Thursday, December 9, 2010

Elizabeth Essex

Get Lost in This Story…

Never Say “Never” to Passion

“I do say I’ll never marry, but I have always wanted to be a widow.”

With those fateful words, Lizzie Paxton sets out to defy convention and make her outrageous goal come true – if only she could skip the marriage and the man.  But when her childhood friend Captain Jameson Marlowe proposes a marriage in name only, it’s an offer she can’t possibly refuse.  Because as soon as Marlowe sets sail on his mission, she’ll have all the independence she craves.  She trusts Jamie’s word, but she doesn’t trust the scintillating desire he evokes in her.

Marlowe knows he shouldn’t take up with Lizzie, especially with his uncertain future, but the moment he hears Lizzie’s outrageous declaration, he just can’t help himself.  And he wastes no time in seducing her and taking her over the precipice of desire.  Yet not even his beautiful new wife can deter him from his cause.

But when Lizzie discovers her husband’s deception, Marlowe must choose between devotion to his duty, and loyalty to the woman he cannot live without …

The Pursuit of Pleasure was released last week, and is available now!!!

Today, I’m thrilled to welcome historical romance author Elizabeth Essex to the blog.  When not re-reading Jane Austen, sipping tea or mucking about her garden, Elizabeth can be found at her computer, making up stories about people who live far more interesting lives than she.

It wasn’t always so.  Elizabeth graduated from Hollins College with a BA in Classical Studies and Art History and then earned her MA from Texas A&M University in Nautical Archaeology, also known as the archaeology of shipwrecks.  While Elizabeth loved the adventurous life of a working archaeologist, after writing and reading all those dry, dusty reports on ship construction, she would daydream about how lovely it would have been if only someone had fallen in love on just one of those ships.  And so now she writes stories about just that.

Elizabeth lives in Texas with her family.

So let’s begin our Pursuit of Elizabeth…

Heather: How often to you get lost in a story? 
Elizabeth: As often as possible!  I absolutely adore it when I can melt into the world created in the story.  I read mostly historicals, and my family often accuses me of letting early 19th century England bleed into our real life.  I call all my teenager’s friends Miss So and So, and my own friends tease me that my home looks like it could be a set for one of my novels (without the extensive grounds or armies of servants!).
Heather: What’s the first book you remember reading?
Elizabeth: Hmm.  I do remember our Kindergarten readers, which had a boy named Tom and a dog named Flip, but the first book I remember having read to me was a delightful Christmas story called “Mr. Willoughby’s Christmas Tree.”  I can still recite it from memory!  The other book that stands out from childhood was “The Wind in the Willows.”  I still adore that book, and tend to think of my heroes as the archtypes presented in the wonderful animal characters in that book.  Mr. Ratty, and his fondness for simply messing about in boats, still strikes such a chord with me that I think there is a little of him in all of my heroes, who tend to be sailors – of His Majesty’s Royal Navy.

Heather: Where do you read and how often?
Elizabeth: I read everywhere – in a car, on a plane, in the tub, in my bed, while cooking, instead of watching television, when I should be writing.  I am firmly convinced that the first step to becoming a writer is becoming a reader, a lover of words, stories and books.
Heather: Be honest, when reading 1st you miss the hero’s POV?
Elizabeth: I definitely want the hero’s point of view, and I firmly believe that one of the reasons I love romance is that the hero’s POV shows me that he really ‘gets’ the heroine, in a way no one else could.  And although I do read books written in 1st person, they tend to be mysteries.  But in romance, I love the push and pull, the tension between what two different people think about the same thing, that two 3rd person points of view can give.
Heather: Do you write while listening to music? If so what kind?
Elizabeth: Sometimes.  It depends on the story I’m writing.  If I need inspiration I will listen to a huge variety of music on my ipod – everything from Bob Marley to Maddness, Madeleine Peroux to Coldplay.  Anything with an evocative lyric.  If I am revising, or know what I want to write I most often listen to baroque classical music.  There’s something about the regular, stately tempo that pushes me along.
Heather: What’s the first thing you do when you finish writing a book?
Elizabeth: Read it.  I never type ‘The End,” because the first thing I want to do is revise.  I always think I could have made it better, or tighter, or have more tension, or create a more surprising plot twist.  But when I absolutely have to send it off to my editor, I make myself get out of the house so I don’t sit there waiting for an email telling me if she liked it or not! 

Heather: Do you read reviews of your books? If so, do you pay any attention to them, or let them influence your writing?
Elizabeth: I only read the ones that my editor or my agent forward to me, because I know if they have done so, the review will be positive.  I don’t seek out reviews or do “Google Alerts” because I think they would interfere with the book I’m writing at that moment.  The publishing cycle for books is so long, that I’m usually already deep at work on another novel, and have a couple of others in some stage of publication development when a book comes out, so I try and stay focused on the work in progress and not get sidelined by reviews.  Although I will admit, the nice, positive reviews make me want to work harder, and do help me get back to the current work with renewed enthusiasm.

Heather: If you couldn’t be a writer anymore, what profession would you take up?
Elizabeth: This is easy, because I had my first dream job before I became a writer.  I was a nautical archaeologist, and I excavated shipwrecks underwater! As an archaeologist, it’s part of your job to look at the material remains at a site and try to clearly envision what life had been like for the people involved, and what had happened to create the shipwreck site. But with shipwrecks there had been no happy ending – they had already ended up at the bottom of the sea – and I think I segued into romance because I wanted the imaginary people who had sailed those ships to have their happily ever after.

Heather: What’s your favorite movie of all time?
Elizabeth: Without a doubt it has to be ROMAN HOLIDAY.  I laugh, and I cry, and it breaks my heart every time I watch it.  I love that long shot at the end, when Gregory Peck’s character is walking away, and we can still see the door in the background, and until the last moment, when the credits roll down, I still keep hoping she’s going to come out of that door and they will get their happily ever after.  Sigh.  I guess that’s why I write romance – I want everyone to get their HEA!

Heather: Tea or Coffee? And how do you take it?
Elizabeth: The delightful and indispensable Mr. Essex wakes me up each morning by bringing a cup of frothy latte to me in bed.   I drink coffee only in the morning, but in the wintertime, hot tea or hot cider throughout the afternoon.  And I try and drink it out of whatever kind of cup my heroine would be drinking out of!  Bone china tea cups for fashionable ladies, or stout beakers for less privileged girls, or chipped old mugs for anyone on a ship.

Heather: Which era would you least like to have lived in, fashion-wise and why? Most?
Elizabeth: I am a huge fan of the fashions of the period I write, the late Georgian, or Revolutionary period, because I love that politics and ideals were expressed through clothing and that we can see the cultural influences of the past, from ancient Greece and Rome, melded into the fashions.  It was a time of great change in fashion that reflected the great changes in society, and I imagine it was both frightening and exhilarating.

Heather: What would you say is your most interesting quirk?
Elizabeth: Talking like my characters.  When I revise my work, I tend to read the dialog out loud, so I can get a sense of the cadence of a character’s individual speech.  But once I get the hang of it, I find it incredibly hard to give it up.  One of the last heroines I wrote, a thief named Meggs from my third book, THE DANGER OF DESIRE, had such a rich, vibrant way with slang, that I found myself saying all sorts of outrageous things for at least a month after I finished the book.

Heather: What is the most fascinating thing you learned while researching or writing this particular book?
Elizabeth:  I already had a firm grasp of the 1790’s from my archaeological research, so I concentrated on reading books written in the period, works that my heroine might have read.  I spent a great deal of time reading Mary Wollstonecraft’s “Vindication of the Rights of Men,” and it’s companion piece, “Vindication of the Rights of Women.”  I think we tend to think of both human rights and women’s rights as very modern constructs, but her arguments in the cause of personal liberty, education and self-determination still ring astonishingly true.

Many romance novels seem to have groups of related stories, like Julia Quinn’s Bridgerton books or Julie Ann Long’s Pennyroyal Green stories, where a group of characters are introduced and each given their own stories.  THE PURSUIT OF PLEASURE can stand alone as a single book, but some of the characters from that world come back in my second book, A SENSE OF SIN, due out in April 2011, and again in the third, THE DANGER OF DESIRE, due out later in 2011. 
Do you like an author’s books to have related stories, or not?

I would love to give a copy of THE PURSUIT OF PLEASURE, along with a bonus gift – an audio book of Georgette Heyer’s VENETIA read by the swoon-worthy Richard Armitage!

Thanks for coming by today, Elizabeth! 
If you’d like to learn more about Elizabeth, you can friend her on Facebook or visit her website

Readers, don’t forget to leave a comment for a chance at the drawing. 
We will announce a winner here and on Facebook 

You can also follow us on Twitter @GetLostInAStory

Come back tomorrow, where our guest will be best-selling author Kathleen Eagle!


  1. Good morning! Elizabeth, I love the premise of your story. Such delicious conflict!

    I agree, being an archeologist would be a wonderful career--but no underwater adventures for me. I remember wanting to grow up and be a marine biologist--until someone told me I'd have to go under the water. Somehow I thought I could do my job with fish tanks! :)

    Lovely interview, ladies.

  2. I am an avid lover of historical romance. Yesterday, on a whim, I added about 20 authors to my facebook page. If I hadn't done so, I would never have heard about this interview. What an amazing life you have had Ms. Elizabeth... archeology, ships, it all sounds so enticing and romantic. I am extremely jealous! Wonderful interview. Cannot wait to read some of your work!

  3. First I would like to thank Heather for introducing me to Elizabeth. I definately have to read this book and already can't wait for her new releases to come.

    I do like related books and I must admit when they are released close togethr I have forced myself to wait and then I read them together. I read numberous authors that do this and I most enjoy those that are written so if I happened to miss the first "inttallment" that I am still able to pick up the story thread.

    One of the most interesting I read actually covered several generations but not necesarily in chronilogical order. Fortunately they were so well written that it actually added to the adventure of reading them! I also enjoy when prior characters show up in various ways in future books.

    Needless to say I'm glad that a thread connects these books and am looking forwrd to reading them all.

  4. Great interview, Elizabeth, and what a healthy attitude toward reviews.

    Your academic background seems beautifully matched to writing historical novels. What interested you in nautical archaeology? When you write, do you find yourself drawing on your classics studies as well?

    I'm STILL waiting for my copy of THE PURSUIT OF PLEASURE. That's what I get for choosing Super Saver shipping, but Amazon promises it will be here tomorrow.

  5. Thanks, Gillian.
    I must say I love being under the water, but that is not to say I'm always comfortable or easy. I have a considerable amount of fear and respect for the underwater environment! But then again, I think I have a lot of fear and respect for writing. :) Hopefully, that's something I can bring to my characters - that sense of tension and high stakes.
    Hope you enjoy The Pursuit of Pleasure.

  6. Elizabeth, thanks for joining us today. I'm green with envy about your former profession. I lived in Florida around the time Mel Fisher discovered the Atocha and saw the exhibit. Now, I know you weren't treasure hunting, but something about those big ships beneath the sea is both exciting and sad.

    As for related books, I'm a huge fan. As a reader, I'm already invested in the character's world, friends and family. I always want more.

    Your book sounds wonderful. I look forward to reading it.

  7. Thanks for finding the blog, Lovey890. I know underwater archaeology all sounds so very dramatic and romantic, but when you factor in the sunburn, the sand fleas, the tree rats, the various rashes from damp wetsuits and stings from sundry insects and sealife, not to mention the incredibly primitive state of hygiene, it becomes a great deal more tedious and grinding. I think that's why I'm having such a great time writing romance - all the pleasure and none of the unpleasant working conditions!

  8. Jeanne M, thanks for commenting. I'm glad you like when the stories and characters are related and carried on through several different books. I think of my characters as a loose groups of friends and I'd like to visit with them in different stages throughout their lives. I'm glad to hear you don't necessarily need the stories to be in chronological order, as I seem to be working my way back and forward through time. But I've got a great story waiting in the back of my head that will tell the story of how the characters all met. Hope you can wait that long!

  9. Thanks for coming, Jane. I got interested in archaeology because of two things: a complete fascination with the past, and too many Jacques Cousteau specials as a kid. I can still hear him narrating: "And now we enter a world which is familiar, yet strange." And that's just what I try to do with my historical romances, take the reader into a world that is both familiar in it's emotions and struggles and also strange in it's time, customs, dress and politics. I hope the universality of the human condition will pull readers into the stories.
    And I'm not sure how much my background in classics finds its way into my books, but I do think my firm grasp of grammar and vocabulary is due to all those years of Latin translations. :)

  10. Glad you stopped by Cat.
    And I know academic archaeologists are supposed to despise 'treasure hunters', but I suspect beneath the surface of the wetsuits a little bit of the pirate lurks in both academics and profit-seeking divers. And it is that romance, that excitement that lures us both under the water and into a story of adventure and danger.
    And I'm very glad to hear you want to explore the world and the characters created in stories through several novels. That gives me loads of incentive to keep going with my Royal Navy heroes! Hope you enjoy!

  11. What a great interview! And your book sounds terrific, Elizabeth. How fascinating that you were a marine archaeologist before becoming an author.

    I love linked stories.

  12. lovey890:

    So glad you found our blog! Come by often. If you have some favorite authors you'd like us to interview, let us know and we'll do our best to get them lined up!

  13. Nautical archaeologist sounds so cool! Well, not so much once Elizabeth explains the drawbacks :) And I am terrified of scuba diving. So... A cool profession for OTHER people, I guess.

    I love linked stories too, as long as the characters from past books don't take over the current one.

  14. Thanks, Maureen. I think being a nautical archaeologist led directly to my writing romance novels because in archaeology, I was never very sure about the ending - after all, the ships HAD ended up on the bottom of the sea. And to be a good archaeologist, you have to take all the various clues in the material remains and try to figure out which ones are most important to the story of the past you are trying to recreate. That same instinct - to find the heart of any story - is vital for novel writing!
    And, of course, now I get to make sure everyone, or almost everyone except the villain, has a happily every after.

  15. Simone - LOL. Now that I'm a little older I think it's a cool profession for other, YOUNGER people! Although some of my former colleagues are still going strong.
    But I understand your hope that characters from past stories won't take over in the current one. I think I prefer 'cameo' appearances from characters who have already had their own books. I like to develop my next hero or heroine from secondary characters, so we get to know them just enough about them to pique our interest in their possibilities.

  16. Hi Elizabeth!

    Wow, I do a little Christmas shopping on the way home from taking the Boy to school and look at the party I'm missing!!!

    So glad you are with us today at GLIAS. Interviewing you was great fun! I think it's fascinating to see how smart and savvy romance authors (and readers!) are.

    I also agree about happy's why I write romance, as well.

    And I do LOVE stories with shared characters. It just takes you deeper into their world, the more books they are involved in. As long as each book has it's own story and romance, I say bring on everyone else!!!

  17. Jeanne,

    I'm so glad to be able to introduce you to a fantastic historical author! While I read a lot of things, historical is my favorite :)

    Thanks for coming by, and I hope you come back again and again.

  18. The story sounds intriguing. Gotta love those happy endings!

  19. Thanks for stopping by, Katy - hope you enjoy the book!

  20. I read both connecting stories and stand-alones. As long as the characters are well-done, I'm happy.

    This line--“I do say I’ll never marry, but I have always wanted to be a widow.--is awesome!

    Enjoyed the interview. Thanks for visiting.

  21. Thanks LSUReader! I like to get a book off to a rollicking start, and drive the book with the characters personalities and points of view. Hope you enjoy the rest of Lizzie's quips just as much.

  22. Great interview! I just got my copy in the mail yesterday. So excited!!!

  23. I love related stories for getting to know favorite characters better. However, it can make it difficult to just pick up a book and read. If it's the third story in a series or something, I want to read them in order.

    deidre_durance at hotmail dot com

  24. Huzzah, Darynda! Thanks so much for coming by to read the interview. Hope you enjoy!

  25. Thanks for your comment Asylumgirl/Deidre. Good advice about the order of the stories - that's definitely something to think about. Unfortunately, sometimes I think of a story that happened earlier in chronological time AFTER I've written a later story. Hmmm. We'll have to see how that goes! Thanks for the input.

  26. Sorry I missed the interview and discussion yesterday...looked like fun.

    (who traveled to see her granddaughter's solo in her Christmas Choir Concert)

  27. Gillian Layne, you are the winner of Elizabeth Essex's drawing. Congratulations!