Elizabeth Boyle is a remarkable woman whose first book, BRAZEN ANGEL, won the Dell Diamond Debut Award and the Romance Writers of America RITA for best First Book. Her work is classified as "fast-paced" and "tremendously fun" and in my book, not to be missed.
Elizabeth also likes to garden, knit, travel, and read when she is not busy writing. She is also the proud mother of two toddlers, her "heroes-in-training" she calls them. She lives in Seattle with her hubby Terry, her favorite hero of all.
Always a storyteller, Elizabeth's first historical was published in August 1997 as a Diamond Debut Award Winner and she has been going strong ever since. Her latest novel to be released in July 2002, is ONE NIGHT OF PASSION and is the prequel to ONCE TEMPTED, published in July 2001.
Welcome to NPOB and Reader to Reader, and thank you for taking time to chat with us.
Please tell us something about your beginnings years as a writer. What made you think about becoming a romance author? Did a lightning bolt of inspiration hit you or was it a gradual burning desire?
Oh, I'm one of those "I always wrote." I wrote lots of bad poetry as a teenager and filled journal after journal with short stories and pages of horrendous stuff that will never see the light of day! So I always knew I wanted to be a writer, despite my early desire to be the girl who danced in the cage in an Elvis movie. As for romances, I started reading them when I was in high school and I was hooked.
What is the most challenging aspect of writing for you?
Time! I wish I had more time to write. I have two little children and must write in the wee hours of the morning and during naptime. As for the craft of writing-it is just that, a craft and I don't think any writer can consider themselves done with the learning part. I find challenges in each book I write and have to work hard to make that leap to the next level to ensure that I've done the characters justice in telling their story. I always cross my fingers that I've learned something and do a better job with each book I write, but you never know.
Elizabeth, did you hold any jobs that might have impacted your writing? I know we are all dying to know!
I worked as a paralegal for twelve years before I quit the nylons and 9-5 to write full time. Now being a paralegal may sound ordinary, but the work I did was really wild. The law firm I worked was kinda the "LA Law" firm of Seattle. I worked on arson investigations, police misconduct cases, shooting inquests, insurance fraud investigations. Cases ranging from murder to fraud to breast implants. You name it, we worked on it. And when I got bored with it, (yes, you can get bored with that sort of work) I took a job with a software firm as a Piracy Paralegal. My territory was North America and I got to travel and work with the FBI, Customs, the RCMP, and even had lunch with a guy from Interpol. In fact my work there was so dangerous at times, that I traveled with a body guard who had previously worked for Scotland Yard-including doing protection duty for Prince Charles. I thought that was pretty cool.
What was your favorite job, and why did you like it so much?
My favorite job of all is being a mom. I absolutely love staying home with my kids. They are a delight and a wonder each and every day. I couldn't be more blessed.
If you could be one of your characters, which would you want to be?
Oh, this is a toughie! But I think it would probably be a tie between Maureen Hawthorne from Brazen Temptress or Riley Fontaine from No Marriage of Convenience. I would have loved to have been a smuggler and pirate like Maureen, but there is also the closet actress inside me who would love to take the stage as the invincible Riley.
What made you decide to write in the time period you are writing in? Do other eras interest you?
I happened on the Regency when I started writing Brazen Angel. Before I had written books set during the Crusades and the Restoration. I'd always sworn that I wouldn't write Regency set novels because the readers terrified me with their expectations. But then I discovered how much I loved it, and can't get enough. Now I'm one of those notoriously picking Regency types. As for other eras, I love medievals, especially Shane Abes and Tina St. John's books.
How and why did you choose your characters names?
Character names are funny things. Sometimes they just happen. I'll hear a first name, like it, and file it away. Others come from friends and family. Maureen is my sister-in-law's name. Kit, who is a character in One Night of Passion, is my best friend's name. As for surnames, I really hunt for those, using "A Dictionary of English Surnames" for authenticity as well as "The Domesday Book" to discover really old English names and their place origins. I'll pick names and discard them several times throughout the course of a book-for example, the book I just turned in, the villain went from Viscount Claredon to Viscount Cranborne to Viscount Cordell. I just didn't think his name fit until I finally came up with Cordell. Probably doesn't make a whit of difference to anyone but me, but for some reason it mattered.
What process do you go through in coming up with your main characters? (i.e., what they look like, their background, mannerisms, etc.)
They sort of just show up partially grown, sometimes with a few mannerisms, maybe a favorite prop, but most of the time, they evolve as I write and their character develops in the process. Linda Lael Miller told me that writing is like digging for bones. The bones of the stories and characters are buried under our feet, and out job is to unearth them. The more I write, the more I believe she is on to something there. There are more times in my writing when I think I've discovered some unique trait or secret about a character, only to realize I'd been foreshadowing that aspect all the way along. Now I don't fret characters so much, I just trust that if I dig long enough, I'll find all their pieces.
What makes a hero attractive to a woman reader?
I think in this day and age, a man of honor and integrity is the most attractive. Oh, sure your heart will still skip a beat over tall, dark and handsome, but I want a man of integrity, a man you can trust, a man that will not rest until he has you in his bed . . . okay, so maybe sexy does still count. Though a man who cooks, does laundry and can change a diaper will always be a hottie in my book.
What was your inspiration for the main characters in ONE NIGHT OF PASSION?
The flash came as I was writing Once Tempted, my July 2001 book from Avon. The scene had the heroine asking the hero's brother, Captain Colin Danvers, how he had met his wife. After much hemming and hawing, Colin finally confessed they'd met at a ball. A proper ball, indeed! Thankfully, his young son Gavin was there and piped in with the truth of the matter:
"It wasn't a regular sort of ball, Da," Gavin said. The impetuous boy turned to Olivia. "They met at the Cyprian's Ball."
The moment I wrote that line, "They met at the Cyprian's Ball," I got chills. I knew I had stumbled upon a wonderful story. Besides, I was already half in love with Colin Danvers. I loved his reserve, his honorable nature, and most of all, his unshakeable sense of duty. Being the wicked writer that I am, I knew he needed a headstrong, impetuous lady to really ruffle his feathers. I think Georgie Escott, his impossible and scandalous Cyprian, fits the bill very nicely.
Where do your story ideas come from? Do you start with a plot, a character, or a conflict?
All of the above. Now that I'm writing a series, as the characters come onboard, they may not immediately cry out for a story, but then suddenly I start to "see" and "hear" what happens to them. Eventually they start clamoring about so loudly, I have to start writing it down. Currently I have three books in that "stewing" stage, one of which I will start writing next week. Which one? Rafe's book. He was a dark brooding adult in Once Tempted and a mischievous lad in One Night of Passion.
How much does the finished product differ from the book you set out to write?
First I have to stop laughing so I can type. I usually have this huge, ambitious synopsis that scares the daylights out of my editor and then when I write, I start hacking out all the things I thought I should do. Besides axing the plot down to a manageable level, I find the surprises and big changes are in the characters. What I think of as their problems or motivations when I start writing are nothing to the dirt I unearth about them as I write. They evolve so much and on such a personal level. If I start out on Page 1 worried that I don't know them too well, after 400 pages, there are no secrets.
What is the most valuable lesson you learned as a published author?
I know a lot of people want to be writers, so let me share the best lesson I ever learned: Finish the book. You will learn more by slugging it out to the end then you will continually polishing the first three chapters. Don't worry about getting it right the first time, that's what revisions are for. As Nora Roberts says, "I can fix a written page, I can't fix a blank one." Truer words were never spoke.
What type of promotion do you do? Do you find it helpful?
This year I did something a little different and had travel mugs made up with the ONOP cover. There will be one in my August contest, so enter if you would like to win one. I also have postcards, bookmarks, and coverflats that I love to send folks, just drop me an email and I'll toss some in the mail to you. But of course my favorite promotion is my website, because there I can share news, my Top Ten (which is my current fav books, websites and stuff) as well as give reader's a behind the scenes look at my books in my Footnotes. Drop by and visit.
What is the most interesting fact you've learned during researching your historical novels?
While I was researching One Night of Passion and delving into the relationship of Emma Hamilton and Admiral Nelson, I learned that at one point, Emma, her husband, Sir William Hamilton, and Nelson all lived together. Talk about your understanding husbands!
After seeing all you do, how do manage to work around your family obligations when writing? Do you have set writing times? Does your family support your endeavors?
I wouldn't be able to write if it wasn't for my husband's support. He gets home from work and takes over with the kids, the meals, the laundry, everything, so I can write. He is a fabulous gem.
What can readers expect next from the fabulous pen of Elizabeth Boyle?
I just finished my seventh book, tentatively titled, Stealing the Bride. It is slated to come out next spring or summer. I absolutely loved this book and think it is my best one yet, if I can be so modest. I just adore the hero, Temple. He came on the stage in One Night of Passion and he captured my heart. And my editor called me immediately and begged me to do his story. He is so funny, and witty and Temple-ish. Read One Night of Passion to see what I mean.
Elizabeth, I adored Temple too. I'm so glad his story will be next. I can hardly wait! How can readers get in touch with you?
Visit my website at www.elizabethboyle.com and all my contact information is there.
What book would you suggest readers who have never read your books read first besides the latest one, ONE NIGHT OF PASSION? Why?
If they like humor, read No Marriage of Convenience. If they like a little darker adventure, read Once Tempted. But if they want to read the book that got me started, get Brazen Angel.
Elizabeth, it has been a pleasure chatting with you. It is always a treat getting to know what makes an author tick.
Thanks for letting me chat with all of you!