Blog Post: Writer Wednesday guest Eloisa James and giveaway

From Thea:  I’m delighted that romance author Eloisa James is visiting this week.  I knew Eloisa through her delicious historical romances, of course, but we actually connected personally through the magic of Twitter.

Today she talks about writing history, which is quite a world building challenge on its own, let alone writing historically based fairy tales.  Eloisa has graciously offered a giveaway, and as usual, details follow at the end of this post.



 Eloisa James

Today I got an email scolding me for putting a character at the Seige of Badajoz in 1812 because I was belittling the soldiers who died there, so could I please “leave our British history alone!”

Um… No. That’s what I do: mess up history.  The reader seems to have forgotten that historical romance is as much a product of the imagination as paranormal romance. What’s more, since The Duke is Mine is a rewriting of The Princess and the Pea, its claim to history is slim to non-existent.

Still, I’m guessing she doesn’t write to Thea and castigate her for putting a dragon lord in New York City where none exists (I live right here, so I can attest to the absence of winged warlords).

If I had made my heroine detect a pea under twenty mattresses, rather than a key, would the reader have twigged to the fact that the book was fantasy—without being paranormal?

Frankly, it’s always a juggling act to be imaginative in a historical overcoat.  Right now I’m working on a rewrite of Rapunzel. So what about all that hair, as in “Rapunzel, Rapunzel, let down your golden hair?”

Anyone have any bright ideas about how I can gesture toward the storyline without getting myself bawled out because—wait for it—there were no hair extensions in 1816?

One winner will get a signed copy of a historically inaccurate novel… The Duke is Mine!

Destiny will be decided between the sheets in this all-new tale of “The Princess and the Pea.”

For Olivia Lytton, betrothal to the Duke of Canterwick–hardly a Prince Charming–feels more like a curse than a happily-ever-after. At least his noble status will help her sister, Georgiana, secure an engagement with the brooding, handsome Tarquin, Duke of Sconce, a perfect match for her in every way . . . every way but one. Tarquin has fallen in love with Olivia.

Quin never puts passion before reason. And reason says that Georgiana is his ideal bride. But the sensual, fiery, strong-willed Olivia ignites an unknown longing in him– a desire they are both powerless to resist. When a scandalous affair begins, they risk losing everything–Olivia’s engagement, her sister’s friendship, and their own fragile love. Only one thing can save them–and it awaits in the bedroom, where a magnificent mattress holds life-changing answers to the greatest romantic riddle of all.


Giveaway ends at 12 noon MDT on Friday, June 8th!


38 Responses

  1. Danni says:

    I have no idea how to deal with no hair extensions. But both books sound really good.

  2. Glittergirl says:

    Since it’s fantasy you can do anything you want with magic. So she has the magical ability to grow hair. Or a witch cast a spell on her and her hair grows much, much too long. You are the author and you can play all you want. The criticism of the reader you posted about was all wrong and you were right. As an author of historical (based) romance FICTION you can take all the license you want with history!

    • Eloisa says:

      But that would make me a paranormal author, Glittergirl! I love reading paranormal, but putting my own novels in the “real” world. And my editor would fall over in a heap.

  3. Maureen Polson says:

    Perhaps a wig of some sort (although I do also like the prior suggestion of a magic spell).

  4. Jennifer says:

    She doesn’t necessarily have to have hair that the hero can climb. She can have really long golden hair that she wears up in public. The hero gets to see her long golden locks only in the intimacy of her room (or where ever), which ultimately wins him over! So then she only lets down her hair for him! Just an idea! ;o)

  5. Megan says:

    If she is going to have really long hair it could have something to do with being told it was her best asset when she was younger. Maybe by the hero or a parent. So she never cut it and it ened up being really long. Personally my hair is down to my waist and it can be a pain. Drying it and fixing it. I am so tempted to cut it but hubby loves it so I keep it.

    They had wigs back then didn’t they? Maybe you could use wigs and invent some kind of hair extension as well. I think most people that read historical romance know that not everything is completely accurate and give the author some leeway. (I do anyway, that is why it is fiction!)

    I loved what you did with Beauty and the Beast (my fav fairy tale) and after watching Tangeled a over and over with my daughter I am very excited to see what you cone up with for Rupunsel too.

  6. Megan says:

    If she is going to have really long hair it could have something to do with being told it was her best asset when she was younger. Maybe by the hero or a parent. So she never cut it and it ened up being really long. Personally my hair is down to my waist and it can be a pain. Drying it and fixing it. I am so tempted to cut it but hubby loves it so I keep it

  7. Tricia says:

    Loved the Duke is Mine… as for the long hair, I’d say that her mother would cut her hair for her but her mother died when she was young. Out of sorrow for the loss of mom and the intimate time they spent together, she hasn’t cut in years. Since it is always braided and up, only she and her lady’s maid know how long it is and how heavy it is. It gives her headaches and backaches from the weight of it. Cutting it will be saying good bye to her mother once and for all so she doesn’t want to do it. Hero helps her say good bye and loves her short hair of course!

  8. Vicki N. Hammons says:

    I agree with”Glittergirl”, it’s your story, write it how you want! It is your imagination that is changing a fictional story anyway, is it not. Or, you could use the golden wheat stalks, softened somehow and use a tree glue to attach them to her head. I just don’t get people, if you want “accurate history” go read a history book and leave OUR Authors and OUR stories alone! We happen to enjoy the getaway.:)

  9. Flora Segura=Buchler says:

    Hi Eloisa,
    Don’t sweat the hair stuff to much for Rapunzel. You, of all people know that women in the eras you write about very often had quite long hair. There may not have been hair extensions like the ones we have now in those times, but they did use different hair aids to add fullness and height to thier ‘doo’s. ( I’m thinking of Poppy’s sufferings from “An Affair before Christmas.) So maybe Rapunzel could use the aid of a “lovely blonde rope” and you could make her tower a little lower or even metaphorical. It is, as you say, a fantasy after all. I’m looking forward to reading her story, too!

  10. Maya says:

    don’t have a solution, but am reminded of how strongly in favour some women in history were of long tresses because of the nasty custom to cut off/burn off their hair to punish and shame them for misbehaviour. So if a woman had short hair, people might automatically make all kinds of negative assumptions about her. Yikes.

    Both stores sound fab, I loved the recent Pixar retelling of Rapunzel because the heroine matched the hero stride for stride in being action oriented and they both saved each other equally, Ill be curious to see how this Rapunzel compares!

  11. Sue K says:

    I love all these suggestions. I know women back then wore their hair long and I also know what a trial it is to tend long hair. I love the idea that the heroine has been told from childhood that her hair was her best asset so she never cut it.
    Can’t wait to read this book. I totally loved The Duke Is Mine.

  12. kathleen says:

    She cuts her hair repeatedly over the years and makes a rope with it. (it has been done in the past and is incredibly strong).

  13. Sophia Nash says:

    The idea of a masked ball came immediately to mind. The hero sees only the beauty of her hair, but not her face. I know. Cinderella elements:)
    No need to be entered in giveaway-of course I have it already!

  14. Jeannie Smith says:

    I know you will come up with a better idea than I will ever have – that’s why you’re an amazing author and I’m…..not!

  15. Smileygirl3090 says:

    I like the idea of her having really long hair because someone who she listens to, perhaps mother, whoever, insists it;s hair best feature so she hardly ever gets it cut but having such long hair can be really annoying so it’s nearly always up and she only lets it down in the bedroom, sounds good to me.

  16. sue peterson says:

    Perhaps golden sheets that look like they might be her hair as she is leaning out the window? But hey, you’re the writer, not me!

  17. CateS says:

    I would think that very long hair would be extremely ‘heavy’ when put up on your head. Actually, back in that day, women didn’t wash their hair often, but brushed it and then always cleaned the hairbrush [which was then full of dirt/etc].. Some small country royal consort/queen/princess was famous for her hair & excercise regime.. [check maybe via nerdy girls..]

  18. May says:

    A wig perhaps? I am sure that lots of women have put up with a lot of torture in order to look ‘good’!

  19. Lilian Bobadilla says:

    Maybe when she was born she was bald and didn’t have much hair when she was a baby and then when the hair started to grow it was really fine and silky and her mother being so worried took every measure to proctect and she was never allowed to cut it, so by the time she is of age and given that hair grows about 6 inches every year she would have very long hair.

  20. Alina says:

    Besides a wig I have no idea! Maybe make a humorous situation and add some knotted sheets I don’t know how you could solve that one… Retelling fairytales didn’t seem that exhausting but trying to make them believable is really a stretch of the imagination, thank you EJ for doing it!

  21. pam says:

    Since this is a fairy tale , she has a wig made out of a unicorns tail with magical powers. Let your imagination roam. lol

  22. pam says:

    Since this is a fairytale, let her have a wig made from a unicorns tale with magical powers. Let your imagination roam. lol

  23. Shiloh Walker says:

    Oh, Rapunzel… A play on Samson? Long hair & strength?

    I twisted up an earlier version, Percinette…that was fun.

  24. Joy. says:

    If this is to be “magical” kind of romance. Then let’s work some magic… something like: she was cursed by some family rival witch of some sort that her hair would always look ugly to others no matter what she does. But every full moon her natural beautiful long tresses will be reveal and shine like sparkling gold in the moon light. She’s a rich heiress and want s’one to love her for who she is, not money or hair. Only true love finds her this way can break the curse, yada.. yada.. yada… But a handsome hero came across her by the lake thought he saw a water nymph swimming, walking naked by the shore with such gorgeous hair and he was mesmerized and wanted to know who’s the maiden, but she ran away and he’s been looking for her, found her at balls and parties, met her, felt something but not sure if she’s the one and all that. You know, work your magic, EJ. You can do it. I only knew of one real author w/ such loooooong hair: Johanna Lindsey, maybe she can give some tips about it. I parted w/ my long hair decades ago, been short ever since.

  25. Joy. says:

    I agree w/ Glittergirl & Vicki Hammons. Pay no mind to such email. Obviously the person, not very bright, couldn’t tell the difference between fiction vs (true) history. Want true history & facts? Go read history books, take a class. This is “fiction” historical romance or otherwise. (I’ll be glad to answer that email for ya!)

  26. Allways Amour says:

    its a fairy tale so streatch the real there was a woman i remember hearing about in like the 18-early 1900’s who had record setting hair i remember hearing about and repunzel in your version could perhaps have been told that wemon with short haair had loose morels by her father or nurse who perhaps saw a stepmother or older relation whom had affairs with short hair and thus as she grew up she never even considered cutting it becouse that would mean she wasnt virtouis as for how long well it is fantaasy let it be i dont know floor length maybe and allways secured in a braided knot at the back of her head only let down as others have suggested in her bed room…there are hundreds of ways to spin the tale let your imagination run always you know your character best…

  27. bn100 says:

    Maybe the heroine’s long hair only appears when she meets the hero?

    The books sound good.

  28. SusanB says:

    See, I love that your books are so historically accurate (in generalities if not specific details). Floating prison ships and all. So I’d love to learn something inspired by actual, unusual (to us) things women then did with their hair. And since the “then” is so non-specific, that would give you wide swath of possibilities, I’d hope. If there’s source material with info on women’s hair prep, etc, that it.
    And oh! Yes, I’ve read the Duke is Mine (of course). But a signed copy would make me so happy and I promise I would love it and cherish it and not call it George (watching too much Looney Tunes with kids, I know). And I will happily pass on my unsigned book to someone else who can enjoy getting to know one of my fave historical romance authors. You rock!

  29. Carolyn says:

    Maybe there’s a fad of young ladies cutting their hair short and the heroine bucks the trend?

  30. Karin Anderson says:

    I would say that magic could work or just a really long rope. I also like the suggestion that she wears her long hair up and the hero asks her to let it down.

  31. foreveramber says:

    I Love your books weather accurate or not for repunzel try adding a twist to weare the reader willl wonder was it magic one one example is “the glass slipper” with leslie carron whare in the end you wonder was it magic affter all? it would bee something to keep readers guessing since theres no specific time to your story dont sweat the hair try a “magic” twist like maybe when the heroin was little they were told by a wise woman or witch never to cut her hair but had it cut and ended up verry ill but survived barley and now they fear cutting her hair for fear the illness will return….but any way i love your books and every time i see one i dont have at walmart or hyvee for sadly those are my chocies whare i live i snatch it up have already rown duke is mine and love it…as well as the other two books in this searies although im kinda partial to the duke is mine..and lucy…

  32. foreveramber says:

    hey i love your books and the fact that this searies is set in onceupon a time meaning youcan play with the diffrent eras mixing and matching to get the effect you want for repunzel you could do a twist that makes your readers wonder was it magic affter all? my fav example is the movie the glass silpper with leslie carron i know its cinderella but in the end you wonder was it magic that made it happen even though they give you logical reasons ..srry i’m long winded anyway the story could have the heroines parents told never to cut her hair by a wise woman or witch and then ignoring her and cutting the childs hair then our haroine gets verryill and almost dies from then on her parents are afraid to cut her hair becouse the illness could come back if they did and kill her….love your books buy one every time i see one i dont own at my local walmart and any way i already own the duke is mine and love it…i love all the books in this series..but am partial to the duke is mine ..and Lucy! many have already said your the author…

  33. Eloisa says:

    I love all these suggestions — thank you for every one! You’ve got me thinking about my heroine’s youth, which is important… thank you!

  34. Susan C says:

    Hmm having had long hair as a youth, it’s a pain! You can always make it a false braid made from silk worms or something. If she is in her early teens and given she never cut her hair, it would about 8-10 feet long Longer if her hair grows fast. She could always supplement that golden braid with a false one…. How else could the hero climb up the tower.

    But this is your fairytale, you write it your way.

  35. Linda Lee says:

    A bit on the gross side, but someone could suffer from “Rapunzel syndrome” and have a trichnobezoar (hair ball in the stomach).

    Alternately, the heroine could wear a hat designed to look like a long braid.

  36. Jenn says:

    “Rapunzel, Rapunzel let down your hair” could just mean to let it out of an updo. Maybe the hero gets into the tower on his own (like in Tangled – my 5 year old’s favorite movie) and then asks her to “let down her hair.” That way you could keep the line, but not have to worry about him climbing her hair.

  37. angela castile says:

    When Rapunzel came out. My dad looke up some info, 70 feet of hair!! that much hair would be 80 pounds, can you imagine how someone would walk around with all that?
    (1 foot= about a pound)

    In the original story, Some elements of the fairy tale might also have originally been based upon the tale of Saint Barbara, who was said to have been locked in a tower by her father. She wouldn’t neccessarily have to have extremely long hair. But long hair years ago was normal. But as for the story idea that once the hero sees her long haired glory he is smitten? That’s been done over and over again, so that’s not new (not that a man dumbfounded by something he hasn’t seen before isn’t wonderful) He may have known that her hair was long but No idea how mesmerizing it would be. Maybe he gets a hair festish…..

    You could also have the witch be her evil step mother. Who is jealous of her beauty and long hair and she herself is unable to have and is forced to wear wigs to cover her own thin stringy mess. The stepmother then could make it difficult or impossible for men to discover her. Maybe there is something else the stepmother selfishly keeps her for also.

    The plant aspects could be that some herb could be responsible for her gorgeous hair.