Lisa Doughty Shatters the Concrete Ceiling in Her Romance Novels

Courtesy of Lisa Doughty

Lisa Doughty has a lot to write about. Not only is she a prolific novelist, she has a fascinating personal story that not many women on the planet could tell. In a recent one-on-one interview, the Lakeview, California native talked about how her career in the music industry gave way to publishing fourteen books spanning four series in just two years.

Doughty did not set out to be a romance novelist. In fact, she didn’t write her first book until 2017. She recounted the genesis of Black Star – book one of The Blackthorne Legacy Series came to be. “I started as a romance novel reader, between six to eight books a week. I loved them, especially the historical ones. They were easy to read, a means of escape to a different time, culture and place. Soon I ran out of books by authors I liked and those that I didn’t. I searched for a book that met my particular craving, but couldn’t find it. So, one day in mid-February, 2017, I decided to write one, just for fun and to get out the story out my head and onto paper. I asked my friend, an English major, to read it and help me with the grammar and punctuation corrections. She loved it and encouraged me to self-publish it.”

Prior to this abundantly creative period, Doughty was on a much different career track. “I have a degree in Masters Engineering — the making of vinyl records. It is working in the studio, behind a sound board and recording the tracks, from there the tracks were laid onto the vinyl records. That is what I studied and received my degree in. I worked one year at Hot Rocks Studio in San Francisco in the late eighties then did one tour with Electric Light and Sound after that. This industry no longer exists and now vinyl records are collector items.”

She explained how she got in a largely male dominated field, saying she went behind the mixing board “largely because there was no degree in How to be a Rockstar. I couldn’t sing or play an instrument and refused to be a groupie. Nonetheless, I wanted to be a part of the music industry. My father insisted I get an education and this was the best solution I could find that ticked both boxes. Being on the technical end suited me. My knowledge also came in handy when I worked in theater and produced movies. The real-world experience I gained turned out to be invaluable.”

Perhaps it’s not surprising that all of her female protagonists have unique and unexpected abilities. “I love to pit two unlikely characters faced with an unusual circumstance in my novels. I like breaking down barriers, especially those that existed for women in the late 1800s, early 1900s. All of my female leads have an unexpected skill. One’s a genius, the other is an innovative ship designer and a pirate, another a clairvoyant sleuth. I like pitting smart, strong willed protagonists against their equal in a male character and see how they fair. Not every outcome is what you imagine other than I stick to the strict HEA [happily ever after] ending that makes it a romance.”

In addition to giving each main character a distinct expertise, she also likes to put these strong, independent women in the especially confining time period of the 1800s and 1900s. She noted, “There’s so much content to draw for in that era in this genre. Everything romance was harder back then. You were lucky to be alone with someone you were interested in much less have an intimate moment. Now, if you were come across a couple kissing in an alcove you wouldn't think much of it. You’d probably say ‘Geez, get a room’ or a similar sentiment. Not so in the 1800s, that would mean ruination for you and your family if you were female and an honor bound marriage proposal if you were male. This makes every clandestine encounter dangerous and exciting. The forbidden fruit quality this gives plays directly into romance for me.”

Doughty continued, “I also like to break through the glass ceiling or should I say concrete ceiling that women of that era faced. Especially nobility. It was scandalous to have a trade, or a skill that may be put to use. More so if it threatened a male profession. Women were suppressed, often thought not smart enough to be able to do what a man could do. I love hammering that fallacy into dust.”

One of Doughty’s own superpowers is being able to turn out work so quickly. She conceded, “Prolific is quickly becoming my middle name these days. Honestly, I don’t understand it. I do not see myself as such. For whatever reason, mostly because one thing leads to another, the stories keep flowing out of me. It makes me wonder what I am missing? Why aren’t all the other writers doing the same? What’s taking them so long? I probably wouldn’t be writing at all if my favorite authors fed me a steady stream of stories to satisfy my craving and I hope that is what I am doing for my readers.”

Her most recent work is The Ladies of