I had the very great pleasure of hearing Eloisa James and Julia Quinn speak this afternoon at the Southwest Florida Reading Festival. The ladies seem to be good friends and have collaborated more than once on books but were quite different from each other.
Julia is the more outgoing of the two. In answering questions from the audience, she generally went first in answering and was careful to repeat the question since those asking didn’t have microphones. Eloisa is slower to answer and a bit more thoughtful as befits her other job as a professor of Shakespeare.
Eloisa’s yet-to-be-officially-released book, Three Weeks with Lady X, was available at the festival, so the romance readers of Fort Myers got a present.
Asked why they began writing, Julia said it was because she loves to read. Eloisa was more practical. She had student loans to pay back and wanted to have a second child. That child, a daughter, is now 15 and into black nail polish. Julia’s 13 year old daughter is “angelic” by caomparison, Eloisa said.
Eloisa said both ladies are rather slow writers and claimed not to be as dsiciplined as she could be. She has been known to take a lengthy time off between books and sometimes even while in the middle of writing a book.
The ladies take a different approach to editing their work. Julia edits as she goes along. She has been with the same publisher and editor since her first book in 1994.
Eloisa says her editor is “intrinsic” to her process. She says editing is painful, but she welcomes it. In fact, she switched editors because her first editor wasn’t editing her enough, she felt. Her current editor recently cut 100 pages from her manuscript in progress.
Another question concerned the inclusion of modern issues such as PTSD or alcoholism in historical settings. Julia, married to an infectious disease specialist, calls herself a science geek. Eloisa tends to incorporate conditions that people she knows personally have grappled with.
The ladies agreed that in order to sell a novel to a NY publishing house, an author must have a literary agent. The exception to that is Harlequin.
Eloisa and Julia were scheduled for only 45 minutes, but those in the audience left wanting more.