This week on Espresso Tales I chat with Susan Lodge, author of the newly-released, Captain Rockford's Reckoning, her third Regency novel.
Susan Lodge was brought up with five brothers in the West of England and spent her formative years climbing trees and watching westerns. Leaving home, she headed for London and embarked on a career in the Civil Service, gaining a science degree along the way.
Over the years she has worked in several historic cities, where the streets still resonate with the Georgian period, providing a wealth of inspiration for her stories. Her romantic novels are often set against the backdrop of Nelson’s navy, and she always manages to inject a fair dose of humour into the plot.
Susan’s always wanted to be an astronaut but would now settle for being a space tourist – given the chance.
She loves tinkering on her piano, perfecting her swing dance routines and discovering new destinations for her characters.
Married, with two children Susan now lives in Hampshire.
Megan: Susan, welcome to Espresso Tales. What can I get you to drink?
Susan: Black coffee - strong and hot please.
Megan: Tell me a little about your novel, which has just been released and I believe is your third novel set in the Georgian era?
Susan: Captain Rockford’s Reckoning, has just been released, and, yes, it is my third Regency romance.
Richard Rockford had been a friend and protector to his neighbour Esmie Elstone almost all her life. But their friendship is shattered when Esmie is persuaded by Richard’s worst enemy to conspire against him.
Four years later, they meet again in London, where Esmie is enduring society life under the supervision of her Aunt, Lady Danby.
To alleviate the boredom of her days, Esmie helps run a betting book, under the guise of a weekly sewing club. Relationships become complex when an ill-timed wager embroils Esmie in a dangerous conspiracy.
There is plenty of humour and intrigue involved, plus a short voyage where Esmie gains an insight into Robert’s naval life.
Megan: I so love the idea of a betting ring disguised as a sewing club. I'm always interested to know when the writing bug bit authors. When and why did you begin writing?
Susan: I loved writing stories from a very young age and hung out at the local library a lot. I won a prize for writing a story about elves when I was seven, and from that day I was going to be a novelist. But unfortunately, I needed to eat, so the search for a publisher didn’t start in earnest until many years later. My first published work was a short story that appeared in The People’s Friend, in 2011. That milestone, powered my motivation to pitch my first novel.
Megan: Clearly the love of writing remains for you. What are you currently working on?
Susan: As well as historical novels, I enjoy writing contemporary romance, The Man in the Green Lycra, is nearly finished. Had a lot of fun writing this one, which stars an environmentally friendly cyclist, and a female police officer. Apart from that I always have an historical on the go. My first love is the Regency period, and I am presently working on a sequel to Captain Rockford’s Reckoning.
Megan: What's your routine - are you an early bird writer or night owl?
I am an early bird and have been all my life. Work and family tended to make writing time defined and precious, so early weekend mornings, before anyone stirred in the house, used to be my most productive. These days I have more time, but 6-8am is still my favourite writing time - before the day starts buzzing with distractions. I also find new ideas, and resolutions to plot problems occur in the early hours, and I must harness them as soon as I get up.
I am brain dead after 9pm unless I am pumped full of coffee.
Megan: How do you plan your novels or do you let your characters guide you?
Susan: I'm most definitely a Pantser. I never have a real plan when I start a novel, just the main characters in my head, the setting and the main event that will define their romantic connection.
My latest Regency novel began with just the idea of a betting book run under the cover of a sewing club.
As my characters evolve they lead me to the next scene, rather than one already mapped out. I feel too much planning would stifle their development.
This is not a very efficient approach, but it suits me.
Megan: I think it is always finding the balance that suits you. Of all the characters in your books who would you most like to have coffee with or least like to have coffee with?
Of course, I am in love with all my heroes. But I would like to have coffee with Dr Robert Withington, from Only a Hero Will Do. He doesn’t flatter, or waste words but is always polite and dedicated to his role as Physician to the Fleet.
Despite being the younger son of an Earl, he had to find a way to earn a living when his father left the family in a rather impoverished state. He is a great lover of books, but underneath his serious and intelligent demeanour lurks… well let’s just say he possesses unexpected talents. As a character, I feel he has a lot more to give to the reader, and I am very keen for him to make a reappearance in a future story.
Megan: I have far too many book boyfriends amongst my own creations! Thanks so much for joining me Susan, and all the best for Captain Rockford's Reckoning.
To learn more about Susan and her regency novels and upcoming works: