The most romantic love story I have ever known is my own. It started when I was taking a short holiday in Venice, Italy.
I can remember sitting at a little cafe in St.Mark's Square, listening to the orchestra, watching the sun wink off my wine glass, and wondering what this magical city would bring me. Three hours later I met a tall, dark, handsome Venetian, who asked me to have dinner with him that night.
"Definitely not!!" I said. "I've dated Italians before, "and you're all hands."
He looked shocked at my suspicions. "Just friendly!" he promised. But he didn't keep his word - Thank goodness!
He had (and still has) more charm than any man has a right to have, and the evening was pure magic. We ate at a little canal side cafe, and took a motor bus up the Grand Canal, where the beautiful old buildings were bathed in floodlight. And, of course, we took a ride in a gondola.
He was in his thirties, and an old hand at dodging wedding bells. But that same evening he began to drop hints about the kind of woman he wanted to marry. Gradually I realized that he was serious. In the end it took him a whole twenty four hours to propose formally. I said yes. It was complete madness, but I was in love.
My family and friend were aghast, muttering darkly about 'holiday romances'. But now, more than twenty years later, we are still married, still happy and in love.
We have lived mostly in England. My husband is an artist. I was a journalist for some years, working on a major women's magazine. While writing features I found myself in some fascinating situations. I've camped out with lions in Africa, flown with the flying ambulances of the remote Scottish islands, and tried the gaming tables in Monte Carlo.
When I finally gave up journalism to write romances, all these experiences crept into my work.
I also interviewed some of the world's most interesting and attractive men, Warren Beatty, Richard Chamberlain, Roger Moore, Charlton Heston. Even when I took a fill in job in a London store, I found myself serving Michael Caine.
We did return to Italy for a couple of years, and rented a villa just outside Venice. It was then that I really got to know the Italian people, and the rest of the country.
It is no accident that so many of my books are set in Italy. I've used Venice as a background, but also Rome, Florence, Milan, Tuscany and Sicily. I love writing Italian heroes. The legend of the romantic Italian male has a lot of truth in it. The men from this hot, colorful country have a full hearted, emotional reaction to life that makes them wonderful to be with - and to write about.
We now live in the English midlands. We have no children, but our cat and dog make sure they leave us no time to spare.
My husband paints and I write. We return to Venice every year, sometimes more often, to walk the streets we remember. Venice is as timeless as love itself, and the little canals and bridges haven't altered since that first night. Nor has the Grand Canal, or the gondolas. And nor have we.
Widow Harriet is content with her life - she doesn't need some upstart tycoon ruining it all! Yet, saving Darius from a capsized boat, she recognises that there's more beneath his brooding surface...Can he make her see that she might need rescuing too?
Lucy, welcome to Marilyn's Romance Reviews. WHAT IS YOUR ROUTINE?
I tend to work very long hours when I’m writing. I don’t have set hours. But when they book’s finished I collapse and do nothing for several days.
WHAT ADVICE WOULD YOU GIVE ASPIRING AUTHORS?
Don’t worry if it doesn’t feel right the first time. Keep working on it. I regard the first version as building a skeleton. When it’s properly connected it’s time to build up the flesh until it looks right.
HOW DID YOU START YOUR CAREER? WHO WAS YOUR FIRST PUBLISHER?
I began as a journalist on a magazine called “What’s On In London”, which gave me the chance to interview a lot of big names in the theatre. From there I moved on to a national women’s magazine, which gave me many useful experiences for later. I flew with the flying ambulance service, visited a lion sanctuary in Africa, and wrote many stories about people who’d suffered emotional tragedies.
But I always wanted to write books, and at last I sent my first novel to Silhouette, who accepted it. I’ve been with Harlequin ever since, switching from the Silhouette New York Office to the London Mills & Boon office.
WHAT IS THE BEST THING ABOUT BEING AN AUTHOR?
There’s always another world open to you, and you can escape into it whenever the everyday world becomes too much for you. The other thing is travel. I love visiting other parts of the world and using them as backgrounds for books. AND THE BRIDE WORE RED came out of a visit to China, which I loved. In a couple of weeks I’m heading off to Egypt.
There is no worst.
I’m writing a 5 book series called The Falcon Dysnasty, about the five sons of a ruthless Tycoon called Amos Falcon. Amos was much travelled and flagrantly unfaithful to his wives and mistresses, so the sons come from all over the world – Paris, Moscow, Los Angeles.
The first book, Rescued By The Brooding Tycoon, is published in the USA this month. It concers Darius, the eldest son, who finds himself unexpectedly the owner of an island in the English channel. (One of his debtors dumped it on him and vanished) There he meets Harriet, a member of the lifeboat crew, used to saving lives. She saves Darius (somewhat to his annoyance because this puts him one-up), but then he begins to wonder if she needs saving, in a different kind of way. And maybe he’s the man to do it.
The second book, Miss Prim And The Billionaire is due out next February. This one is about Marcel, a Frenchman whose life was almost destroyed when the woman he loved abandoned him years ago. But when they meet again he discoveres that things weren’t quite as they seemed, and they have another road to travel together.
I’ve just finished writing the third book, about Travis, an actor in Los Angeles, starring in a TV series about a doctor who’s half man, half angel. But his private life is too colourful to be angelic, and it causes problems which only the right woman can deal with.
After that will come Leonid, the Russian, and Jackson the naturalist, but it’s too soon to know much about them.
WHAT NEWS WOULD YOU LIKE TO SHARE WITH YOUR READERS?
I have another identity. As well as being Lucy Gordon I am Penelope Stratton, who wrote historicals several years ago. I’m now going to republish them as kindle books on Amazon. They should start to come out in a few weeks.
HOW DO YOU BUILD THE RELATIONSHIP BETWEEN THESE TWO CHARACTERS SO THAT IT FEELS REAL?
I don’t organise them. I let them organise me. They tell me what they want to do, listen while I protest, then tell me to stop arguing because they know best. And as the relationship develops I find that they really do know best.
For me the best relationships aren’t simple. However much they love each other, there’s an emotional conflict that must he dealt with first, or it will tear them aspart.
DO YOU IDENTIFY WITH THE CHARACTERS YOU WRITE ABOUT?
Yes, definitely. I argue with them, I get mad at them. But I am them.
TELL US A LITTLE ABOUT YOUR FAVORITE ‘HERO’ TYPE GUY.
I do macho heroes a lot of the time, but the ones I prefer are the cheeky charmers, who get their own way by guile rather than aggression. Sometimes they disarm the heroine with passion and romance, but they’re just as likely to do it by making her laugh. I know a lot about this kind of man, because I’m married to one.
DESCRIBE THE HEROINES YOU LOVE TO WRITE.
They tend to be a bit bossy and argumentative – just like me, some people would say.
HOW WOULD YOU DESCRIBE YOUR LIFE IN ONLY 8 WORDS.
Happy, exciting, fulfilled, and definitely mad.
WHAT IS YOUR MOTTO?
Just get on with it.
HOW WOULD YOU DESCRIBE PERFECT HAPPINESS?
A happy marriage.
WHAT’S YOUR GREATEST FEAR?
That I’ll lose ideas and be unable to write.
IF YOU COULD BE ANYWHERE IN THE WORLD RIGHT NOW, WHERE WOULD YOU CHOOSE TO BE?
I love living in England, but my favorite other country is Italy. That’s where I met my husband, in Venice, and we got engaged in two days. More than thirty years later we’re still together. You couldn’t put that in a book. Nobody would believe it. But it happened. So Italy is my other favorite place, especially Venice.
WHAT ARE YOUR MOST OVER-USED WORDS OR PHRASES?
Oh heavens! I’ve made such a mess of this!!
WHAT DO YOU REGRET MOST?
That I didn’t meet my husband sooner.
WHAT IS YOUR FANTASY PROFESSION?
Music. I would love to have become an opera singer.
Lucy, thanks for the interview. I really enjoyed learning more about you!
Where you can find Lucy:
Here is an excerpt from Lucy's current book., Rescued By The Brooding Tycoon. To win a copy, what "called" out to Darius? Leave your comment here, plus your email address. Contest is International and the winner will be announced Sept. 30th