. It turned out that was so much fun that I haven’t been able to stop.
The first one I wrote eventually turned into A Match for the Marquess. People told me that I needed to do a series, so I started the Victorian Adventures series about the children of the marquess and his wife, and sold it to Sourcebooks.
Historical Setting Related:
Have you visited the places you’ve written about or just read about them?
- I’ve been to Italy, the site of Lady Elinor’s Wicked Adventures, and visited the Etruscan ruins they visited, although my children weren’t quite as excited about that as I was. I’ve visited England several times and dragged my children to a number of country homes. But most of the time I’ve only read about them and longed to visit in person. And I love to look at Country Life, the English magazine that has gorgeous pictures of country homes and gardens.
What interesting settings have you used (homes, battlefields, events in history, etc)?
- I try to incorporate a bit of the actual history of the period into all of my books. This gives me an excuse to research all kinds of things, which I love to do. Sometimes you get the impression from novels that all England was united against Napoleon—the Monster, the Tyrant. That may have been true for the aristocracy and gentry, but there were many people lower on the social scale who thought Napoleon was the good guy and the French Revolution had the right idea. I include some of that division in The Earl Returns.
- Probably the most unusual setting I included was the ruins of Ninevah in Lady Emily’s Exotic Journey. Austen Henry Layard’s book about his excavations there is fascinating. (I told you I love the research.) Lady Emily’s journey was the kind of serious travel the Victorians did. They traveled to learn, to discover, not to go shopping.
Why did you choose the particular period you write in? What is it about that era that speaks to you?
- Well, it’s not just the pretty clothes, though I do love them! I’ve spent a lot of my mental life in the 18th and 19th centuries, as a student and just as a reader, so for me it’s familiar territory. People like William Hazlitt and Charles Lamb feel like old friends, and I admire Henry Broughton more than I do most modern politicians. It’s a remarkably varied period with change and upheaval along with a certain surface stability.
What inspires you to create a certain character (give example)?
- I’m not at all sure. They tend to pop into my head in a scene. Miranda, in The Earl Returns, appeared in the shipwreck scene, trying to plug up the link and bail. In fact, the whole book began with that scene. I saw what was happening and had to figure out who these people were and how they could have gotten into such a fix.
Have you ever changed the character arc because it didn’t work with the storyline?
- No. I’ll change the story if it doesn’t fit the characters. They come first.
Do you have a certain quirk in your writing process? Do the stars have to be aligned or do you have to have your favorite tea? Where do you do your best writing?
- Music. I have to have music, but not anything with words while I’m writing. Generally classical or baroque. It keeps me calm even when I’m not actually listening. It’s probably an insult to great music to use it as a sort of tranquilizer, but it works for me. And if I’m having plot problems, I’ll go for a walk in the woods.
From all your books, who is your favorite hero and why?
- It’s the hero of whatever I’m working on at the moment! Right now it’s Tom, the earl who returns. I love him because he really is a good guy, trying to do his best and live up to his responsibilities. He doesn’t want to hate people, and when they injure him, he doesn’t work himself into a frenzy to punish them. He just distances himself and tries to make sure it can’t happen again. Of course, when they threaten Miranda, that’s a whole new ball game.
- I just realized something. The reason I like Tom so much is that he reminds me of Rupert Carsington from Mr. Impossible.
Outside of your own genre, what’s your favorite genre?
- Mysteries, especially the whodunits of the Golden Age. I don’t care for gore, but I love the puzzles. I’ve probably read all of Agatha Christie, Ngaio Marsh, Margery Allingham, John Dickson Carr…
We hope you enjoyed getting to know Lillian a little better. Check out Lillian’s newest series “Lords of Sussex”. Book 1 “The Earl Returns” releases 11/05/2020.