Posted previously on the Historical Hussies Blog
Q: What genre or sub-genre do you write? Why did you choose this genre?
A: I write Jane Austen adaptations/sequels, as well as Regency Romance. As far as the Jane Austen books, my career began with my Advanced Placement English Language and Composition class. I was explaining to the class the nuances of dating in Regency England. In the midst of my explanation, I spoke of the many Austen-inspired novels I had read, giving my personal critique of whether the author achieved what I believed to be a viable continuation of Austen’s tales. When I remarked about tossing a particular title across the room in disgust, one of my students said, “If you know how to do this, why not do it yourself?” At first, I laughed with the possibility, but the more I thought of it, the more it made sense. I wrote Darcy’s Passions, a retelling of Pride and Prejudice from Mr. Darcy’s point of view. I never thought it the first step of a new career. Permitting the students to edit (Cringe!!!) and to do the cover art, I self published the book. It was a way of saying, “I met your challenge, now you must meet mine” to my students. The Amazon sales were strong, and Ulysses Press contacted me. I have published works with them since 2007.
For Regency-based pieces, what can I say? I have read historical romance for pleasure since I was a teen. (My mother was the one to hook me on the genre.) I have always preferred Regency England or Civil War based American pieces. With writing Jane Austen sequels, Regency England seemed a natural choice.
Q: What difficulties does writing this genre present?
A: The difficulty with writing Regency pieces is that the Regency was really only ten years in length – from 1811 to 1820. Most readers of the period will accept events from 1800 – 1830, but my pieces tend to fall between 1810 and 1820. This compacting of time means that a writer is dealing with a limited number of actual events to use as the backdrop for his/her story line. Another complication in writing Regency is the “strict” guidelines under which the aristocracy performed. It takes a skillful writer to give the heroine a bit of “independence” when she must operate in a Society that permitted few opportunities for her to express her personality.
Q: How much time do you devote to writing each day?
A: When I was still teaching school, I spent on average 2-3 hours per evening on a story line. Then two years ago, I retired, and I managed to crank out 3 books that first year. I was spending 6 – 8 hours per day. At present, I am babysitting my first grandchild for nine hours daily. By the time his mother picks him up, I am exhausted, and I admit that my writing has suffered.
The thing about writing, at least for today’s marketplace, is one cannot simply write his/her next novel. There is time each day on social media – Facebook, Twitter, etc. There are emails, maintaining a website and a blog, and LOTS of self promotion. There are edits and revision. An author is likely to spend 2-4 hours with these each day.
Q: Tell us about your other works, books, stories, etc.
A: I have seven Jane Austen-inspired pieces. As I said earlier, Darcy’s Passions was the first. Darcy’s Temptation (a Booksellers’ Best Award Finalist 2009) was “Passions” sequel, and it begins the day after “Passions” ends. Next came Captain Wentworth’s Persuasion, which tells Austen’s Persuasion from Captain Wentworth’s POV. Ulysses then asked for a vampire version of Pride and Prejudice, and Vampire Darcy’s Desire came about. It is set in a time 80 years before the release of Dracula. Therefore, it uses the more traditional vampiric folk literature. The Phantom of Pemberley followed. It is a cozy mystery based on the legend of the “Shadow Man.” “Phantom” took third in Romantic Suspense in one of RWA’s chapter contests. Christmas at Pemberley was released in November 2011. It is set two years after the end of Pride and Prejudice, and it takes a more “inspirational” slant than many sequels. The Disappearance of Georgiana Darcy hit shelves on March 26. It is another cozy mystery based on a Scottish folk tale, the legend of Sawney Bean.
In writing Regencies, I have a series of books based on a covert governmental group, known as the Realm. A Baloch warlord, who believes that one of Realm has stolen a fist-sized emerald, is hunting them. The first book was originally titled A Touch of Gold. With the Ulysses’ release, the book was changed to The Scandal of Lady Eleanor. Book 2 is called A Touch of Velvet, which is followed by A Touch of Cashémere. I am currently working on Book 4, A Touch of Grace. The first book in my First Wives Club trilogy is also available. Each of the ladies in this series begin their time in Society pretending to be a “widow,” which gives them more status than they would possess if they entered the “marriage mart” as a genteel lady with no connections. And believe it or not, I do have two contemporary romances: Honor and Hope (which is a contemporary romantica based on Pride and Prejudice) and Second Chances: The Courtship Wars (a sweet romance set around a reality TV show). Books 2 and 3 of the Realm series and First Wives’ Club, along with Honor and Hope are slated for release in the next couple of months. Currently, they are available on my website.
Q: What are you working on now?
A: As I said previously, I am writing Book 4 of the Realm series. A Touch of Grace is the tale of Gabriel Crowden and Grace Nelson, and I love creating a back story for Crowden, who is a bit standoffish. Women “bore” him, but why? I have also started a new novel Angel and the Devil Duke. As far as my Austen titles are concerned, I will be writing another project for Ulysses Press. I would like to do another Christmas title that follows up on events in The Disappearance of Georgiana Darcy. At the end of that piece, Georgiana is pregnant and due during Christmastide. It would the perfect situation to carry her story forward. With the success of The Phantom of Pemberley, we are also discussing another cozy mystery.
Q: How do you write? Are you a pantser or a plotter? Is it your characters or your plot that influences you the most?
A: I am truly a pantser. I have a “list” of events that will occur in my piece, but I do not outline and plot each detail. I open a spiral notebook and begin to write. Often times (ALWAYS!!!!), the story takes on a life of its own. It plays (as if it is a movie I can rewind over and over until I get it right) in my head as I seek sleep each night. I’m constantly saying, “He wouldn’t say that” or “She would act more surprised” or “That would be so cool.” The plot is the key through which the characters are defined.
Q: How do you choose your characters’ names?
A: Obviously, for my Austen pieces, many of the characters are already well known to the reading audience. Those readers know the characters’ names, the individual characteristics, and what they think should be the outcome of the interactions of certain characters. Minor characters are named with appropriate Christian and surnames that fit the period. As both the Austen titles and my historical romances are set in the Regency Period, names must be apposite for the time period. For example, I love the name “Joshua.” Heck, I named my only child “Joshua.” However, it does not truly fit the time period in which I write.
Occasionally, the names are thrust upon me. I met a young man named Brantley Fowler at a local Enterprise car rental outlet. I told him I was going to “steal” his name and make him famous. Brantley Fowler is the main character in A Touch of Velvet. His “lady” is a young woman named Velvet Aldridge. Years ago, I had a student named “Velvet.” It was the perfect name for that young lady and for my character.
And the power round:
Favorite food? I am a vegetarian. Any fruit or vegetable works for me, but my comfort food is mashed potatoes.
Favorite dessert? An old-fashioned hot fudge sundae
Jeans and T-shirt, or designer clothes? Designer clothes
Guilty pleasure? I am very much Anne Elliot of Persuasion in this matter. I love the company “of clever, well-informed people, who have a great deal of conversation.”
One word that describes you? Focused
Favorite flower? Yellow rose
Favorite sport? (tie) NFL football and distance running
Shackled in the dungeon of a macabre castle with no recollection of her past, a young woman finds herself falling in love with her captor – the estate’s master. Yet, placing her trust in him before she regains her memory and unravels the castle’s wicked truths would be a catastrophe.
Far away at Pemberley, the Darcys happily gather to celebrate the marriage of Kitty Bennet. But a dark cloud sweeps through the festivities: Georgiana Darcy has disappeared without a trace. Upon receiving word of his sister’s likely demise, Darcy and wife, Elizabeth, set off across the English countryside, seeking answers in the unfamiliar and menacing Scottish moors.
How can Darcy keep his sister safe from the most sinister threat she has ever faced when he doesn’t even know if she’s alive? True to Austen’s style and rife with malicious villains, dramatic revelations and heroic gestures, this suspense-packed mystery places Darcy and Elizabeth in the most harrowing situation they have ever faced – finding Georgiana before it is too late.
Website – www.rjeffers.com
Twitter – @reginajeffers
Publisher – Ulysses Press http://ulyssespress.com/