Welcome, Caroline Linden!
What A Rogue Desires
By Caroline Linden
Notorious rogue David Reece is determined to mend his wicked ways. Vivian Beecham is the very last sort of woman to help him do that, as an admitted thief—and a thief who robbed him, no less. But the last sort of woman David needs in his life might just be the only one he can't live without…
What a Rogue Desires is set in late Regency-era England. How did you become interested in this time period? What do you love about it?
I would like to blame it on Mr. Darcy or Mr. Knightley, but the truth is I got hooked on the short, sweet Regency romances at the local library the year before I had my first child. I was pretty much on the verge of falling asleep all the time, so the books had to be short; they had to be engaging; and they had to end happily, because my husband banned any sad books that would make me cry (he seemed to think I cried a lot while pregnant). I must have read a hundred of them. I loved the manners of the Regency period, the social structure that both required strict codes of conduct and permitted myriad immoralities, and of course, the clothes. Oh, the clothes! I wouldn't mind wearing some of those dresses myself…
What do you like least about this period? Anything that constrained you or that you had to plot carefully around?
People lived more proscribed lives then; there were so many things they "couldn't" do and places they "wouldn't" go, that it can be limiting at times for an author. So naturally I tend to write characters who are already living outside society's lines; my first book had a fallen woman and a rake, for instance. In What A Rogue Desires, the hero and heroine are from vastly different social classes—pretty much the very top and the very bottom—so I did try to tread carefully over that issue, and make it believable that they would be able to be happy together because of who they were as people, not who they were socially.
What sparked this book? Was it a character? An historical event? A scene you just couldn’t get out of your head?
I'm sorry to say that this book was an accident. I did not mean to write it. In my previous book (What A Gentleman Wants), I gave the hero a twin brother who was very, very bad. He was a liar, a gambler, a drunk, and a rogue; he was the complete opposite of my uptight, responsible, aloof hero, and I never intended to think about him again.
But my editor asked, hopefully, if I were planning to write that bad twin David's story, and so I started to think about the possibility. The trouble was, I had made him so awful in What A Gentleman Wants, I couldn't think what woman would actually want him, or understand him, or find him honestly compelling in a long-term way. The crucial element I worry over in my books is the suitability of the couple: are they genuinely meant for each other in a way no one else could be? And finally she started to come to me, a woman who wouldn't be horrified at what David was and had done, a woman who would upend his expectations of women and love, a woman who would not only surprise and entrance him but need him and want him, just as he was, for herself.
Did you have to do any major research for his book? Did you stumble across anything really interesting that you didn’t already know?
The heroine, Vivian, is a thief, and so I read a number of books about the nineteenth century criminal justice system—such as it was—social policy, political policy regarding law enforcement, and social history about the dens of iniquity that spawned the rather large criminal class. Probably the most interesting thing was that many crimes were only prosecutable by the victim; if someone robbed you, it was up to you to bring the charges, and often to apprehend the thief as well. There was no state prosecutor who would do it for you, no central police force that was responsible for investigating crimes and arresting criminals. And it was shocking how much your punishment depended on who you were and how much money you were willing to spend. I suppose that's still true today, but it was far more overt in the nineteenth century, with it being standard practice for prisoners to bribe the jailers merely in order to get humane treatment.
What/Who do you like to read?
Julia Quinn (The Duke and I was the book that brought me into the wider world of Regency historicals, and remains one of my favorites), Lisa Kleypas, Eloisa James, Sabrina Jeffries…I suppose you can guess what I like to read. Those are the authors I've been reading and loving for years, but I also love reading new authors and think they're doing a great thing by creating new waves in historicals: Elizabeth Hoyt, Lisa Valdez, and Eve Silver are some of my new favorites.
Care to share a bit about your writing process? Are you a pantser or a plotter? Do you write multiple drafts or clean up as you go?
I am a deranged combination of both plotter and pantser; my friends are frightened, actually, whenever we brainstorm together. The story starts purely organically: a scene, a character, a line. I write it down, letting more little bits and pieces come to me, kicking them around to see what they look like on paper, not bothering to see if they make sense. At a certain point, though, the logical person inside me takes over and I write a synopsis for the entire book, based on those bits and pieces. I usually stick fairly close to my synopses, at least for the first half of the book, but I also find characters doing surprising things on the fly that require deviations from the road map I created.
There is usually only one draft for me; I edit heavily as I go along, and I also don't write things until they 'come to me,' meaning I can justify huge blocks of time reading, watching TV, or surfing the net (for research purposes, of course) as time spent waiting for the story to 'come to me.' The main positive aspect of this method is that when a scene finally does come to me, that's usually the final version of that scene. It's the parts I force myself to crank out, word by painful word, that need lots of editing and rewriting, sigh.
What are you planning to work on next?
My next book, coming out in June 2008, is about the twin heroes' younger sister Celia, and is titled A Rake's Guide to Seduction. I've just finished the book so I'm a little tired of thinking about it, but I absolutely adored her hero. He was actually a character in one of my practice novels (the ones no one will ever see) and I liked him so much I dusted him off, gave him a new history, and a new heroine. He makes a brief appearance in the later chapters of What A Rogue Desires, for those curious to know more.