Spotlight — Eliza Lloyd
Eliza Lloyd first came to our attention with the introduction of her sexy historical Wicked Desires. This book made a significant impression on us all with it's super sexy premise and characters. Ms. Lloyd soon followed her success with Wicked Temptation and Another Lover. And we're soon to have Wicked Lord, the latest installment in her Wicked series. Ms. Lloyd has chosen to set her passionate tales of love and redemption in one of the most romantic times in history. And we look forward in learning more about her and her work. Without further ado I give you Eliza Lloyd!
Welcome to JERR Eliza! We’re so excited to have you join us and discuss this whirlwind that has become of your writing career since the release of Wicked Desires. I was fortunate to have read your debut novel and simply loved it! Congratulations on your meteoric rise in the romance industry and on your recently released Another Lover.
Now before we go any further can you tell us a little about yourself?
Thank you so much for this opportunity! And I must say right away, I loved the concept cover you did for me featuring my writing muse, David Gandy. It’s going to be my new screen saver as soon as I finish this interview!
About me, I’m a Midwesterner who grew up on a farm but now I’m just a boring office professional who needed to work the right side of her brain more often, hence the writing.
The main thing I need to share is that I love romance. I think happily ever after should be our life’s pursuit when it comes to relationships. How and why we take people for granted that we say we love is just beyond my scope of imagination. Sex is such an important part of that relationship and when the two can be combined, the deep abiding love and the super hot sex, I don’t see how a writer can go wrong.
You’ve had a charmed career since Wicked Desires was first published. Have you had to make any lifestyle changes since then? How do you juggle writing, family and everything else?
Once I started writing and realized I could do it professionally, I determined that I would do something every day to further my goals. In the beginning, I set aside one hour a day to write—every day, without fail—and I did that. If I saw that one day I wouldn’t be able to write because of other obligations, I made sure I wrote my allotted word count ahead of time. Then I expanded the time and broadened my to do list. I have a day job, which I have to work around but for the most part writing has fit easily into my lifestyle.
How did you prepare for the change that writing professionally would bring into your life?
Surprisingly little. I was already devoting a very specific and very generous amount of time to writing and already did a whole lot of social networking, so it has been very easy to adapt. Once I have a manuscript under contract, I immediately set aside future time for edits. There have been the surprises—people actually want me to speak at a conference! Zoicks!
Have there been any awesome moments in your career to date that you can share with us?
Every moment has been fantastic! It’s like leaving in a continual dream that I get to control because I’m the one creating all the beautiful men. Yes, my secret is out. I write because I want to write about sexy, beautiful, perfect men who love their women.
One cool thing, if I can do a small boast, was that RT Book Reviews called my writing in Wicked Desires “clever". A small word that, but it sent me over the moon!
How long have you been writing professionally? And did it prepare you for this whole new world that you’re now experiencing?
I always loudly proclaimed that I wanted to be an author or an 19th century archeologist. I couldn’t do anything about the latter, but one day I woke up and asked, “What are you waiting for?” I wrote my first manuscript that year – and yes, it did take a whole year. My little jewel is still on my computer. I doubt it will ever find a home but it’s mine and I’m proud of it. Getting back to your question, I’ve been writing for five and half years. Ellora’s Cave requested my first manuscript last year and it was published in October 2010.
What do you do differently now from the past since first becoming published?
I take myself more seriously in that I’m trying to make this my career rather than allowing writing to be my closet hobby.
What has helped you transition from an aspiring author into a professional writer?
Oh, that’s an easy one. I was extremely lucky to have made the acquaintance of Shannon K Butcher right after I finished my first manuscript. She asked me to join her critique group—which I would recommend for any aspiring writer—and for any question or concern or fear, I had a go to person who had been there. And I’m talking everything – plot issues, characterization, contracts. Yes, she was extremely glad when I got published so that I would stop hounding her.
Do you have advice for new authors that you found useful?
Yes, I’m going to pass on some advice I got from three authors I met at Celebrate Romance. Linda Conrad, Terry McLaughlin and Cindy Kirk were all at my table for a luncheon. I bothered them too. They said luck, perseverance and some talent was all that it would take—and they were right.
You’ll notice I’ve mentioned several other authors in this little interview. I would highly recommend new writers rub shoulders with professional writers as much as they can. After all, they’ve been there and know what you are going through. And the published writers I have known have all been very willing to help me along the way.
I would love to know what made you choose erotic historical romance as a genre.
Firstly, I read tons of historical romance novels. And like many historical writers worshipped Kathleen Woodiwiss. The erotic part comes from the fact I think sex is pretty awesome and even more awesome when it is detailed in great prosy description and dirty euphemisms. It dovetailed very nicely once I found my writing voice.
You set Wicked Desires during a most decadent and romantic time in history. Why the Regency era?
There is so much life and color and change and silliness during the Regeny era, who would not love to write about that time? I do find it humorous how we writers ‘romanticize’ this time period—one rarely reads about the reality of it—the disease, the lack of hygiene, the lack of facilities, the poverty. We want the pretty—the balls, the wealth, the privilege, and of course, the dashing rake. In short, it is pure fun.
Wicked Desires is an intriguing romance about a married couple. What made you base your story around an established relationship?
During the Regency/Victorian eras, there was a lot of honor and strategy regarding the innocence of young women and the purity she would bring to marriage. I find it a little dishonest when we write about the time period and don’t take that into consideration. There was a different standard for widows, but if one is writing about a ton marriage, one must take into account that the sex happened after the “I do’s.”
Yet, this period was also very sexual, I mean they had condoms. Thirty percent of the women in London at the time were reputed to be prostitutes.
All of this culminated into an idea, “Happily ever after…unless.” To me, the emotions inside marriage can be much deeper and more vivid because of the long-term commitment made. In the case of Wicked Desires, the featured earl is suffering a bout of impotence that he relieves in a very naughty manner. In Wicked Temptation, the duchess heroine has a startlingly wicked reputation as a black widow. And I’ll give you a tease for the third in the Wicked series—what is an earl to do when his new wife is in love with another man?
From reading your blog you mention that most of your heroes start out looking like David Gandy. He’s one wicked looking man. I'm intrigues to discover how you discovered him as your muse?
Sigh! Oh David, I love him. This might be my favorite question as I could talk dreamily about him for the next year. David Gandy happened for me in the same way he has happened for many woman—the Dolce and Gabanna commercial for Light Blue. The water, the skimpy white swimwear, the body. Yummy. So this commercial, the harbinger of my eternal doom, set me on a quest. Well, you know the rest of the story, now I can’t live without him.
Wicked Desires is a satisfying read. It’s a sensual and emotional love story with two appealing characters. Did anything inspire you to write this story?
Inspiration is a hard thing to identify. I’m inspired by love and romance so finding two characters who embodied those traits is always at the heart of my stories.
The first two books of your Wicked Affairs series centers around married couples in a critical time of their lives. What started this lush and passionate series?
I’m going to give some credit here to Ellora’s Cave. I submitted Wicked Desires to Ellora’s Cave during 2009 but was rejected and I thought part of the reason for rejection was because the protagonist’s were married. We all know that EC wants super-sexy stories and who wants to read about married couples, right? Well, the rejection made sense but I kept writing. Then EC came out with a new category, Branded, which was about married couples, and I thought this was right up my alley, so I resubmitted. The funny thing was I didn’t get accepted into the Branded line, but the Legend, which is the historical line I tried to get into the first time around. See, don’t give up!
As for what started this series? It was just one novel to begin with but then the compelling characters started popping up and my editor, Jillian Bell, suggested a series.
And we definitely want more! Wicked Temptation gave readers the delicious Rand VanLandingham. Was David Gandy your inspiration on this delightful man or some other man?
You know he was! I’m not into the big, bulky alpha males that are portrayed in vampire and romantic suspense novels. I like a svelte, lean muscular body type, which I think would be more appropriate in a Regency anyway.
How do you go about creating your characters? Is it easier to build on your plot or your characters first?
I’m usually getting to know my characters before they actually appear on paper. I’ll mention them around a singular idea in another story and then build on that idea as their story develops. For instance, I mentioned one of my heroes hanging out with another man that I then proceeded to describe in two sentences. The information was totally useless in the current story, but I made a note to my editor that I might want to use this character later. It was just foundational but it gave me a vaulting point and a hint of his character so I’ll know what kind of plot works best for him.
I know some authors use visual aids or listen to music when plotting their story. What’s your process?
Not for me, I just zone into my world. I don’t have the television on, I don’t play music, I just write. My only real aid might be the fact I’m usually writing five stories at one time. If I get bored or I am temporarily stuck on a scene, I just go visit someone else’s imaginary house.
The sexual tension between your leads characters is enough to make readers break out in a sweat. Do you find this aspect of a story easy or do you have to work at it?
Would I shock you if I said it is very, very easy? One of my favorite writing secrets is that I’ll write up to the sex scene and then stop for the day. The next time I’m ready to write, I’m always excited because I get to write ‘the sex scene’ and the words just flow and catapult me through my writing for the day.
With Another Lover you took a gamble with the characters. Did it feel liberating to finish telling Isabelle and Dorian’s story?
I was very happy with this story. This is the first story I wrote that I had the last two lines written first and they set the tone for the whole story and the title of the book. This is also one of the first stories where I didn’t use a titled gentleman as the lead. It didn’t make sense in the time period that an earl would marry a whore, though I have a story brewing along that idea too. I know that Isabelle and Dorian are living their happily ever after in Italy.
Was there an incident that inspired Another Lover?
Oddly enough, this is my third story about a whore. The other two aren’t published yet. My very first manuscript was about a ship captain and a whore he bought in an African slave market. I must have an affinity for the downtrodden, but doesn’t it seem easy to write an erotica when the woman involved is only not innocent but very experienced?
Early feedback from readers about Another Lover is very positive. How do you feel about this?
Tickled pink, over the moon and every other cliché that applies.
Another Lover’s excerpt simply teases me to want to continue reading the story. And I’m sure many readers will want to pick up their copy too. Have you thought about writing any more books in this setting?
Yes, I have. Isabelle has a younger brother in Italy. His name is Christian St. Hillaire. If he ever decides to travel to London, I may have to write his story.
Writing often requires some insight into human nature and relationships, but also about the times you’ve set your story in. Do you find the research can be overwhelming?
I collect books from that time period, so the research isn’t something I consider work since I will have already read much of what I’m writing about. I particularly enjoy the phrases from the time. They have so many words for whores, thieves, nobleman. It’s very entertaining. The risk is in overusing the phrases from the time as most readers don’t want to get bogged down while they try to figure out what I’m talking about.
How do you keep focused when working on your current story?
I don’t, I enjoy the meander although I do write consistently and quickly. I’m never under a deadline with Ellora’s Cave as I sell when I’m done writing.
Have there been any great influences in your writing career?
Kathleen Woodiwiss. Her sweeping historicals epitomize everything I want to accomplish in my writing career. I would never have believed there could be anyone to replace her but the witty Eloisa James, the great Mary Balogh, the intelligent Madeline Hunter, the interesting Sherry Thomas, the naughty Loretta Chase and the clever Liz Carlyle are all very close to becoming my new favorites.
Who’s on your bookshelf and who are you reading these days?
Just finished Dangerous in Diamonds by Madeline Hunter. Talk about a fabulous, intelligent writer. Her rake is THE rake of rakes, Tristan, Duke of Castleford. She writes him to decadent perfection.
What’s next for Eliza Lloyd? Any WIP you’re working on?
Book three in the Wicked Affairs series is at my editor, tentatively titled Wicked Lord*. And let’s see…of those that I’m working on, the closest to fruition include book four in the Wicked series, tentatively titled Wicked Secrets and a two book story that is very Dickens-ish about an orphaned girl and her brothers.
NOW FOR SOME FUN STUFF
What's your favorite sex toy?
What do you find sexy in a man?
Smell! I cannot get into a man if I can’t get past how he smells. Weird, I know. So if Mr. Gandy doesn’t smell right when I first meet him, I’m going to be crushed.
Which one of your heroes would you take to a deserted island?
If I tell you which one, the others will be jealous.
What three things can’t you live without?
Chapstick, flannel sheets, David Gandy.
What decadent delight can’t you do without?
I love pedicures! On royalty check day, I reward myself with a day out which usually includes dinner at Red Lobster and then a pedicure after.
What is your favorite cuss word and why?
Hell, I don’t know.
What is your idea of heaven on earth?
A day with perfect weather—72 degrees, very little wind, the scent of fresh cut grass or flowers in the air, birds singing, no work that day and not being in a rush to do anything either. Ah, heaven on earth.
(Closing paragraph by Aggie)
I’d like to thank Ms. Lloyd for taking the time from her busy schedule to talk with us, and wish her much success in her future endeavors. To find out more about Eliza Lloyd and her books, and her fascination with the very sexy David Gandy, visit her blog at http://elizalloyd.blogspot.com/.
* Since this interview was conducted Wicked Lord has been accepted for release by Ms. Lloyd's publisher, Ellora's Cave Publishing.
© Aggie Tsirikas – June 5, 2011 Issue of Just Erotic Romance Reviews Newsletter