First stop: Rio de Janeiro. Interview with Lara Blunte

January 18, 2016

 

So here I am, all set on the south-western corner of Europe, eager to cross the Atlantic and land in Brazil.

Without further ado, meet the wonderful and gifted Lara Blunte, author of The Halford Trilogy, To Be King, A Man in AfricaThe Abyss and the non-fictional account of her wanderings around the world, The Lazy Traveller.

 

Tell me a little about yourself. Who is Lara Blunte?

Lara Blunte is an invention, my pen name for historical romances, and some contemporary ones. I want to write in different genres, I have mysteries written as well, so I will give a pen name to each. It’s funny to be called by a name not your own for almost a whole year!

 

How did you come to writing in the first place? Do you still remember the first time you did?

I used to scribble as a 13 or 14-year old. I had notebooks, a bic pen and used to write historical romance. Then I would pass the notebook around in class to some of the girls who wanted to read my “updates”. I still remember one of them screaming “NO!” and standing up in class because I had killed one of the characters, and the teacher confiscated the notebook and gave us a lecture. I thought I’d never see it again, but got it back. The character stayed dead.

 

Your latest book, The Abyss, starts off in Portugal. How did the idea for the novel come to you?

Regency romance is apparently a very popular segment of historical writing. I don’t know if this is due to Jane Austen, Georgette Heyer or why exactly. I started out writing these romances with the idea that I would do one about almost every popular period, but I thought the regency period in England had been done a lot.

So I remembered the regency of João VI in Portugal and then Brazil. This is a very unique situation in history: a reigning prince who flees from Napoleon to one of his colonies with his whole court.  It is around the same period of British regency, the early 1800s. It’s one of the most significant turns of the century, with the ideas of liberty and equality coming from the French Revolution, a new freedom in art, music, literature and the Industrial Revolution also making itself felt.

 

How do you research for your books?

Sometimes I know a period just from having read novels from it. For example, I read a lot of Victorian novels by George Eliot, Dickens, Thackeray before I wrote The Last Earl, so I knew what the mores were like, and how people needed to behave, etc. Same for True Born, I very much like the Georgian period and the 18th century. I am doing more research now for The Abyss, because it does involve a lot of history. I have read some books and, being in Rio where most of the action takes place, I hired a driver the other day and went to several places which feature in the novel. It was a lot of fun, and thankfully I wasn’t mugged. 

 

In your other books, how much of the storyline was fixed before you started writing and how much changed during the process?

I always start out from a scene, strangely enough, or from a central idea. The scene is like a seed that then starts sprouting an idea around it. For example, in To Be King,  I knew I wanted to end the book with a choice, so the idea of a love triangle started to come up. Then the characters began to take life, and I started to write the first scenes, which were character-driven, establishing the people. Then I knew I had to unite the beginning to the end, and that’s when I wrote the outline.

What they say about characters having their own life sounds “precious”, but it’s true. You don’t completely write the character at once, some idea we have may change the character. That’s the fun of it!

 

Which of your characters was most fun to write? And, tricky question, are you like any of your characters?

I think the most fun was Tameas, because he is the trickster. I always say he is the character I would marry, because he is intelligent and yet a lot of fun. I would want to talk to him as much as to snog him

There is a bit of me in several characters, I guess; sometimes in the male characters as well.  I am a bit like Catherine, though not as strong, or vain, or proud; I am like her and Adrian  in not wanting to be tied to conventions.

 

Who are your literary influences? What are your favourite books and films?

For the romances I am influenced by the old ones  like Anna Karenina, Brás Cubas, Middlemarch, Jane Eyre, Les Liaisons Dangereuses. I have stolen a lot of stuff from Shakespeare, but he stole from everyone; though he made everything better and I am definitely not improving on these people I just mentioned…I say these are my influences because I don’t read romance as such, I only read Barbara Cartland, Georgette Heyer and a couple of others when I was a teen.

If I had to be dropped in a desert island (hopefully with an open bar and all-you-can-eat barbecue), I would definitely take the complete works of Shakespeare. ONE because I can re-read him forever and TWO because there would be lots of different stuff in the same book. I am also having a Thomas Bernhard moment, and this has absolutely zero to do with what I have been writing.

In terms of films there are just too many. I would say films by Fellini, Kubrick, Tarkovsky, D Lean, Scorsese, Coppola. I love Star Wars, though not the prequels. I love Gone With the Wind, which is absolute proof that you can have a heroine that is selfish, vindictive and vain and make it work!

 

What is the easiest and hardest thing about writing? What is your message for those who would like start writing?

My advice is: join Wattpad and write. I had 1/3 of a novel (The Last Earl) written when I joined Wattpad. Joining a community, getting feedback and people asking for updates pushed me to write and write and write. Last year between April and December I finished Earl and wrote three other romances, one mystery and 30 chapters of the stories of my travels.

Having a community and connecting with it makes writing a much more fun thing than doing it by yourself, when laziness and doubt assault you.

The other thing is to push through the blocks. I haven’t had many because I am not writing “literature”, just fun stuff, but there are days when you feel less creative than others. On those days, push through. Write something: half a chapter, or skip to the dialogue that is already in your mind, or the description, or whatever you do have clear about that chapter. You will see that as you write that, you will have ideas about how to begin the chapter.

Even if it’s not your best chapter you keep going, you might go back to it later with better ideas. Just don’t get stuck. Creativity feeds itself, it’s like the infinity symbol.

 

Is Wattpad helping you grow as a writer? What are the greatest benefits you take from it?

Yes, as I have said above it has been a great discovery for me. First of all I have “met” some absolutely wonderful people  and there is a real spirit there of community, of helping each other out, sharing information, doing things for each other.

For example, I am sharing the process of publishing in Amazon with a very talented writer, PK Lentz, whom I met in Wattpad – we compare notes, say what works and what doesn’t, etc.

Wattpad is a very “gentle” community, people may stop reading your book, but they are never (or have not been yet) nasty. The things I have been told about my books by readers and other writers made me think and change things for the better. I have also been in touch with people in practically every country of the world, and it’s a wonderful thing to see that reading can unite all these people, and that, wherever they were from, their response to human emotions (love, passion, greed, sorrow, humor) was very similar.

I only wish they would let me kill a character now and again…

 

Obrigada, Lara. Como sempre, é um prazer falar e também aprender contigo.

 

 

Lara's Official Website

 

You can also find Lara Blunte on WATTPAD  and on TWITTER.  The Halford Trilogy is now available for purchase on  

 

 

 

 

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