Fresh Fiction’s Miranda
Owen recently sat down with Historical Romance superstar, Stephanie Laurens,
to discuss the first book in her Cavanaugh series.
They talk finding the right balance of mystery, romance, and action; creating a
great heroine; and what she’s planning for the series in the future.
Miranda Owen: Even though the reader is made aware of all the
shadowy players in THE
DESIGNS OF LORD RANDOLPH CAVANAUGH (Review), there is a little mystery for
the good guys. Do you find it difficult balancing the mystery, action, and
romance in your stories?
Stephanie Laurens: Yes and no. It’s certainly something I
consciously bear in mind because I actively write mystery-romance (the Casebook
of Barnaby Adair series) as well as romance with a touch of adventure/mystery,
such as this release. I decide early on what the balance ought to be, and it can
vary from about 80% romance/20% adventure-mystery to 20% romance/80% mystery and
through all points in between. You could say that striking the right balance
takes conscious effort.
Miranda Owen: Let’s talk heroines. In online romance book discussion
groups, you always get asked to name some of your favorite heroes and heroines.
For me, about a billion heroes come to mind, but finding favorite heroines isn’t
as easy. I find a lot of female characters written as being very reactive. I’ve
read and enjoyed books with bluestocking heroines, but those characters are
usually still quick to react to situations and behavior by their male
counterparts quickly, rather than taking a moment to plan their next move. What
I love about your heroines are how shrewd and contemplative they are. Even
though they may vary in many ways, I love that they are not easily manipulated
and the way they consider a situation from many angles before making a move.
Felicia Throgmorton, in THE
DESIGNS OF LORD RANDOLPH CAVANAUGH, is another fabulous heroine you’ve
created – intelligent, resourceful, and not easily pushed around. Are there
certain qualities you always try to give your heroines? Who are some of your
favorites – both ones that you’ve created, and those by other authors?
Stephanie Laurens: I learned very early on not to attempt to
write very young and passive, and therefore reactive, heroines – I didn’t enjoy
them and they just didn’t work for me. I completely rewrote my 3rd book prior to
submission because of this issue – I just couldn’t make the heroine work as a
young passive woman. I had to keep her young for the plot to work, but I amped
up her adventurousness and attitude. That book became Impetuous Innocent.
Subsequently, I always went for a heroine I could relate to, and I also always
give my heroines a purpose in life – something they are actively pursuing right
from the start.
For instance, in the upcoming release, Felicia is trying to hold the household
together financially against the depredations of her brother’s pursuit of
Miranda Owen: In THE DESIGNS OF LORD RANDOLPH CAVANAUGH, Rand and
Felicia work together – on their engineering project, and while combating a
mysterious saboteur. My favorite romances are those in which the hero and
heroine work together, rather than have them at odds for most of the book, or
when the hero excludes the heroine to protect her “for her own good”. You often
have the hero and heroine work together in your books. What makes you create
these kinds of partnerships in your books? Who are some of your favorite couples
Stephanie Laurens: Naming favorites is next to impossible
because I genuinely like something about most/all the couples I’ve written
about. As for the partnerships angle – and yes, that’s true – that’s an outcome
of the heroines not being passive. If they’re active players in whatever the
plot is, then unless the hero wants to be left behind, a partnership is pretty
much guaranteed. And a partnership is also extremely useful for having them
experience and appreciate each other’s strengths and weaknesses – learning to
work together is a prelude to the partnership of marriage.
Miranda Owen: In THE DESIGNS OF LORD RANDOLPH CAVANAUGH, you created one
character who could’ve turned into a villain but ended up going the other way.
When you created the character, did you always know whether you’d have him as a
good guy or a bad guy? Do you enjoy writing complicated characters like Malcolm
Stephanie Laurens: I have to admit that I enjoy occasionally
working with characters who are shades of gray rather than black and white.
Black and white is fairly straightforward while shades of gray characters are
more challenging to pull off, and therefore more satisfying.
Miranda Owen: What kind of research did you have to do for the technical
info in this story?
Stephanie Laurens: Quite a lot. I was surprised to learn how
advanced the proto-types for steam cars were in that period (1840s), but that
because of the politics of rail and toll-roads, the subsequent development of
the early endeavors was suppressed in England. There was also a certain amount
of research necessary for the settings, for instance in the journey to
Birmingham and in Birmingham.
Miranda Owen: What are you currently working on? Will we see characters
from THE DESIGNS OF LORD CAVANAUGH in future books?
Stephanie Laurens: As it happens, I’m currently working on the
second book in THE CAVANAUGHS, which follows on from the end of THE DESIGNS OF
LORD RANDOLPH CAVANAUGH, and is the tale of the romance between Rand’s brother,
Kit, and the lady who believes he will never measure up to the fantasy version
of Lord Kit Cavanaugh she’s carried in her head ever since seeing him across a
crowded ballroom during her London Season. That book is scheduled for release in
The first romances New York Times
ever read were those of Georgette Heyer, and
romances set in Regency England continue to be her favorites.
After escaping from the dry world of professional science,
Stephanie took up writing such romances for her own pleasure.</ p>
Now residing in a leafy bayside suburb of Melbourne,
Australia, Stephanie divides her free time between her husband,
two teenage daughters and an affable idiot of a hound. She
also enjoys gardening and needlework.
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