RWA 2012: A Chat With Julia Quinn

Ever since her first novel, Splendid, hit the historical romance scene, Julia Quinn’s unforgettable characters have won a place in the heart of romance readers everywhere. Eleven of her novels have earned the Top Pick! status from RT reviewers, all well deserved. So when we learned that Julia would be Chatting at an RWA Conference Workshop, it went right to the top of our “must attend” list. She answered questions from the audience and had the entire room on the edge of their seats as she shared her perspectives on writing.

Julia Quinn at RWA 2012

On Historicals

Julia Quinn is known for her Regency-era romances. In the pages of her books readers are likely to find balls, coach rides, English manors (and manners) and of course, several excellent historical heroes. But are stories about love in the past the only types of books you’ll be able to read from this talented author?

She told the panel, “I never said I won’t write anything else. But I just haven’t had a fabulous idea for another genre. I do know I will never write a suspense. I am not a great plotter and everyone would know who did it by the third page.”

On Research

Quinn says that because she has been writing in the Regency period for a long while, she only needs to research as needed. One example she gave was when she wrote a joke in one of her Bridgerton stories about Little Bow Peep. The author immediately had to look up the earliest reference to this rhyme and it was mentioned in Shakespeare so she was okay. In another story, her hero and heroine were looking at an art book, only to have Quinn realize that she had no idea what a reproduction of a piece of art would look like because they would not have any photography. “I ended up looking at the providence of a specific painting for about five hours that I absolutely did not have. It didn’t really matter to my book, but once I get started, I just can’t let go.”

On Naming Characters 

The author says that it is a total pet peeve of hers when a character has a name that would not have been in use during the time period. She says that while a few of her choices have been “dicey” (for example, Victoria was not an often used name in England until the queen, however, Quinn did choose to use it in Everything and the Moon). The author says that for Regency romance you really can’t go wrong with a traditional British name like Margaret. So how does she find these names? “There used to be this really great Facebook group called I Went To A Proper British Boarding School, that was helpful.”

On Her Favorite Books

During the session, the author shared her picks of the best book that she’s penned and the reads she simply couldn’t get enough of. For a favorite book that she has written, Quinn says that she loves the second epilogues to her Bridgerton books. Before she started writing these, she always considered a book over when she wrote the ending. But she found that there were a lot of questions that readers have about the family that she is able to address with these short stories. (Note: while these epilogues are currently unavailable online, this Thanksgiving all eight epilogues — including two that have never been released before — will be coming to e-stores along with a bonus story.)

As for books written by someone else, Quinn says that she is on a Young Adult kick. “I always liked dystopian and post apocalyptic stories. There are so many great YAs coming out — it is like these authors are writing just for me!”

However, as much as Quinn loves YA, when someone from the crowd asked her if she would be penning one herself, the author answered that perhaps she would, but the problem is that she loves writing romance and in a YA the romance is just one element of the story.

On Writing Collaboratively

“The best way to write fresh, interesting stories for me is not to shake up what I am doing, I like setting stories in the Regency, but I shake up how I do it.” The author says that an easy way to do this is by writing novellas like when she did when Karen Hawkins called her up to see if she might want to include Lady Whistledown, a gossipmonger in the Bridgerton books, as the unifying character in the 2004 anthology Lady Whistledown Strikes Back.

During the discussion, we also listened closely for details about Quinn's next collaboration with Eloisa James and Connie Brockway, The Lady Most Willing ... This novel, which has a slated publication date of December 2012, is a follow-up to the trio's very successful co-written 2011 novel, The Lady Most Likely... We weren’t disappointed, she shared the detail "This time we go to Scotland."

Is Julia Quinn a new author to you? Then why not get your feet wet by reading some of her Top Pick! titles? We’ve listed some below. And if you’re a long-time fan, lets us know which Quinn title is your favorite in the comments section.

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