Welcome back to the blog Elizabeth! It’s always such a treat when you stop by. This time we’re lucky enough to hear about Love Letters for Lady Lark, the third in your Below the Salt series!
Last time we sat down like this, we talked a bit about Fantasy and what drew you to that genre, so this time we’d love to hear a little bit of what inspired you to also write Medieval Romances. Was there a particular moment or media?
Thanks and so glad to be here. Actually, I started writing medieval romance back in 1996. At the time I was actually writing kids’ books and belonged to a critique group. I had never read romance at the time. I received something in the mail from Harlequin that said you won money and 4 free books. Well, I would have just thrown it out but my husband was sure we won money. So I chose the historical books and sent it in. We won 50c, and I got 4 free medieval romances. I was going to send them to my mother-in-law but had heard things like “cheap, trashy romance” and didn’t want to be embarrassed. So I read one first . . . and LOVED it! It was The Saxon by Margaret Moore. Needless to say I was hooked and my mother-in-law never got one of those books. My cousin was in the critique group and asked if I’d ever consider writing romance. And that is how I got started.
And how does the writing process for a Medieval Romance differ from one that’s more fantasy based? Readers might assume that it requires a little more research and has a little less artistic freedom, but would they be right?
Yes, that’s right. With my fantasy, it is written in a medieval style but usually in a made-up land. That gives me creative freedom of how things work. But when writing medieval, there is a lot of research to do. Each time period is different. I write 14th Century so my research stems from that time.
Is there something, in particular, you really loved researching for this book? Is there anything you didn’t get to include in the book that you’re just dying to tell someone about? We bet our readers would love to hear it.
What I’d like to tell my readers, is that my characters cross over to other series all the time. And I love writing generational romance, telling all the stories of my heroes’/heroines’ children after they are grown. I don’t always write the books in order which makes it painfully difficult for me to have to go back and research what I wrote in other books so I get it right for the one I’m working on.
For example: Lark is seen in Highland Storm (that is her younger brother, Hawke’s story from the Highland Chronicles which I wrote before Below the Salt.) Well, I mention that she, as well as her sister, are married in Highland Storm. Lark has a six-year-old son in that story. Since I never mentioned who her husband was, I knew I could make this work. That would be her and Dustin’s son. And since Lark’s story happens on the timeline 12 years before Hawke’s story, I had to make her child in Love Letters a different one that just wasn’t mentioned in Highland Storm. See what I mean? Sometimes I get confused and I’m the one who wrote it! If I would just write stories in chronological order, it wouldn’t be like this, but hey, I like a challenge.
This series really dives into the disparities between the lives of those who were high-born, and those who were born, as you put it, below the salt. This story goes one step further and centers around a woman who has noble status, but who has kind of had a fall from grace because she’s had a child out of wedlock. Without giving too much away, can you talk a little bit about what life looks like for Lady Lark?
Lady Lark has made some decisions in her past that got her into a lot of trouble. Especially the fact she had a child out of wedlock and now no nobleman worth his salt (pun intended) wants to marry her. Her father is the famous chieftain and laird, Storm MacKeefe. He is insistent that she marries a noble hoping this will clear up all the gossip about his daughter. He’s gone to a lot of trouble to find noblemen who might actually marry her, offering one hell of a dowry, kind of bribing them to do it. Of course, Lark has a mind of her own and doesn’t want any of these stuffy nobles. She likes Dustin, the scribe, sent over from the monastery who also tutors her daughter. But she is also interested in whichever nobleman is secretly wooing her with romantic letters. We already know whatever she decides won’t be what her father wants her to do.
Now, she finds some solace and hope in love letters that start to arrive at her home from a secret admirer. Can you tell us a little bit about this admirer? How does he know her and why can’t he tell her these things outright?
Well, invitations have gone out to nobles and there is a big to-do planned for Lark to marry one of them. Some of the men write to her, trying to get to know her ahead of time, hoping to win her favor before they even get there. But one man writes like no other. He is creative and romantic with his words. He already treats her better than any man ever has and she is infatuated by it. She doesn’t know who the man is because he never signs the letters, but she can’t wait to meet him. Lark has never been courted before and likes all the attention. (Of course, the letters are coming from Dustin, the scribe who is only a commoner. He could never speak to a noblewoman freely or romantically, so he does it through his words – through his secret love letters.
To add onto that, how did you form him to be the perfect match for her? Did you have one character or aspect of the story in mind before anything else and sort of mold the story around that? Or did they spring to your imagination together, begging for their story to be told?
I love delving into the lives of commoners, tradesmen, merchants, townsfolk and even the serfs and servants. Life in the castle is what is usually seen in romances, but I wanted to go beyond that to see how the other half lived. Being a scribe seemed interesting to me and I knew that is the profession I wanted for my hero. I think up all my titles before I even write the books, and the title Love Letters for Lady Lark was being shouted in my brain and I just couldn’t ignore it.
Now, to end on something a little more fun, if Hollywood called you to adapt this for the silver screen, who would you cast?
Honestly, I could see Keira Knightley playing Lark. A spirited noblewoman with an edge. And of course, I’d have to cast Orlando Bloom to play Dustin, the scribe. I mean, look at the cover. The hero already has that Orlando Bloom look about him. But if Hollywood wants to make a movie out of my book, I’d gladly take whoever they want to cast! Ok, come on, Hollywood. Now, I’m waiting. (Smile)
Elizabeth Rose is an Amazon All-Star, and bestselling, award-winning author of over 100 books and counting! Her first book was published back in 2000, but she has been writing stories ever since high school.
She is the author of fantasy/paranormal, medieval, small-town contemporary, and Western romance. You’ll find sexy, alpha heroes and strong, independent heroines in her books. Sometimes her heroines can even swing a sword.
Living in the suburbs of Chicago with her husband, Elizabeth has two grown sons and one granddog – so far. A lover of nature, she can be found in the summer swinging in her ‘writing hammock’ in her secret garden, creating her next novel.
You can find her on Amazon, Facebook, Goodreads, Twitter, Bookbub, and Instagram. If you want to dive even deeper into her worlds, try joining her Private Facebook Readers’ Group and signing up for her Newsletter