Q&A With Charlie Lane
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Q&A With Charlie Lane
Charlie Lane is the author of the historical romance novels Portraits, Passion and other Pastimes, Forgery Love and other Lies, & His Mistress, His Muse and other Madness.
Q: Charlie, would you please tell us about your historical romance novels and where your ideas for them come from?
A: I’m a long-time reader of historical romance. I’ve probably been devouring it for over twenty years now, and my favorite books are the ones that just clench my heart, make me feel ALL the feelings and ones that make me laugh. I was always searching for those books that didn’t have too much angst and that made me laugh out loud, and books that had that—I just couldn’t turn the pages fast enough. So those are the books I like to write. I want readers to find joy in them. I also love a good character arc—real feeling characters with fears and desires and complicated family histories. So that’s what I try to put in my books—imperfect characters and families, moments that make us feel like crying because they feel like real pain we have felt in our own lives, but there on the very next page—laughter, a sparkle of joy. That’s life, right? Pain and joy in the same day and sometimes even the same minute. And romance novels are life but better because we always get happily ever after. I love happily ever afters.
I suppose my ideas come from all over the place! I take a lot of inspiration from art—literary novels and poetry and plays. But I also am inspired by Korean dramas. They are so much fun and get those romance feels and tropes just right. For the Art of love series, I took inspiration from the idea that too much of a good thing can turn bad. I wrote an essay on this in high school for the AP language exam. Ha! I guess it stuck with me. But in this series, a family’s patriarch has financially ruined them because of his obsession with art. Through the series, we see this action through his son’s eyes, and we see the intelligent, determined, and big-hearted women who help them put their pain behind in order to forgive. I used different types of art for inspiration for each book in the series. Portraits, Passion, and Other Pastimes is inspired by body art and basic artistic theories. Forgery, Love, and Other Lies is inspired by, well, forgeries in the art world, as well as jewelry design. His Mistress, His Muse, and Other Madness is inspired by Regency era political cartoons. And the next two books in the series (out in 2024) are inspired by silhouette drawing and song writing!
Q: This year I have been getting very into the historical romance genre because they have two things I enjoy: history and romance lol! What drew you into writing historical romance?
A: Because it’s the genre I most love to read! My very first histrom was historical romance. I snuck it out of my grandfather’s study well past midnight and stayed up all night reading it before returning it to the exact place I found it before everyone woke up. I’m also a huge nerd. I love history. And while I wouldn’t want to live during the Regency or Victorian eras, they do feel more romantic and escapist to me in romance terms. The gowns! The houses! The tension when he can’t touch her because it’s not proper! That same sort of tension is just harder to come by in contemporary (a subgenre I still love!).
Q: Which authors in the historical romance genre were an inspiration for you to write in this genre?
A: Tessa Dare! Oh man, after reading her Castles Ever After series, I just knew I needed more like that. And then she gave us the Girl Meets Duke series—another one I reread often. Also Julia Quinn, naturally, but more so her Smyth-Smith quartet than Bridgerton because that made me laugh SO hard. That’s another one that after reading it I was furiously looking for more books like it. In the same vein, Maya Rodale and Karen Hawkins. And Sally MacKenzie’s Naked series. All books that had the perfect combination of laughs and feeling and steamy scenes. When I started writing, those were the books I wanted to write like! So that I could read them!
Q: Do you have any upcoming releases or books you are currently writing at the moment?
A: Yes! I’m currently revising Silhouette of a Spinster and Other Seductions, book 4 in my Art of Love series. But I’m also finishing up book 2 in a new series that will start in January. The series is called The Gentleman’s Guide to Courtship, and it’s about a young duke and his unmarried sisters. It’s a bit like Twelve Dancing Princesses meets Hitch. He starts this courtship guide to help their suitors woo them, but they have a secret reason they’re not married. And we find out what it is in book 1, Never Woo the Wrong Lady.
Q: If you had to choose a genre that wasn’t historical romance to write in, which genres would you choose and why?
A: Great question! I have a fantasy romance pen name! I have a few episodes of a novella published through Kindle Vella, a subscription reading service, under the pen name Hazel Thorne. After I finish the Art of Love series, I plan to finish up that serialized story and start on book 1 of a fantasy romance series. Big Grimm Brothers and Beauty and the Beast vibes and are a bit darker than my historical romance. But still lots of steamy romance. So, yeah, the answer to the question is fantasy romance! (but really, I’d love to experiment with contemporary romance as well, and I have two middle grade fantasy novels hidden on my computer, too.)
Q: If Hollywood were to snatch up the rights to your works (if they haven’t yet) who would you cast to play the characters you created?
A: Henry Cavil for every hero with dark hair and Chris Evans for every hero with blonde hair. That’s only slightly a joke. I actually keep inspiration pics in my pinterest (@CharlieLaneRomComs) for every novel I write, and most of the pics I pin for my hero and heroine are random models I don’t know the names of. Henry Cavil sneaks in there most of the time, though. And for Raph, in Portraits, Passion, and Other Pastimes, Cavil definitely fits the bill. For Matilda, maybe Dakota Johnson!
Q: What is helpful advice you would give to anyone wanting to write in historical romance as you do?
A: Have fun! Keep in mind what you love about the genre and make sure to include those things. Writing can be a slog if you’re not enjoying what you’re writing. Also, ask for help! Editors and beta readers and critique partners and author friends. It takes a community to write a book, even though it seems like a solitary activity. And the historical romance author community is an amazing one I’m honored to be part of.
Q: What is the research process like when researching, plotting, writing and editing historical romances?
A: Sometimes I start with research. It’s another place I get inspiration. Reading about people who lived during the Regency, reading their own words—it sparks “what if” scenarios in my mind. But I never stop researching. When I sit down to write, various questions will pop into my head about the scene, or a word I’m using, and I keep a list of those questions so that when I’m done writing for the day or the week, I can research the answers and go back and revise the writing if necessary. So, I research in the very beginning, broadly, studying movements or ideas during the period. I get ideas from that, and then I keep researching as I write, plugging in smaller details of character and plot with my research as I go along—words, dress, titles, streets and addresses, how long it takes to get from place A to place B, etc.