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She creates unreal love stories: She is teaching women to be independent and to love for a lifetime, and she can't wait to meet the beauties of Serbia (PHOTO)

"I teach Shakespeare, so that means I spend every week teaching people in the past walking and talking. It means that “historical” voices come easily to me, definitely more easily than contemporary ones do"

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Every writer tries to create interesting stories in their novels which will attract the attention of the readers and present them an entirely different world from the one we are used to in the everyday life. Historical love novels take special place here because we meet events, situations and characters in them which we don't have the opportunity to meet with this speed in modern time. The American writer Eloisa James likes writing precisely these kinds of novels. Her real name is Mary Bly.

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Besides writing, she is a professor of English literature. She likes basing her books on true events from the past that got her attention. She thinks that love is an important element of our lives and that it's important to love people around us because, only in that way, will they love us even more.

In the interview for Telegraf.rs, she said that her parents had a big impact on her, also writers, but also the way how she manages to balance between two careers. She reveals where she manages to find inspiration for her heroes, what is love for her personally, but also that she would like to visit Serbia one day since her friends constantly tell her about the beauties of our country. 

  • Where do you find inspiration for your novels and what message do you want to send to your readers?

Inspiration generally comes from my own life. I know my books are wonderful fantasies, but the heroine’s characteristics still need to grow from myself or a friend. When my children were small, I had small children in my books. My daughter has a pet rat, so I added a pet rat named Jarvis to Seven Minutes in Heaven.

And to my readers… thank you! I’m so happy that you’re reading my books, and I hope they bring you joy.

  • Are some of your novels inspired by true events and tell us something about that? How you manage to create such powerful love stories?

Many of my novels have grown out of real historical events. For example, in Affair before Christmas, the heroine was allergic to the powder they used for wigs in the 18th century.  I read about that phenomenon and thought it was interesting. When Beauty Tames the Beast focuses on a Scarlet Fever epidemic that did sweep England.

Creating powerful love stories is a matter of putting together two people whom you (as a writer) love, and then letting them battle it out and fall in love.  It is weirdly like watching a movie.

Foto: eloisajames.com

  • The themes of your stories are always love and the fight between good and evil. Do you see your books as fairy tales, because good always wins evil in the end and that the leading heroes always get their happy ending?

That’s a great way to put it – yes!

  • How would you describe love in your own words? What does love mean to you?

Love is treasuring the other person equally or above oneself.  I feel different kinds of love for my husband, my children, my family at large… the more love we feel, the more we receive.

  • Many would say that your stories are a bit unrealistic because today there are not so many great love stories that last for a lifetime. Do you agree with them?

I don’t agree. I think we don’t hear much about people who stay together for life.  But my husband and I are very happy together, and we've been married for 24 years.  It takes some work and adjustment, but it’s entirely possible! 

  • Do we as a society miss romance nowadays? Many ladies complain that men don't know how to seduce them.

That is quite possible. I have to say that I don’t know how romantic my son – in his 20s – would be right now. Maybe he’ll get more sentimental with time!

Foto: eloisajames.com

  • You always write about strong male characters, but also strong female characters. Do you want to tell women that they need to be independent and to learn to take care of themselves? How important is the term feminism in your writing?

Feminism is tremendously important in my writing and life.  I have a daughter, and I want her to be paid the same as any male at the same rank. I want her to be treated respectfully and not encounter sexual violence.  I try to put all of that in my books as well. I actually think the whole genre of romance is feminist because it focuses on women’s feelings as opposed to men’s. Most “great” literature is all about men.

  • In addition to love and romance, your novels also have a little bit of mystery? Is the blend of a good love story and mystery a real recipe for success because it keeps the reader's attention from beginning until the end?

We do need to write page-turners these days.  I try to do it.  Who knows how successfully – some books yes, other books no.  One thing I’ve learned is that a book that one reader loves will be hated by another. That’s just how it goes!

  • Since you are writing about love, you are certainly a very romantic person. What's the craziest thing you've ever done for love?

Wow. Well, I fell in love with my husband in graduate school.  When he took his final exams, I borrowed a convertible and got a bottle of champagne, and showed up in the street as he came out from his exams, and kidnapped him for the night. It was romantic, if not exactly crazy.

  • Your parents are also writers. Have they had a strong impact on you to pursue your career as a novelist?

Yes, they’ve had a huge impact.  My father (Robert Bly) is a poet, who also wrote a book about a fairy tale.  So when I rewrite fairy tales, I am always thinking of him.

My mother was a short story writer and she taught me a great deal about writing, especially about the need to rewrite.  Plus, they are with me in my heart and taught me how to love. I put that on every page.

Foto: Privatna arhiva

  • You have two careers - you are a novelist and a professor of English literature. How do you manage to be successful in both fields?

I think I’ve been very lucky! But I also work hard. And I don’t allow myself to worry too much about things. I see some women going over and over their novel because they’re afraid it’s not perfect.  Just try. Get it out there. If it’s rejected, it’s not the end of the world… revise! Try again.

  • You choose to write under a pseudonym, Eloisa James, out of fear that your colleagues would not take you seriously as an academic if they knew of your side writing. Why did you think like that, and did you change your mind?

I teach at a Jesuit University (Fordham University), which is a wonderful place.  But at that point, I really wasn’t sure whether sexy romances would be welcomed by a Catholic university.  As it turns out, the university is very proud of me!  So that’s great.

Foto: eloisajames.com

  • Why did you choose to write historical novels? What is special in that genre and would you try yourself in another one?

I teach Shakespeare, so that means I spend every week teaching people in the past walking and talking.  It means that “historical” voices come easily to me, definitely more easily than contemporary ones do.  I also love writing about the past because I can simply avoid some of the turbulent times that are going on now. America is very divided politically, and I can’t imagine putting together a hero and heroine from different political parties, for example. I don’t have to deal with that in the past.

  • Your books are very popular in Serbia. Do you plan to come to our country one day and to hang out with your readers?

Wow, I would love to do that!  Serbia is such an incredibly beautiful country.  My husband is Italian and we go there every summer.  We talked about coming to Serbia several times – we have Italian friends who rave about its beauty.

(Telegraf.co.uk / A.Taskovic - a.taskovic@telegraf.rs)

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