Keira: The Stuart period is not one we see much of in romance. Why did you choose to focus on it?
Judith: Actually that really surprises me as there was so much going on at that time both historically and socially. It saw the beginning of the Whig and Tory parties and the beginning of the Jacobite movement that is a central theme in so much Highland and Scottish historical romance. Cromwell’s decade long regime was moralistic and repressive. Attempts were made to outlaw much loved entertainments including gambling, theatre, dancing and even celebrations such as Christmas. The Restoration of Charles II resulted in a kind of social rebellion against the last ten years that reminds me somewhat of the 1960s. It was led by the King himself and his court, filled with a host of colorful characters, was one of the most bawdy, hedonistic, interesting, and rollicking courts of any country and any time in history. Philosophers such as John Locke were challenging the established order and the supremacy of religious dogma and absolute authority.
As often happens in times of turbulent change, it was a time of greater experimentation and social freedom, at least for the upper classes. Courtiers were experimenting with scientific thought, poetry, pornography and sexual freedom including sex outside of marriage and homosexuality for both sexes. Woman had more freedom during this period than they would for many years to come. They took to the stage as actresses and more importantly playwrights. There were well respected female authors, women who led troops and defended their homes during the civil wars etc. There is just so much room to develop characters and so much interesting material.
Keira: Was it a hard period to research? What was the most interesting thing you learned?
Judith: No it was great fun! There are a wealth of materials, some very entertaining, such as the diaries of Samuel Pepys and the Compte de Grammont or Lord Rochester’s letters, and some very informative ones such as Evelyn’s diary and letters. Three interesting things I learned spring to mind immediately. The first was that the word tomboy was already in common usage, just as we use it today. The second was that Valentines Day was a big deal, and your valentine was the first person of the opposite sex you saw when you woke up that day. There’s a hilarious entry by Pepys about that. I was also very surprised at the language used. We tend to think of historical language as stiff and formal at times but people in the 17th century, including the upper classes, used slang terms, contractions and words that would make a modern rapper blush.
Keira: Jamie Sinclair, the hero of Highland Rebel, is a chameleon of sorts. He’s able to blend in anywhere and become anything. If you could do that, what would you be and where would you go in disguise?
Judith: That’s a tough question. I think I would try what Catherine did, and disguise myself as one of the guys. I’d love to hear what they really think of us when we aren’t around.
Keira: In the character creation process what was the first thought that came to you on your hero and heroine?
Judith: Great question! It was that these two people were in many ways opposites, in all ways equal, and more alike than either of them knew.
Keira: I noticed that you really developed the friendship between the leads. Do you think it’s important to be friends first before falling in love?
Judith: Absolutely! It seems to be a theme in all my stories. You are easy with your friends, perhaps from the moment you meet, perhaps it grows over time, but a best friend is someone you know and trust and can share your deepest thoughts and secrets with. Also you like your friends. I don’t believe you can have true love without friendship, liking and trust. I think sometimes the heart pounding attraction certain people give us is often mistaken for love but that’s really chemistry and lust and doesn’t necessary last that long. When you have friendship combined with all the chemistry, then you have that wonderful last a lifetime love.
Keira: How do you define love?
Judith: Oops! I think I just did. Romantic love to me is genuine friendship, liking and respect combined with sublime chemistry
Keira: Catherine Drummond is a take charge kind of heroine. What’s one thing she had to learn in the story?
Judith: She had to stop trying to prove herself, or judge herself by others standards or she was always going to fail. She needed to learn to trust and follow her own instincts, not an easy thing in a time when loyalty to others such as one’s clan was expected to be paramount over being true to ones self. Jamie’s acceptance and enjoyment of her as she was, helped a lot, but she had some growing up to do on her own as well.
Keira: What was the first romance novel you ever read? Was it the one that got you hooked on reading them?
Judith: I remember that. It was Katherine by Anya Seton. I worked in a bookstore and took it home to read over the weekend and was hooked
Keira: What is your secret guilty plot or character trope that you love beyond reason?
Judith: That would be beauty and the beast. I loved that show too. Anyone remember Vincent?
Keira: Is there anything else you’d like to share?
Judith: Well I hope those people who enjoy a take charge heroine and a bit of history and adventure with their romance will enjoy Jamie and Cat’s adventures. It’s been a great pleasure doing this interview and I’d like to thank you for having me and for giving me such interesting questions.