Shining a spotlight on celebrities and athletes who love to travel. Created and developed by Stacy Steponate Greenberg.
Historical Romance Novels. The concept conjures up so many images, not many of them pertaining to Harvard, or Oxford or Yale. But that world-class educational resume belongs to Eloisa James, one of the best-selling novelists in the genre of historical romance. Now a tenured professor of English Literature specializing in Shakespeare at Fordham University, Eloisa wrote under another name for many years, keeping her writing secret from her colleagues for fear of being deemed inappropriate for a scholar. Ultimately, Eloisa managed to merge both her passions, for the scholarly life and the escape of historical romance novels. The Overhead Compartment caught up with Eloisa James to learn of her travel habits and a few secrets about how all that romance comes to life on the page.
Be sure and check out Eloisa James’ latest novel Four Nights with the Duke.
The Overhead Compartment with Eloisa James, originally published Oct 14, 2015, starts now….
OC: You’re a romance novelist that spent a year living in Paris and writing a bestselling memoir called Paris In Love. What is your favorite thing to do in Paris?
EJ: Sit in a café, drink hot chocolate, and people watch. I love the way the French make hot chocolate, with one small pitcher of steaming milk, and another of excellent chocolate, so rich and dark that it slides into the milk like a helping of mud. Mixed together—in just the proportions that you love—it is truly a drink for the gods.
OC: What is it about Paris that has inspired so many American authors?
EJ: The French treasure time: they don’t run through it the way Americans do. I think that’s a valuable lesson and one that novelists often write about.
OC: What are the three most important things travelers should know about Paris when they visit?
EJ: You do not need to speak French (a credit card and smile go a long way); you will feel better if you don’t order every course that a restaurant offers; and you will be happiest with your memories if you realize that the Louvre is fiendishly crowded, and spend your time walking the city instead.
OC: What is your favorite place for leisure travel?
EJ: As it happens… Paris!
OC: First thing you do when arriving at a hotel in your room?
EJ: Unpack. We had an unfortunate encounter with bedbugs, so I am vigilant about getting my clothes out of my bag, and my bag well above the ground. Plus, I honestly feel that you get over jet lag better if you make yourself at home.
OC: Biggest pet peeve about hotels?
EJ: I don’t like it when their toiletries are terrible. I don’t carry shampoo with me, given that I try to go with a carry-on, and these days I expect a hotel to have a decent brand of shampoo waiting for me.
OC: Now you’re living in London and have a new romance novel coming out called Four Nights with the Duke. Did living in London influence your story?
EJ: Four Nights was written last year, in our New York apartment. But at the moment I’m writing a novel called My American Duchess, which is very influenced living here. For example, I discovered the practice of renting a pineapple for a dinner party back in the 1800s while visiting a museum in Bath. That went straight into the book!
OC: What are three things every visitor to London has to see?
EJ: The Victoria & Albert Museum, the Harry Potter studios, and a play at the Globe.
OC: Top three favorite restaurants in London?
EJ: Gordon Ramsay’s York and Albany (fantastic food in a pub setting), Osteria Basilico in Nottinghill (Italian food that tastes as if my mother-in-law made it), and the Itsu restaurant chain (dependably good Japanese food with a sushi train, so children love it).
OC: You’re husband is Italian and spend your summers in Florence? What is your favorite thing to do in Florence?
EJ: Just wander around the center. We live in an area with homemade pasta on the corner and a gelateria down the block. But I still like to go into Florence proper, combat the crowds, and pretend Dante’s streets are still his own.
OC: Complete the following sentence: I never leave home without my ___________?
EJ: Rinowa “beauty case.” Seriously. It’s a small hard-shell that sits on top of your carry-on. You can stuff loads of things in there, enough to comfort you on a 14 hour flight.
OC: Why should everyone be reading Shakespeare?
EJ: He’s interesting. And very good company if you’re lonely or depressed. Just think: you may be sad, but at least you’re not Macbeth, moaning on about “Tomorrow and tomorrow and tomorrow,” on the verge of having his head cut off.
OC: Who is your favorite contemporary novelist?
EJ: Michael Chabon.
OC: What is the one thing you miss most about the U.S. living abroad?
EJ: My favorite chocolate shop in New York City – Mandel’s. I’ve never found dark chocolate marshmallows anywhere else that were worth the calories.
OC: When you come to America, what is the first place you want to go?
EJ: Broadway! We love theater, and we go all the time.
OC: Travel secret/habit about you that no one knew until now.
EJ: I always bring along a Xanax – not because I’m afraid of flying, but because an airplane is one of the few places where I risk losing my temper when people are rude and inconsiderate. There’s no point, so I recommend you partake in the drug of your choice (a little Scotch works too)
Eloisa James, please use care upon departure as items may have shifted in The Overhead Compartment during our journey. Thanks for choosing us for your travel tips! Have a wonderful day!