With 40 New York Times bestsellers and 60 million copies of her books in print worldwide, romance author Jude Deveraux is a force to be reckoned with. She took time out of her busy schedule to talk with BookPage about inspiration, her writing process and whom she’d like to be stranded with on a desert island.
You are the best-selling author of both historical and contemporary romances. Where do you find your inspiration? How do you decide what type of novel you want to write next?
Everything I do, hear, see—I think, how can I use that in a book? Sometimes an event will inspire me, sometimes a personality trait will make me think of building a character around it. I often think, I’d like to write a book about . . . fill in the blank. As for time period, that’s chosen by the idea. When I find something I want to write about, it always has a time period attached to it. I read something about a man going into the wilds of Florida to paint the flora and fauna. That interested me so I thought I’d use it in a book. That it was to be historical was a given. It turned out to be The Scent of Jasmine.
What kind of research do you do for your historical novels? How do you keep all the characters in your Edilean Series straight? There are so many!
Whenever I do an historical, I usually spend about a month doing specific research on whatever is the basis for the novel. I buy several books about the subject and read them with note cards in my hands. I use a genealogy software to keep my Edilean characters straight. Since I’m not good with numbers, it’s difficult for me to figure out the dates of when people were born and had babies. But the software checks me on my dates and tells me when I have a couple of 10-year-olds as parents. I realized right away that unless my characters were to marry cousins I had to bring in newcomers. It’s nice for me to know about things like who owns the local grocery, whose ancestor was devious and whose was a hero.
In Scarlet Nights, an undercover investigator climbs through the trapdoor of Sara Shaw’s apartment—and sparks begin to fly. If you could choose any hero to show up at your house, who would it be?
Captain Sir Richard Francis Burton. He was a Victorian explorer. I’ve read umpteen bios about him and am deeply in love with him. Just the mention of his name makes my heart flutter. That he lived over 100 years ago has never seemed to matter to me. A wonderful, intelligent, heroic man!
Do you have a favorite couple from literature, movies or life?
I like all the real-life couples I meet who have been married 30-some years and still like each other. I envy them so very much!
If you had to be stranded on a desert island with one fictional character, who would you want it to be?
I’m tempted to say, “A boat builder,” but that’s too easy. I recently wrote a book called The End of Summer, and the hero of it, Dr. Tristan Aldredge, is the nicest, sweetest man I’ve ever written about. I usually start out with people who have been hurt in some way. Working through their problems gives me a plot. But Tristan was just plain sweet. He inspired love in people wherever he went. It didn’t hurt that he was so beautiful that women drew in their breath when they saw him, but that was beside the point. Dr. Tris was funny, creative and gentle. I could stand to spend some time with him in real life.
What’s next for you?
I have a bit more to write on the second book of a trilogy set in Edilean. When these are finished, I’m going to start a new series. Funny things have happened with these three books. The father of my first heroine was just supposed to move the story forward, but Joe Layton turned out to be bigger than life. I’ve taken him into Book Two and given him someone to love. I had the hero for Book Three planned from the beginning, but the brother of the heroine of Book Two is so angry that I may give him Sophie to straighten him out. I would love to give the titles to these books but I don’t have any. I can write a book much, much easier than I can come up with a title. If any of you have title ideas, please go onto my website and tell me. If I use it, I’ll dedicate the book to you.