An Interview with Eloisa James–and Giveaways! (FIVE!)

If I recall correctly, I first met Eloisa James at a Romance Writers of America Convention in Denver. Several of us were leaving a dinner given by Avon Books for a party hosted by Harlequin. Somehow I found myself next to the incredibly slender, incredibly fashionable, and incredibly funny Eloisa. I laughed so hard I had to head straight for the bathroom once we reached the party…you know that kind of laughter.

Another year, another trek from dinner to party. I was wearing this dress with fabulous beaded shoulder straps. Fabulous, but fragile. As I exited the taxi, the wire the beads were strung on cut through the thread attachment to the garment on one side and I was in serious wardrobe malfunction. I made noises about returning to our hotel. Eloisa wouldn’t have it! She slipped the remaining beads off the wire (dashing them to the New York sidewalk) and then quickly used the wire and a little tuck here and there to make my sagging gown into a one-shouldered thing of beauty!

Delightful companion, impromptu dress re-designer, and she writes wonderful books, too. (Not to mention that she’s a professor and a wife and mother as well). The next in her “Desperate Duchesses” series of Georgian historicals, When the Duke Returns, will hit the shelves November 25.

In this story, Isidore, the Duchess of Cosway, faces the stranger she married by proxy eleven years ago…and must decide if he’s the man she wants for a lifetime.

I Ask, Eloisa Answers

I started this off by talking about fashion and must continue because I love reading about clothes in romances and you’ve outdone yourself with heroine Isidore’s ensembles in When the Duke Returns. (I so want her diamond shoes!) Where do you get your ideas for the clothing?

Ah, clothing… as you can see from your beaded gown story above (I remember that! It was the year that my own gown slipped off one shoulder at the Harlequin dance and I accidentally flashed 800 women) – anyway, the gowns I describe are costumes I would like to wear. That’s crucial. So I choose pictures from British Vogue or a host of other overpriced fashion magazines featuring beautiful women wearing one-of-a-kind garments. Then I imagine that fabric, the flow and beading, in a Georgian or Regency shape.

More than once you’ve written a romance about the development of love within a marriage. How does the fact that the hero and heroine are married affect the conflict and the growing relationship?

I think it makes it more interesting. I’m married. I find marriages fascinating given that the initial haze of lust has burned off. A marriage that survives fulfills the dream of romance: that two people can have an intelligent, loving, sensual relationship together. If a book just ends at the altar – well, really, who knows? I certainly have a lot of feverish memories of pure lust for men that I am truly, really grateful not to have married!

In the Desperate Duchesses series, the playing of chess has an important role. Do you play? (Confession from me: I tried to take it up when my sons were beginners because it was way better than Chutes & Ladders. Discovered they could beat the pants off me by the time they were like 8, so I gave it up.)

Nope. I can’t play worth a darn. But my closest friend in my English Department (I’m a professor) is only a few games off being a master. He lent me books and magazines and a chess board, and I learned just enough to write about it.

In your series, you have interweaving and layering threads and character relationships that continue through each book. Do you plan those in advance or do you let your subconscious do most of the work?

I’m a seat-of-the-pantser. In When the Duke Returns, for example, I certainly never planned to have my duke return from years abroad to find that the water closets (or toilets) in the ducal mansion broke long ago… but what can I say? I live in an elderly house, and that plot irresistibly presented itself to me. I couldn’t say no! And that plot twist turned out to be quite funny, so I’m happy that I’m not hemmed in by a plot I thought up in advance.

As I said above, you’re a bestselling author, a college professor, a mother and a wife. I’m certain you get asked this all the time—can you share a great time-management tip or two?

I have a long (typed) list of to-do’s. Every day I put a yellow sticky on it, with 4-5 things that I can reasonably get done. Sometimes those things are small: “write 2 pages.” Sometimes they are large: “Finish copy-edits.” But I have a sense of accomplishment when I cross things off the sticky, and I’m amazed at how just chipping away at small bits can add up to completion of large projects a few months later.

Plus, I have a great husband!

You mention on your website ( that the Georgian period (during which the Desperate Duchesses books are set) is “naughtier” than the Regency period and that men and women’s relationships had a different tone. Can you elaborate a little?

Well, think of the Regency period as coming just before the Victorian period (when women had to cover the legs of tables with doilies so that naked table legs didn’t give them naughty thoughts). But the Georgian period was far before the Victorians came along – and social rules had a much smaller role. It wasn’t unusual for a husband and wife to live separately, especially in the higher classes. And it certainly wasn’t unusual for either of them to take a lover. Many women married later, and scholars estimate that almost 50% of them were pregnant at their wedding. So Georgians were simply naughtier!

Finally: I see that Jemma’s story is up next. I’m so excited (and worried for her happy ending). Can you give me just a little hint to keep me going through the next months of feverish anticipation?

I love the book. Is that enough? *g*.

Oh, and my editor said that it has one of the best beginnings that she’s read in the last decade. How’s that for a hint?

I can’t say too much without giving away the plot. But let me just say that I laughed, and cried, writing this book. I hope you feel the same reading it!

Riders (and readers), I have reviewed Eloisa’s When the Duke Returns for my December column in BookPage, noting: “The delight of the story is in how two very different people learn to negotiate their relationship and in doing so discover their love for each other.Appealing secondary characters who have walked through other entries in the Desperate Duchesses series add another layer of poignancy to this most excellent romance.”

If you’d like to win a sample of Eloisa’s magnificent storytelling, she is giving away FIVE signed copies of her book Desperate Duchesses (along with my own Bachelor Boss), so leave a comment!

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60 Responses to An Interview with Eloisa James–and Giveaways! (FIVE!)

  1. Anonymous says:

    congrats on teh

  2. Margay says:

    Hm, guess I’m going to have to check out the Georgian period!

  3. Laurie says:

    I’ve recently been reading several of Eloisa James books that were on my TBR pile. I just finished Much Ado About You- Tess’s story, Kiss Me, Annabel- Tess’s sister Annabel’s story, before these I read the other 2 Essex sisters stories: Pleasure For Pleasure (Josie) and finally, The Taming of the Duke (Imogen). I do go in streaks like that with authors. Christie after reading and loving your book How To Knit a Wild Bikini I’ve been looking for your older books. In fact ,I’m currently getting into the holiday spirit by reading your book Must Love Mistletoe -Bailey and Finn’s cute story!!

  4. Raven99 says:

    I have been counting down the days until the release of When the Duke Returns ever since I read the scene in Duchess By Night where Isidore and Simeon see each other for the first time as Simeon is entering the door. Eloisa is a fantastic storyteller and I cannot wait to see what she has in store for these two characters.

  5. Kylie says:

    Welcome, Eloisa! Your book sounds wonderful. And I find your comments about the Georgian period fascinating!

  6. Amy says:

    Loved the interview Eloisa! You sound wonderfully involved with everything. I’ve read every book (I believe) that you’ve written to date. I first came across Potent Pleasures and it’s remained one of my firm favourites when it comes to romance books (to the point that when I headed off to university, it was one of the few books I brought with me from home). Looking forward to Isidore’s story!

  7. Mandy says:

    Hey! The Georgian period does sound fascinating, looking forward to the release of When The Duke Returns =). Thoroughly enjoyed reading Duchess By Night.

  8. Cindy Gerard says:

    WElcome to the convertible Eloise! Mega congrats on all of your success. I’m sure you’ll have lots of fans checking in today!!

  9. D Twomey says:

    It sounds like a great book Eloisa…. I’m putting it on my list of must reads!

  10. Helen Brenna says:

    Hey, Eloisa. Thanks for visiting with us today!Since I write contemps, historicals are a nice diversion for me. Can’t wait for you latest!Have you ever lived in England? Do you find inspiration in travel?

  11. PJ says:

    Great interview! I’ve read When the Duke Returns and written a review of it for As I told Eloisa yesterday I’m sure I’ll get lots of comments about how much I gushed but this is a book that is very worthy of being gushed over. Eloisa, I love that you create complex characters who appear to be a certain way then slowly peel away the layers, allowing us to know the real person underneath. Both Isidore and Simeon turned out to be very different from what I had imagined at the beginning of the book. You’ve also done this with Villiers throughout the series, giving us a little deeper glimpse into him during each book. Did you know at the beginning of the series who Villiers would end up with or has that changed as you’ve written each book?

  12. The Georgian period was the setting for the romance that got me started on loving romance…These Old Shades, by Georgette Heyer. Remember all the wonderful costumes depicted in that book? The Duke was always fancily outfitted.

  13. Helen: I hope Eloisa gets a chance to chime in here but I’ll tell you this about her travel habits…her husband, a fellow professor, is also in Italian knight (really!) and they spend most summers in Italy at his family home. How cool is that!

  14. Betina Krahn says:

    Welcome Eloisa! And congratulations on the wonderful success of the “Duchess” books!Lists. . . a prime way to stay organized and get things done. Maybe I should start one. . .Have a great day and sell a million!

  15. Michele Hauf says:

    Potent Pleasures, Midnight Pleasures, Enchanting Pleasures! I loved them all, and have been a fan since day one. So cool to have you riding here with us today, Eloisa. What inspires some of your rather intriguing characters? I’m thinking of the hero from one of the Pleasure books who had the migraines. He was so different; loved him!

  16. Wonderful interview! I can’t wait for the next installment in the Desperate Duchesses series.

  17. Keri Ford says:

    Christie that is very, very cool!Congrats, Eloisa on the new release!

  18. Anonymous says:

    Hello everyone!Thanks so everyone who said such kind things about my books — I do hope all of you like When the Duke Returns as much as the previous ones!And Helen,I have lived in England, as it happens. I lived there when I was a child for a year, and then returned after college to do an M.Phil. at Oxford University. It gave me a deep love of rainy days, hot tea and linen sheets. Not that I owned any linen sheets at the time, but they were in all the stores, and I lusted after them! A pair of linen sheets was one of the first things I bought when I started making money. Now, of course, they live in a cupboard because who has time to iron sheets?Eloisa

  19. Eloisa says:

    Hi again,I have to figure out what I did wrong so I came up as “anonymous” — anyway…Hi there PJ!I did not know who Villiers would end up with. Heck, I wasn’t even sure what kind of man he would turn out to be (he’s changed/grown a lot since he first appeared in Desperate Duchesses). He’s turning into quite the little Cupid (as you’ll see in When the Duke Returns!)Eloisa

  20. Eloisa says:

    Dear Michelle,Ah…that migraine. Well, I think that romances (like any other kind of fiction, I suppose) need to have a firm grounding in reality. I pull almost everything (not the 4 hour sex scenes outdoors~smirk~) out of my own life.At the time when I was writing Enchanting Pleasures, my editor had migraines. The really terrible kind. And I adored her, and would have loved to cure the problem, so I did in fiction. And as for my heroine, she was a terrible fibber — and so had I been as a teenager. It was never enough to say that I forgot my library book. It was always behind the fridge, or eaten by a pig.Eloisa

  21. Thanks for the great interview- I love hearing about what makes writers tick. Although I am not a writer I am fascinated by the process and the research. Who knew that those Georgians were so fun and naughty? I’m guessing that since many women were pregnant at the wedding that there were also many illegitimate children. Were bloodlines considered extremely important back then? Anna

  22. I have been fan of Eloisa since Potent Pleasures! I had the fortune of meeting Eloisa in Florida at Fun in the Sun. It was a memorable conference. In fact, there is a picture of the two of us on my website – although she looks MUCH BETTER than I!There are a few authors who have talent I would love to emulate. Eloisa is one of those authors. The way she uses words, her descriptions, her characters… She is a writer’s writer.

  23. Virginia says:

    What a great interview! I love reading interviews with authors because I learn alot about the person that writes the books that I read. Your books sounds fantastic, I would love to read one.

  24. lois greiman says:

    Thanks for going us!! Your latest sounds amazing. Can’t wait to read it.

  25. Eloisa says:

    Dear Anna,Blood lines were tremendously important — and still you had all those illegitimate kids floating around (royal and otherwise!). In fact, it was virtually impossible to “legitimize” a child after the fact. But there were a number of households in which children of all sorts of mixed parentage grew up together — in one case, a noble family with legitimate children along with illegitimate children from both the father and mother, all together. They were famously called the “Miscellany.”Eloisa

  26. Eloisa says:

    Dear Arkansas Cyndi,Hi there! It’s nice to “meet” you again — and thank you so much for those kind words about my work. I hugely appreciate it!Everyone else — hi to you too!hugs,Eloisa

  27. Cheri2628 says:

    I recently started your duchesses series in the middle with Duchess by Night. I loved it, so now I have to scramble to read the first 2 books in the series. I really want to read When the Duke Returns soon, but I want to get more of the backstory from all the previous books. What a fun “chore”! 😉

  28. Peggy says:

    Hi Eloisa,I’m looking forward to reading the Desperate Duchess series – they sound wonderful!! Congratulations on your success.Sincerely,Peggy

  29. Janga says:

    Hi, Eloisa!The Desperate Duchesses series gets better and better. WTDR has become one of my favorite EJ books.Speaking of “illegitimate kids floating around,” I am so eager to know the story of Teddy’s mother and to find out if Villers becomes a better father to his out-of-wedlock progeny. Would you like to give us any hints? (grin)

  30. Maureen says:

    I am definitely looking forward to Eloisa’s new book. I have enjoyed many of her books and this looks like another good one.

  31. Another list maker!! I can’t live without a to-do list.I’ll admit I don’t read many historicals, but I read Pleasure for Pleasure last year as part of my “Broaden My Reading Horizons” adventure and I LOVED IT! Once I got the hang of the Regency dialogue and the words we don’t use today (like Ton and reticule) I was enthralled. Totally enthralled.Terrific interview! Now we all know who to run to when we have wardrobe malfunctions. ;-)Marilyn

  32. Kim says:

    I have only read your more recent books starting with An Affair Before Christmas. I then backtracked for Desperate Duchesses. I can’t wait for Jemma’s book and hope she gets her HEA with Beaumont. Any hints?

  33. Gah, I can’t wait to read this book! It just sounds so wonderful. I’m always so impressed with EJ’s ability to keep the marriage stories fresh and completely different.And diamond shoes? I have a huge love affair with shoes. Can’t wait!

  34. Laura says:

    Interesting interview! I particularly enjoyed Eloisa fixing the broken beaded dress & Eloisa accidently flashing 800 people. LOL

  35. Eloisa says:

    Dear Cheri,I hope you enjoy the first two books just as much as Duchess by Night. I just did the same with Nalini Singh’s books. I have to say, the whole series made a lot more sense to me once I went back and picked up the starters!Eloisa

  36. Eloisa says:

    Dear Janga,You really want me to answer that? No! Surely not!All I can say that All Is Revealed in the last book…A Duke of Her Own.Wait for it!*G*Eloisa

  37. eloisa says:

    Dear Playground MonitorI love the sound of that book club! That’s the kind I might actually join. I need to broaden my horizons (said the woman who spends every evening reading Harry Potter aloud for the 5th time…argh).And Kim, no hints! Though I will tell you that Jemma is happy. very very happy…Eloisa

  38. Eloisa says:

    Laura,The truth is that I didn’t even notice (there might, ahem, have been a wee bit too much champagne drunk that evening). Teresa Medeiros jumped over and yanked up my gown…Thank goodness for friends!Eloisa

  39. Melissa29624 says:

    hello Eloisa!!!!Thanks to Kim from your BB, I found out you were here blogging today, so I thought I’d stop by!!I just wanted to say how much I enjoy your wit..I think it really singles you out and makes your books unique…I think that’s a great thing!Good luck on the release of WHEN THE DUKE RETURNS! I’ll be looking forward to reading it!Melissa

  40. Jane says:

    Hi Eloisa,Congrats on your upcoming release. I can’t wait to read “When the Duke Returns.” I had no idea that Georgians were so naughty.

  41. Estella says:

    I didn’t know the Georgian Era was considered ‘naughty’.Congrats on the upcoming release of When The Duke Returns.

  42. flchen1 says:

    Hi, Eloisa,Thanks for the terrific interview! I didn’t know that about the Georgian vs. Regency! Hmm… that might affect the TBR a bit 😉 Congrats on your latest, and on all your successes!

  43. Eloisa says:

    Thanks for the congrats, guys. And Flchen1 — good luck with your writing!hugs,Eloisa

  44. Stacy S says:

    Great interview! Looking forward to getting this book. I’ve enjoyed your previous ones.

  45. catslady says:

    Historicals have always been my first love but I didn’t know that about the two eras! I’m going to have to start paying attention. Thanks and your books sound wonderful!!!

  46. Eloisa says:

    Thanks, everyone! It’s been lovely to hang out with such a warm and friendly crowd. If you do pick up the book please stop by my Bulletin Board (off the website) and vote for the chapter you wish I’d written. A month or so later — I’ll write it!Be well, be strong, be happy–Eloisa

  47. Eloisa! (smooch) One of my favorite people.Do you think you’ll ever do a stand alone, or you’ll always be writing connected books. (I did it once and it gave me a headache by the last one. I was stuck with all these things I did in the first one that made the last one REALLY tricky!) Maybe you plan better than me.Susie

  48. robynl says:

    I make lists upon lists. They help me be a bit more organized.I don’t read many historicals either, at least not yet. Your books sound great so this will change probably.

  49. Anonymous says:

    You guys rock. You need to change your banner cuz it says “nine chicks” and now u have 10.Katelen

  50. Caffey says:

    Hi Eloisa! I remember first reading your books with the Quartet when I had joined a Historical Romance reading group after I discovered historical romances and was on a cloud nine (I still am) They give me a wonderful comfort and there’s so much I can say about them but I’ll never stop. But anyways, this group great the first book together and ended up reading all four books together and discussing them at the group. It was a blast reading them of a group of friends! And now you have these of group of naughty woman! So I’m excited about these. You have a fun writing voice as well as a beautiful one that really lets me in through the door of your books and being there right along with the characters. These will be six book series, that I believe I heard about. Having written both the Regency and Georgian time periods, do you have a pros and cons for each of those you have written? Any time period you’d still like to write?

  51. ArkieRN says:

    Great Interview. Eloisa, I just want to say that I enjoy your books very much.

  52. flip says:

    Hi Eloise, The new book sounds great. good luck on the sales.

  53. Cheri2628 says:

    Hey, I just wanted to tell you that I won a copy of DD at another site, so withdraw my name from the running here. 🙂

  54. Margie says:

    Great interview! Another book for my TBR pile.

  55. Deborah says:

    Hi Eloisa! Your book sounds wonderful! I didn’t know the Georgian period was naughty!

  56. Pan Zareta says:

    Hi Eloisa! Fantastic interview! Congrats on your latest release!

  57. Nikki says:

    I can’t wait to get a hold of this book. And I certainly didn’t know the Georgian period was so naughty! Women were older when they married? How old? And half were pregnant? Were they also barefoot?

  58. ddurance says:

    Very interesting and that part about marriage sustaining romance after the initial lust wears off, I’m right there with you. I also feel the same about guys I had lust with but I am so thankful not to have married them. LOL

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