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Saturday, June 26, 2010

Questions and Answers with Cara Elliott, Author of To Surrender to a Rogue

Please join me in welcoming Author Cara Elliott who graciously answers some questions for today's Blog Tour stop.

Q. You share on your website that you enjoyed a semester at Yale teaching "Reading the Historical Romance Novel” class.  How id that class come about and do you have any more plans for teaching at Yale or elsewhere?

Cara:  Mix two romance writers with several glasses of chardonnay . . .

Lauren Willig and I are both Yale grads, and one evening at Lady Jane’s Salon in NYC we started talking about how romance should be treated as a serious genre of literature, and how we would structure a class. Laughing, we both said, “Oh, wouldn’t it be fun to teach a seminar at Yale on the subject.” But the laughter quickly died away as a simultaneous spark lit in our eyes . . and so we decided to submit a proposal. After months of drafting a detailed syllabus, complete with critical readings, and being interviewed by a committee of students and professors in New Haven, our idea was accepted!

The experience was really amazing. Our students were so much fun to work with and the weekly discussions were absolutely fascinating! What struck me the most was how strongly romance resonates with this generation of readers. I loved watching their faces as they discussed the different books we read for class, and talked about their feelings on what makes a great hero and heroine. No matter what the specific plot or point of view was, they all reacted so passionately to the basic conflicts and characters. And they took such joy in celebrating the redemptive power of love. 

I have to admit, I had forgotten how much work school is. But that said, Lauren and I are hoping to teach the class again next spring!

Q.  You were educated and trained in art and graphic design. Do you get to use these skills in your writing?

Cara:  I think my art background definitely colors my writing. Visual images are very important to me and I feel that shapes my storytelling. Since I’ve been trained to “see”  and “sense” in a medium other than words I feel strongly about trying to create a vivid feel for my settings—the smell of the smoke in the air, the color of candlelight on a face, the look of filigree gold and garnets against silk.

Q.  Was there a big transition in writing style from your alter ego Andrea Pickens to Cara Elliott?

Cara:  It was really a natural progression. The styles are similar—but with added spice! Cara Elliott books are a bit “hotter” than my previous books. And that was actually quite easy. I just had to close my eyes and imagine Johnny Depp in tight leather breeches, and . . . well, I’ll leave the rest to your imagination!

Q.    Do you get much input to your sumptuous covers?

Cara:  Well, with my background in design, I naturally always have opinions! However, I have to say that the art department does a fabulous job! I feel really fortunate to such lush, beautiful covers.

Q.  In To Surrender to a Rogue what thing would your heroine never be caught dead doing or saying?

Cara:  Hmmm. Alessandra has been badly burned in the past by trusting a handsome face, so she’s sure that the last thing in the world she will ever do is give in to temptation. However . . .

Q.    What made you choose the trilogy title of “Circle of Sin?”

Cara:  My heroines are a close-knit group of female scholars who each have a dark secret in her past. They have sinned . . . or have they? You’ll just have to read the books to find out!

Q..  In writing the Circle of Sin trilogy is there a particular character you had the most fun with?

Cara:  Oh, that’s too tough a question! I really have a soft spot in my heart for all the characters in the Circle of Sin. It was really fun and challenging to write not only the dashing heroes and heroines, but to also create the supporting cast of children and older, wiser confidants. Each has a unique personality and I came to feel they were a wonderful family of friends. It was really hard to say goodbye to them!

Q.    Do you think the works of James Gillray and some of the other artists you feature at your website were very shocking for their times?

Cara:  They were really the Jon Stewart and Steven Colbert of their era—focusing on everything from politics to persona; peccadilloes, their sharp satire provided a colorful commentary on events in the news. And the public just loved it!

Thank you to Ms. Elliott for sharing her answers with us today.

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