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A Conversation With Julia QuinnBy Claire E. White
Popular romance novelist Julia Quinn, or JulieQ as she is known in cyberspace, came to the romance field by a circuitous route which included an Art History degree and a short stint
She currently lives in Colorado with her husband Paul and their two houserabbits, Rutherford B. Rabbit and Betty Bunny. When she's not writing, you can most likely find her leading a children's book discussion group at a local bookstore, gardening, spending time with her husband, or updating her website with the help of her sister Emily Cotler, a talented web designer and graphic artist.
Julie spoke with us about how she got her start as a writer, how she creates her novels and the most romantic gesture she ever experienced.
What kind of books did you like to read when you were growing up?
Oh, lots of things. Judy Blume, of course, and I devoured the Chronicles of Narnia. I read ALL the time. My mother would keep trying to get me to go to bed and I'd whine, "Just let me finish this chapter!" Of course, I always snuck into the next chapter.
When did you first become interested in being a novelist?
I'd say I was about 12. My father caught me reading Sweet Dreams and Sweet Valley High books, which he thought were terrible, so he told me I could keep reading them if I could come up with
What did you like the least about being a med school student?
Well, I wasn't a med student for very long, but what I liked least was the overwhelming feeling of ALWAYS being behind. No matter what you do, how hard you study, you are NEVER caught up. As a writer, I'm pretty much always behind schedule, but as soon as I send that book in, I'm caught up. It's a lovely feeling.
What prompted you to make the transition from medical student to romance novelist?
How did the sale of your first book come about?
The regular way. I got an agent. She sold the book.
I noticed that Everything and the Moon and Dancing at Midnight were translated into Russian - with quite different covers. How does it feel to have readers halfway across the world reading your books?
Very cool! It'd be cooler if I could actually read the Russian versions, though. (smile) Minx was translated as well, and that cover is now up on my website, too.
What was it that inspired you to write historical romances, as opposed to contemporary romances?
I don't know. I guess it was just because when I started writing, I was a reader primarily of historicals. Now I read both, so maybe I'll write a contemporary someday.
You have a fair amoumt of historical detail in the books which greatly adds to the atmosphere. How do you approach the research needed to write historical romances?
Actually, I never really thought of my books as having much historical detail (compared to other historical romances.) I don't do much research for each book before writing it; rather I try to draw on a general knowledge of the Regency era that I've developed from reading history books and other romances. Within each book, of course, there will be specific things I'll need to look up, and those I usually take care of as I go along.
I'd like to talk about your latest book, To Catch An Heiress. The book uses a literary device that is quite intriguing. How did you get the idea for the story?
The character of Caroline Trent is especially appealing, especially her sense of humor. Is there a little of Julia Quinn in Caroline?
Oh, sure. There's a little of me in all my characters. Well, all nice ones. (smile)
The hero in the story is the dashing British spy Blake Ravenscroft. What was your inspiration for Blake?
No idea. I just decided it was time to write a tortured hero again. So I wrote him and tortured him. (smile)
You are known for your snappy dialogue and the wonderful humor in your books. Did you set out to write humorous romances or did it just happen that way?
A little of both, I think. Before I started writing, I knew that I liked to read romances with humor in them, so I assumed that's what I'd do. But once I actually started writing, it quickly became apparent that that was my natural style, and now I think it would be impossible for me to write a book without any humor. What can I say? I think love is funny.
Who are some of your favorite romance authors?
I definitely credit Judith McNaught with inspiring me to write romances. Other authors I love include Lisa Kleypas, Susan Elizabeth Phillips, Johanna Lindsey (love those Malorys!), and Jude Deveraux. There are also a lot of really wonderful authors who haven't yet hit the bestseller lists -- Danelle Harmon, Suzanne Enoch, and Karyn Monk come to mind. Finally, this year I read some wonderful debut romances -- by Gaelan Foley, Adele Ashworth, and Alina Adams.
Tell us about your writing habits -- do you write everyday, do you write in an office, with music, with a computer etc.?
What do you believe makes the perfect romantic Hero?
Oh gosh, if I knew that, I'd write a self-help book and make a million dollars.
What is your advice to the aspiring romance writer?
Finish the book. The world is full of first chapters.
What was the most romantic gesture you've ever heard of/experienced?
Well, to be completely frank, my husband's eyes still light up whenever he sees me. I think that's pretty romantic. (Of course, if you're reading this, Paul, I like flowers, too!)
How do you approach writing the passionate love scenes in your books? Do you find them easy or difficult to write?
I wouldn't say they're difficult, but they do tend to take more time. I write pretty fast-paced books without much emphasis on long description. Love scenes are always more descriptive, and that seems to slow me down when I'm writing. Sometimes I find myself giggling as I write them, too. I don't know why, but loves scenes always seem goofy while I'm writing them. They don't seem goofy when I go back and read them, but writing them always makes me laugh.
What is your idea of the perfect romantic evening?
I just like snuggling up next to my husband on the couch and watching TV or reading. Of course, in an ideal world, we'll have had a candlelit sushi dinner before that, followed by Haagen-Daz no-calorie Dulce de Leche ice cream...
What projects are you working on now?
I've got to proofread How to Marry a Marquis, which will be in bookstores in March, 1999. After that, I have a novella coming out in Avon's Scottish Brides anthology in June, 1999. The book I'm currently writing won't be out until early 2000.