Meredith Duran chats about her deliciously dark heroes...
Can you tell us a little bit about your two magnificent back-to-back Rules for the Reckless novels?
My next two books in the Rules for the Reckless series emerged from a game of ‘What if?’
What if the golden boy – England’s hero, the man whom everyone adores, and who can do no wrong – actually has a very dark secret driving him, which threatens to corrupt him entirely?
And what if the absolute villain – a dark, dangerous underworld crime lord – actually hides a heart of gold beneath his fearsome façade?
Once I’d dreamed up these two opposites – the Prince of Light and the Prince of Darkness, as it were – their respective heroines also came to mind, fully and vividly realized. These next two books are their tales.
LADY BE GOOD and LUCK BE A LADY are set at Everleigh’s Auction Rooms in London. What made you choose such a glamorous location for the heart of these stories?
The art world has long been steeped in money, power, scandal, glamor, and corruption. Add a hefty dose of globe-spanning danger, and I cannot think of a more gripping setting for an unfolding romance!
Your heroes are deliciously, irresistibly dark – what do you think it is about twisted bad boys heroes that readers seem to love?
A dark heart, dirty mind, and dangerously sharp intellect: this recipe always makes a complex, swoonworthy man. As for his appeal – is there anything more romantic than a man who, by virtue of falling in love with a woman, comes to hold himself to a higher standard in order to be worthy of her? The sexiest bad boys don’t get reformed; they are inspired, by love, to reform themselves.
Have you always wanted to be a writer? What do you love most about your job?
I announced that I wanted to be a writer at age three or four, shortly after I persuaded my mother to take dictation of a poem I composed impromptu. It was by no means an impressive showing, but I did manage to craft a few rhyming lines, which so astonished her that she made the mistake of showering me with praise and then showing the poem to her friends. They, in turn, made the appropriate admiring noises, and I do believe I never got over that first heady taste of reader approval.
There are innumerable aspects to my job that I love, but above all, I am continuously amazed that I make my living by doing precisely what I would be doing on holiday and weekends, were I working in an office. That is a rare and wondrous privilege that I never take for granted.
Do you have the most fun creating your heroes or your heroines?
I have a soft spot for deeply imperfect characters, both male and female. I’ll confess a soft spot for writing my favourite kind of hero, though – a man with a dark heart, a dirty mind, and utterly indecent intentions.
What do you love most about writing romance and historical romance in particular?
I was first drawn to historical romance as a reader. I’ve always been fascinated by the question of what it would have felt like to be alive in different periods in history, and those everyday details – what I would have eaten, how I would have dressed, what customs and exigencies would have structured my everyday life – are precisely the kind of details that prove so richly abundant in historical romances.
That said, the first novel-length story I ever wrote, at the age of thirteen, was high fantasy – and it, too, had a romance at the center of it. I suppose I’ve always been riveted by the notion that an accidental meeting, an unexpected and thoroughly unpredictable rapport, can ultimately change the course of one’s life. Romantic love is one of the most powerful forces on earth; some of the oldest surviving manuscripts attest to that (for instance, The Iliad – had Paris not fallen in love, history would have unfolded very differently!). It magnifies our lives greatly, and it deserves attention and reflection and deep respect and celebration.
Who are the authors you read for pleasure?
Rose Lerner, Cecilia Grant, and Sherry Thomas are my favourite historical romance writers. They are such masterful wordsmiths. Outside of romance (but for the very same reasons), I’m a giant fan of Maggie Shipstead, Emily St. John Mandel, and Amy Bloom.
If you could take only three essentials with you to a desert island what would they be?
An e-reader, Japanese sunblock (you will pry my Hada Labo UV Creamy Gel out of my cold, dead, un-freckled hands), and my husband. He’s always so wonderfully willing to stand just where required in order to block the glare. ;)
There’s so much interest and excitement around romance fiction right now. What do you think that romance readers are looking for in the romances they read today?
As children, we all find it very easy to believe in magic, fantastical outcomes, and impossibly happy endings. Sadly, that faith often erodes as we grow up and are bruised by the vicissitudes of life. Yet one fairytale does, in fact, remain able to speak to us, since it sometimes unfolds in fact, in our own lives: namely, true love.
Celebrating romantic love returns us to that elemental sense of wonder we knew as children. It allows us to revisit, affirm, and even strengthen our crucial capacity to have faith in what is beautiful about life. Love is a vital and renewing and extraordinary force, and romance fiction connects us to it, no matter who we are or where we find ourselves. That is no small role for a genre to play, and I’m dearly proud to be a part of it.
The third in Meredith's gorgeous Rules for the Reckless series,
LADY BE GOOD,
is out now in ebook and paperback!
Look out for the fourth, LUCK BE A LADY, out on 25th August!