AUTHOR SPOTLIGHT: CATHERINE LAROCHE
Professor and debut romance novelist Catherine LaRoche has stopped by to chat with Joyfully Reviewed….
Tell us a little about Master of Love, what inspired you to write it?
Master of Love is a Victorian historical romance. It’s the first in a quartet entitled “The Society of Love,” about four young women friends who met through a London charitable organization. The heroine in the first book is an impoverished book dealer tottering on the edge of genteel poverty and scandal. She goes to work as a librarian for Lord Rexton, who is a closeted intellectual so gorgeous he’s dismissed by all polite society as a “blond bimbo”—thus his nickname, the “Master of Love.” I wrote it because I love the archetype of the prim librarian with the smoldering passion within! I wanted to play with that idea.
When you start writing, do you already have the story plotted out or do you let the characters dictate what will happen?
I have a basic outline in my head, with the characters and the main arc of the plot, but I don’t know all the details. The only way I can figure out the details is by writing out the scenes. This is perhaps not the most efficient method, but it’s the only one that seems to work at the moment!
Do you have a favorite character you have written?
I like Lord Rexton’s mother! She’s a beautiful middle-aged widow of means who loves fashion and juggling younger beaux. She’s a little wild, but gets away with it because she has a good heart. She’s only a secondary character in Master of Love, but I think she’s got some of the best lines. At one point, for example, she says to her son, “Of course intelligence is the most attractive quality in a man. It would be in a woman as well, if men weren’t so stupid and shallow.”
Who was the toughest character for you to “get right” that you have written so far?
Probably Dominick, Lord Rexton himself, because I had to write from a man’s point of view. Some readers found him a little too whiny, but others were charmed.
What do you find the hardest part of writing?
Alas, the writing itself is the hardest part of writing. It takes time—lots and lots of time. I had a teacher once who said that good writing doesn’t come from the writing, but from the re-writing. In other words, write. And then edit. And then write and edit some more. I know of no short cuts.
Name one thing that your readers would be surprised to know about you.
I do a pretty good imitation of a Canadian loon!
Do you have a guilty pleasure?
Cake. I love cake. We have a great bakery in town from which we commission elaborate birthday cakes for our boys and at other occasions. I’ve also been known to bribe my children into baking cake for me! After a busy day of work, writing, kids, and housework, a slice of cake and a glass of wine make me feel civilized again.
What TV Shows are you addicted to?
I had a Miami Vice thing going for a while through Netflix. Very slashy.
How old were you when you read your first romance book?
I’ve read romances since I was a young teen. My mother had them in the house. She and I and my friends would all trade our “trashy novels” back and forth. My mom is now one of my biggest supporters!
What author causes you to “go fan girl”/ squeal over/anticipate upcoming books?
Laura Kinsale. She’s such a beautiful, beautiful writer. And other new authors who remind me of her, such as Sherry Thomas and Meredith Duran.
If you still have one of those pesky non-writing jobs what is it?
I have a non-romance-writing job, but it still involves writing and it’s not pesky at all! I’m a professor of culture and gender studies at The University of Alabama. I publish academic books and articles on gendered fantasy spaces in American popular culture. I wanted to become a writer of romance novels as well, in order to have another way to think about this set of ideas.
Do you have a favorite movie you have seen in the last few months and/or an all time favorite?
You know, I don’t so much believe in the notion of “favorite” movies—or favorite books or foods or destinations, for that matter. I find that movies and books speak to me in different ways, at different points of my life. If I’m watching a movie or reading a book, it’s because in a sense that movie has become my favorite at that moment in time. That’s what I love about fiction in general: the engrossment and deep engagement in the world of the movie or the book, that suspension of everyday reality for a time, so that its characters are with you and become part of you.
What are you currently working on, and what else is in the wings?
I’m almost finished with Knight of Love, the next book in the “Society of Love” series, due out this fall. Knight of Love involves a runaway bride who throws daggers and a hopelessly romantic giant of a knight who believes in love at first sight (as well as voting rights for women). This second book is set amidst the upheaval of the European revolutions of 1848 that were much like the ongoing “Arab Spring” today.
If you could co-write with another author who would it be?
Actually, I’d like to co-write with my brother! He’s a lawyer for the government and gets all sorts of interesting cases about tax evasion and Indian land claims. I have this fantasy that we could collaborate on a legal thriller with a romance plot. He could supply the legal details and the court scenes and I could write the sex scenes!
How do you pick your characters’ names?
I try to work the names into the plot, to have them be significant in one way or another. The heroine of Master of Love is named “Callista,” after a Greek nymph, because her father loved the Classics. The name means “most beautiful” in Greek, and the hero begins to call her “beauty” as a nickname. She doesn’t believe she’s beautiful or desirable, so part of the plot is her “coming into her name” so to speak.
Do you prefer the love at first sight approach or a steady growth throughout?
I don’t believe in love at first sight. I think we can fall in love quickly with a projection that we cast onto another person, but it takes time to really get to know someone and to arrive at genuine love and caring. In Knight of Love, the hero thinks he falls in love with the heroine at first sight, leading her to conclude that he’s a naïve fool. Much of the plot of that book involves undoing his false projection so that the characters can come to see each other—and to love each other—for who they really are.
Where can readers find you?
My faculty webpage at The University of Alabama site is at: http://as.ua.edu/nc/people/faculty/roach/index.php
And for the silly side –
What is your favorite type of chocolate?
Really good-quality, European-style dark chocolate. I’d rather eat no chocolate than bad chocolate.
Ranger or Morelli?
Sorry, I’m not that cool!