Monday, May 22, 2006

Julie Anne Long Answers Life's Greatest Queries...

...starting with yours!

Happy Monday morning! I’m jazzed to be a guest here at (the always sassy) Michelle Buonfiglio’s blog…since I’m burning the midnight oil these days finishing up the final book in my trilogy, THE SECRET TO SEDUCTION (the first two are BEAUTY AND THE SPY/BATS, out in March, and WAYS TO BE WICKED, which will be out in October), Michelle was kind enough to go easy on me and send some interview questions to answer, and some of you guys sent some very entertaining questions my way. :)

I have to thank you for the diversion—I needed it! So here are my answers—and feel free to fire away with any questions or comments you might have, or write to me any old time at

Bellas: Do you ever find yourself writing current dialogue for your characters? Something like "How cool is that?" or "She's the bomb" or "My bad"?
JAL: It’s funny, but I’m never really tempted to use modern slang as I’m writing, because when you’re getting into the rhythm of your story, it just doesn’t happen—the story doesn’t allow it, if that makes sense? You become too immersed in the era for modern slang to intrude in your thoughts. At least I do.

But language is tricky— historical authors often have to stop to audit themselves to make sure they aren’t putting words or concepts in their character’s mouths that didn’t exist in the particular era in which their story is set. Some words that are actually fairly modern seem as though they’ve been around forever, and other modern terms have been around for centuries but carry such strong modern associations for us that they’re jarring for the reader when encountered in a historical. For example, “creative”: use of the word “creative” as we think of it today—as being related to the arts or as someone who is “creative”—was first ascribed to Wordsworth in 1816. And the word “selfless” was apparently invented by Samuel Taylor Coleridge in 1825. I’ve been tempted to use both of those words in my books, which are set in 1820, but I ultimately decided not to after I did a little research.

Other words that are many, many hundreds of years old—I believe I used the word “grenade” (16th century) as part of a metaphor in THE RUNAWAY DUKE, and “alien” (14th century) used in BATS (which was in common usage in the Regency, and essentially meant foreign) have strong modern connotations for some of us, so it might feel kind of strange to come across them in a historical. So sometimes it’s a tough call! There’s also a delicate balance between using authentic language and burdening the story with so much terminology that some readers might need a Regency dictionary to translate it. :) But it’s part of the challenge of writing historicals, so it’s fun to try keep on top of it.

Bellas: What is the naughtiest thing you can put in a Regency story and yet keep the lady's virtue intact?
JAL: An actual young lady of the Regency period could hardly breathe without compromising her virtue. Then again, it all depends on how we’re interpreting “virtue” here… For some vivid examples of, shall we say, virtue tampering, let me just refer you to pages 222-229 of Beauty and the Spy and 211-213 of TO LOVE A THIEF. ;)

Bellas: What is your favorite Regency curse word?

JAL: Bloody. Bloody, bloody, bloody. That’s my favorite Regency curse word. Common-sounding to us, perhaps, but it was considered a pretty naughty word, and it’s versatile—it goes with everything! “Bloody hell,” “Bloody fool,” “Bloody wench,” and etc. Don’t you think it sort of rolls off the tongue in a very satisfying way?

Bellas: What's your favorite reference?
JAL: Oh man! There are so many. I like for word origins (see the first question—LOL). I have a fabulous book called THE REGENCY UNDERWORLD in which I’ve found much inspiration. Very educational. A rare book on Gypsies in Britain helped me write THE RUNAWAY DUKE. A book called SECRET SERVICE: British Agents in France, a comprehensive look at British secret service during the Napoleonic war, was fascinating, and helped with BEAUTY AND THE SPY.

I have reference books on clothing, manners, customs, dances, food…and of course, I love Google for digging up the random bit of info here and there. A few minutes ago I Googled pianoforte makers and the history of the pianoforte, which helped with exactly two paragraphs in my WIP/Work in Progress, THE SECRET TO SEDUCTION. :) I learn something new all the time.

The beauty of research is that in the search you almost invariably stumble across new ideas for stories. I love digging up information.

Bellas: Corsets or Brassiers? Breeches or Drawers?
JAL: Gosh, I just don’t know. I just try to get our heroes and heroines out of their corsets and breeches as quickly as possible when the occasions call for it. ;)

Bellas: What authors or books have been the most influential on your own writing?
JAL: I can’t honestly say that any particular author has influenced my actual prose (at least I don’t think so)…but I can point to the kinds of stories I enjoy, which are character-rich and what I guess I’ll call emotionally comprehensive…in that you laugh a lot, you might shed a tear, you worry, you get angry with or on behalf of at the characters.

A fully realized, very involving story. I think those kinds of stories, for example, are a big part of the reason Jane Austen has abided in popularity for so long. P.D. James comes to mind for me for that reason…in that even if a character appears for a mere few sentences in one of her books, you feel like you really know that character. I think when I started writing I had those kinds of stories in mind, so that’s what I’m going for.

Bellas: Who/What inspired BATS?
JAL: There were a couple of ideas that hit at once:I had an idea about a spy, a Super Spy, naturally, who had served in his Majesty’s Secret Service during the war…and was now just plain bored, because in the wake of the war there’s much less call for the sort of work he did. He’s so used to danger and intrigue, to being a walking weapon… How on earth would he be able to stand ordinary life? Would he manage to stay out of trouble? (Of course not).

So we have Kit Whitelaw, an impatient, dangerous, mischievous, clever man, who ends up involved in a decades old murder mystery and entangled, of course, with a beautiful girl. :)

And with Susannah Makepeace…I liked the idea of yanking the charmed life out from under a slightly spoiled London belle and thrusting her into an entirely unfamiliar situation to see whether or not she’ll rise to the occasion. I think we all only become whom we’re meant to be when we’re challenged…and Kit Whitelaw is nothing if not a challenge. :)

Bellas: What do you like best about BATS?
JAL: Hmmm…I think I like the way Kit’s and Susannah’s relationship unfolds naturally against the backdrop of danger, their overlapping pasts, and the drawing of voles and adders. :)

The rhythm of how they fall in love, how they surprise themselves and each other in the process. I tried to capture how it really feels to fall in love.I also like pages 222-299. LOL.

Bellas: Who're you crushin on these days?

JAL: I’ve rediscovered my deep, abiding appreciation (all right, foaming lust) for: He’s going to be in a movie with David Duchovny, another longtime favorite. I may just need to be carried out of that movie on a stretcher.

Bellas: Answer the question you wish someone would ask?
JAL: Why yes, I WOULD love a million dollars and Ioan Gruffudd for a roommate. Thanks so much for asking!


amy kennedy said...

Ioan might possibly be the coolest name. He's lovely. Back to you JAL--I've only read The Runaway Duke of yours, loved it--I still think about the Hero--so I need to get busy. Bats sounds so intriguing--Kit is also a favorite name of mine.

I love spies/intrigue within a romance, why are you drawn to that?

Michelle Buonfiglio said...

Welcome, Julie! It's no secret that I love you, your books, and the hero of Thief, Damien Cole. What a great book. I think I have those pages you recommend marked in my book with ragged dog ears. And, probably some cheese puff smudges, too.

BATS is terrific, and the Bellas here who've read it have loved it, too.

We appreciate your taking time from your schedule in beautiful California to visit us!

Julie Anne Long said...

I'm cracking up, because I just got to my computer to find my blog *lavishly* illustrated with Ioan Gruffudd. Good job, Michelle!! LOL. And looks like life was rough at the RT conference, eh?? LOL. THanks again for inviting me today.

So glad you liked DUKE, Amy! It's funny, but I'm discovering that readers are falling into distinct camps with my books—and my three books are all pretty neck and neck in terms of how many people have declared them favorites, so far. HOpe you like BATS when you get a chance to read it!

I think intrigue and romance complement each other beautifully...what's more labyrinthine, fascinating, confusing, risky and intriguing than a developing romance? I also love spies because I love clever, subtle, outrageously observant men. :) Combine that with an air of danger and I think you have my favorite kind of hero.

It's gorgeously sunny here in San Francisco today after a crazy thunderstorm yesterday. Boy, we've had the weirdest weather lately...

Manda Collins said...

Hi Julie! Great blog and so glad you're here! I'm one of the bellas who LO-OVED BATS. You just keep getting better with each book. Can't wait for the next two in the series.

I loaned BATS to a friend yesterday or I'd be checking out 222-229:)

Manda Collins said...

Oh and I'm with you on the Ioan worship...he is heart-stoppingly gorgeous...

Julie Anne Long said...

Hey happy you liked BATS! I may never have such a convenient acronym for a book again! LOL. And I'd nearly forgotten about Ioan...I've been so absorbed with work that I haven't felt terribly inspired by anybody lately...not even, I confess Hugh Jackman (which I realize in some circles is outright sacrilege. Forgive me.) And then I saw Ioan in an interview with David Duchovny, and let's just say it reminded me of how good it is to be alive. :) LOL. It must be Spring.

amy kennedy said...

Here I am wondering how all these people had already read Beauty and the Spy--when I re-read your blog and--aha, it's out NOW. Talk about observant. It is now my official next TBR.

Can't wait...

Julie in Ohio said...

Welcome, Julie. I have not had the pleasure of reading your books yet. But after hearing nothing but great things about them and throw in my love of espionage that puts you firmly at the top of my TBR pile. :)
There is something about spies that just get the blood pumping.
I love the covers of your books. They are very pretty.

You know, I had forgotten about Ioan. He is a quiet Snaxy guy.

ver: you know, david mumbles before growing roses (?)

Michelle Buonfiglio said...

You guys are killing me with the word verification sentences. Would that I were so clever.

Julie, I'm happy to have tarted-up your blog. You seemed to have reminded us, too, of our penchant for men in British Marines uniforms. One more reason we bow to you, o Goddess of Snaxy Historical Heroes.

Yes, JulieO: good one for the TBR pile. Did I mention I can't find my copy of DUKE? You know, I did let a couple friends see the keeper shelves in my closet. Hmmm...

Julie in Ohio said...

Michelle, where do you think I got the book for my TBR pile? *g*

Snaxy Historical Heroes? Please add Heath Ledger in "The Patriot" to that list also. I don't care so much for him cleaned up, but put him in a uniform with a 5 o'clock shadow and call the paramedics. *sigh*

ver: boys must jump xactly as they zip.

Alright, I cheated on this one, but tell me honestly how many words with 'X' can you use in a sentence?

Manda Collins said...

Michelle, I for one, would not object should you tart up the blog with British uniforms more often:)

Julie, I know what you mean about Ioan. I'd forgotten about him as well. He was more on my radar when A&E was running Horatio Hornblower all the time. But it's nice to rediscover an old flame!

I watched Bend it Like Beckham over the weekend and am now hard core crushing on Jonathan Rhys-Myers. What a dish!!! Could his eyelashes be any longer??? Sigh.

Uh oh, Michelle! You might need to get a better security system for your keeper shelves!! Sounds like there's been a breach!

VER: Ulrich put it there quietly, ever more quietly.

Julie in Ohio said...

Thank you,Manda!! I've been trying to place the uniform. I had him at Fantastic 4 but couldn't figure out the military garb.

I have a confession to make. I'm a fool for any kind of accent. Ok, maybe not Asian but European and Austrailian, better have a mop nearby. I just melt.

Shh,Manda, if you don't tell Michelle maybe I'll show you where she keeps all the good books. *g*

Why does every conversation we have starts with a good book and ends with a snaxy men discussion?

BTW, WAY TO GO TRAVIS! I heard he got 1st runner up. That 175 watt smile is a killer.

Alright, you all know I'm up for a fun verification sentence but I challenge anyone to do one with :RNXGCXZQ.

amy kennedy said...

THAT'S who he is--Ioan. And who doesn't love a good tarted up blog.

Manda, loved your Ulrich sentence--it's the start of a fabulous book.

Michelle I took your dress, not your book.

JAL I always thought I would want to write an historical--but now I know I do not have the fortitude (or the brains) but I love them--they are what I always go back to.

ver: Sinister Amy steals lots (of) Michelle's books. saslmb!

Julie in Ohio said...

I just read Michelle's review of "To Love a Theif". Let me start out by saying I love the names Gideon and Lily. My 2nd child was going to be a Lily but my DH and I couldn't agree on how to spell it. Yes, as dumb as it sounds that is the reason. That aside, I love the whole bad-girl-good-guy scenario. Usually 'bad boy' is preferred but I like it when an author switches the "usually" around.

I am so excited to read these.

Amazon, here I come! My DH won't mind if I max my card out...again.

ver: Yo, Mom, Add Zuchini Hearts (to) Dinner.

Julie in Ohio said...

I was meaning to comment earlier on that wonderful acronym: BATS.

Are you a paranormal fan at heart?

ver: The Roses Have Zander Xcited, Really Xcited.

Anonymous said...

Love your them all.!!!

Looking forward to your next book.

Michelle Buonfiglio said...

I guess I now know where my DUKE went (and that snazzy dress I bought to wear to this summer's Romance Writers of America convention.)Drat you AMy and JulieO!

I'm so glad Julie stopped by to chat with us today. The bottom line? We love her books and if we haven't read them yet, put them on the tops of our TBR lists.

Don't forget to visit Julie and to check out Fog City Divas, her group blog.

Molto grazie, Julie, e buona sera, Bellas!

Julie Anne Long said...

Thanks for having me, bellas! I got lost in my WIP—shooting for 20 pages today, and at 11:30 p.m., I'm shy about four. :) I hope you like the books when you read, them JulieO! Report back to me, everyone, when you've had a chance to read them, and let me know what you think!

Nighty night, girls!