Posted by Christie Kelley Feb 6 2011, 5:39 am in Christie Kelley, Janet Mullany
Today we welcome back another favorite in the lair, my critique partner Janet Mullany. She’s here to talk about her latest book, Mr. Bishop and the Actress.
Here’s the back cover blurb:
What could be more important than a lady’s reputation?
Although initially alarmed by their unconventional ways, straight-laced Harry Bishop is content in the service of Lord Shad and his family. But when he is sent to London to rescue Shad’s wayward relation from debt and self-destruction, he also has the dubious honour of dealing with the man’s mistress – troublesome actress Sophie Wallace.
A man of dignity and decorum, Mr. Bishop is desperate to disassociate himself from the scandalous Sophie. Unfortunately, avoiding her proves harder than he could ever have imagined and soon she’s causing him all kinds of bother…
A rollicking Regency tale of manners, mischief and behaving disgracefully
Thanks for having me back, Banditas, to talk about my latest release Mr Bishop and the Actress. Always a pleasure to be here (as the actress said to the bishop)! While thinking about fixing to get ready to start beginning this blog post I wanted to come up with a quick definition of what the book is about. And yes, the book is a sequel (sort of) to Improper Relations, so we get to see Shad and Charlotte happily married and having babies.
I came to the conclusion it was a love story, yadda yadda yadda, but it was also a story about misfits finding their place—people who, for one reason or another, don’t quite fit in, or are compelled by circumstances to go beyond their comfort zone. So we have the following characters:
The hero, Mr. Harry Bishop:
For all he looks like a gentleman, there are certain indications—his accent, the borrowed coat—that mark him as a servant, and of course my neighbors knew him for what he was immediately. An educated and gentlemanly servant, it is true, but someone who ascends the slippery slope of social advancement on his own talent and wits. No wonder he is so nervous around me. He does not want to be associated with a woman of ill repute.
The heroine, Mrs. Sophie Wallace, a discarded courtesan:
A new profession. Bishop’s words echo in my head. I cannot saunter to a club and, over brandy and cards with my privileged friends, reveal that I am in need of a position, some gentlemanly sinecure without a hint of labor or trade. The possibilities for a female, particularly a female of middling origins and poor reputation, are dire. With a loan I could maybe start a shop; with luck, and some fabrication of references, I might take on a new identity as a genteel sort of servant. My experience of marriage is such that I do not wish to repeat it, even if I were to find a gentleman willing to take me on, and neither of the above professions open to a woman in my circumstances hold much appeal for me.
I think the issue of social advancement—or decline—is one of the most fascinating features of the Regency. This was a time of great social flux, from displaced country workers leaving the villages where their families had lived for centuries and heading for the great new industrial centers, to the nouveau riche, the owners of those factories or the nabobs returning from India. In Pride and Prejudice Austen hints that Darcy is old money, Bingley comes from the manufacturing classes.
In addition, a burgeoning middle class aspired to gentility. The Duchess and her tenant farmer’s wife could now both afford a pianoforte—the great instrument maker Broadwood had a piano for every (middle class and above) income level, with instruments starting at twenty guineas. As comparison, Jane Austen paid thirty guineas for her piano in 1810 (although we don’t know who the maker was) and twelve shillings for a pair of silk stockings: in other words, her piano cost the equivalent of about fifty pairs of silk stockings.
Do you think we’re too hung up on those at the top of the heap—the earls and dukes? Because there’s some very interesting stuff going on further down (as the actress said to the bishop). What do you think?
The Banditas will pick a winner who’ll receive a signed copy of the book and I look forward to chatting with you! And please visit my website at janetmullany.com for more excerpts and a contest, and bookdepository.com is the best place to buy my Little Black Dress books, which have no US distribution.
The comment link is below the healthy heart tip for today and the AHA BetterU information.
For 2/6: If you go to a restaurant to celebrate, check out our heart-healthy tips for dining out
And…Sign Up for the Go Red BetterU Program and Receive Two Free Romance Novel E-Books
From Feb. 1 through May 31, 2011, receive one free romance novel e-book when you sign up for the American Heart Association’s BetterU Program and one after you complete week six of the program. And look for the Eat Smart for Your Heart limited-edition magazine (that features this offer) on newsstands and in a grocery store near you.
To sign up for the BetterU program, visit:
(Go Red For Women is trademarked by the American Heart Association, Inc. Romance novel downloads provided by Belle Books.)
Posted by Christie Kelley Oct 17 2010, 5:53 am in Christie Kelley, Jane and the Damned, Janet Mullany
by Christie Kelley
I’m pleased to welcome back a favorite to the lair, Janet Mullany. I first met Janet at a Maryland Romance Writer’s meeting many years ago. Not long after that, she joined our critique group. So I now have the pleasure of seeing her every month.
After all these years, I didn’t think Janet could shock me any more, until she told me she was turning Jane Austen into a vampire. I have to admit, I my mouth may have gaped open for a bit.
Jane and the Damned is an October release from Avon. Welcome Janet!
What made you think to turn Jane Austen into a vampire?
My editor! She suggested I write something paranormal with Jane Austen but as soon as I started thinking about it, I realized I really wanted to turn Austen into a vamp–and a real one, not some sort of ladylike neutral vamp. I wanted her to be tough and subversive and dangerous, as well as being witty, because that’s what I think Austen is beneath the veneer of politeness. I also loved the idea of an alternate history where the Damned are “out”–they are gorgeous and fashionable and scandalous, envied and adored by the ton. I had a lot of fun writing them.
Were you worried about what some of the Austen fans might think?
Yes and no. I think anyone who wouldn’t like it would have the sense not to read it. The cover and backcover blurb really say it all. I was prepared for a certain amount of complaints regarding the creeping pervasiveness of popular culture into the sacred groves of Austen worship by people who’d rather eat their collected works whole than actually read my book.
Have you received any backlash from the Austen fans?
Not yet although I have noticed some women of a certain age armed with parasols lurking around the house. (As a woman of a certain age and a card-carrying member of JASNA I’m allowed to use the term.)
Did you have to do any special research for this book?
Quite a lot because it was set in the city of Bath, so I was juggling maps and trying to work out military stuff for the city (my conclusion was it was indefensible but an excellent place for dirty street fighting, which is what the Damned do). I also did some research on the Austen family and Jane’s friends and there are cameo appearances of other real people. I like to think the book starts out as the Meryton assembly (from P&P where Darcy and Elizabeth meet for the first time) and then becomes every movie about the French resistance during World War II (except it’s the English vampire resistance against the invading French!)–with biting.
Is this your first foray into paranormal romance?
I wrote a novella for an anthology headlined by Mary Balogh, Bespelling Jane Austen, where we all chose our favorite Austen and wrote a version with a paranormal twist. Mine was Emma, rewritten as a contemporary set in Washington DC where the heroine runs a paranormal dating agency. I wrote that before Jane and the Damned but it was published at the same time (out now!). Jane and the Damned isn’t strictly speaking a romance although it has a love affair.
You’re known as a writer of funny books. Is this one funny?
It has its moments but I actually found myself dwelling on the implications of immortality and what Jane–or anyone else–would have to give up for immortal life and love. So it’s really a book about not being able to have everything, about sacrifice and choices and loss. (With biting.)
What is your favorite Austen novel?
It’s a tie between Emma (which not many people like) which is so brilliantly plotted and complex, and Mansfield Park, which hardly anyone likes. I think Mansfield Park was Austen’s great experiment; it’s a very sexy book (really!) and, once you’ve got over how wimpy Fanny Price is, a tremendous read.
What’s up next for you?
A second book about Jane and the Damned, which is set in Chawton in 1810, coming out sometime next year, and my last Little Black Dress Regency chicklit, Mr. Bishop and the Actress in March 2011. I also have the first of two contemporary erotic novels for Harlequin Spice next August, Tell Me More. So I’m busy!
Thanks for having me visit. It’s always a pleasure to hang out with you all!
Janet is giving away a copy of Jane and the Damned to one lucky poster. So tell me, how do you feel about Jane Austen being turned into a fictional vampire?
Posted by Christie Kelley Feb 21 2010, 5:06 am in Christie Kelley, Improper Relations, Janet Mullany
by Christie Kelley
I have to start by saying I’ve known Janet for about 8 years now. She is one of my critique partners and one of my favorite authors. Because of deadlines, I didn’t have the chance to read her February release, IMPROPER RELATIONS, until a week ago. But once I started the book, I couldn’t put it down. I ended up reading it in one day. That pretty much never happens for me any more.
Please welcome Janet to the lair!
What can you tell us about your latest book, Improper Relations?
It’s my latest Regency chicklit, the subgenre I may or may not have invented (I think to truly be a subgenre there has to be more than one of us writing it!). I started off with the title and the first line, My story begins with a wedding because I thought that was such a great opening, and I knew I wanted to write about women’s relationships and family ties. It’s not nearly as dreary or as lit-fic-y as it sounds. There are many inappropriate jokes.
I would consider Improper Relations a bunch of misunderstandings but it truly works in this book. Did you set out to write the misunderstanding, or did it just happen?
Absolutely I meant to, because the misunderstandings result from deep within the characters and create the conflict in the book. Charlotte, the heroine, has tremendous loyalty to her best friend Ann, even when Ann behaves badly; and Shad, the hero, is ruled by duty to his family and honor (he’s a retired naval officer). They’re both shaken by falling in love despite themselves, and unexpectedly great sex—not what your typical Georgian expected to find in a marriage, particularly a marriage of convenience. Yes, there’s sex in this one, sort of. I’ve always thought it funny that people regard my Regency chicklits as being squeaky clean. They have a very strong sexual subtext.
Will be seeing any more of these characters in other books?
I like the idea of visiting couples after the happily ever after, so yes, and I’m playing around with some ideas.
We love call stories in the lair, so could you tell us yours?
My significant writerly phone calls always seem to involve disasters like low batteries, broken phones, and other mishaps. When my agent called me to tell me that Little Black Dress had made me a three-book offer (a call but not The call which happened in 2003) I was at home with a really horrible sinus infection that made me talk like a baritone and my nose looked like a banana (swollen, not yellow), and it was my birthday. The phone was turned off. On my next birthday I was mugged on the way home and got a horrendous black eye (nothing was stolen because I screamed obscenities so loudly they ran away). It keeps things in perspective.
Who are some of your favorite authors?
In no particular order and off the top of my head, Jane Austen, George Eliot, Nick Hornby, Hilary Mantel, Pam Rosenthal, Anna Maxted, Jasper Fforde, Julie Cohen, Kate Ross, Terry Pratchett.
You have written in both 1st person and 3rd person, which do you prefer? And why?
It depends upon what I’m writing. First person works really well with the funny stuff, I find, because there’s an enormous amount of author dabbling going on behind the scenes and that works well when a certain amount of choreography is required. It’s much easier to orchestrate a half dozen people behaving badly in first person. With third person I tend to be a bit more serious, although I’ve never really that books have to be either funny or serious, and the ones I enjoy usually have both elements.
Do you find writing comedy difficult?
Not at all. I know I should suffer massive amounts of angst and sweat blood and all the rest of it but I don’t. And I can’t tell you how it happens because I really don’t know, although certainly elements of surprise, subversion, and timing are important. I think either you have a facility for comedy or you don’t, and I don’t know whether it can be learned. There is a certain amount of seriousness behind Improper Relations but it would be incredibly pretentious of me to claim it’s anything other than entertainment. There is one scene that made me cry when I wrote it, and I love to balance that turn from comedy to tragedy and back in only a few words; that, for me, is the hard, crafty part of it. Love is a serious business. It deserves the strategically-placed banana peel or whoopee cushion.
What’s next for Janet Mullany?
This year is a huge writing/publishing year for me. I have an e-novella coming out next month from Loose-Id, Reader, I Married Him, which is a dirty riff on Jane Eyre. In October, I have Jane & the Damned, a sort of speculative historical paranormal about Austen, vampires, and a French invasion (HarperCollins) and a novella in an anthology called Bespelling Jane, headlined by Mary Balogh (Harlequin). Mine, Little To Hex Her, is a contemporary based on Emma, about a dating agency for the paranormal population of Washington, DC. So essentially I’ll piss off all the Jane Eyre and Austen fangirls.
Here is the backcover blurb to get you all excited about the book!
Must a lady always put her husband first?
After losing best friend and cousin Ann Welling in marriage to the Earl of Beresford, sharp-witted Charlotte Hayden is even ruder than usual to potential suitors. Introduced to Beresford’s wayward cousin, Shad, Charlotte may have met her match in witty repartee–but he’s hardly husband material. Caught in a compromising situation, Charlotte and Shad are forced to wed, resigning themselves to a marriage of convenience. And they aren’t the only ones with marital problems… Have both Ann and Charlotte married in haste to repent at leisure? And where do their loyalties really lie? With their husbands, with each other, or somewhere else entirely?
IMPROPER RELATIONS is published by Little Black Dress but is available through The Book Depository http://www.bookdepository.com/browse/book/isbn/9780755347803/ref/janetmullany.aff
More fun things can be found at Janet’s website (there’s a contest and soundbites of Janet reading bits of the books): http://www.janetmullany.com
Janet’s question for the Bandits: What do you find funny? Tell us a joke or share something, a book or experience, that has made you laugh out loud.
Janet is giving away a copy of Improper Relations to one commenter!
Posted by Caren Crane Feb 1 2010, 7:10 am in Brad Parks, Hank Phillippi Ryan, Janet Mullany, Kate Carlisle, Lisa Cooke
by Caren Crane
February 2, you won’t want to miss the fun as Kate Carlisle launches Book Two of her fabulous Bibliophile Mysteries, If Books Could Kill. I can’t wait to find out what’s happening with Brooklyn and the mysterious Derek! It’s going to be a wild time in the Lair, with prizes and cocktails and chocolate and cabana boys…and more. Don’t miss the party and the prizes!
February 3, Nancy Northcott hosts Edgar and Emmy Award winner and RITA nominee Hank Phillipi Ryan. Hank will give us the scoop on the ways her career as an investigative reporter influenced her creation of reporter heroine Charlotte McNally, who’s juggling a demanding job, a new love, and a budding relationship with her lover’s daughter–and risking her neck in the pursuit of truth and justice. Hank’s latest Charlotte McNally novel is Drive Time. Can’t wait to hear how Hank’s experiences inform her writing of this great heroine!
February 4, Donna MacMeans hosts Lisa Cooke, whose new humorous historical release A Midwife Crisis is set in the Appalachian Mountains of the 1890s. A captivating midwife discovers she’s engaged to three different men (thanks to her zany family) and falling in love with a fourth. Lisa will be talking about what we love and hate in heroes. I am a total sucker for zany families!
February 5, Jeanne Adams interviews Brad Parks, whose gritty debut novel Faces Of the Gone follows reporter Carter Ross as he investigates four execution-style murders and finds a connection between the victims that puts him in the killer’s sights. The man had a cover quote from my idol Harlan Coben on the cover of his debut. I can’t wait to read the book and to know more about Brad!
February 19, romance and urban fantasy author Seressia Glass joins Nancy to discuss Shadow Blade, the first book in the new Shadowchasers urban fantasy series. With an Egyptian dagger missing, a 4000-year-old Nubian warrior seeking it, and sinister forces turning Atlanta upside down to get to the dagger first, shadowchaser Kira Solomon has her hands full. Sounds like spine-tingling fun!
February 21 Christie Kelley interviews Janet Mullany about her new Regency-set historical release, Improper Relations, featuring the impertinent Charlotte Hayden, whose cousin Ann’s bad behavior may cost Charlotte the husband she is growing to love. Oh, my, falling in love with one’s husband?! What is a Regency woman to do?
Contests and Prizes and New Releases, Oh My!
Anna Campbell recently received the gorgeous Australian edition of Captive Of Sin. It’s a lovely trade paperback that isn’t available overseas so she thought she’d share the joy. TWO lucky people can choose which of Anna’s four books they’d like to receive in the bigger version, so the prize is a signed copy of either Claiming the Courtesan, Untouched, Tempt the Devil or Captive Of Sin. All you have to do is email Anna on email@example.com with the title of her June 2010 release. You might find the answer in the Latest News on her website. For more information, please visit Anna’s Contest Page.
Christie Kelley is running a contest on her website through February 28. Just stop by and tell her something scandalous that you’ve done in your life — she promises not to tell and claims it doesn’t have to be scandalous, merely fun — and enter for a chance to win an autographed ARC of Something Scandalous.
February may be the shortest month of the year but it will be jam-packed full of fun! It looks like the happenings in the Lair will be hot enough to keep all of us in the Northern Hemisphere warm. For those currently sweltering in the Southern Hemisphere, at least the party will distract you from the heat and humidity! I hope you will all make a point of popping in each day to see what’s happening with all of the Romance Bandits, Bandita Buddies, special guests and, of course, the Golden Rooster!
So, Bandita Buddies, what are YOU looking forward to in February? Inquiring Bandita minds want to know!
Posted by Anna Campbell Sep 4 2009, 3:00 am in A Most Lamentable Comedy, Bandita Booty, Janet Mullany
Thanks, everyone, for a fun day in the lair yesterday. I’m now delighted to announce the winner of the signed copy of A MOST LAMENTABLE COMEDY by Janet Mullany as:
Congratulations, Mariska. Mariska, please email Janet on firstname.lastname@example.org with your snail mail details and she’ll get your book off to you!
Posted by Anna Campbell Sep 2 2009, 5:30 am in A Most Lamentable Comedy, Anna Campbell, Bandita Booty, Janet Mullany, Regency
by Anna Campbell
I’m utterly delighted to introduce a fabulously funny writer to the lair. Janet Mullaney writes Regency comedies of manners (naughty ones!) and when she’s not busy there, she blogs with the Risky Regencies. For more information on Janet and her books, please visit her website.
Janet’s latest Little Black Dress book, A MOST LAMENTABLE COMEDY, is available from the Book Depository in the U.K. The Book Depository will post any book anywhere in the world with no postage!
For more information on Janet and her sparkling stories, please visit her website: www.janetmullany.com
Janet, welcome to the Romance Bandits. You and your madcap stories should fit in really well here with our wild cabana boys and Sven the masseur, not to mention our wonderful Bandits and Bandita Buddies. I recently read your latest Regency romance, A MOST LAMENTABLE COMEDY, and nearly strained something I was laughing so hard. What a fabulous read. Can you tell us something about this book?
Thanks for inviting me into the Bandit Lair and for your kind words about the book! After I wrote THE RULES OF GENTILITY (HarperCollins 2007) I realized I might have to prove I could do something similar, but I didn’t want to write about another babbling naïve fashionista like the heroine of that book, Philomena Wellesley-Clegg. For one thing, I’d made this loud public vow never to write about virgins prancing around drawing rooms, and had a red face. And I thought I’d like to write about a bad girl, a bad girl—not one being a bad girl for a worthy cause.
So I found a girl behaving badly in Rules—the only function she had in the book was to show that the hero was a naughty man and to snap up the catch of the season (not the hero). HarperCollins wasn’t interested, but Little Black Dress (UK) who bought Rules offered me a three-book contract that I accepted when the dollar was at an all-time low against the British pound. By the time I got my first advance the dollar had rallied. I think I got that the right way round—I mean I made a lot less $$ than I originally anticipated. But, heavens, I’m not that mercenary. I hope. Now I sound like my heroine Caroline, who is that mercenary. And worse.
And I have a hero who’s this gorgeous, exploitative con man. They manage to persuade each other that they have money and they’re both broke and lying through their teeth. Then she becomes a Duke’s mistress because, well, it’s almost a rite of passage for romance heroines at the moment. And there’s a dancing bear called Daisy.
It’s such a cool premise. Actually it reminded me of a rather obscure and very old Marlene Dietrich film called THE MONTE CARLO STORY. It’ modern (well, 50s) and they’re two con people who end up falling in love. What’s coming up next for the fabulous Janet Mullany?
Killing the mosquito that’s eating me, but after that … I’m currently working on the first of two books for HarperCollins, a paranormal-alternative historical about Jane Austen, a French invasion, and vampires. I call it “Blood Bath” because it’s set in Bath, but they’ve already told me to forget about that as a title and “Austen Powers” (my brother’s suggestion). It should come out next summer which is sort of scary. I have another Regency chicklit (written, whew) that may be called “Improper Relations” coming from Little Black Dress in spring (probably) of 2010.
I’m also contracted to write contemporary erotica for Harlequin Spice as Liz Diamond. Despite my whining that I don’t have a contemporary voice, my agent, who takes a firm hand with me, insisted I did and sold two books to teach me a lesson. So there. So I’m busy, and yeah, I’m complaining (a bit) but I’d be complaining more if I wasn’t.
Hey, fantastic! Here in the lair, we love call stories. Can you tell us yours? And I’d love to know a bit about your writing journey.
(Whining) When do I get the massage? Oh, OK. I was unemployed, unshowered, and had a broken phone that disconnected three times during the call. That was my first book, DEDICATION, which I’d written purely out of exasperation and deciding to write a book I wanted to read. I sold it to the now defunct Signet Regency line (of the famed polyester gowns and interchangeable heads covers) and the editor asked me to cut 20,000 words and I said “OK, but the sex has to stay.” I thought it might be a deal breaker but she said it was fine. I put STET in huge letters on the galley when the editor tried to change ‘cock’ to ‘manhood’ but they let me leave in all the grown up sex and rude terms—my h/h both knew what they were doing.
I’d been writing fiction about three or four years then, and while I couldn’t and can’t say that I’m a massive romance fan I thought I could write what I wanted to under the romance umbrella (exactly what sort of weather do you have when you pull out the romance umbrella?). It is, after all, a huge and diverse genre. And I thought the romance writers I met were extremely cool, and Chris aka Christie and I were in the same critique group. After DEDICATION, the line folded (I am not responsible for the demise of the trad Regency even though my book had that nasty sex stuff in it), my editor left, and … oh, publishing biz as usual.
Sven hasn’t been himself since we featured him in a blog. Sven? Sven! I think it was Oscar Wilde who said “Dying is easy, comedy is hard.” If it wasn’t OW, it should have been! You have one of the most sparkling and original comic voices I know. Can you give us some advice about writing funny?
It does sound like OW, but I became curious and looked it up–it was an English actor called Sir Donald Wolfit who may not be remembered for much else now. As for writing funny, I think either you have it or you don’t; I think it’s partly voice. And, uh, I don’t find it that hard; in fact I have to restrain myself. A lot of what I do is surprise comments, when a character pulls back from a situation and makes an observation. I also love physical humor and I’ve just spent some time unsuccessfully trying to find a guest blog from a couple years ago where I rewrote Elizabeth/Darcy’s first proposal in PandP and introduced a whoopee cushion as an example of how to write humor. I think you get the idea.
Can you tell us about your writing day?
How old are those cabana boys? They look very … youthful. My writing day is tedious and disorganized and I don’t want to depress anyone by describing it. I have a day job that gives me some contact with the real world (as much as working for a baroque music ensemble will) and gives me a steady but laughable income and a structure.
VERRRRRY young, Janet. That’s how we like them. Bwahahahahaha! I notice you write erotic stories under the pen name Jane Lockwood. Can you tell us about your alter-ego?
Jane’s having a bit of a lie-down after too much excitement (FORBIDDEN SHORES, 2007), and the sparkling Liz Diamond will burst on the scene with a Harlequin Spice that may or may not be called “Red Light” in 2011. I love writing erotic historical romance (the clothes! The lack of underwear! The lacing and rules and stuff! The jiggly carriage rides!) and I hope to get back to it sometime.
By the way, I burn really easily and I think I’d better get a cabana boy to help me with the sunscreen, but before I go, here’s several questions to ponder: I always wonder what makes a reader stay with a book to the end. Is it really all about the story? The characters?
I love the covers both HarperCollins and Little Black Dress gave me. But it’s not just the cover … what makes you decide to buy a book?
Do you think I’m right in saying that humor is something you have or don’t have? Do you think humor is appropriate in a romance or is love serious business?
Janet has very kindly offered one lucky commenter a signed copy of A MOST LAMENTABLE COMEDY today! Get commenting, people, I thought this was a fabulous read and so funny!
Posted by Trish Milburn Aug 9 2007, 7:01 am in guest blogger, Janet Mullany
Interview by Trish Milburn
Today we Banditas welcome the incredibly witty Janet Mullany, whose The Rules of Gentility is out this month. Having just finished reading this very fun book, I can highly recommend it. And if you comment on today’s blog, you could be the lucky winner of your very own copy of Rules.
Q. When you began to write The Rules of Gentility, were you aware of anything else like it out on bookstore shelves? If not, did you go into writing it aiming to capture this new niche in the market, or did you just write for fun to see what happened?
A. It was definitely writing for fun, but I did wonder if there was anything else like it out there, and came to the conclusion that there probably was. I remember seeing something at a bookstore that alternated hero/heroine voice in first person — probably by an English writer and a contemporary. A few early readers were absolutely horrified at what I’d done — why present tense, why first person, why doesn’t the heroine’s mother have any punctuation (answer: because she never pauses for breath), and so on. If The Rules does open up the market to more books that play around with tense and voice, I’d be thrilled; and also if it takes some of the fear out of first-person narration. Even reputable reviewers have told me, “I don’t like first-person narrative.” Huh? It’s just another way of telling a story, not the antichrist. And if you don’t read books written in first person, you’re missing some great stuff (Jennifer Weiner, Nick Hornby and Anna Maxted, for starters). What I did do, that I think was innovative, was to write a funny historical; there are lots of books out there with wit and irony and so on, but very few that don’t take themselves all that seriously.
Q. What was your favorite part of writing this book?
A. All of it was tremendous fun. It was like a guilty pleasure — having something in the works that was pure enjoyment all the way. If I found myself running out of steam, all I had to do was switch voices.
Q. I really liked the light, fun feeling of the book, but you also showed some of the “not-fair” circumstances of the time. Was this by design?
A. More by knee-jerk! I’m always aware that the privileged lifestyles of the rich and wealthy are supported by a whole structure of servants and that people with completely different lives exist. I think this comes through in every book I write. I’m always amazed by people who say the Regency period is played out because there’s so much more than just the titled few. I find servants particularly useful as a plot device, too, because they knew everything and could aid or hinder their masters.
Q. How long did it take you to write this book? How does that compare with how long it typically takes you to write a book?
A. On and off about a year. I generally work on a couple of things at once. It’s diffic because generally I spend at least a month just thinking about a book or doing researcult to sayh (I’m a very bad researcher), and then I start on the actual writing process. This book, however, I didn’t think about because initially it was a short, fun project for my entertainment, to see if I could write Bridget Jones’s Diary in Regency times. So I just jumped in and started writing.
Q. What is your writing process like?
A. I can hardly remember (right now I’m in the manic phase of a book coming out and doing lots of blogging etc.)…after I stop procrastinating I put up a folding screen around the computer (my house is very small, and my desk is set up against one wall of the living room). I usually listen to music, usually opera or some other vocal, classical music. Don’t ask me why, but I find Handel’s Messiah great for writing love scenes. If I’m lucky, and it doesn’t always happen, my subconscious kicks in and the writing just flows — that’s a wonderful, addictive, feeling. Otherwise it’s hard work and stopping myself going online every five minutes. Generally, the first scene is very clear in my mind; originally, the ball scene in The Rules was the opening, but my editor wanted me to write something that was more of an introduction of Philomena and Inigo to each other and to the reader.
Q. Do you think your being English is what draws you to the Regency period? Or do you think you’d love it even if you weren’t English?
A. Being English certainly has a lot to do with it. I had two aunts who lived in a Georgian house in Bath and whom I used to visit. They loved all things Georgian/Regency long before it was fashionable and introduced me to the joys of Georgette Heyer. If I weren’t English, I’d probably love it more, because I wouldn’t know how appalling most of the aristocracy were!
Q. Do you have other similar novels in the works? If so, please tell us about them.
A. Not yet. I’m working on another erotic romance (my first Jane Lockwood erotic historical, Forbidden Shores, comes out in October 2007), and I have ideas for a couple of erotic novellas. I have an extremely vague idea for another Avon book that is in the one-month thinking stage.
Q. Has anyone mentioned to you that when they see Inigo’s name, they think of Inigo Montoya from The Princess Bride? Perhaps that’s just me.
A. You’re not the only one! I was blissfully unaware. I think it’s a gorgeous name, but the only Inigo I could think of was the seventeenth-century English architect Inigo Jones!
Q. Is there anything else you’d like to share with everyone out here in Banditaland?
A. Actually, I’d like you to share with me… What do you find funny? Since I’m English, all you have to do is say “bum” in an inappropriate context and provide some funny stuff with a dog, and I’m rolling on the floor. And thanks for having me, dear Banditas!
Thanks for stopping by the lair, Janet.