interviews / Q&A's

Meet Elizabeth Hoyt – The Literary Lounge Q&A

elizabethNew Orleans-born Elizabeth Hoyt is a best-selling New York Times novelist. The author of 15 historical and 2 contemporary romances (the latter as Julia Harper), she recently published Duke of Midnight, the sixth book in the acclaimed ‘Maiden Lane’ series, set in 18th-century London.

Elizabeth was brought up in St Pauls, Minnesota, and travelled extensively as a child. Her love of reading began at an early age. Favourite authors include other romance writers such as Lisa Kleypas, Stephanie Laurens, Eloisa James, Connie Brockway and Loretta Chase.

After reading anthropology at the University of Wisconsin at Madison, Elizabeth did a variety of jobs, before marrying and having children. She began writing romances in her mid-30s and her first novel, The Raven Prince, set in 1760s’ England, was published in 2006 to great critical acclaim. The Leopard Prince (2007) and The Serpent Prince (2008) followed, thus completing ‘The Princes Trilogy’.

Elizabeth has since written two further series, ‘The Legend of the Four Soldiers’ and the ‘Maiden Lane’ series. Originally contracted to write six ‘Maiden Lane’ titles, Elizabeth has recently been commissioned to write a further three books. Darling Beast, Book 7, is due to be published in autumn 2014.

Today, Elizabeth speaks to The Literary Shed about her writing and influences.



Q&A – Elizabeth Hoyt


LS: Firstly, Elizabeth, a warm welcome to The Literary Lounge at The Literary Shed; thank you for making the time in your busy schedule to answer our questions.

Elizabeth: Thank you for having me!


Q: You started writing when you were in your mid-30s, what drew you to the historical-romance subgenre? Have any writers particularly influenced you?

Elizabeth: I chose historical romance because it was one of my favorite romance subgenres and because the stories I wanted to tell  – big, bold, and adventurous – were best suited to the time period. Every writer is influenced by other authors and I’m no exception. I studied Amanda Quick, Stephanie Laurens, and Christina Dodd among others.


Q: How much research did you conduct before you started writing your first book? Do you do the research for your books yourself?

Elizabeth: I did quite a bit of research at the beginning, looking at the fashions of the time period, the food people ate, the politics, architecture, and more, most of it from books at the library. I still do research – it’s pretty much ongoing. One of my favorite things to do is study prints and paintings from the time period. How a culture represents itself, what they consider important and worth recording or communicating, is fascinating. I don’t think I’d ever hire a researcher because I can never tell what strange little fact might be an inspiration. Also, for the most part, I enjoy the research.


Q: Your historical books are often set during the Age of Enlightenment/Age of Reason. What do you find most appealing about this period? Does the historic context allow your protagonists, particularly your heroines, greater intellectual and social freedom?

Elizabeth: Truly, what’s not to find appealing about this time period? It’s so very alive! London was the biggest city in Europe and it was swelling with immigrants from all over Britain and the continent. The fashions were over the top extravagant. And the extremes between the very poor and very rich were explosive. I believe that a writer should pick a time period deliberately and for a reason. My reason is because the early Georgian is endlessly provoking.

I don’t know about the Age of Enlightenment being necessarily more intellectually freeing for my heroines – after all, there have been great feminine intellectuals in every age – but it certainly was more socially freeing compared to the later Regency and Victorian times.


Q: Your books often feature quotes from your own fairy tales at the beginning of each chapter – for example, ‘The Legend of the Hellequin’ in Lord of Darkness – why do you do this? Have you ever thought about writing a book of fairy tales?

Elizabeth: I like the idea of the fairytale serving as a foil for the main story, either highlighting a theme or thread within the main story, or throwing a slightly different light on it. I have been asked about putting my fairy tales together, but there doesn’t seem to be much market for fairy tale books today, especially ones meant primarily for adults.



Q: The ‘Maiden Lane’ series is set in 1730/40s’ London. Is the Ghost of St Giles based on a real-life character?

Elizabeth: No. The Ghost is influenced by several literary and movie characters, though: Scaramouche [left: film still from Scaramouche; 1952], The Scarlet Pimpernel, Dr. Syn, Alias the Scarecrow (an obscure Disney movie), and Batman.


Q: When you devise a series do you map out the plots for each book at the beginning? Do you have an idea of how many books will appear in the ‘Maiden Lane’ series?

Elizabeth: I don’t have a detailed map. I do have an idea of highpoints and characters. For instance, I knew that Silence Hollingbrook would have a book with Charming Mickey O’Connor [Scandalous Desires, Book 3; 2011] from the very beginning, but using Mary as the connection didn’t come until later.

I [was] contracted for six books in Maiden Lane [Duke of Midnight was published in October 2013.] I have three more books in mind, after that.


Q: Would you ever write a prequel featuring Sir Stanley Gilpin, the current Ghosts’ mentor?

Elizabeth: I would really love to! Sir Stanley just becomes more eccentric and amusing with every book, and I’d love to explore his actions and what led him to take three boys under his wing. Also, I’d like to delve more into his awful playwriting.


Q: There are three ‘Ghosts’. Do you have a favourite? If so, why?

That’s very hard – I’m always in love with the book I’m writing at the moment – but I think Godric and the reasons he chose to become the Ghost were the most poignant. Also, I loved that carriage scene.


Q: Many of your novels feature a protagonist bent on righting a previous wrong, whether it be a personal one as in the ‘Legend of the Four Soldiers’ series or the much larger-scale woes of a corrupt society, as in the ‘Maiden Lane’ series. Is there any particular reason for this? Are you particularly interested in the idea of justice, for example?

Elizabeth: Two reasons: I like exploring a single, catastrophic or life-changing event and how my protagonists are shaped by that event. It’s a very visceral plot device. Secondly, I’m interested in right and wrong, not necessarily justice. I find it endlessly fascinating: what would make a righteous man break the law? What would drive an amoral man to do the right thing? It’s kind of a basic, human question, isn’t it?


Q: You have also written two fast-paced suspense novels as Julia Harper, do you have plans to write more novels in this genre? Are you a crime-fiction fan?

Elizabeth: I’d love to write more Julia Harper books! It’s a wonderful break from the historicals – the plot, the pacing, the dialogue are all so different. I feel fresher coming back to my historicals after writing a contemporary. I am a thriller/mystery fan – I read Lee Child, Jo Nesbo, and Dennis Lehane, among others, but I think of my contemporaries more as screwball comedies than thrillers or mysteries. Before I was published I wrote two detective books and they were very, very sad.…


LS: Thank you very much, Elizabeth. We wish you every success all of your books, especially Duke of Midnight. We look forward to reviewing Darling Beast, the seventh book in the ‘Maiden Lane’ series (forthcoming 2014).

Elizabeth: Thank you!


Favourite quote from an Elizabeth Hoyt novel:


The report was deafening but fortunately not fatal, as his wife was apparently an execrable shot. This did not reassure Godric as much as it should have, because Lady Margaret immediately turned and pulled a second pistol from her carriage.

Even the worst shots could get lucky on occasion.’

Lord of Darkness, ‘Maiden Lane’ series, Book 5


Duke of Midnight (published October 2013) is the latest book in ‘The Maiden Lane’ series. This cover is from the UK edition. See our review and get the opportunity to win three signed copies of the book by signing up for our newsletter by 14 February 2014.

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Photographs in article: Author photo from Elizabeth Hoyt’s site. Image from the 1952 Hollywood movie Scaramouche, featuring Stewart Granger in the title role (right) fighting Mel Ferrer (Noel, Marquis de Maynes; left), used for promotional purposes only.

Notice: Please note the above images and quotations other than those in the Q&A are intended to be for promotional purposes only. In no way, have we have intentionally breached anyone’s copyright.

This article has been published with the approval of the author. The article text is ©The Literary Shed, 2014. It can only be reproduced with our permission. Please contact us if you wish to do so. The site must be fully credited.