|photo: Roberto Filho
Historical romance author Julia Quinn is one of only 16 people ever to be inducted into the Romance Writers of America Hall of Fame. In The Other Miss Bridgerton (reviewed below), Poppy Bridgerton's longing for adventure and romance are unexpectedly fulfilled when she finds herself caught up in the exciting world of privateer Captain Andrew James Rokesby. Quinn lives in Seattle, Wash., with her family.
Poppy Bridgerton is an independent, adventurous and intelligent young woman impatient with society's restrictions for females. Do you think women of her disposition were more common in the Georgian era than contemporary readers realize?
I don't know. I hope so. Either way, there were certainly some women who felt stifled by the rigid societal box they'd been placed in, and those are the women I tend to write about. The tricky part is doing so in a way that is historically accurate. Or at least plausibly historically accurate.
The details Andrew shares with Poppy about Lisbon's architecture are fascinating. How did you happen upon this interesting historical information?
It was a wonderful case of serendipity. I already knew that Andrew was interested in architecture and engineering; I'd dropped some hints about this when he was a secondary character in Because of Miss Bridgerton. I also knew that the characters were heading to Lisbon. But it was only when I began researching the city for scene-setting details that I learned of Lisbon's unique architectural history. After much of the city was leveled by a massive earthquake in 1755, the central district was rebuilt with some of the earliest seismically protected buildings in Europe. I knew that Andrew would totally geek out over this. And since my major in college was history of architecture, I should probably admit that I geeked out, too.
Did you find it challenging to write a heroine who is essentially cut off from her female friends and, instead, is befriended by and interacts with rough men outside her ordinary world?
I don't know if challenging is the right word, but it did open up new avenues for characterization. It's one thing to have a character interact with unfamiliar people and societies; it's another to explore how this makes her feel. Poppy found herself pondering how small and sheltered her world had been up to that point, and it made for a few uncomfortable moments.
Is there anything you can share about the upcoming Netflix production slated for the Bridgerton series books?
The project is very early in development, so there are still a lot of unknowns, but Netflix announced that the production was ordered "straight-to-series," which means that there won't be a traditional pilot. Television viewers generally think of pilots as the first episode of the first season, but historically they've served another purpose--giving the networks something to look at when deciding whether to order a complete season. A straight-to-series order is great news--it means that Netflix is committed to producing a full season rather than just one episode.
Can you tell us a bit about your writing process?
I'm often asked if I'm a "plotter" or a "pantser," and I think the answer is a little of both. I do write fairly lengthy synopses before digging into the actual writing of a book, but these documents are about characterization as much as plot. I spend a lot of time thinking about the characters and their backstories. It's not enough to know what sorts of characteristics and personality traits they possess; I also need to explore their personal histories. We are all shaped by our experiences, and if I want to create three-dimensional characters, I need to know what has happened to them before page one. A lot of this information will never make it into the final novel, but I will know it, and I think that helps me to create more fully realized characters.
Where do you like to write?
I have three places where I do the bulk of my work: my local Starbucks (I'm practically on staff; they all know me, and added bonus: they always offer me the mis-made drinks before dumping them), my treadmill-desk at home and our vacation place in Mexico. I go there a few times each year by myself for what I call solo writing retreats. It's amazing how much you can get done when you disconnect from the commitments of everyday life.
Are there books you've read this year that you'd recommend for fans of your own novels?
I just finished a binge of Joanna Shupe. She writes historical romances set in Gilded Age New York City. I had one of her e-books downloaded on my phone when I went on vacation last month, and as soon as I finished it, I bought six more!
What's next for you? Will we see another Bridgerton novel?
I'm working on the final book in the Rokesby series, which is also known as the Bridgerton prequel series, so... yes? --Lois Faye Dyer, writer and reviewer