10 questions à Julie Garwood – VO

Onirik : Your sentimental plots rest on the misunderstanding between an hero and an heroine who are as different as night and day, alterning between conflict and passion, the whole punctuated by light, sparkling and funny dialogues on a fast rhythm. This style makes me think about some American comedies from the 40 ((the philadelphia story, bringing up baby which are ones of my favourites movies) movies in which romance and adventure are the winning duet (partner) and not the classical British romance of the 19 century. Who are the authors whom inspire you ? What are you bedside books ?

Julie Garwood : There are so many authors who have inspired me over the years. When I was a young student, I loved books that could have an emotional effect on me. My favorites were Harper Lee’s TO KILL A MOCKINGBIRD and John Steinbeck’s GRAPES OF WRATH. I also liked the stories of O. Henry because they ended with a twist and made reading fun. Today, I read a wide variety. I just finished a book by Maeve Binchy and really enjoyed her characterizations.

Onirik : Your heroes are somehow cold on the outside, they’ll never make any public display of affection, but nevertheless very passionate inside;. In their culture, their education, sentiments are nonexistent. Violence is for them a necessary answer in the world they live in. The heroines are the ones expressing their feelings (often judged at the beginning as a weakness). Is that a concession you allow in the cliché of romance or do you feel that way for the characters when you write the stories.

J.G. : I purposely use certain characteristics of the archetypal hero, but in my historical romances, I think the depiction is probably fairly accurate. The men of bygone eras had to live not only by their brains but also by their brawn, so I think they would inevitably be stoics.

Onirik : In France, there are many contrary opinions regarding your heroines, especially concerning your historical romance feminine characters. Gullibility seems to be for you synonym of freshness, spontaneity and kindness (balanced of course by bravery and strong good sense). Personally I laugh with them and not at them…. This choice of putting them in those situations where the line between their gullibility and a certain childish behaviour is so thin is it due to an adaptation of your character in the period you write about or is it a way of avoiding an anachronism by putting to much feminism and independence somehow contemporary in your heroine ?

J.G. : I don’t think of my heroines as gullible – a little naive maybe. I’ve always thought they were strong, intelligent, and independent women, but when they’re put in a situation that is foreign to them, they have to adjust – sometimes with disastrous results and sometimes humorous results. I don’t want them to be saved by a man each time they’re in trouble. I’d much rather write about women who are resourceful enough to help themselves.

Onirik : Your heroines often have as a common point a difficult past, even a traumatic one (beaten by an uncle in The secret (le secret de Judith), by the husband in “saving grace”(un mari féroce) or witness of the violent death of a father in “ransom” (le maître-chanteur) or the grand mother in your contemporary novel “killingjoy” (l’héritage du passé). But then your answer is often humour, the heroines laughing about themselves. Is it only a way of amusing the reader or is it rather for you, an answer to all the existential questions, the remedy that you wish to bring against the risks of the life ?

J.G. : The focus in most of my stories is on how people react to bad situations. I don’t like to dwell on the tragedy as much as I like to see what people do about it. And it always helps if you can find the humor along the way. I’m sometimes told I have a warped sense of humor because I can find something to laugh about in even the most absurd situations. When my family gets together, we tell stories and laugh a lot, so I suppose that’s where I get it.

Onirik : Clan spirit seems to be a very important aspect in your histories, be it in the blood in “mercy” (la dernière trahison) but also et mainly for the people who have found themselves and kind of adopt each other as it is the case in “for the rose” (une lady en haillons) in which the heroine will choose those whom raised her. At some point the heroine even have to choose between her family and her husband as in “the prize” (la fiancée offerte), “the secret” (le secret de Judith) or even in “ransom”(le maître-chanteur) where in these two last ones both young ladies choose even a sister. In  » saving grace  » (un mari féroce) you stage Scot dropouts united by the fact of not belonging any other clans. What message did you try to pass on ?

J.G. : You’ll find that family loyalty and love is a recurrent theme in my stories. It comes from the need that we all have to belong. A clan is a family. You’ll find in some books, like FOR THE ROSES, when there isn’t a family or clan, the characters still have the same need, and they form their own family.

Onirik : For your contemporary novels, you’ve created thriller with a romance going on. Where did you get this wish, envy, urge , this evolution from ?

J.G. : Of course there are aspects to my contemporaries that you won’t see in the historicals, but the stories are fairly similar. In most of my historicals, you’ll find the same elements of suspense and mystery. I think because the time periods seem more romantic in the historicals, most readers see them as less suspenseful.

Onirik : Is it more difficult to write suspense novels the rhythm being more nervous and asking for robust new developments to avoid running out of steam?

J.G. : Actually, suspense is a lot of fun to write. I get to create villains and make them as outrageous as I want. And then of course in the end I get to catch the bad guy and make him pay.

Onirik : Your Scottish medieval romances are very popular. I noted that you’ll get back to this period (also some characters) in the novel you are actually writing. Did you miss this universe? What do the highlands represent for you?

J.G : The medieval Scottish Highlands have always fascinated me. I guess there’s just something about the beautiful, rugged terrain and the clan system that’s so romantic. The Highlanders were barbaric in some ways, but they also lived in a structured society and were civilized in their loyalty to clan and their sense of justice..

Onirik : The adapted TV show of your novel “for the rose”(une lady en haillons) that we’ve seen in France has been a great disappointment for me, I did not see the closeness and complicity between those brothers whom chose themselves, the humour of the novel nor does it follow the narrative. Will there be more TV adaptation of your work ? And if yes, will you have your word to say in it?

J.G. : I understand your disappointment. Unfortunately, the screenwriter made some dramatic changes to the story. It was a beautiful production, but I wish he had left the characters and the plot as it was written. I’ve had some interest in making a couple of my contemporary books into films, but nothing has developed so far. I’d love to see another book on the screen, but next time I hope the original book will be depicted more accurately.

Onirik : Some of your books have never been translated in French ; the lyon lady, honor’s splendour, slow burn … do you know the reasons why and do you have the possibilities to influence the editors for a possible and very waited translation ?

J.G. : Which of my books get translated is determined by negotiations between the French publishers and the literary agents. So far, the publishers have not requested these titles, but I hope they will one day. And I also hope you’ll like these stories as well.