Monday, September 24, 2012

The Next Big Thing: A Woman of Proper Accomplishments

EFHA associate Mary Thornell tagged me in a recent meme. Usually, I'm not all that into these sorts of things, but even I can cut loose now and again. So, here I go then:


1. “What is the title of your work in progress?”

A Woman of Proper Accomplishments

2. “Where did the idea come from for the book?”

I've always had a long fascination with the English Regency period. At the same time, I'm a bit of a fantasy nerd. A few years back I entertained the idea of injecting a bit of magic into the Regency, but I was under the impression there wouldn't be much interest in such a book outside my own fevered imagination. I stumbled upon several, though, and that convinced me it wasn't such a bad idea after all.

I was heavily influenced by some of the more adventure-driven Georgette Heyer narratives. I want a bit of period romance, with a touch of adventure and magic.

3. “What genre does your book fall under?”

Depends on who you ask. I've been calling it Regency paranormal romance. Some might call it historical fantasy. There's a bit of an alternative history element because of the introduction of magic into the setting (by Benjamin Franklin, no less!), but it's not really about exploring historical divergences is as much as playing around with a romantic narrative that seems plausible in a Regency England that has a bit of magic (even if the people in the story insist, insist, and insist some more that they aren't doing magic).

The only reason I'm not totally set on calling it a paranormal romance is although the center-point is the growing romance between characters, and there is a happy romantic ending with smooching and all that (yes, this is a old-fashioned "sweet" romance; no bodices are ripped), certain elements aren't totally wrapped up by the end. So, arguably, it's not a true "Happily-Ever-After" as much as a "Happy Right Then." Mostly, that's because it's the first part of trilogy with a plot. I'll talk more about that in a bit.

4. “Which actors would you choose to play your characters in a movie rendition?”

Oh, I honestly don't know.

5. “What is the one sentence synopsis for your book?”

Helena Preston, rthe daughter of a rural gentleman of modest means, finds her romantic interest in a gentleman scholar of spiritus, the rare ability to imbue life into objects, complicated by his possible involvement with a criminal.

6. “Will your book be self-published or represented by an agency?”

 I'm still exploring my options at this time.

7. “How long did it take you to write the first draft of your manuscript?”

It took about three months to write the first draft. That was...a while ago. I've gone through many drafts since then.
8. “What other books would you compare this story to within your genre?”

I think if people like books like The Magicians and Mrs. Quent, Sorcery and Cecelia or The Enchanted Chocolate Pot, or Shades and Milk and Honey, they would probably enjoy my book, though there's a bit more of an adventure element in my book than something like Shades. 

I was trying to be more "Heyer adventure with magic" and not so much "Austen with magic."

9. “Who or what inspired you to write this book?”

Oh, just my twin interests in Regency England and fantasy, and the various fine examples of the historical Georgian fantasy that I encountered several years back.

10. “What else about your book might pique the reader’s interest?”

Despite the inclusion of magic and the alternative history elements (among other things, the Americans lost the Revolution), I've actually strived very hard to make this book accurate to the Regency period. That might seem absurd given the present of magic, but I thought it'd help with versimilitude. I've studied the period extensively, including primary source letters and materials, and try to capture period-appropriate social details, references, et cetera.

I even went so far as to check that almost every word I used in the book, both in the narrative and in the dialog existed at the time of the story (1811) and also did my best to use it appropriate to the context of the time. It's surprising what was around then that meant exactly the same as today and what common words and even greetings weren't around back then.

Initially, I even went so far as to try and closely model my dialog patterns after period dialog, but several beta readers found it more distracting than immersive, so I've admittedly modernized the syntax a bit. I sprinkle in Regency slang here and there, but not so much that it's distracting (I hope).

This is actually the first of a trilogy. Each book will involve a different main lead and be a romantic adventure continuing in the backdrop of an increasingly heating up Napoleonic Wars that are unfolding slightly different than they did in our history due to increasingly sophisticated use of weaponized spiritus.

The second book will focus on the Helena Preston's flightly francophile friend, Cassandra, and the third book will focus on Helena's more uptight younger sister, Sophia.


sue said...

You are a romance writer? I disklike pigeon holing in genres but I know publishers demand it. Regency paranormal sounds good. I wrote victorian paranormal so why not regency. Good for you re: actors question. I think it’s a silly question. I’d read your book just because of the Americans lost the revolution.. Good interview!

J.A. Beard said...

I'm a bit of a lot of things, writing-wise.