Considering the similarities in their novels — both the humor and the heart — it is almost inevitable that veteran romance novelist Eloisa James and up-and-coming star Sarah MacLean have a lot in common. But even I was surprised by just how alike the two authors were when I got a chance to watch them in front of the camera as they filmed a feature for Avon's Romance Live on Livestream earlier this week.
As the authors answered questions from fans, their similarities emerged almost immediately. First, I learned that both authors take cues from real life as they write their historical tales. Eloisa shared that in her Potent Pleasures, her hero, Alexander, mirrors her real life husband Alessandro. She explained that both men have fiery tempers and the same salt and pepper hair. Although Eloisa did admit to indulging in a bit of artistic license, Alexander's marriage was annulled due to impotence (a fact that real-life Alessandro was none too happy about).
For Sarah, she revealed one of the ways that she wove true life into her newest novel, Eleven Scandals To Start To Win A Duke's Heart. The novel's heroine, Juliana, is very much like Sarah's father while hero Simon is close in temperament to Sarah's mother. Additionally, both of Sarah's parents were born outside of the US and use idiomatic language and speech quirks that crack her up and that she often incorporates into her dialogue.
Eloisa and Sarah were also quick to say that they sometimes mine character traits from their own experiences. Eloisa said that she gets a lot of her character's inner motivations from incidents from her high school and childhood years. In Pleasure For Pleasure, Josie was taken directly from what Eloisa felt when she was at 13. Plump, unhappy. Thankfully, Eloisa was able to give Josie the HEA that the author herself has found. Sarah also said that coming from the YA world (her first published book was the young adult Regency tale The Season) she often uses the feelings associated with teens in order to give her characters depth. She shared that she finds it quite nice to write those ballroom scenes; like a redo for her own prom.
Near the end of the Avon Romance Live Q&A, the questions from the readers centered on what to expect next from the pair. Eloisa told fans that her upcoming book took her a little longer than most to write because she had to (horrors) scrap 175 pages of her retelling of the Princess and the Pea fairy tale. "What could the possible reason be for a heroine to sleep on 20 mattresses?" Not only that, she had to write a hero that lets his mother choose his wife — not an easy accomplishment. But Eloisa fans, don't fear she said that this book is just about "cooked" and ready to turn into her editor. The author will soon be moving on to her next fairy tale story, this one about the Ugly Duckling.
And for Sarah? She proclaimed, "No more rhyming, no more numbers!" When asked why, her response was, "All my editor and I could think to rhyme duke with was puke." So Sarah will move into a new series called Fallen Angel, but don't expect these stories to be paranormal. Fallen Angel is the name of the fictional gaming hell in London that four aristocrats with dubious reputations open. The first of the quartet releases this winter and is titled A Rouge by Any Other Name.