Tag Archives: Regency Era

Member Spotlight: Meet Historical Romance Writer Ellise Weaver

Posted by October 7th, 2013

Ellise_weaver_authorEllise Weaver is one tough lady: five years ago, after a bout of breast cancer, she found her calling as a writer. Since then, she’s been telling stories about love set in the Victorian age, some of which she recently self-published. We’re catching up with the Idaho writer to see how the whole process has been going–how she’s written and marketed her books–as well as what she has in the works for the future.

NG: It’s very nice to have you on Book Country, Ellise! What have you been up to lately–both writing-wise and life-wise?

EW: In three months, I published three volumes of my book, THE GOVERNESS. Agonizing and intense as it was, it was also liberating and invigorating. I had set a goal to have the entire book published by the end of summer 2013. In order to accomplish this goal, I split the book into three volumes and tackled one per month.

Life has become rather busy with family and their needs, especially since my husband’s heart attack in August. He’s doing well, but it’s put a stop to any writing for right now. I’m still planning on releasing PIRATE BRIDE next spring.

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Re-imagining the World of Elizabeth Bennet: Jo Baker’s Historical Novel LONGBOURN

Posted by October 3rd, 2013

One of the books I’ve been most looking forward to reading this fall is Jo Baker’s LONGBOURN, coming out on October 8th from Alfred A. Knopf. LONGBOURN is a historical re-imagining of Elizabeth Bennet’s family (from Jane Austen’s revered novel PRIDE AND PREJUDICE), as seen from the point of view of the Bennets’ servants. I rabidly consume any and all Austen adaptations, and if I am a sucker for any trend in pop culture, it is the whole “upstairs-downstairs” dynamic of BBC/PBS shows like Downtown Abbey and (you guessed it!) Upstairs Downstairs. (Recent fiction has capitalized gorgeously on these themes, with excellent novels like MAISIE DOBBS, FEVER, and THE HELP.) Longbourn cover

I wrote to the Knopf publicity department to find out more about this book and Jo Baker’s inspiration behind it. Here’s an excerpt from the Q&A the Knopf team prepared for their media outreach for LONGBOURN. I wanted to highlight this book and author for Book Country members eager to delve into the past as inspiration for their fiction–Baker’s willingness to engage with PRIDE AND PREJUDICE’s implicit class divide was, to me, quite courageous and refreshing. Read on to see how these themes informed her work.

Knopf Publicity: Was there a specific incident that inspired you to write this book?

JB: As a child, reading Jane Austen, I became aware that if I’d been living at the time, I wouldn’t have got to go to the ball. I would’ve been stuck at home, with the housework. We’ve got some battered old silver cutlery at home, which we inherited from my great aunt. She and her sisters had been in service, and she always said the silverware was a gift from her employer when she left—my grandmother maintained, however, that she’d nicked it. Just a couple of generations back, my family were servants. And so once I was aware of that – of that English class thing – PRIDE AND PREJUDICE began to read a little differently. I noticed other presences. A footman enters, a housemaid is told to run along and do something. I also began to realize that some things that seemed to just “happen”– notes arriving, carriages being brought round, meals being served – would of course require human agency to make them occur. I became fascinated by these little flickers of activity: I started to see a whole other life going on below the surface of the book.

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Love Is in Our Writing

Posted by February 14th, 2013

Brandi shares her Valentine’s Day challenge.

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Happy Valentine’s Day. The day when couples stock up on flowers and candy and wine and candles and teddy bears and hearts and cards and lingerie and things that are pink and red.

And romance. Lots and lots of romance.

My wedding anniversary is at the end of February, so my husband and I have never felt the need to celebrate Valentine’s Day. We joke that every day is Valentine’s Day, just another opportunity to dedicate ourselves to each other. Even when I was dating, it wasn’t that big of a deal for me; I always thought I was more Noir than Regency Romance.

Then I read a Regency Romance, the excellent Ravishing in Red by Madeline Hunter. Holy moly. Sexiest proposal ever. (Hint: it involves the placement of an emerald necklace under the protagonist’s skirts.) A sweet, romantic and sexy scene of the couple looking at the stars. The moment when he saw her in that breathtaking dress.

And it inspired me.

How could I bring this level of intensity and passion found in the best romances to my own work? How could I strengthen my characters’ intentions and connections to one another?

I have a scene that I’ve written that I know is missing something. I’m going to borrow from Ravishing in Red and see what happens if I add a moment when the characters really look at one another. What will seeing each other cross the room do to them? What will they say when they peer into one another’s eyes? I don’t know, but I’m going to give it a shot.

I’d like to challenge you, too. Find one thing from romances that can help in your own work. Write a scene with it, and let us know what you discover.

©iStockphoto.com/Joe Biafore

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What Makes a Great Romance Hero?

Posted by February 4th, 2013

Craft a male character that makes readers swoon.

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It’s unthinkable to write a successful romance novel or romantic story arc of any kind without a stormy, steamy romance hero. The plot may be fascinating and the writing style accomplished, but if the male lead doesn’t give me heart palpitations the book is a flop.

Last week, I urged our Facebook followers to pick the best romance hero in fiction. There were representatives from different genres—urban fantasy (Jericho Barrons), contemporary romance (Gideon Cross and Christian Grey), paranormal romance (Zsadist and Edward Cullen), and even classic literature (Mr. Darcy). The majority of you voted for (who else?) Mr. Darcy. Austen’s legendary hero just turned 200 yearsPride and Prejudice was published on January 28, 1813—so I was surprised when he so unabashedly overtook modern-day heartthrobs like Christian Gray and Edward Cullen.

Why is Mr. Darcy, who we never even see plant a kiss on Elizabeth’s lips, so universally loved? What makes a successful romance hero?

While there are nuances, there are three main characteristics great romance protagonists share with Darcy :

(Warning: Spoilers to Pride and Prejudice ahead.)

The Flaw

A truly great romance hero is not out to please anybody. He tends to be brusque and unpleasant—deeply flawed. Look at Edward Cullen from Twilight or Christian Grey from 50 Shades of Grey. Like Book Country member Danielle Bowers hilariously noted, “Christian Grey has more issues than National Geographic Magazine.”

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