Loretta Chase is a doyenne of Regency romance with nearly 30 books in her back list. And she still winning awards.
Ten Things I Hate About The Duke, won an AWA cherished award, one of the old Rita’s now called a Vivian for the best long form historical fiction. And it’s just the icing on the cake for a writer who’s already enjoyed a fantastic career.
Hi, I’m your host, Jenny Wheeler, and in Binge Reading today, Loretta talks honestly about getting over writer’s block when you’ve already published 28 books and why she loves writing about impossible men, like the Dis Graceful Dukes in her latest series.
That’s strictly in fiction, not in real life. No, no, no.
Pure Hearts Giveaway
Our Giveaway this week is The Magic of Pure Hearts Giveaway. Not just romance, but a delightful full range choice, from adventure with a touch of fantasy as well.
For a limited time only Sadie’s Vow #1 in the Home At Last series is my contribution to this freebie list.
Sadie chases from New York to San Francisco after her wayward sister becomes infatuated by a mob boss and is blind to the dangers she is letting herself in for.
And remember if you enjoyed the show, leave us a review so others will find us too. Word of mouth is still the best form of recommendation and you want your friends to know about a show that will recommend great books for them. don’t you? Sure you do.
Links to items mentioned in this episode
The classic romance Loretta read early in her career
Kathleen Woodiwiss: https://www.goodreads.com/author/show/88445.Kathleen_E_Woodiwiss
Edith Layton: https://www.goodreads.com/author/show/74459.Edith_Layton
Mary Jo Putney: https://maryjoputney.com/
Jo Beverley: https://www.jobev.com/
Who Loretta’s Reading Right Now:
Carl Hiaasen: https://carlhiaasen.com/
Tim Dorsey: https://www.timdorsey.com/
Kristan Higgins: https://www.kristanhiggins.com/
Kristan Higgins on The Joys of Binge Reading: https://thejoysofbingereading.com/kristan-higgins-queen-of-love-and-laughs/
Two Nerdy History Girls (Blog and Podcast): https://lorettachase.com/blog/2022/1/10/the-two-nerdy-history-girls-return-engagement
Susan Holloway Scott: https://susanhollowayscott.com/
Caroline Linden Books and Rom Cons (Conferences) https://www.carolinelinden.com/index.html
Harry Whittaker: https://www.harrywhittaker.co.uk/
Atlas: The Story of Pa Salt: https://www.panmacmillan.com/authors/lucinda-riley/atlas-the-story-of-pa-salt/9781529043525
Where to find Loretta Chase online
Introducing Loretta Chase – Regency queen
But now here’s Loretta. Hello there, Loretta, and welcome to the show. It’s great to have you with us.
Loretta Chase: Jenny, I am so honored to be here.
Jenny Wheeler: You’re one of the doyennes of romance writing. You’ve written 28 historical romances starting back in the 1990s, and you’ve won numerous awards.
The most recent one, Ten Things I Hate About the Duke, just won an RWA award for the best long historical. That’s a great track record you can be proud of.
Loretta Chase: I really am. I’m very proud of that book. I was so happy when it won the award. I felt as though those two books, the first two in the Duke series, were strong work. So it was great to have that recognition.
Jenny Wheeler: And just as a little aside, they’re calling it by a different name. They’re calling it a Vivian, aren’t they? But is that the same as the old Rita?
Loretta Chase: Yes, it is the same. They’ve changed the award itself. It looks different and they’ve given it a different name, but it’s basically the same thing. from Romance Writers of America.
Jenny Wheeler: ‘Ten things’ is the second in your most recent series. And I found it really hilarious. They’re called the Dis-Graces with a little hyphen between the ‘dis’ and the ‘graceful.’
And they feature as three bad boy aristocrats, Ripley, Ashmont and Blackwood. Tell us about the “three Dis-Graces.”
The attraction of ‘impossible’ men
Loretta Chase: Oh, I love these guys so much. And I’m loving them more with every book. Now that I’m working on the third one, I’m having so much insight into their characters.
I see them as very rich, privileged, men who started acting up when they were in school and just rebelling against everything. Rebelling against good behavior and only interested in having fun.
Each of them has a distinct personality in my mind. So Ashmont, who was in the most recent published book comes across as not too swift, but in reality, I felt as though, yes, he has a brain.
He’s just been too lazy to use it until he meets a woman who forces him to start thinking because he wants her.
He wants to please her, and it makes him step up his game, and he has to start thinking and using that brain that he has, and I loved doing that.
Jenny Wheeler: You say you undertook this task with delight because you’re “attracted to,” quotes, “impossible men in fiction only.” I’m glad to hear that. What is it about impossible men that you find so appealing?
Loretta Chase: I think part of it is the fun of matching them up to women who will put them in their place. Women who require them to ‘Up their game.’
To be more intelligent. Think about things that maybe they haven’t thought about before. And the more difficult the guy is, the more challenging and fun it is for me to create a situation and a heroine who’s going to make them really work for the relationship.
And I think that’s a good start for the relationship if the guy has to work at it, it’s not just handed to him.
Social outcasts who need smart women
Jenny Wheeler: yes, you say that despite being under 30, attractive and rich, they’re all social outcasts at the start.
And that takes some doing, doesn’t it? Although still the young ladies probably throw themselves at them because they are rich and attractive, but the women that they become interested in actually disdain them, don’t they?
They need to be chased.
Loretta Chase: Yes, because the women are looking at them objectively. They’re not looking at them in terms of oh he’s a rich person who’s got the highest rank possible in the aristocracy.
They’re looking at this person as a man, and what kind of man In other words, the women are being more rational than women often are about men.
You see an attractive man, sometimes you’re not thinking clearly, but this is fiction. In real life, men like the kinds of men that I create my stories. I wouldn’t go near them.
They’re not gonna get better. they’re like that now. It would take a miracle. They have to fix themselves.
No, but in fiction, that’s the wonderful thing about writing romance. We create this ideal world where things go right, love goes right.
Jenny Wheeler: That’s wonderful. So is that part of the attraction of Regency as a genre for you?
Loretta Chase: I think that’s part of it. The thing I like about writing in the early 19th century and setting it in England, partly is the escapism factor. Partly I love doing the research and I think it was a very interesting time historically. Mostly in terms of social history. I like talking about the clothing.
I like talking about the circumstances of their lives. I’ve made a study of coaching routes and transportation.
Regency a favorite period for Loretta Chase
All those things have fed into this interest. And then when you get to the Victorian period, it’s not quite so interesting to me. The hypocrisy starts to grow. The religious evangelism starts to grow, and that’s not something I’m really comfortable with.
So the Regency’s been great for me to work in.
Jenny Wheeler: Just slightly reverting back to the bad boy theme. You had an earlier series called the Dressmaker series, and I noticed also that you had a temptation there. There was this family called the Dreadful DeLuceys a “notorious lot of blue blooded liars, frauds, and swindlers” who also get their comeuppance from a French family of young women who are extremely talented. It allowed you to introduce them to devious and ambitious woman. Tell us a little bit about that. It sounds absolutely delicious as well.
Loretta Chase: Oh, the idea for writing about the dressmakers came from my agent, but as soon as she mentioned it, that pieces started falling into place. And I was thinking I had created the Dreadful DeLuceys a couple of several books earlier in my Carsington Brothers series. And I thought, Oh, what about the women?
What would these women be like? And I loved the idea of these very ambitious women coming to England and being determined to be great successes with their dressmaking. And I loved that the women who are entrepreneurs who are making a life for themselves, who are facing these challenges and they deal with them.
There’s one woman who’s widowed, so she’s raising a child on her own, but she’s working with her sisters. It was just a great situation for me to work with and the fact that they were French and they had exquisite taste in clothing. And I do a lot of research in the clothing of the time period.
That was all it was just gravy. I really had a great time with those women.
Living in a Loretta Chase universe
Jenny Wheeler: It sounds like you have created a Loretta Chase universe that they do cross credit amongst some of the characters. Is that how they work?
Loretta Chase: Yes, that’s how it’s evolved for me. I’ve noticed that sometimes I mention characters from other books in a current book or a house that appeared that I created for a book, say three books ago, reappears in the story, or a character maybe a minor character keeps reappearing.
There’s a, street child who has appeared in about the last – I think the last three or four – books. And he’s in the one I’m currently working on.
So yes, definitely, I’ve created my own special world. I’ve stolen houses that actually existed and given them to my characters. So yes, a Loretta Chase world.
Jenny Wheeler: Your writing always has an edge of humor and really slick dialogue, and I noticed on your website, you remark that you started with the idea that you were going to write the great American novel, but you think your sense of humor got in the way. The great American novel is still in the bottom drawer, is it?
Loretta Chase: Oh, yes, absolutely. That was the point where I thought I was going to be writing literary fiction, and it turns out that’s not me.
I’m a popular fiction writer, popular literature. And once I started to write romances, I realized it was perfect for me, and that’s where I belong. I’m very comfortable in this world.
I think more comfortable all the time.
Jenny Wheeler: And how did that realization occur?
How Loretta discovered she was made for romance
Loretta Chase: it’s a funny story. I majored in English in college and in that environment, you’re discouraged from appreciating popular literature. And romance of course was really scorned. And so, I came to romance rather late. And it was only as I was trying to find my way as a novelist that I discovered that popular fiction seemed to suit me better.
I realized the thing that I really loved about even the great literature, classic literature, that I had read, was the love story.
It was unsatisfying to me if the love story went wrong. So often if the heroine had sex outside of marriage or fell in love with the wrong guy, something terrible happened to her.
And I felt like this isn’t right. They should have their happily ever after and romance offered that. And so I was fairly quickly converted, once I started reading romances. I said, ‘Oh, this is for me.’
Jenny Wheeler: And do you remember who those first romance authors were that you read? Were there any names that still come to mind?
Loretta Chase: I started out reading the very big historical romances by people like Kathleen Woodiwiss.
But then later, it was my sister actually, because my sister was a romance reader from an early age, and she was the one. When I expressed an interest in romance, she was the one who started handing me books and saying, maybe you’ll like this.
Maybe you’ll like this. At one point. She started giving me the Regencies.
And there were people like Edith Layton, and it’s hard for me to remember all the names right now Mary Jo Putney and Joe Beverly and others, and what I liked about it was there was usually humor there was often this lovely repartee, and that was very appealing to me.
Loretta – the ‘only romance set in Albania’
And also the Regencies, the traditional regencies were shorter books, and I thought this is more my speed for starting out. I think I can handle writing a shorter book.
So that was my way of moving into the romance world. And it was only after I’d written six traditional regencies that I tried the longer versions with The Lion’s Daughter, and that was because my editor at the time, my paperback editor, had asked me if I would be interested in writing a longer book.
Jenny Wheeler: What was The Lion’s Daughter?
Loretta Chase: The Lion’s Daughter was set in Albania. I think it might be the only historical romance ever set in Albania. And it was, in the swashbuckling mode, more like the Kathleen Woodiwiss kinds of stories with a big landscape. They start out in Albania, and they end up in England, and it’s a pretty big story, but it was fun for me.
I wanted to write something that I knew, and I am Albanian. My parents came from Albania. and I thought, oh, this is different. No one will be writing about Albania. That was how I ended up writing that book.
Jenny Wheeler: Some of the biggest names in romance writing, including Julia Quinn, have written very congratulatory comments on your work.
That must give you a sense of validation of your peers like nothing else could really,
Loretta Chase: Oh, that’s a really big deal. It’s very important to me to have your peers appreciate your work, speak highly of your work. I don’t want to say that it’s better than having the readers love it because the readers are the people that make your career possible.
So there’s that, but there’s a special thing about having your colleagues appreciate your work.
Praise from peers like Julia Quinn – ‘without price’
It’s just, I don’t know, maybe it’s like the thing when you’re in a classroom and the teacher gives you an A. The other students might dig what you do, but you’ve got the teacher saying, oh, that’s good work.
Also they’re appreciating it from the standpoint of people who are also doing the work and they know what’s involved.
There’s that too, that makes it even better.
Jenny Wheeler: You’ve been very honest about sharing your difficulties with the book that you’re currently writing, The third of the Dis-Graces. You’ve said, I can’t remember where I saw it. It must have been on an online blog, although when I went back to look, I couldn’t quite find it again. But you were saying that it hit a bit of a wall with your writing.
In fact, I think you even did mention the phrase ‘writer’s block,’ which most professional writers tend to, insist doesn’t exist. Tell us about this difficult period you’ve been going through and have you broken through yet?
Loretta Chase: I’ll start with the good news. I’ve definitely broken through. The book is proceeding now. I don’t sit down at the laptop and stare into space or the abyss and say, I want to shoot myself.
No, the story is actually progressing and I’m very happy to sit down to work, which was not the case for a long time because it was such a struggle.
Early in my career, I thought there was no such thing as writer’s block because I was so filled with ideas. It’s like I couldn’t write fast enough.
But I found out that things can happen in your life or your environment that are going to affect you one way or another. And, they can cripple you in terms of writing.
If I were a visual artist, it might be a similar thing, like nothing comes. And that’s because something in your world is disturbing you on a vital level.
Beating writer’s block after 28 novels
And in this case, I just had to work through it. I had to be patient. It’s been several years since the last book came out, but I have a decent chance of finishing this book by the end of the year.
Yes. Anyway, it was a dark time. It was not pleasant, but I have survived and the book is coming along.
Jenny Wheeler: Is that the worst episode of that kind of diffidence that you’ve experienced?
Loretta Chase: It’s the second time I’ve experienced it. I think this was the worst. The last time it happened, I just completely walked away from writing. I stopped writing novels for about 4 years. I think something like that. But this time I just kept at it because even though I was writing tons and tons of pages of trash and everything had to be deleted I just kept at it.
refused to be vanquished by whatever was bothering me. I knew because I had gone through this before that you can eventually get through it. And that was my attitude and that’s been my attitude for the past few years and it’s paid off.
Jenny Wheeler: That is one of the little pieces of wisdom that people give advice to young writers that they need a first draft, even if it’s rubbish, to be able to work on, and so you’re very much bearing that out, aren’t you?
That even if you believe it’s trash, you have to keep going.
Loretta Chase: Yes. And one of the things I always kept in mind was Nora Roberts had said something about, I think this is this was a quote. “I can fix a bad page, but I can’t fix a blank page.” And that was my mantra.
Jenny Wheeler: I have read the first two books in The Difficult Dukes, and I’m absolutely tongue hanging out for what happens with the last one, Blackwood, because he’s got already got some story set up in the first two books.
The characters were not cooperating…
And if you didn’t finish it and we didn’t ever get to know what happened with Blackwood, that would be terrible.
But I wondered if because Blackwood is already married, it was difficult to write it as a romance?
Loretta Chase: What I realized was the problem in terms of the structure of the book was the backstory and it’s very hard to feed all that backstory into. the present.
What I’ve done is go back to the start of their relationship. So we’re going to get the courtship, and that’s part of the book.
And then we’re going to move into what’s happening now between them.
Jenny Wheeler: Great.
Loretta Chase: We examine what’s thrown things off between them. And I realized, okay. I needed to understand their relationship to really understand what had gone wrong with it. so that took a little while to figure out, but I got that going.
They weren’t cooperating with me for a long time. She didn’t like the way I characterized her. And he wouldn’t talk and it was just so frustrating.
And then I can’t remember when it happened several months ago. Things just started to open up. It was like, I must have written a line or something.
And then she was happy. She was okay with that. And now she’s behaving herself and now he’s talking and he’s doing what he’s supposed to do.
I know this sounds so weird, but the characters, they’re in your head, and you need to go with whatever’s in there, and it’s, I don’t know whether it’s the subconscious or what but you’re either true to the characters or you’re not, and if I’m not true to the characters, I can’t write the story.
How Loretta got into writing fiction
Jenny Wheeler: It feels that way, when you read it, that the characters have definitely got strong lives of their own.
Have you always wanted to be a writer or was there a Eureka moment where you thought, this is what I really want to do?
Loretta Chase: I always wanted to be a writer. I wrote a play when I was nine years old. It had about 50 scenes in it, or 50 acts, because I didn’t know how to write a play, but I was going to write a play.
And I have been writing little stories ever since then and making up stories. There was a time when I was torn between whether I was going to do visual art or I was going to do writing, but by the time I had graduated from college I was pretty certain it was going to be writing. That’s where I felt most at home.
Jenny Wheeler: And you were lucky enough to be able to transition into that almost straight away from college?
Loretta Chase: First I was writing freelance. Mainly I was writing scripts for video, and I had been doing that for a couple of years.
Then I started dating my husband, who was a video producer, and by this time we were in a relationship, and at one point he asked me what I really wanted to do with my life?
I admitted that what I really wanted to do was to write a novel, and then I burst into tears and said I was so frustrated because I had been trying and trying and trying to write a novel, and nothing ever happened.
But something clicked in me after that conversation, and I thought ‘I write video scripts. I know how to do that.’
As long as I know what the structure of the thing is, and what’s the message, I can write something.
What Loretta is reading now
And I realized that popular fiction has structure, a very clear structure. If you’re writing mysteries, you know what you have to do. You have to solve the crime by the end. And if you’re writing a romance, you know you want to have happily ever after.
Love conquers all. And once I had that in mind, I knew I could do it. It was like it’s going to be like a video script, only much longer.
And plus, I’ve had all this practice of writing dialogue. So that gave me the confidence to go with my strength, which was dialogue. And that was the thing I did with my very first book.
My husband has to get some credit for forcing me to face this frightening thing of “I want to write an author.”
Jenny Wheeler: Was he encouraging?
Loretta Chase: Very. He’s always been encouraging. Always very, very supportive. We brainstorm when I’m stuck on a scene and he helps me with action scenes. So yes, always has been very, very supportive.
Jenny Wheeler: Turning to Loretta as reader, because we’re starting to come to the end of our time together. I imagine you’ve also been a passionate reader your whole life. Tell us what you’re reading at the moment and if you’ve got anything you’d like to recommend to the listeners.
Loretta Chase: I tend to read outside my genre for the most part. For various reasons. Sometimes it feels like I’m working, because my head goes into the editing phase. I tend to read mystery stories. Right now I’m reading Carl Hiaassen. Is that familiar to you?
Mysteries on the bedside table
Jenny Wheeler: Yes, he is.
Loretta Chase: I love his books. I alternate. Sometimes I’ll read some history. for research or to get ideas, but I tend to read murder mysteries.
I like some of the Florida writers, like Carl, and Tim Dorsey. I love Terry Pratchett. And I recently discovered, I feel so stupid that it took me so long to get to her books. I recently discovered Kristan Higgins.
I met her at a conference in the spring and I thought she was so interesting and funny and nice. I bought one of her books. And I’ve just loved it. It made me cry and cry and cry, but I just loved it so much. So I’ve bought several others of her books. So I would definitely recommend Kristan Higgins.
There’s so many writers. There’s so many romance writers. There are so many good books. It’s just like really hard for me to pick one. So I’m just mentioning the most recent.
Jenny Wheeler: Of course, we, I appreciate that. Looking back down the tunnel of time, if there’s one thing about your creative career that you’d change, what would it be?
Loretta Chase: I was not very savvy. When I started out and I think I would have taken a little more time in terms of finding an agent. I had a good agent to start out with, but she wasn’t quite what I needed. And I didn’t realize that until I found the agent who is absolutely the right one for me. It’s really very much a business thing.
It was my business head that was not well developed. But then what did I know? I was just starting out. It’s very hard to understand these things when you’re just starting out.
What the next 12 months hold for Loretta Chase
Jenny Wheeler: Yes, absolutely. What’s next for you as an author? What have you got on your desk over the next 12 months?
Loretta Chase: For the next several months, I’m going to be finishing the current book, which is the Blackwoods story.
And after that, I’m not positive where I’m going to go, whether I’ll start a new series or I’ll pick up on one of my secondary characters in this book. I have to keep my mind on the one book that I’m working on so that I stay focused.
Otherwise, it’s just too tempting to wander off into sidetracks and that’s not good for me.
Jenny Wheeler: I guess the Blackwoods book doesn’t have a title yet?
Loretta Chase: It does not have an official title. I can’t talk about titles until the book’s been turned in and my publisher has approved of the titles. We’re just working titles at this point. So right now, it’s just work in progress.
Jenny Wheeler: Do you enjoy interacting with your readers and where can they find you online?
Loretta Chase: I do. I love interacting with my readers. We’ve got a rom con coming up in the spring again. It’s in Massachusetts.
But online, I have been on Facebook and Instagram, and I have a website. But while I’ve been trying to finish this book in a more timely fashion, I have withdrawn a bit from social media to stay focused on the book, but I do have a Facebook page, and I do have an Instagram page,
Two Nerdy History Girls podcast
Jenny Wheeler: Do you sometimes also do a podcast with another author? it’s just rung bells in the back of my head. I thought you did occasionally do a podcast.
Loretta Chase: Yes Susan Holloway Scott and I used to have a blog together called Two Nerdy History Girls, and a librarian, she’s so smart, this wonderful librarian in eastern Massachusetts invited us to do podcasts, as The Two Nerdy History Girls, and we’ve done several of them. So now we seem to be doing 1 every 6 months.
It looks like we have another 1 coming up in January. And those are really fun because we try to deal with all kinds of history questions and history myths.
Susan’s working in a slightly different era than I am right now, she’s dealing with the early America, post colonial America, the Revolutionary era America, and mine, of course, is19th century England, for the most part.
We’re friends and we talk about these things all the time and exchange information.
It’s really fun to, to be in the podcast and answer questions from the readers. It’s it’s one of the high points of the year for me for podcasts.
Jenny Wheeler: Oh, that’s great. You must give us the link so that we can include it in the show notes for this episode. Just flicking back a moment. You mentioned a romcon. What was that about? Just a minute ago, you mentioned a romcon.
Loretta Chase: The rom con has been hosted by the same librarian who does the podcast. She has set up with author Caroline Linden rom cons in I guess the last one was in Ashland, Massachusetts at a library and they invite It’s Several authors, I think about a dozen authors and it’s a gathering.
Where readers can find Loretta online
We have a book signing. There are a couple of things where we play Games and it’s a great opportunity to interact with readers and we’ve had readers come from. Far and wide, actually, I was very surprised some people that drove. A long distance to come to the wrong calm to meet the other authors.
Jenny Wheeler: So do we already had a link for that, that we could put in the notes?
Loretta Chase: Yes, I can send you the links to the rom com. I won’t know for a while, but I can give you general information and I do always post this information on my blog as soon as I get. The material from whoever’s hosting the event. I do post them on my blog and that gets posted to Facebook and Instagram
Jenny Wheeler: Oh, wonderful. That’s fantastic. I thought I heard you say rom com C O M, but it’s rom con C O N. Isn’t it? Conference. Is that? Look, wonderful, Loretta. Thank you so much for your time today. It’s been fascinating to talk
Loretta Chase: Thank you so much. Jenny. I’ve really enjoyed this.
Jenny Wheeler: And very encouraging for people to hear. The way you’ve worked through that period of bleakness and come out the other side. It gives people hope in lots of ways, I think.
Loretta Chase: I hope so.
Jenny Wheeler: Yeah. And we’re looking forward to the Blackwoods. Thanks so much.
Loretta Chase: Thank you Jenny.
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Next week on Binge Reading
Next week on Binge Reading, a very special treat. Harry Whittaker, Lucinda Riley’s devoted son and the man who completed the international best-selling series of The Seven Sisters with Atlas: The Story of Pa Salt, when Lucinda sadly died in June, 2021.
He chats freely about inheriting his mother’s legacy completing the book millions of readers were waiting for. and finding his own voice now as the novelist.
That’s next week on The Joys Of Binge Reading. And remember if you enjoy the show, leave us a review, so others will find us too.
That’s it for today. Thanks for listening and happy reading.