Interview de Laura Lee Guhrke – VO

Onirik : You have already written many historical romances, but although you opted for the 19th century in England in you latest works, you first books were set in different historical contexts : After the Civil War, the early 20th century, American Independence… Have you definitely chosen your favourite period or will you write contemporary or paranormal stories?

Laura Lee Guhrke : For the foreseeable future, I’m staying in 19th century England. I really like this period, especially the later part of the century. As to contemporary and paranormal, I have no plans to do either, but I’m definitely keeping my options open.

Onirik : Whatever the context you choose, it is very precisely and meticulously depicted. You seem to have just as much passion for the time of the American Independence as for the dark streets of London in 1900. Do you consider this care about the context as essential?

Laura Lee Guhrke : Absolutely. It’s vital to get a strong sense of the period you’re writing in, so readers feel they are there, too, right along with the characters in the story. It’s a fine line to balance that with modern tastes, though. For example, a woman in the 1890’s didn’t have the same strong expectation of independence that women do today, so I have to make sure my 1890’s heroine doesn’t seem like a mushy doormat to my modern readers.

Onirik : Your characters are often original , their jobs are rarely seen in novels (the Duke of Tremore is an archaeologist, Mick Dunbar is a policeman …) Why such originality ?

Laura Lee Guhrke : I really try to give my characters things to do. I don’t like to read about people going to endless balls and parties, and I don’t like to write it either. I want them to have some sort of occupation, job or hobby that makes them feel useful in the world. And it makes putting the characters together easier, since they can work together on some project, get to know each other better, and have the chance to fall in love. And I always learn new things when I research this stuff.

Onirik : However light each book may first seem, some seriousness never fails to appear. For example, the final seduction scene in “She’s no princess” is some sort of outlet with almost a dramatic flavour. Why can this very tense and nearly disturbing aspect often be found in your novels?

Laura Lee Guhrke : Tension and drama are vital to the pace of a novel. I sometimes receive letters from readers who are frustrated with me because I make them wait so long for every peak moment. For example, my hero and heroine might not even kiss until halfway through the book, but when it happens, it a moment of great impact to the story. My goal is to always keep the reader riveted to the pages. The greatest compliment I get as a writer is when someone says, “I stayed up all night reading your book. I couldn’t put it down.” When I hear that, I know I’ve done my job as a storyteller.

Onirik : You take great care to describe and analyse human feelings in all your books and in particular characters who have been through traumatic experiences. In “Conor’s way” for example, you depict a totally disillusioned man who starts enjoying life again and his evolution is quite coherent. Do you see this aspect as central in a story?

Laura Lee Guhrke : To me, every book has some theme, some issue within each person that needs to be dealt with. I like my characters to grow emotionally during the story because they fell in love. For example, in Conor’s Way, Conor had to learn how to love again after having lost everyone he had ever loved in his life. In She’s No Princess, the hero, Ian, had to learn to enjoy life and to live and love passionately. I strive to have every hero and every heroine I write about to learn and grow and become a better person because of who they fell in love with. To me, that’s what love is supposed to do : make each of us a better human being.

Onirik : In “the marriage Bed”, you tackle a rather taboo subject : adultery. This theme is not much dealt with and rarely leads to forgiveness. Do you feel like dealing with such subjects or others in an unconventional way?

Laura Lee Guhrke : Adultery is a very real issue in society and always has been. But to me, the deeper issue in that book is marriage. The Marriage Bed, to me, was a book about marriage, that it’s not all perfect and wonderful all the time. That it is a very real, lifetime commitment to another person, that when the going gets tough, you don’t just walk away. That book was about how a couple learned to forgive and to fall back in love and make their marriage work. Of all my books, I’m proudest of that one because I took a very controversial issue, a very difficult theme, and made it work. At least, I hope I did!

Onirik : Your books are often built on a slow rise in the protagonists’ feelings and the sexual tension that binds them. Do you consider this tension as the most interesting part of the story?

Laura Lee Guhrke : It’s vital. As I said above, there must be an ebb and flow of tension throughout the book so that readers will keep reading. I try to make the tension as high as possible, then ease it up a bit, then push it even higher…until the final resolution when it all comes together.

Onirik : You are obviously a keen reader, who are the Ancients and Moderns who inspired you?

Laura Lee Guhrke : I read a lot, and it helps me as a writer. I always find something in the work of other writers to inspire me. I couldn’t pick just one or two, but I will say that books written during the time period in which I’m currently writing always help me. For example, right now I’m writing books set during the 1890’s, so I’m reading a lot of Oscar Wilde and George Bernard Shaw these days. I’m listening to recordings of Gilbert and Sullivan operettas, and I just finished a biography of Sir Winston Churchill, who was a young man coming of age in the 1890’s. That sort of reading always helps inspire me and helps me give flavour to my own work.

Onirik : Too few of your books are released in France, even the last volume of your series, “She’s no princess” has not been translated. Do you know if your next books will?

Laura Lee Guhrke : It’s up to the French publishers and my publisher to agree on those sales. If it was up to me, I’d sell all my foreign edition books to French publishers! They pay well and my French readers send me very complimentary letters!

Onirik : You have started a new series with “His every kiss”, what can you tell us about it?

Laura Lee Guhrke : Actually, the book, His Every Kiss, is the second book of a series. In order, those books are : Guilty Pleasures, His Every Kiss, The Marriage Bed, and She’s No Princess. The new series starts with the book titled, “And Then He Kissed Her.” That book is about a woman living in London in 1893 who wants to write etiquette books. She is the secretary to a publisher, but he keeps rejecting her writing without even reading it. When she finds this out, she gets mad and quits her job. His life falls apart without her, of course, and he has to get her back. It’s the story of how a woman suppressed by the rules of the society in which she lives breaks free and learns to live her life her way. And she gets the handsome, charming hero to fall madly in love with her, too. Now that’s a happy ending.

Thank you for this interview and giving me the opportunity to talk about my books. Au revoir.