Wendy Burge, author of Love Me Again, sits down to discuss being an author, her first book, and the nature of love.
A Chat With Wendy Burge
by Cybil Solyn
Q: Congrats on your first publication, LOVE ME AGAIN. Not only is it a well written, deeply emotional novel, but it has quite a twist on the normal Regency. What made you think of this story?
A: All romances typically end with happy ever after, but I was always perverse enough to ask what happened when it wasn't. Then I thought, what would happen if two people who had the happy ending had it taken away from them? The obvious premise to me was a royal couple who were unable to conceive, and events beyond their control wrenched them apart. So, the story just grew from there.
Q: Readers always love to hear the story of "the call" from an editor. What is yours?
A: I really don't have much of a story here. I had submitted this book to several editors and it was looked at by a few of them. It was Kate Duffy at Kensington who finally saw the potential of my warped reasoning, and decided to give me a chance, but she had it a year before deciding. It is a story beyond the usual and I am sure she had to give it a lot of thought before commiting herself. But Kate is a lady of strong convictions who seems to like taking risks, and I just hope I don't let her down. And let me tell you, just because you finally sell, doesn't make it any easier, believe me. Especially when your first book is as controversial as this one. One can't always write a book like this, and now I am under pressure to live up to unusual premises, even though sometimes I just want to write a simple story of love.
Q: What hooked me from the beginning of the novel was the obsessive nature of the main characters relationship. I can honestly say that I have never read a book that had the "good guys" in such a darkly obsessive relationship. Most times the antagonist is obsessed, but the hero and heroine are just madly in love. When you created Christina and Varek, did you know what their relationship would be like?
A: I didn't want to write a book that a reader could immediately assume what the ending would be and then predictably was exactly that. I think that is a disappointing read. I wanted a book that kept the reader guessing and on their toes. So the obsessive love. Plus, who is to say good people don't obsess? To some degree, against our own typical personalities, every one does. You can be stoic about love, but obsessed about weight, or avoid parties because you are unusually shy. In Love Me Again, here are two people who were and remained truly in love with each other. I would think if your love was ripped out of your arms and your whole world flipped over on its side, wouldn't you become obsessed? I believe any normal person would, or else that love wasn't as strong as you believed. Anyway that's my thoughts, and I would like to think I could love someone that way.
Q: Robert is such a real character in your book. He is neither all good, or all bad. What was it like to write a soon to be cuckolded, second husband of convenience?
A: Someone who was reading my book as I was writing it said that Robert was too nice. That is order to make the story work, I had to make him into a villain. I didn't agree, but I respected that person's advice and I tried to change Robert into a villainous man right from the beginning—and I lost all interest in the story. It became too predictable. It didn't seem real to me anymore, so I put the book aside for close to a year. But this story was constantly calling to me, and I knew I had to sit down and tell it my way. I realized that just because making Robert the villain and making it work easier in most readers' eye did not necessarily make it real. So I put Robert back the way I originally had him and I finished the book in weeks. No one is all good and all bad; we all have our strengths and our weaknesses. Why should Robert be any different? It wasn't Robert's fault that he was up against a force that he couldn't possibly win against. As I wrote his character I wanted his frustrations and fears to come out. He was a character that I truly related to, and felt sorry for. I hope I got him across that way. Did Christina make the right decision cuckolding her husband? I leave that to the individual beliefs of each reader, for each reader will see their own strengths or weaknesses through these characters. I wanted to write a book that people could relate to on many levels, whether to the good or bad, that is what I wanted to achieve with this story.
Q: Why did you choose the Vienna Congress as a setting?
A: I needed a setting that Christina and Varek could come together without it seeming too coincidental, henceforth the congress, where Britain met with the world. Plus it was such a fascinating time in history; where everyday another story was in the making. Once I had my story decided from my characters POV, then I settled on the setting. I was very pleased when it was done. It came together like the pieces of a pattern, which fit together like a well-designed gown, and I think it worked extremely well.
Q: Name 3 books you wish you had written?
- The Silver Devil by Teresa Denys
I loved the dark prince, Domenico, who you don't know if he is hero or villain? I have read this book repeatedly and I still don't know, and one day I hope I can write such a fascinating character.
- Katherine, by Anya Seton
A true love story that has always inspired me, and gave me my true love for Romance.
- Rizpah, by Charles Israel
This book opened up my love for reading and instilled in me a sense that one day I would write a book like this and tell such a story.
Q: What can we expect to see from you in the future?
A: Gosh, I am wondering that myself. My next book is an extremely dark story set in Victorian London that my editor just fell in love with, and my more, should I say normal premises, she didn't seem to like. Everyday I live in a quandary of what I will write next. I just finished a book that I truly love, and my editor doesn't want it, and an agent trashed it. So, it seems I haven't the faintest idea. I am hoping, (keeping my fingers crossed) that one day I will get to a point in my writing career where I won't have these worries and my editor will buy whatever I put across her desk, but that isn't happening anytime soon, and right now I am having my doubts that it ever will. Whew! Talk about obsession!!
Wendy, Thank you for the review. I loved LOVE ME AGAIN and hope that everyone gets a chance to read it. Wendy will be in Reno for the 2002 Romantic Times conference. Her website can be found at www.wendyburge.com