I am delighted to invite RNA Author, Janice Preston to visit my blog. We chat about writing Regency romance novels, heroes in tight breeches, and wood-carving! Over to you, Janice.
The Fun Five:
What part of the world do you come from?
I grew up in Wembley, North London, but moved to Devon when I was 18 and lived there until 11 years ago, when I moved to the Midlands. I’ve been around a bit!
What did you want to be when you grew up?
At primary school I wanted to be an author. Later I wanted to work with animals. I was married to a farmer for 25 years, so I achieved both ambitions.
List three words to describe yourself.
Dreamer, procrastinator, loyal.
Who would play you in a film about your life?
Oh, heavens! Well, as we’re in fantasy land, Catherine Zeta Jones? A girl can dream, can’t she?
Do you have any unique talents or hobbies?
Boringly, no. Although I did take up wood-carving for a time, several years ago – that’s sort-of unusual, isn’t it?
The Sensible Six:
What inspired you to write your first book?
I re-read all of Georgette Heyer’s novels after my children went to university, and then began to read more recently-written Regencies, a few of which, frankly, weren’t very good. It wasn’t long before the fateful thought ‘I could do better than that’ went through my mind. When I started to write, I soon found it was harder than I imagined.
Give us the title and genre of your latest book and a brief tagline.
Saved by Scandal’s Heir is a romance set in the Regency era.
Harriet, Lady Brierley, is a respectable widow whose safe world threatens to unravel when Benedict Poole—the childhood sweetheart who deserted her—returns.
You are a member of the Romantic Novelists’ Association. How did their New Writers’ Scheme help you?
Immensely! The NWS provides an assessment of a full or partial manuscript by an author published in your particular genre. That is priceless; it enabled me to see what worked and what didn’t in my manuscript (which had already been rejected by Mills & Boon).
I applied what I learnt to my second NWS submission and, with the help of my reader and the NWS Organiser (both Regency writers themselves, so that was opportune!) I was able to bypass the slush pile, and submit direct to a senior historical editor at M&B. An editor to whom, coincidentally, I had pitched the same story at my very first RNA conference.
What attracted you to write Regency Romance?
Georgette Heyer initally. I loved her books as a teenager and still love them now, with her wonderfully-drawn characters, witty dialogue and her evocative descriptions. It is said that she ‘invented’ the Regency romance genre, and I don’t doubt it. She is certainly one of the reasons for the continuing popularity of the genre.
The Regency era provides the perfect backdrop for a romance with its etiquette and its distinctive fashion, architecture and decor. Plus, it was a fascinating time in history, on the brink of the industrial revolution and with great advances being made in the arts, science and medicine. Attitudes to love and romance began to change, too, with more and more people looking for love in marriage, rather than just expediency.
What can we expect from you in the future?
I intend to keep writing Regencies, using a cast of common characters (I love to read books where old friends pop up from time to time, so why not write them?)
My fourth book – Saved By Scandal’s Heir – is out on 1st April, and features the hero and heroine from my second book, From Wallflower to Countess (recently shortlisted for the RoNA Rose – shameless plug there, sorry) and from my third, Return of Scandal’s Son.
My next book for Mills & Boon – the Governess’s Secret Baby – is a bit of a departure for me as it is one of 4 books linked by their heroines, all of whom trained as governesses together, with each book written by a different author. The books will be published from September to December 2016. It was a lovely experience, collaborating with the others and, as my book is the last of the 4, I wrote the epilogue reuniting the characters from all 4 books. I was nervous about writing other people’s characters but I really enjoyed the experience!
I am also keen to write in other genres – I have a crime novel needing attention (when I can find the time) and also a fantasy novel that I want to finish. The first chapter of that one won the Elizabeth Goudge trophy at the RNA conference in 2014, so I know it’s worth pursuing but am also more than a little daunted!
How can we contact you or find out more about your books?
My website is www.janicepreston.co.uk , where I also blog sporadically and where you can read the first chapter of each of my published novels.
I’m also on Twitter at @janicegpreston
Thank you so much for inviting me onto your blog, Shelley. [You’re welcome, Janice]
Buy your copy of Saved by Scandal’s Heir: