Historical romance novelist Jo Beverley has set a high bar for writers in the romance genre to emulate. Prolific to the point of incredible, she’s the recipient of five RITA awards and is a member of the Romance Writers of America’s Hall of Fame. Known for her scorching love scenes and compelling characters, Beverley’s legion of fans gobble her books up as soon as they hit the stores. One of the characters in her popular Malloren series, the Marquis of Rothgar, has an enormous fan base, garnering her another RITA for his story in DEVILISH.
It’s a solid career any writer would envy. But Beverley doesn’t rest on her laurels. She keeps pushing the boundaries and writing books that keep surprising her fans.
We are so pleased to present part two of our two-part interview with Jo Beverley (missed part one? Click HERE).
Q: You’re known as someone who has broken boundaries in the genre. Did you ever have an editor tell you to dial something back, or ask you for a re-write? What do you think about writers making safer choices because they may be fearful of the marketplace?
JB: I’ve been very fortunate in my editors. The only rewrite I can remember is when I self-censored myself at the last minute, thinking the book too dark. That was Lord of Midnight, a medieval. My editor came right back to say she felt there were huge problems with it. I’d come to my senses by then and sent her the original version, which she loved.
I keep my readers in mind, because I have no desire to upset them, but I have to let the story unfurl without too much steering or it simply doesn’t work. I think it’s often a mistake to pre-judge what will or will not fly with editors or readers. If we love to read romance, and we love our book, there’s a good chance other romance lovers will love it, too.
Q: A LADY’S SECRET is another installment in your Malloren saga. What drew you to writing a “road story”?
JB: Truly, it just happened! The genesis is tangled, but the spark was a meeting in an inn that would send the two off together in search of something and fleeing someone. Nearly all the details changed, but that was the spark. Road stories are always fun, though, because there’s a built-in energy.
Q: Is it tough to do justice to characters from previous books without having them overshadow the current story? Where do you draw the line?
JB: I don’t bring characters in from previous books unless they have a purpose for being there. Some readers complain because they want to see old favourites, but I think that can send a book off kilter. As for overshadow, if my attention is on the main couple of the book, with luck it will read that way.
Q: Tell us about your upcoming release THE SECRET WEDDING.
JB: The Secret Wedding follows A Lady’s Secret, in which Christian, Major Lord Grandiston turns up toward the end of the book to help. I wasn’t sure what his story would be, but then I remembered a short piece I’d written a year ago.
Sometimes an opening comes into my head and I have to write it down, even though I don’t know what I’m going to do with it. It involved a young soldier who rushes to gallantly assist a lady and ends up in trouble. Ends up married, in fact. I suddenly realized that was Christian. But then, why isn’t he married? Why has he joined in a wager with Robin and Robin’s cousin, the Duke of Ithorne, not to marry before they’re thirty? Who was the child he married, and where and what is she now?
Both of them think themselves widowed, so the realization that they’re married comes as a huge shock. And then things become even more complicated, and it’s a bit of a road book as well.
And yes, Rothgar becomes involved.
Q: Do you have any advice for aspiring novelists?
JB: Again, this could be a book. In brief, write regularly, write what’s burning in you to be written, and enjoy the journey.
Q: What’s the stupidest thing anyone’s ever told you about the writing profession?
JB: That it’s stupid not to pre-plot. That there’s any “best way” to write a novel.
Q: The smartest?
JB: That the end completes the book in the reader’s mind. Beautifully, or disastrously. Also that the beginning sells the book and the end sells the next, which is partially the same thing.
Q: What are you reading now?
JB: A Social History of Tea by Jane Pettigrew, published by the National Trust. My current hero, the Duke of Ithorne, is a tea lover.
All of Jo Beverley’s books can be found at your favorite retailer, independent booksources and online everywhere. Thanks, Jo!