Of course you want to know, what is LLC 2015? It is short for LoveLetter Convention 2015, and it takes place in Berlin, Germany, on May 2 and 3, 2015. There are lots of German authors attending, but there are also some really nice (and famous!) authors from America, Canada, England and Australia.
We had a blast in the previous 3 years, and to add to the advance fun of the event, we have decided to do some interviews with the authors we will be meeting. Some of them are attending for the first time; others had a great time in a previous year and are coming again! So if you have the opportunity to visit Berlin for some sightseeing, why not attend the convention as well? Or let your family do the sightseeing, and you do the convention. If you want to check it out, here is a link to the website:
Our guest today is Julia London, author of historical romance, contemporary romance and women's fiction. She has been writing since 1998, and I first discovered her books when I was still reading in Dutch, in the Harlequin historical romance series.
Aurian: Welcome to Utrecht, Julia. Would you like something hot to drink in this cold weather? Hot chocolate with whipped cream, tea or coffee? And of course some Dutch cookies.
Julia: Coffee please. What are these Dutch cookies you speak of? Hand me the box. The whole box. A true taste test must include several samples.
Freya: Can you tell our readers who might not yet know you or your books, a little about yourself? Something that is not in your unofficial bio (which is at the bottom of this post and is more fun that the official one which we shortened to one sentence).
Julia: Okay…I’ve been writing for 18 years now. I started with historical romance, and almost all of them are set in the regency period in England. Some are set in Scotland, a couple in Wales, but mostly, it’s London and ballrooms and titled men and women. I also write contemporary romance and women’s fiction, all of it set in America, mostly in the western half because I am most familiar with that part of the country. I am a bestselling author and I am probably best known for my historical romances, although my contemporary romances are gaining in popularity. As for me personally, someday I will meet my Maker and I will tell him that what I really liked to do was sit around on my ass watching reality TV, eating, and sleeping. But to make up for my complete lack of redeeming qualities, I ran and biked a lot, and practiced yoga and pilates.
Aurian: Could you tell us why you are attending a convention in Europe? Have you been in Berlin before? Were you surprised at being invited to a convention this far away?
Julia: The organizers have asked me to come a couple of times. I’ve never been to Berlin and I thought, why not? I might have been surprised at one time, but not any more. The world just gets smaller and smaller. With the advent of digital publishing, my books are available to a broader audience all across the world, and so I hear from readers in Europe and Asia a lot. What surprises me is how well everyone speaks English!
Freya: Berlin is a beautiful city with a rich history. Are you planning to do some sightseeing before or after the convention, or touring the country? Or is this convention part of a larger booktour through Europe?
Julia: I would like to do some sightseeing. I would really like to see where the Berlin wall stood, like around the Brandenburg gate, or the memorial there, and just explore the city. I am not going to have time to do anything other than Berlin on this trip, but I end up in Europe every other year or so. I’ll have another opportunity.
Aurian: If you could see only one monument/famous building/historical place in Berlin while you are there, what place would you absolutely have to see?
Julia: Where the Berlin wall stood. I’m old enough to remember the day it came down and what an astounding event it was.
Freya: You have travelled a lot already, are there countries in Europe you still would like to visit one day? (Like Holland?)
Julia: I have been to Amsterdam. But what I would really love to do is take a bike tour through Holland when the tulips are blooming. I’ve heard it’s fantastic. Will anyone go with me? Spain is one place I haven’t been that I would like to tour.
Aurian: Well, I will gladly take you to the Keukenhof (you can ask Susan Elisabeth Philips what she thought of that), but if you want to do a bike tour through our windy flat country, I will just follow you by car. Here is a link: http://www.keukenhof.nl/en/
Aurian: I have read the FAQ on your website; you work on different books during the day, to stay fresh in the genre. Are you not tempted to keep on writing when the story is flowing nicely in the first book? How many hours a day do you (on average) spend on writing, including editing and research?
Julia: Yes, I am tempted and sometimes I do that. I always reach a point where one book is nearing its due date and I have to turn all my attention to it. Just today I submitted a manuscript. About three weeks ago I stopped working on another one I was writing at the same time and now I’ll go back to that one while the first is being edited. How many hours a day? I spend a lot of time working. I don’t really break it down, but I would guess that I get 2-4 hours of actual “new” writing in every day—by that I mean, not editing, but creating the first draft. The other 4-6 hours are spent on editing, interviews, business things, social media, and Buzzfeed. I’m hopeless! I cannot keep myself from going down a rabbit trail. I joined Twitter in its infancy just to follow celebrities and celebrity news.
Freya: You have participated in quite some anthologies and collections. How does that work, do you have to communicate with your co-authors a lot, or are you just given a theme, an assignment, to write something by the editor or publisher? What do you like most about it?
Julia: Back in the day when anthologies were published with three or four novellas, the publisher would ask me to do it, and usually it was a holiday-themed package. I never collaborated with anyone. I don’t think most authors did because the idea was to write a novella that tied into your work and your series. Now, most novellas are published digitally as standalones. But a lot of the authors who are publishing anthologies with themed stories are doing it themselves as self-publishers.
Aurian: I have just finished reading A Courtesan’s Scandal. And I was touched by the parts where Grayson was playing with his nephews. Usually children in historical romances are kept in the nursery, and not allowed downstairs with the adults. It certainly showed a nice side to the proud and angry man in the start of the book. Do you often have children in your books to provide some diversion and fun?
Julia: I like to include children and animals when I can because that is what life is. That’s what gives characters dimensions. But having said that, sometimes I think you don’t see them because they are hard to write. Children or family pets become part of the dynamic between the hero and heroine. They become the shadow in the room you sort of have to write around. But I think books are much better when characters have multiple facets to them.
Aurian: You started writing quite some time ago. Do you feel the attitudes of your heroes and heroines have changed over the years? If so - how?
Julia: You know, the desire for strong alpha males has not diminished, not even since I was a kid reading romances. What I think has changed is the reader’s tolerance for the heroine. When I first started writing heroines were cute and sweet and would get to a man because of her cheerful innocence. Now, women readers want strong heroines who give as good as they get. For historicals, the challenge is to do that and stay true to the regency times. And the trick in contemporary is not to make her too strong. Women can be very hard on women and women characters. There is a fine line between being a kick-ass, take-no-prisoner strong female lead and just a bitch. For me, it’s fun to experiment with heroines and see just how far I can take her, especially in a regency setting.
Peggy: I am reading The Secret Lover at the moment, about a divorced woman, and a hero who is a bastard. A very unusual combination. How did you come up with this idea, and how hard was it to research divorce in Regency England?
Julia: Ah, the Secret Lover. I laugh about that book because I was a new author and my editor was a new editor, and we did those unconventional things without knowing they were unconventional. At the time, I didn’t think twice about doing the divorcee and the bastard. It wasn’t hard at all to research divorce in Regency England because it just wasn’t done. The only way to really get a divorce was through Parliament, and you had to have some pretty hefty connections to do that. I think of all the books I ever wrote, I got the most mail about The Secret Lover because of the way it ended. People either hated it or loved it. It’s also one of my top sellers.
Aurian: Thanks for the interview Julia! We do look forward to meeting you in Berlin and we will certainly bring some books for you to autograph!
Julia: What about Dutch cookies? . Thank you so much for having me here. I can’t wait to meet you all in Berlin!
Aurian: Yes, of course we will bring you some Dutch cookies, we have a reputation to uphold, but German pastry is really delicious too.
Where to find Julia London?
Julia London is the New York Times and USA Today best-selling author of more than a two dozen romantic fiction novels. Julia is the recipient of the RT Bookclub Award for Best Historical Romance and a six-time finalist for the prestigious RITA award for excellence in romantic fiction. She lives in Austin, Texas.
The Unofficial Bio
Okay, here is the real scoop on Julia London: the official bio looks nothing like who I think is the real me. The unofficial truth is that I was born and raised in rural west Texas. I was a fat baby and typical little girl with Barbies, bikes, and an overactive imagination. I know that I loved to make up stories from a time I can scarcely remember (because my mom has a story I wrote in the first grade, which featured me in an episode of Wagon Train), and I know that I always loved books.
I remember going to the library. It was in an old house and it was very cool inside and smelled like old books. All of the children’s books were on lower shelves for easy access by little hands. I read all the usual stuff: Nancy Drew, Little House on the Prairie, Pride and Prejudice, Little Women… Everything You Ever Wanted to Know about Sex but Were Afraid to Ask (by then I was fifteen or sixteen and was afraid to ask).
In my early teens, I began to dream of great adventure filled notebooks with stories of a girl who looked and spoke like me and was constantly caught up in adventure and peril. She always landed in the arms of hunky guys who happened to resemble a few of my favorite TV stars. Hey, I’m not ashamed to admit it: Starsky and Hutch, Alias Smith and Jones, and yes, even Keith Partridge.
I went to college, I got a job, and when I got a little older, I began to live the real adventures of my life. I traveled to far-flung places and tried things I never thought I’d try. I had good jobs with the federal government and eventually ended up working in the White House, and then later, I came back to Texas and worked as a public administrator until I could take politics no more.
That’s when I decided to turn my penchant for making up stories into books, and I’ll be damned if an agent and a publisher didn’t want to publish my daydreams.
I look back at my life and mark the passage of time by standard measures: bad hair and bad style sense. Or, I can pinpoint where I was and what I was doing in my life by the sports I tried.
Not all of them took, but I discovered I was best at tennis (back in the day), golf (except when it’s too hot, and its always too hot in Texas) and wunning (sort of a half-walk, half-run. Extremely ugly in appearance, but gets the job done), which I do moderately well.
Along the way I fell in love with a few good dogs and a few good men, and found the ones I want to keep forever.
Sure, there have been those few occasions where I might have drunk too much and did some things I wish I hadn’t, but overall, I have no regrets. I’ve never wanted for anything except the perfect purse (the search continues). In sum, I have been a lucky, lucky girl.
The unofficial truth is that I’ve had two successful careers. I’ve been blessed with a wonderful family and I’ve been lucky in love and work and play. I love my life, I love what I do. I love the people and animals that surround me and I am eager to see what the next half of my life brings.
Now that is a bio that looks like me.
© 2015 Reviews by Aurian