Jude Deveraux is beloved for her sweeping tales of love and romance. From the early days of the romance genre Deveraux has invited readers to fall in love with people and places all around the world and through out time. Now this bestselling author chats with RT’s Morgan Doremus about what fans can expect from her latest historical novel, The Scent of Jasmine, and gives us a sneak peek at what’s coming next!
Morgan Doremus: After reading dozens of your books, I have tried to find a common theme that links your stories. I think for me, a defining characteristic would be your intricate plots that keep your hero and heroine apart. When you sit down to write a novel, how difficult is it to create this sense of drama?
Jude Deveraux: I envy the authors who don’t have to come up with so much plot. But I can’t do that. I have to have a lot to work with. As for difficulty, each book is different. I never know how hard a book is going to be to write until I get into it. The truth is that I love it when the book is complicated. I like to write myself out of problems, like to wander around thinking, How do I fix this? Many times my hero and heroine have had such insurmountable obstacles to overcome that I’ve thought that they’ll never get together. To keep them from running away from each other, I’ve had to handcuff them together, tie them up, whatever I can come up with to let them find out that the other person is a decent human being.
MD: Speaking of keeping your hero and heroine apart, in your newest release, The Scent of Jasmine, Alex is newly widowed and accused of killing his wife, while Cay is pretty much kidnapped into helping him escape the hangman’s noose. Talk about a relationship starting off on the wrong foot. How difficult was it for you to take this unromantic beginning and transform it into a love story?
JD: Jasmine was an easy book to write. I enjoyed it very much, especially the banter between Alex and Cay. I’d met Alex’s father in Days of Gold so I felt as though I knew the young Alex. When I write a mystery I almost always know who and why, so I knew Alex wasn’t a murderer. What I needed to do was let young, innocent, inexperienced Cay see the real Alex. I outlined a long segment where the two of them were alone together and they had to deal with things like food and shelter. I enjoyed seeing Cay change from a little lady who’d never eaten a meal not at a table to seeing her dancing around in her boy’s clothes. I liked at the end when her brother Tally told of seeing an alligator just a few feet away, but Cay and Alex had fought a battle with them. It was symbolic of how much Cay had grown up.
MD: The Scent of Jasmine follows in the tradition of what I consider your ‘road trip’ novels. Other stories that have long journeys include The Heiress and Mountain Laurel. What is it about traveling through treacherous situations that brings your characters together?
JD: It isolates them. When I have two people like Cay and Alex who are, on the surface, very different, the only way for them to get to know each other is if they are away from other people and in a dangerous situation. If there had been any other people there, they wouldn’t have had to depend on each other. If there is no danger, they don’t change because they don’t have to. If another person had been there, Cay wouldn’t have made any effort to get to know a man she thought was a murderer. As it was, she had to depend on him for food and protection.
MD: In The Scent of Jasmine, you comment quite a bit on love-at-first-sight – your heroine seems to think this is a ridiculous notion and she doesn’t trust this quick rush into a relationship. Personally, do you agree with Cay that love can only come from knowing a person or does the inner romantic in you take over to make you think that love-at-first-sight is possible?
JD: In my writing I think through my characters and I let them speak. I think love-at-first-sight can happen but I don’t think it can last unless there is a lot to back it up. Alex was attracted to Cay from the beginning, but he had his mind made up as to what she was like based on what she was wearing and how she spoke. Cay was exactly the same. Based on what she’d been told, she thought she knew all about Alex. And based on what she knew about the men who’d asked her to marry them, she thought she knew all about them. What I tried to do in the book was let them see that there was more to real love than what you first see.
MD: We cannot discuss your newest release without mentioning Cay’s brothers. Scholar Nate, fun loving Tally and the ”perfect” Adam have such amazing personalities. Can you tell us what’s next for these characters?
JD: When I started the Edilean series I had huge plans for it, that I’d write about the people connected to the town down through the ages. I have thick files about books I had planned. I wrote a long outline and many scenes on Nate’s story. In fact, I mentioned it in Jasmine. Nate meets a woman who is just like him — but she’s not the one he marries. I plotted out stories for the other brothers, too. The problem has been that I have heard little but negative criticism of the whole series. [So my] Edilean series will be ending as soon as I finish three paperbacks, one of which is nearly finished.
MD: I'm sorry to hear that we won't be getting more Edilean series - it is obvious that you have a real attachment to the characters. Can you name other novels that you have written that you consider your favorites?
MD: And finally, you have postponed your work-in-progress Silver Roses to work on Heartwishes. Can you tell us a bit about Heartwishes and what about the story made you feel like you couldn’t wait to write it?
Jude Deveraux: Silver Roses was about a doctor named Tristan who was a larger-than-life hero. I got stuck because his family was so complicated that it was making my head spin — as well as Tristan’s. His beautiful mother was a pain, and who his real father was caused lots of problems. While I was sorting the mess out in my mind, Heartwishes came to me and I started to make notes on it. But then those notes kept getting longer and longer until I was writing that book.
Heartwishes is about Colin Frazier who was in Scarlet Nights. Colin really wanted someone to share his life with. Gemma turned out to be an unusual heroine for me because she got her feelings hurt rather easily. When Colin did something she didn’t like, Gemma walked away and wanted nothing to do with him. End of story. I had to go back to page one and rewrite so Colin didn’t accidentally do something rotten to her. All in all, Heartwishes was a very difficult book to write, actually the most difficult of my career. It took me nearly a year to write and it was the closest I’ve ever come to having writer’s block.
Right now I’m writing a contemporary about a descendant of the original Tristan of Silver Roses, which is a book that I don’t plan to finish. However, I added a long epilogue to Heartwishes that tells some about the novels that I had planned to write in the series.
You can experience Alex and Cay’s romance in The Scent of Jasmine in stores now! And be sure to keep your eyes out for Deveraux’s Heartwishes, coming next!