The author, Lotte James writes some of the best historical romances I’ve ever read. But, not only is she a great writer, she is one of the nicest people I’ve ever met. Read on to get to know Lotte better. She is pretty fascinating.
The Nitty Gritty With Lotte James
You delve into the realm of adventure in your Vixens and Villains series but jump to mystery in the Gentlemen of Mystery series. Why the change of pace and which do you enjoy more?
Adventure and mystery have always been two of my favourite genres – in books, TV or film. When you’re creating something, it’s impossible to do so in a vacuum – you are all that came before you, and all you’ve experienced and loved.
My first book in the Vixens & Villains series, The Rake & The Maid, grew out of my love of historical adventures – particularly The Count of Monte Cristo. The series grew from there – so naturally, I tried to keep the overall feel of adventure within them. But I think you can see the mystery side bleeding through too! For the Gentlemen of Mystery – it all began with The Housekeeper of Thornhallow Hall, which again was my own little love letter to the classics, particularly Jane Eyre.
I’ve always had a fondness for the gothic – and of course mystery in all its forms is a big part of that genre. I think the change of pace generally came from the characters and the story they had to tell – it all fell into place once I got to know them properly. I don’t think I enjoy writing one more than the other – though I will say the mystery side of things is always more of a brain-twister, in a fun way, making sure it all works.
What made you decide to go into historical romance writing? Is there something in your life that makes this an intriguing subject?
I’ve always been a history lover, though oddly enough my main area of concentration when I was younger was the Middle Ages rather than the period I write in now – 1820s-1830s. What has always fascinated me, are the stories within the history – those of the people you don’t always hear about in the books.
And naturally, I am a huge historical romance fan. (I love all romance – but yes, I do tend to have a special spot in my heart for the historical). When I first began writing, I thought I should, again, write what I ‘knew’ and loved.
I also find incredible freedom in writing historical, because for all the research, all we know, there is so much we don’t. There are still so many blanks you can fill in with your imagination, and I love that challenge – creating worlds from worlds past, which are coherent, believable, and yet still, somewhat new.
I’ve found that there is very little BIPOC representation in historical romance, especially in the Regency era. Do you find this hampers your stories in any way? How do you feel about the Bridgerton television series bringing POC onto the landscape?
Personally, I find there is a lot more than we think there is – particularly now – though gatekeeping in all its forms is still, sadly, very much an issue. However the problem also often lies in the lack of dissemination of these stories – the lack of publicity, and support for these books. We are seeing it more and more, however, there is still a huge gap between how a book featuring a white M/F couple will be disseminated to the masses, and any book which doesn’t.
I don’t in any way believe diversity in any shape or form could ever be a hamper. History, if we care to look, features people of all backgrounds – race, gender, sexuality – and the longer we continue to pretend otherwise, the longer we support intolerance.
In terms of Bridgerton, I don’t necessarily feel I’m the right person to take up space discussing it in length – I think there are a lot more factors to the conversation than we sometimes realise. I will say that I will always want more representation on screen, in my books, in the art I consume. And I don’t believe the representation should be limited to the narratives producers or publishers believe the masses will want to consume either. If Bridgerton helps with that, then I think that is a glorious thing.
I adore the names you invent for your characters. How do you think of them?
Oh well, thank you! It depends really! The men are typically inherent – like I will look at him and go, ah, so your name is Liam! And sometimes if a character is getting their own book after appearing in a previous one as a secondary or tertiary character – well, I’ll be honest, their name was just what sounded good at the time.
The women oddly enough get a bit more of a treatment generally – in that many times it’s about the symbolism behind the name. For example, Philomena in my upcoming The Gentleman of Holly Street – was named that because the name means ‘friend of strength’. (You can find out why that choice when the book comes out…)
Of all the books I’ve read of yours, the Marquess of Clairborne is my favorite character. He has the most unusual sense of style and Yew Park House is an architectural marvel. Which of your characters is your favorite?
Oh, I’m so glad Spencer is your favourite! And that you love Yew Park House! It was such fun to create them both, and I have to say Spencer really did force me to write about his love for waistcoats – it wasn’t a conscious decision… It’s really tough to pick a favourite for me!
Each of them has taught me something different, and are special in their own way. I suppose I’ll always have a special fondness for Effy and Harcourt from The Rake & The Maid because they really were the ones who helped me begin this very special journey.
Just For Fun with Lotte James
What is your favorite book or series?
This is always such a tough question. I can’t pick one book *cries*! Though The True Adventures of Charlotte Doyle is very special to me, as I read it incessantly as a child, it really was hugely formative for me. If by series you mean TV – I will say in the older ones, Stargate SG-1, and in recent years, The Expanse. (I am a very big Sci-Fi fan!)
Where is your favorite travel destination? Or where would you love to visit someday?
So far – Scotland is my favourite travel destination – no surprise I set The Marquess of Yew Park House or The Bodyguard & The Miss there. I’ve also loved Canada – so many incredible spaces. My dream destination would be Japan or Iceland.
Coffee, tea, or something else?
Coffee is my weakness – but I do love tea too! Depends on the mood – I admit teas are good for any time and any place!
Ooooo. Again, mood dependant. I have a very bad sweet tooth – so when I’m writing, sweets are a necessity. Otherwise, fruit – clementines and nectarines would be in the top five.
Music or no while you write?
Absolutely, I can’t do without! Creating project playlists is hugely important, and part of atmosphere creation for me. Mostly, they’re made up of movie soundtracks (sometimes video games too) – as they have that perfect background vibe.