November 02, 2015

Lisa Kleypas

A return to the past
Interview by
Our November Romance Top Pick, Cold-Hearted Rake, marks a celebrated return to historical romance for best-selling author Lisa Kleypas.
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Our November Romance Top Pick, Cold-Hearted Rake, marks a celebrated return to historical romance for best-selling author Lisa Kleypas. In a 7 Questions interview, we talked to Kleypas about crowns, the allure of the Victorian era, what's next for her and more. 

Describe your book in one sentence.
A handsome, carefree London rake inherits a failing estate and reluctantly fights to save it while battling his attraction to a feisty young widow.

What inspired you to return to historicals after your hiatus from the genre?
Historical romance will always be my favorite genre to write in, but with a career as long as mine, it's important to find ways to stay excited and motivated. For me, that means challenging myself with new kinds of stories and characters and always trying to stretch my skills. After writing contemporaries for a few years, I started thinking about historical plots again, and I became enthusiastic about creating a family series set in Victorian England.

How does it feel to delve back into historicals? Did anything surprise you upon your return to the genre?
Fantastic! There's so much I've missed . . . the elegance and romance of the historical time period and the expansive vocabulary I can use. Contemporary dialogue tends to be choppier and more efficient—I think a lot of us speak in shorthand nowadays. But conversation in historical society used to be a form of entertainment, with a lot of emphasis on wit, intellect and style. There was a sense that after a discussion with your friends, everyone should be a little improved by it afterward. So writing historical dialogue is by far the most fun part of my job.

If there was a surprise for me in delving back into historicals, it was probably the realization of how much easier it is to write an unapologetically alpha hero. With contemporaries, there are far more boundaries for a strong male character—we just don't let guys get away with as much as we used to. However, if you put a hero in a historical time period, he has an excuse to be arrogant and high-handed: It's the 1800s—he can't help it! (Incidentally, I think that’s why my Texas contemporary heroes can get away with being so alpha—they're Texan, they can't help it!)

What draws you specifically to the Victorian era?
So much excitement and conflict is already built into the time period! Technology and industry were changing the world so fast that no one could keep up with it. Aristocrats were losing their wealth while commoners were gaining it, and social reform was making headway. It was an incredibly tumultuous time. I tend to put a big mix of social classes in my stories—I love characters who are outsiders trying to find a place for themselves, and the Victorian setting is ideal for that.

Also . . . I can't help being fascinated by the idea of starched and buttoned-up Victorians trying to conceal all their natural inclinations and desires. There's something sexy about all those layers of clothes and fasteners and laces and stays: It gives a love scene a sense of the forbidden.

What’s your favorite thing about your latest couple, the devilish Devon Ravenel and the sharp-as-nails Kathleen?
I loved this pairing because on the surface they seem so different—he's a pleasure-loving scoundrel, and she's an uptight widow—but deep down, they're very much alike. They're both incredibly guarded and unwilling to trust anyone with their true thoughts and feelings, and they both secretly yearn for a deep connection with someone. And when they're together, they push each other into becoming their best selves. It was so satisfying to see their characters develop together on the same emotional arc.

What do you do for fun while you’re taking a break from writing?
My husband and two children and I live in the Pacific Northwest, so there's always a ton of things to do. We hike around local lakes, go on some pretty steep trails and take in the spectacular scenery. We also love go to the local farmer's market or drive down to Seattle to attend a concert or play. We're foodies, so we're always trying out new recipes with exotic ingredients. This past year, after I had a hysterectomy and a couple of months of enforced bed rest, I discovered the pleasures of binge-watching, and I watched entire seasons of shows I've heard about for a long time. Mad Men! The Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt! Game of Thrones! It was glorious.

What can we look forward to from you next?
I'm currently working on the next in my historical series The Ravenels . . . the title is Marrying Mr. Winterborne. It's about an incredibly wealthy common-born Welshman, Rhys Winterborne, who is determined to marry shy, aristocratic Lady Helen Ravenel. He knows the only way he can marry someone like Helen is to ruin her first, so he talks her into coming to his bed and letting him seduce her. And that's just the first chapter!

Bonus Question: We’ve got to ask. As Miss Massachusetts 1985, do you ever take down your crown from the bookshelf and wear it around the house?
Well, it's just a big crown  . . . I have to save that for more formal occasions, so I have a smaller crown (I won it at the local county pageant before the state finals) that's more appropriate for things like vacuuming or light household tasks. If anyone asks, I just tell them it's a little something to hold my hair back.



Get the Book

Cold-Hearted Rake

Cold-Hearted Rake

By Lisa Kleypas
ISBN 9780062371812

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