Thursday, November 29, 2007

The Great North and South Crusade

Day 4

Special Guest Day

Well, now that I'm completly red faced with embarrasement and wondering why we thought that was a good idea *G* it's time to move onto something else special we have for you. And by the way, we aren't really planning on going to Budapest for vacation. I don't think............we aren't are we?

When Sula, Katiebabs and I tossed about ideas for North and South week, one of the things they suggested was getting one special author’s opinion on this series. I knew she had seen it since she mentioned it on a message board when I asked her if she had.

It might be handy to give a bit of background first for any new visitors. I lost my husband of 31 years a year ago last August after a battle with cancer. I had taken a leave of absence from my job to be his primary caregiver. A week before I was due to go back to work, I received notice that all contracts had been cancelled so there was no job to go back to. I wasn’t in any state emotionally to start looking for a job.
Thank goodness for the friendships I have made on-line. They helped keeping me going. One of the things that helped the very most was the Dreaming of You campaign. As I ‘encouraged’ more and more bloggers to give it a try – and they did and enjoyed it, I could laugh and smile and had a reason to get up in the morning. I know that sound almost overly dramatic, but it’s also so very true.
Then when I went to Dallas this past summer, thanks to Sybil for which I can never say enough thanks, I had an opportunity to meet this author in person and even go out for lunch with her. I blogged about it at the time.

So I sort of reluctantly agreed. I have no problem whatsoever doing favours for people, but I think, like many of us, I hesitate to ask. But I gathered myself together and sent her an email asking if she would be open to helping with The Crusade. She responded within the day in the most gracious of manners. Of course that was expected because she is truly a warm and gracious person.

I asked Katiebabs and Sula for some questions I could ask and along with some of my own sent them off. I wanted to ask tons and tons but then my brain shut down and I couldn’t think of hardly any. This is my first author interview – I’m sure you’ll be able to tell *g*. She responded with her answers and so here we go. I just adore her answers!!

Lisa Kleypas on North and South

Lisa, first off thank you so very much for helping us in our Crusade to get romance readers to see this fascinating series. Now many people may not know this, but I have a tendency to get a wee bit carried away when I’m blown away by something I’ve seen or read that really touches me and I can’t help wanting to share something that deeply touches me. Thankfully Kate and Sula both feel the same way and have joined the Crusade with me.

Now for a few questions.

You’ve seen North and South. Why would you think romance readers would enjoy this?

LISA K.: Kristie, this is one of the few miniseries I’ve seen that provides a similar experience to reading a great historical romance. Sometimes when a historical book is made into a movie, it seems as if the filmmakers are so concerned with the period trappings, they don’t spend enough time on the characters and their relationships. But North And South has it all . . . beautiful cinematography (remember when we first see Thornton , dressed in black, with all those feathery white bits of cotton floating around him like snowflakes?) . . . wonderful acting and compelling dialogue . . . and most of all it has Richard Armitage!

What made you decide to watch this series and what do you think makes it so special?

LISA K.: I had heard of it before, but I didn’t really know what it was and I hadn’t heard any recommendations, so I disregarded it. Then you mentioned it, and pointed out that Richard Armitage would make a good Derek Craven. Not only was I intrigued by that, but also by the time period, and the fact that it was a romance between a professional man (a mill owner) and a genteel young woman. As you know, that kind of story is right up my alley! When I started watching, I was immediately swept away by the quality of the production. It has a few enjoyable similarities to Pride and Prejudice, but it is also very fresh and different, with a grittier storyline. It’s Pride and Prejudice with a social conscience.

I know you know we kind of now imagine John Thornton aka Richard Armitage as our visual of Derek Craven, one of our most beloved heroes. How would you compare the two characters – other than the fact that one is written and one is on the screen of course?

LISA K.: I was almost flabbergasted by the physical similarities between Derek Craven and Richard Armitage, as well as the wonderful brooding sexiness Armitage gets across.

What I especially love is Armitage’s incredible ability to convey many qualities at once in a single scene. So when Margaret sees Thornton beating a man up, and Thornton realizes she’s seen him behaving so violently, his expression flickers with anger, defensiveness and a touch of resignation, all in quick succession. You know he desperately wants her good opinion, but he knows he’s just blown it, and at the same time he feels justified in his actions. And he’s angry at her for judging him, and he still yearns for her. You can tell that John Thornton has not had much pleasure or gentleness in his life, and that his inner grace of character (the fairness, the concern for his employees) has been hard-won. You can tell that his attraction to Margaret is an unwilling one, and that he is trying with all his might to resist her.

In my mind, that echoes the duality of Derek Craven, who struggles so hard to stay locked in his solitude, even as he is falling hard for Sara Fielding. Although Derek is in many ways a powerful man, he is completely undone by this very innocent woman, and he fears her power over him. I think he knows deep down that if he ever falls in love, it will affect him more than it does most men . . . it could save or destroy him. And because of his past violence and “dirty deeds,” he understands his own potential to harm the woman he loves. I think part of the appeal of “Dreaming Of You” is possibly because of this weird sense of relief that Derek and the reader feel when he eventually succumbs to his love for Sara, and instead of disaster, it becomes a healing experience.

It’s also been suggested that Daniela Denby-Ashe would make a good Sarah. What are your thoughts?

LISA K.: She would be perfect! The big eyes, the round little face, the mixture of strength and vulnerability . . . she would make a great Sara.

Why would a romance reader fall so hard for the love story of John Thornton and Margaret Hale?

LISA K.: It is that delicious storyline of two characters who, because of their reluctant attraction, have to rise above their initial impressions of each other. They have to learn to see the other person for whom he or she truly is. This process of reaching beneath all the defenses and misunderstandings, struggling to reach each other despite all the inner and outer forces that try to keep them apart, is truly romantic. One of my favorite parts of the story is a small but telling detail . . . do you remember when they’ve had a quarrel, and Thornton wants to “part as friends” and asks Margaret to take his hand? And she won’t. Because as gesture like that is “not done” where she comes from, and also she is wary of the physical contact with him and the vaguely sexual threat of their hands touching. BUT . . . later at the big party scene, she does bring herself to take his hand, and I swear you can see little sparks all over the screen. Moments like that are what show the conflict and yearning and pleasure between these two characters.

What did you think of the other parts of the series? The class struggles and the Master worker storyline?

LISA K. : As you know, class struggles are endlessly fascinating to me, and play a part in many of my books. So I loved that aspect of the series! It provided a dark and realistic framework for the love story, and Margaret’s and Thornton’s actions regarding the strike were a wonderful way to illustrate their characters. The way they tried to understand the other’s one’s viewpoint, and the principles that each tried to live by, showed how two people can disagree but at the same time respect their differences.

Now that you’ve seen what the BBC can do, is there any one of your books you would like to see made into a series if wishes were horses and we knew how to ride?

LISA K.: Oh . . . a Wallflower miniseries would be so fun!

This is more of a rhetorical question, but what do you think makes British actors so much more ‘real’ than many American actors?

LISA K.: This has always been a fascinating question to me. I’ve heard it said that American actors work from the inside-out, whereas British actors work from the outside in. And I prefer the latter method, because a British actor starts with his appearance, changes himself to fit the script, and goes deeper and deeper inside to serve the character. Whereas an American is more likely to change the character to suit his own personality. I think the British goal is far less vain, and far more effective.

If you ever get the time would you like to read the book?

LISA K.: I have the book! I had to order it once I saw the DVD. And I am going to read it over the holidays. It will be so fun to see the differences between novel and film.

Finally Katiebabs had a question she wanted me to ask. Here goes: I need to know this- In "Suddenly You", the scene were Jack and Amanda use a bowl of raspberries in a very shocking and erotic way has never been repeated or written in a comparable way that I can think of in any of your books since then. What made you use that scene and were you afraid your fans wouldn't accept it as well as you would imagine? I FOR ONE LOVED IT :)

LISA K.: LOL. Thank you, dear! At the time I wrote “Suddenly You” I was in a process of self-liberation . . . I was really enjoying the last few years of my thirties, because I loved the sense of confidence and sexiness I was feeling as I got older. (I wouldn’t go through my twenties again for anything!). I was also pregnant with my second child, and it was a really happy time for me. So even before I started “Suddenly You,” I knew it was going to be an unusually sexy novel because of the older woman/younger man storyline. And I decided to go for it.

To me, the appeal of such a pairing is that a younger man would tend to be more daring, more playful, and more sexually “out there.” Jack is a unique hero because he is a publisher, he adores books, and he has an imaginative and liberal turn of mind. And in his strong need for connection and intimacy, there is very little he wouldn’t want to try or experience.

So in that love scene, when Jack is trying so hard to reconnect with Amanda, I thought it would be appropriate for him to do something a little shocking. And she enjoys the experience, and to me it shows that
she finally trusts him enough to let go of every last inhibition.

I knew that some readers would understand and like the scene, and that others wouldn’t. I will admit that I was surprised by the extremity of both reactions! But that’s the wonderful thing about sex . . . everyone has their own preferences and limits, fantasies and inhibitions. I would never expect all of my readers to like everything that happens in my books. When you think about it, the safest way to go is to make everything plain vanilla and predictable, and make every plot a “crowd-pleaser” . . . but that would be boring for everyone, including

Any final thoughts?

LISA K. : Just that I love your passion for sharing books and movies that you enjoy, because sometimes that is the only way that some of us (like me) will discover something really wonderful, like North And South. So thank you to you, Kate and Sula for doing your part to bring romance to all of us!
And a HUGE Thank You to Lisa for taking time out of her busy writing schedule to help with our crusade. I think anyone who has seen this series, while maybe not obsess the way we have, has enjoyed it. Lisa Kleypas has. *huge grin*


KT Grant said...

I have tears in my eyes over your honesty and emotional words.
My mother just had double knee surgery and is not doing well emotionally right now. My parents just celebrated their 34th wedding anniversary and my father, even though a strong and silent man has such love for my mother that after 34 years he is finally doing laundry and *gasp* ironing clothes and cooking. Plus, I am moving back home come January to help them because if not for them, I wouldn't be the stable person I am today.
Thank you for having this wonderful blog, welcoming me to participate and your love of the romance genre. It brightens my day.
Great interview, great week of N&S and Richard loving and I got my questions asked my a master author who if I met I would have been a puddle on the floor.
People like you, Sybil, Sula,and websites such as Dear Author, AAR, Romance Junkies... and anyone else I am forgetting (man sounds like an Oscar speech) deserve all the credit and kudos from authors and fan alike.
I no longer feel ashamed for basking in romance. And if we want to be all fan girly over a man such as Richard, why not?
I still love that dinosaur picture with him *G*
Okay, so I have babbled, need a tissue. I am blaming this on my crazy cold I have right now!

lisabea said...

Kristie (J)~ Me too. I have tears in my eyes as well. I wanted to tell you the other day how much I admire your voice here in blogland and how much I appreciate your level head when things get nasty in other places. You certainly do have friends here. And I'm very sorry for your loss.

Wonderful interview with Lisa. I still haven't seen North and South and feel dreadfully out of the loop. I have got to get on the same page! And boy howdy do I get what Lisa said about late 30's and sexuality. You reach a stage when you realize this is as good as it gets! Time to live it up and enjoy!

Dev said...

What a wonderful surprise, Kristie!! Lisa is such a sweetheart.

I get to see North and South next week ~~ it can't come soon enough. I wish some magic fairy would plop it in the library's lap today so I could snuggle up and watch it over the weekend. Forecast calls for snow and I'd love to be snuggled up in a blanket watching this.

sula said...

*sigh* I don't really have anything to add. It's all been said. First off, a big huge thank you to Lisa for agreeing to participate in our North and South-athon. She verbalized so many things that were in my head but I'm just not gifted with words in the way she is. (probably why she is an award-winning author and I am not. lol)

But most of all, thanks Kristie(J) for being such a warm and welcoming presence on this crazy thing we call the internet. I've had so much fun trading ideas on books and movies and squeeing with you and katiebabs over richard and all things romantic.

(btw, I think that Budapest is supposed to be very nice in the summer....and I do have some vacation days coming to me...) ;-)

lisabea said...


Kellie said...

I so need to get to the Library and pick up these vids!!!


Joanna Chambers said...

What a lovely post Kristie, and a great interview. I love your blog; you come across as such a warm, funny, enthusiastic person. I'm so glad that people like you are meeting authors like Lisa and sharing the results with the rest of us.

kris said...

Kristie, you did a wonderful job. The questions were great and Lisa Kleypas seems very gracious . BTW ladies, my father lived in Budapest till his 20's and he says that it will always be one of the most beautiful in the world. He's biased.

Anonymous said...


Anonymous said...

Ahhhhh - I can post again *sigh of relief* See - my computer crashed on me Tuesday night. I was computerless Wednesday except at work. All I could think was "NO!!!!! NOT DURING THE GREAT NORTH AND SOUTH CRUSADE WEEK!!!
I went to work extra early today so I could post Lisa's interview and then through a series of unfortunate circumstances, couldn't see anything until tonight. I had (sister) Lisa take my 'puter to where she works 'cause the guy she works with is a real computer whizz. And *sigh* now I have it back again. I tell you I was going through heavy duty panic moments there. Although last night - without internet - I spent most of the evening watching Robin Hood. What a Bad Guy that Guy is!!! Delicious!! compared to boy Robin!

Katie - I'm so sorry to hear your mother is going through such a tough time - but how sweet that your dad is coming through for her!! And how nice of you to move back to help them out! I don't know what I would have done without my two sons. And they are both single!!!

Lisabea: Weren't her answers great!! She put it all so very well and the fact that she would help - well, there really aren't the words.

Dev: And we have even more planned! I just hope after all this build-up the movie doesn't disappoint *g* although I don't see how it can ;)

Sula: Aww - now I'm blushing again - and not because I'm talking "things" about himself *g*. Now - do they film during the summer would be the next question :) And I've had such a blast with you and Katie too

Lisabea - again *huge grin*

Zeek: *chuckle* That's what we're aiming for - and as you can see, we pulled out all stops.

Tumperkin: Ah shucks. Thanks. My life has been so enriched by meeting fellow bloggers - online and in person. And authors as well. The ones I met in Dallas were so awesome. I think it's because, when it comes right down to it, what we all have in common is a love for - well - love.

Kris: Hi!! Glad you enjoyed it, I thought you might ;-)
And Lisa (Kleypas) is really such a nice person!!

Mollie: It was very fun to do!!

Wendy said...

Look at you - getting an author interview with Lisa Kleypas! Go on with your bad self Kristie!

Rosie said...

Kristie, this week was so great. I loved following your discussions and nodding in agreement most of the time.

Love the Lisa interview. You guys have really made an impact with this series. Seriously, I'd live to see the sales figures for this video the past two months.

Thanks for doing this. It was fun.

Kristie (J) said...

Rosie: It's been a riot doing it!! And just between you and me, we did leave a bit on the cutting room floor of the PJ party ;)
And we aren't done yet.
We'd love to see too, if we have any effect on romance readers deciding to watch North & South. As YOU know - it's really wonderful.

Wendy: Yep, she was so great to do it for us wasn't she? So - hav we got you curious to see it now *g*?

Carrie Lofty said...

I saw N&S for the first time in May. *swoons* Poor Mr. Darcy, I kicked him to the curb and have had a serious Thornton crush ever since.

As to the issue of American vs British actors, I think it has to do with star status. Hollywood movie casts are filled by big names who might draw in a crowd. So what if Julia Roberts is TOTALLY not right for a role--it doesn't matter. They're casting her name. Maybe she'll pull it off, maybe not.

The BBC miniseries phenom seems to draw its success from casting relative unknowns who genuinely fit the role. Think Daniella as Margaret, or Anna Maxwell Martin as Esther in Bleak House, or the adorable Justine Waddell in Wives and Daughters. They are cast for their performance, not for their name, and that makes the entire cast more cohesive and synergistic. Genuine chemistry!

I'm looking forward to Andrew Davies' new adaptation of Sense and Sensibility as a miniseries in 2008. He did the screenplay for the BBC P&P, and I know they'll cast this mini for character, not for name. I loved the Ang Lee/Emma Thompson one from the 90s, but the guys were Alan Rickman and Hugh Grant, not Col. Brandon and Edward Ferrars.

Oh wait, not I have to think about Alan Rickman for a bit...

Bottom line: the Crusade is valid and worthy. Go watch North & South!

Megan Frampton said...

Oh, this is so cool, Kristie. You are the best.

I actually had N&S on hold from the New York Public Library, since I'd heard it was so good, and the Brooklyn Library didn't have it, but I wasn't able to make it into Manhattan in time.

Darn. Thanks for reminding me about this.

Jace said...

Kristie, thank you for sharing a little of your life story. You've touched me. *big hugs* Be strong. You do indeed have many friends here rooting for you.

Kristie (J) said...

Carrie: excellent point! I think Hollywood DOES tend to cast actors for name rather than whether they suit the part or not - remember the kerfuffle when Tom Cruise was cast as Lestat for example. And to be perfectly honest, I'm not that enamoured by most of them
George Clooney - pfft
Brad Pitt - nuh uh
Matt Damon - what was People Magazine thinking?
Christian Bale - well he has possibilites
I like the British way so much better - define the character and then match the actor.
And thanks for your endorsement of our Crusade !! :) We all think it's a worthy one - heh heh

Kristie (J) said...

Megan: I know, know, know you'll love it, love it, love it!!! I think you can also get it through Netflix if you can't make it to the library. And curious - don't they have interlibrary loans there? I know I once ordered a book and it came all the way from New Brunswick. That was in the days before I was in Full-Fledged Must Own Myself mode, when I still could, though reluctantly, give books back

Jace: I don't talk that much here about the down times I go through. But meeting so many people online has been such a source of comfort, friendship, encouragement - and well - just everything good.

Anonymous said...

Kristie, your story about your husband was quite touching, and my heart goes out to you. My husband and I recently celebrated our 29th anniversary, and I know how close one becomes after sharing more than half a lifetime. I know from my experience when my son was in Iraq that Romance novels and the Romance community can provide comfort and even joy at times that otherwise try one's soul. Ms. Kleypas proved herself to be as gracious in RL as in print.

Thanks to all for the N&S celebration. Any chance to revel in the story and Richard Armitage are welcome. I think they did everything right with this: actors, costumes, settings, even the music fit the story beautifully.

Two notes about actors: I think Christian Bale is actually English, not American. And I feel the need to defend George Clooney a bit, as he's definitely stretched himself as an actor as he's aged -- "Syriana", "Good Night & Good Luck", and the recent "Michael Clayton" are all roles that require actual acting and don't simply play off his looks.

Kristie (J) said...

Susan: Thank you. We would have been married 32 years three weeks after he died and it's been like half of me is missing ever since. The romance community truly has helped fill some of that huge gap.

As for your defense of George Clooney *g* I suppose I didn't really refer to his acting 'cause I haven't seen very many of his movies. (sister) Lisa just swoons over him, but for some reason he leaves me cold. He always has - even in his ER days. I'm not sure why really - he is very good looking - but (and probably very unfairly) *gulp* he just strikes me as being very full of himself and the epitome of HOLLYWOOD. I'm probably all wet though and he is a very nice person. *giggle* but I'd much rather have Richard ;)

sybil said...

You did good kid. Great first interview! Lisa of course as always rocks.

But uh... still not watching it ;)

Kristie (J) said...

Oh Sybil: Can we not tempt you? Does not the pics and scenes of John Thornton aka Richard Armitage not make you want to break down? Does not a weeks worth of posts make you a tad curious as to what on earth would make grown women swoon and carry on so?

And thanks *g* Lisa does indeed rock!!

Devon said...

Great interview! I read some of these posts, then decided to wait until I saw it myself so I could get it!