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Interview with Lorri Dudley

Lorri Dudley started writing romance novels as a “girlie” outlet from her testosterone-filled household. She has a wonderfully supportive husband and three very active boys who love to wrestle, catch bugs, and play in the mud. Writing romance is her way of escaping back into the softer, feminine side of life.

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The Marquis’s Pursuit is book five in you’re The Leeward Islands Series. Do you find it difficult to keep the series going for so long?
Writing about romantic tropical islands didn’t get old for me. Three books including The Marquis’s Pursuit take place in Nevis, which boasts of white sand beaches, rich mineral hot springs, rainforests, lush foliage, and a sugar and spice history complete with Caribs, pirates, and a legacy of slavery and colonization.

Calling the compilation the Leeward Island Series allowed me to island hop and learn fresh information about other islands in the region, like St. Kitts, Antigua, and the British Virgin Islands. I tried to keep each book stand-alone in case a reader jumps in mid-series, but it was a fun challenge to have some past characters involved or referenced.

What did you learn while writing The Marquis’s Pursuit?
Part of Max and Charlie’s backstory is that they chose to go to India as missionaries instead of taking a grand tour after university. While in India, Max was traumatized by the Hindu practice of sati (which plays symbolically into the heroine, Evelyn’s life). Sati was a voluntary act of a Hindu widow who would dutifully follow her husband into the afterlife by throwing herself onto her husband’s flaming funeral pyre. In some instances, involuntary acts were recorded where widows were drugged or tied with wet rope to the bodies of their deceased husbands. Some widows were pressured to sacrifice themselves by sati rather than be a burden to their families. The act of sati is now illegal and frowned upon in India.

What message do you hope readers take away from The Marquis’s Pursuit?
God’s ways are higher than our ways. Through Evelyn and Max’s struggles, I hope readers can realize God doesn’t always draw in straight lines. He may not set us on the fastest or easiest route because trials can deepen our faith. Also, the journey allows us to touch people in need of God’s love that we might not have otherwise been able to reach.

How does your faith affect your storytelling?
I believe that faith comes out in your writing whether you’re trying or not. Matthew 12:34 (ESV) says, “Out of the abundance of the heart, the mouth speaks.” In this case, instead of the mouth speaking, it’s fingers typing. I’ve found in creating characters and plot lines that, whatever struggle my hero or heroine is going through, there’s also a spiritual component to it. For example, if they doubt themselves, they’re doubting who God made them to be. If they’re not trusting others, it can stem from trust issues with God. If they’re hit by blow after blow, they might believe God has forgotten them.

If you could have coffee with an author, dead or alive, whose work you admire, who would that be? What would you ask him or her?
I would love to have coffee with Charlotte Bronte, author of Jane Eyre, which I’ve read at least five times. I would love to pick her brain about the era, her life, and how she incorporated elements of both into her stories. One of six children, Charlotte was the only of the three writing sisters who lived past age thirty-one. She had grit and fortitude, breaking into the male-dominated industry of writing. She also could offer advice on surviving failure because she and her sister Emily started a school but struggled to attract students.

What’s your go-to snack while writing?
I have weird eating habits while writing. Often, I need to get up and stretch my legs, so I wander to the kitchen. I’ve been known to have three to four mugs of tea or juice (all full to half-full) on my desk at one time, and I tend to grab handfuls of dry cereal to snack on, my favorite being Quaker Oatmeal Squares. I like the crunch and a hint of sweetness without the guilt of having grabbed a cookie or donut (at least in my mind, it feels less guilty).

If you could give your younger self one piece of advice, what would it be?
Always be learning. You must constantly be seeking feedback, critiques, and criticism. It’s how we improve, but the process can be brutal. You will shed tears, but you’ll learn to shake off the hurt and appreciate different perspectives.

And writing is a passion. Ask yourself, if no one purchased your books, would you still write? It’s a creative outlet where you get to play pretend as a grown-up. The catharsis received from writing helps keep fingers to the keyboard, especially during the valleys of the writing/publishing cycle—so keep the passion going.

What do you enjoy doing when you are not writing?
I used to draw and paint before my boys’ sports turned me into an unpaid Uber driver. I enjoy drawing people (usually with pastels), and Mary Cassatt is my all-time favorite artist because she paints mothers and children. Until I can pick up a pencil or brush again, I’ve enjoyed embracing my gruff side, learning to cheer on my boys playing aggressive sports like football, lacrosse, wrestling, and basketball (which has also kept my prayer-life active).

What books are on your TBR pile right now?
A Healer’s Promise by Misty Beller
Within These Gilded Halls by Abigail Wilson
A Millstone of Doubt by Erica Vetsch (of which I’ve had a great sneak preview already).
The Letter from Briarton Park by Sarah Ladd

I have a summer vacation coming up and can’t wait to binge-read.

What can we look forward to next?
The Heir’s Predicament, the final book of the Leeward Island Series, releases in April of 2023. The Heir’s Predicament features a grown-up Maggie, the orphaned castaway from The Captain’s Quest. Maggie’s grit and emotional intelligence for someone who’d been through so much at a young age made for an adventuresome heroine who demanded to have her story told. Also, Wild Heart Books contracted me to write a British Regency Spy Series, so I’m currently deep undercover, learning British secrets.
Jessica Baker loves sharing her passion for reading with others and connecting readers with authors. In addition to blogging at A Baker’s Perspective, Jessica is a virtual assistant, proofreader, and runs her own business. Though she wishes she had a library like Belle in Beauty and the Beast, Jessica realizes the importance of sharing her books with the world to tell the story, and donates many books to her local library. Jessica Baker lives Central New York with her husband, teenage daughter, beagle, three cats, and four ducks.

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