Name Loretta Chase
Age Let us not speak of this thing.
Where are you from
A little about your self `ie your education Family life etc
I grew up in Worcester, a small city in Massachusetts. After a couple of moves, my parents settled across the street from a large, wonderful park, or series of parks, leading down a hill to a lake. An excellent place to raise four children (all girls). So I spent much of my childhood outdoors. When indoors, I read. I attended public schools then Clark University, also in Worcester, where I eventually settled to studying English literature and visual art and earning my B.A. My working life was varied: stints with jewelry and clothing retailers, and a Dickensian six-month experience as a meter maid—which I loved, by the way, in spite of or perhaps because it was so challenging, mentally and physically, and it was so interesting to have a job that made so many people want to kill me. My professional writing career began right after college graduation, when I started freelancing, mainly as a screenwriter for corporate video. This taught me dialogue as well as structure, and also, how to not bore people out of their minds. For instance, diamond drill bits don’t make for a scintillating topic. How do you keep the audience from wanting to commit mass suicide after the first ten minutes? The video work led me to meeting another Clark graduate, whom I eventually married.
Fiona: Tell us your latest news?
Dukes Prefer Blondes (my 21st full-length novel), latest entry in my Dressmakers series and the fourth book in what was supposed to have been a trilogy, is currently in production for release on 29 December 2015. I’ve recently begun the first book of a new series, which focuses on three men. Meanwhile, we continue to produce audio editions of my earlier books, with four more to be released between autumn 2015 and spring 2016. And we are continuing to negotiate various eBook licenses/rights for the U.K.-Australia-New Zealand market.
Fiona: When and why did you begin writing?
Sometime in elementary school I started writing stories. At age ten or eleven, I wrote a play for a Girl Scout badge. It had about a hundred scenes. The why is elusive. I needed to, in the same way I needed to make art and other things. Some kind of creative impulse, apparently.
Fiona: When did you first consider yourself a writer?
In high school, probably. I wasn’t much of a writer then, but I wrote poetry and started working on the Great American Novel. It went on forever, no end in sight—structure eluded me. I considered myself a professional writer the first time I got paid for writing.
Fiona: What inspired you to write your first book?
Somewhere along the way, the need to make visual art nudged aside the need to write—I actually had shows of my art work, sold some pieces, and was a finalist in a state art competition. The two inclinations were in tension for quite a while. But then, after I’d been writing about safety equipment and sandpaper and filing systems for a while, my husband asked what I really wanted to do. After some anguished inner debate, I realized I still wanted to write a novel. The difference was, having accumulated a few years of professional writing experience, I had an idea how to approach the monster and tame it.
Fiona: Do you have a specific writing style?
Yes, but I’m not sure what to call it. My writing persona is not Loretta Chekani, the person you’d meet, say, over lunch. Loretta Chase is more articulate and much better at witty repartee. I don’t know where that writing voice comes from, but I’ve always had it. Which is probably why Regency Historical Romance was a better fit than Great American Novel.
Fiona: How did you come up with the title?
Titles are odd things. Sometimes my working title sticks; sometimes we go through a lot of titles before the publisher gets excited about one. Most of my titles are of my own devising, though it took a lot of back-and-forth to get there. Lately, though, my agent has come up with some terrific titles. Dukes Prefer Blondes [http://www.lorettachase.com/dukes-prefer-blondes]is one of them.
Fiona: Is there a message in your novel that you want readers to grasp?
I don’t think it’s a good idea to have a message, at least not overtly. My books do deal with the difficulties of being a woman in a man’s world, but it’s not a message in the sense of the political and moral messages in, say, Charles Dickens’s books. My characters are dealing with their personal issues. Mainly I leave it to my readers to find their own messages. Judging by their emails, they find quite an extensive range.
Fiona: How much of the book is realistic?
Each book involves intensive research, but that’s my wanting to make the reader feel as though she is transported to another time and place. I want the story to feel real. I want my reader to forget the world around her and go to the place I’ve created. This place is grounded in research, but the story has to be compelling, and shaped to focus on the hero and heroine’s relationship. Unlike historical novels, historical romance is not going to focus on realities like rotten teeth or poor hygiene—or even the fact that there were only twenty dukes in, say 1838, and they weren’t all young and handsome and unmarried. Romance writers might deal with social or psychological issues and our characters might be psychically or physically damaged, but in the end, it’s a love story, and love is the healer. My readers can get plenty of reality from the news. Their emails tell me that some of them are coping with rather too much reality of the grim variety. They tell me my books offer respite. I cherish those messages.
Fiona: Are experiences based on someone you know, or events in your own life?
The stories come from my imagination. What goes on in there is anybody’s guess.
Fiona: What books have most influenced your life most? a mentor?
The biggest influence was Charles Dickens. He created such a vivid image of a different world: nineteenth-century England, especially London. Early influences, like Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland and The Wind in the Willows might have given me the idea of writing stories. A host of other authors have played their parts: Jane Austen, Mark Twain, Oscar Wilde, P.G. Wodehouse come immediately to mind. I was fortunate to have several mentors, most memorably an English professor and an art professor at Clark.
Fiona: What book are you reading now?
I just finished Christopher Moore’s Serpent of Venice. In non-fiction, I’m still working on Judith Flanders’s Victorian City. The latter offers a lot to chew on. Christopher Moore is brilliant, no matter what he writes.
Fiona: Are there any new authors that have grasped your interest?
I lean toward detective fiction. Of current authors, Allen Bradley’s Flavia DeLuce series, Alexander McCall Smith’s No. 1 Ladies Detective Agency series, Spencer Quinn’s Chet and Bernie series, Deborah Crombie’s series, Victoria Abbott’s book collector series, Tarquin Hall’s Vish Puri series, set in India. Though I don’t read nearly as extensively in my own genre, I enjoy many of the newer generation of romance authors—Maya Rodale, Laura Lee Ghurke, Sherry Thomas, and Tessa Dare, among others.
Fiona: What are your current projects?
Along with starting a new series (see my news, above), I continue to blog with Isabella Bradford/Susan Holloway Scott at Two Nerdy History Girls [http://twonerdyhistorygirls.blogspot.com/] as well as on my own website blog [http://www.lorettachase.com/blog/].
Fiona: Name one entity that you feel supported you outside of family members.
Clark University. I spent about ten years, off and on, getting through my undergraduate studies, then another ten working there, mainly in the Visual & Performing Arts Department. Believing in my talent, my art professor connected me with the video people, which launched my professional writing career, though it was my English professor who got me my first paid project. When, after I’d left Clark to write full time, my first book came out, faculty, staff, and students turned up at my first book signing. It was and still is an amazing community.
Fiona: Do you see writing as a career?
It’s been my career for nearly my entire adult life.
Fiona: If you had to do it all over again, would you change anything in your latest book?
Based on past experience, I know I’m going to find some technical errors and probably at least one anachronism. I do my best to get everything right, but it’s never perfect.
Fiona: Do you recall how your interest in writing originated?
It must have started with reading. And having a very vivid imagination. I’ve made up stories for as long as I can remember.
Fiona: Can you share a little of your current work with us?
There are excerpts of all my books on my website. On the Books Page[http://www.lorettachase.com/books/], clicking on any cover will take readers to the book’s individual page, which contains the book description on the back cover as well as an excerpt.
Fiona: Is there anything you find particularly challenging in your writing?
Starting the writing day. I face the blank page and want to run away.
Fiona: Who is your favorite author and what is it that really strikes you about their work?
Dickens is my all-time favorite, but very close after is Jane Austen. Then there are about a hundred authors tied for third place. Dickens turns everything into a character: buildings, streets, a chair. I would love to have that genius. I’m drawn to authors who have a strong, distinctive prose style and voice, sharply drawn characters, and humor. Also, I prefer happy endings or at least hopeful ones. That’s one of the reasons I got into writing romance.
Fiona: Do you have to travel much concerning your book(s)?
I don’t have to, but I try to travel as much as possible. Every trip to England enriches my brain. I can do hours and hours of research, but it’s not the same as being on the spot, even though the spot has undergone a couple of centuries’ change. I like being able to walk up or down a street to understand where it goes up and where it goes down and how wide or narrow it is. This is one of the wonderful things Dickens did. He knew the streets of London because he walked them endlessly.
Fiona: Who designed the covers?
My publisher’s art department.
Fiona: What was the hardest part of writing your book?
The hard part is always the start of the writing day: sitting down and facing the blank page/computer screen and summoning the words to put there.
Fiona: Did you learn anything from writing your book and what was it?
Since my hero was a barrister I had to learn something about Old Bailey proceedings in the first third of the 19th century. It’s complicated, and I had to change things somewhat, to accommodate the story’s needs. Every book seems to need research on some new topic. Very likely, I create that situation because I love research and learning about the past. Some of the discoveries end up in posts on Two Nerdy History Girls.
Fiona: Do you have any advice for other writers?
Write. Plant self at keyboard and do it. And if you find that painfully difficult, welcome to the writing club. And read Stephen Pressfield’s The War of Art.
Fiona: Do you have anything specific that you want to say to your readers?
Thank you for reading, and please keep it up! If you haven’t read my books, I hope you’ll give them a try. In any event, please keep reading.
Fiona: Do you remember the first book you read?
Vividly. Dick and Jane. The first word I learned to read was “Look.” Even as a child of six, I did not find the stories scintillating, but I was too excited about learning to read to really care. And Dick and Jane opened the door to great stories like Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland, Through the Looking Glass, and The Wind in the Willows. And comic books!
Fiona: What makes you laugh/cry?
A great many things, but especially good books, good movies, and opera singers. I know how La Traviata comes out, but I cry all the same, every single time. But never mind the story. A great singer easily chokes me up.
Fiona: Is there one person pass or present you would meet and why?
I’d like to meet my maternal great-grandmother. I’d just like to know what she looked like and sounded like. I have absolutely no image of her.
Fiona: What do you want written on your head stone and why ?
- Because it’s the answer, isn’t it?
Fiona: Other than writing do you have any hobbies ?
Gardening and travel.
Fiona: What TV shows/films do you enjoy watching?
We cut our cable connection, so I watch only Netflix. But that has offered me Sherlock Holmes and House of Cards. My movie choices are eclectic. Anything from French films, in which everybody talks and smokes and nothing really seems to happen, to the Avengers.
Fiona: Favorite foods / Colors/ Music
I’m an adventurous eater. Lately my preference has been for Asian cuisines, but I’m always interested in trying something different. I like most colors, though I’m not wild about brown . I dislike beige. Musical tastes range from college radio to Bollywood music to opera. Variety is the spice of life.
Fiona: If you were not a writer what else would you like to have done?
I would have made art and become expert in sewing.
Fiona: Do you have a blog/website? If so what is it?