Monday, March 1, 2010

Interview and Giveaway with Regency Romance Author, Sarah M. Eden

I am delighted to share with you today an interview with Regency romance author, Sarah M. Eden. Sarah's newest Regency, Courting Miss Lancaster, debuts today! Purchasing information is included at the end of the interview. AND Sarah is offering an autographed copy of Courting Miss Lancaster to one lucky reader of this interview! Read on to learn how you can enter for a chance to win!

JDP: Welcome, Sarah! How long have you been reading Regency romances?

SARAH: Like a lot of people, my Regency romance education began with Jane Austen.  I think Pride and Prejucide is probably the first Austen most people read, but I began with Sense and Sensibility--what can I say? I like the letter “S.”  I flew through the rest of Austen's fantastic collection of novels only to feel thoroughly depressed when I finished because she hadn't written any others.

About seven years ago I stumbled across Georgette Heyer and very nearly hyperventilated—there were, in fact, other romances set in the Regency era of English history.  I devoured every Regency I could find at every branch of the library in my hometown.  I was hooked!

JDP: Ah, readers of JDP NEWS know that Georgette Heyer is one of my all-time favorite authors. I recently finished re-reading her The Talisman Ring. You can never read a Georgette Heyer Regency too many times, in my opinion. (Okay, okay, so The Talisman Ring is actually one of her Georgian romances, but let's not quibble.) But we're not here to talk about me. What was the first Regency romance you ever read?

SARAH: I started out with Jane Austen's Sense and Sensibility which, of course, was not written to be a “Regency Romance”--at the time it was contemporary.

The first “historical” romance I read set in this era was Georgette Heyer's brilliant work, The Corinthian.  I actually found a version of it at a thrift store about a year ago with a fabulously beautiful cover for only $.50.  It has a place of honor on my bookshelves right next to my leather bound Complete Works of Jane Austen.

JDP: My sister insisted on taking all her $.50/$.75 copies of Georgette Heyer to college with her, forcing me to buy my own new copies at the then shockingly expensive price of $1.50/$1.75 per book! But again I digress. (Not to mention, giving away way too many hints about how old I am!) When did you first realize you wanted to write Regency romances?

SARAH: That's actually a really good story.  I had been reading Regencies more or less nonstop for a year.  In those 12-months I began 127 Regencies.  I say “began” because I couldn't always finish them—either they were offensive to my sense of morality or to my intelligence.

I was griping to my mother one day that too many romances, even the historical ones which one would think would be “safer,” were smutty or stupid. In that way that only mothers seem to have mastered, she casually said, “You should try writing one without the smut and stupidity.  You'd probably do better than most of what's out there.”

The conversation veered down other paths, but her response stuck with me.  Being the kind of stubborn person that I am, I decided I'd try.  Even if it didn't turn out to be very well written, I figured it would at least be clean and reach a minimal level of intelligence. So, about six months later, I presented my mom with the manuscript for my very first Regency, The Ramshackle Knight.  The rest, as they say, is history.  (Thanks, Mom!)

JDP: Mom's are great! Which Regency romance authors have most influenced you in your love for the Regency period?

SARAH: Jane Austen, of course.  She, better than any of us, knew this era and capitalized on its unique idiosyncrasies and struggles.  Yet, she managed to create characters and journeys that would resonate with readers for 200 years because she understood people and made them real in a way that few authors can manage.

Georgette Heyer has to make the list, as well.  She had the gumption to write in the language of the time, despite doing so more than a century after the Regency ended.  Her settings are rich, her characters memorable and relatable and her plots are simply fantastic.

JDP: I also adore her humor. My mom (speaking of moms) frequently demanded to know what my sister and I were giggling about whenever we were reading a Georgette Heyer book, to which we brilliantly responded, "Oh, nothing." I don't think we fooled her, since it was pretty obvious we were laughing at something, but she was a good mother and just graced us with an indulgent look.  Since I’m always interested in how authors research their historical novels, could you tell us a little about how you researched the Regency era for Courting Miss Lancaster?

SARAH: I have always been something of a history fanatic.  I love watching documentaries and reading historical accounts, especially first-hand accounts from people who actually lived what they are retelling.  Even before setting out to write my very first Regency, I was elbow-deep in history texts, 19th Century journals, Parliamentary minutes from this time period—yes, people, I have read dry-as-a-bone records of government business—paintings and drawings and love letters.  I can walk blindfolded directly to the section of the library where the books from this era are shelved.

I have studied maps of London, the toll roads, the Great North Road.  I have read law books on inheritance, marriage, guardianship.  I have studied playbills for London theaters, accounts of London's Season and the Society.

How have I researched?  Like an obsessive, reclusive, insomniac.  And I've loved every minute of it.

JDP: Can you share with us your top three favorite Regency romance research books or other resources?

SARAH: Wow.  There are so many, and they vary depending on the story I'm writing.

The Public Records Office of the National Archives of the United Kingdom—They have an on-line searchable archive that has been a life saver
What Jane Austen Ate and Charles Dickens Knew, by Daniel Pool—A great resource for some very basic information on this time period, like: who goes up a flight of stairs first, a gentleman or a lady; who is introduced to whom as opposed to the other way around; what were the rules of popular card games, etc.
As part of my research for a manuscript I finished recently, I had the privilege of reading a heart-wrenching letter written on July 3, 1815 by Lieutenant William Turner of the 13th Light Dragoons in which he recounted his experiences and feelings at the Battle of Waterloo.  It was one of those invaluable moments where the people and events of this time period became excruciatingly real to me.

JDP: Are there any historical figures from the Regency era who particularly intrigue you?

SARAH: I don't know that there is one in particular.  For me, the excitement and pull of this era comes from the combination of so many extraordinary people and events.  All of Europe was at war with France, Napoleon had declared himself Emperor of a nation still reeling from its own blood-filled revolution, the upper-strata of English society was spending itself into oblivion, the Industrial Revolution was just around the corner, marriages for status and money were battling for precedence against marriages for love.  So, so much going on!  What's not to love?

JDP: Do you have an all-time favorite Regency romance?

SARAH: I would have a hard time picking a single one, honestly.  My favorite Jane Austen is Persuasion.  I think it was her most insightful and mature book and, in my opinion, is perhaps her most underappreciated.

JDP: What inspired you to write Courting Miss Lancaster?

SARAH: My novel Seeking Persephone, which was a finalist for a 2008 Whitney Award, featured a supporting character whom I fell absolutely in love with—Harry Windover.  He's the wise-cracking, perpetually optimistic, best friend of the cranky, acidic hero in Seeking Persephone and was invaluable in bringing about that book's happy ending.  I finished that manuscript almost desperate to see Harry have his own happy ending.  He finally gets it in Courting Miss Lancaster.

JDP: Tell us a little bit about Courting Miss Lancaster?

SARAH: Harry Windover adores blonde, green-eyed Athena Lancaster, but alas, a penniless man like himself has no hope of winning a young noblewoman's hand. To add insult to injury, Athena's brother-in-law and guardian, the Duke of Kielder, has asked Harry to assist Athena in finding the gentleman of her dreams. But the lovesick Harry is cunning as well: as the weeks pass, he introduces Athena to suitors who are horrifically boring, alarmingly attached to their mothers, downright rude, astoundingly self-absorbed, and utterly ridiculous.

Athena can't comprehend why she is having so little success meeting eligible and acceptable gentlemen. Indeed, her circle of admirers couldn't be less admirable--nothing like the loyal, gentle friend she's found in Harry.

But how long can Harry's scheme be hidden before it is discovered? And what will Athena do when she uncovers Harry's deception? 

JDP: It sounds like a delightful story! What project are you working on next?

SARAH: I am writing a sort-of-sequel to Courting Miss Lancaster.  Athena Lancaster comes from a relatively large family, including a timid younger sister who keeps very much to herself and lacks the confidence of her siblings.  Their guardian and brother-in-law, the Duke of Kielder, has taken a liking to the shy Daphne, however, and becomes very protective of her.  The manuscript I am currently working on follows Daphne's misadventures in the world of love and courtship and, because of the age difference, takes place six years after Courting Miss Lancaster.

JDP: Where can readers obtain a copy of Courting Miss Lancaster?

SARAH: Courting Miss Lancaster can be found at Deseret Book stores and Seagull bookstores, as well as online at DeseretBook.com and Amazon.com. (Okay, Amazon's being a little slow at getting it posted, but it'll be on this link when they do.)

JDP: Thank you for joining us today, Sarah!

SARAH: It's been fun, thanks!

Okay, now for the "giveaway" part! To win an autographed copy of Courting Miss Lancaster, do one, two, or all three of the following! (Each counts as a separate entry.):

(1) Leave a comment on this blog interview, then email me with your NAME AND MAILING ADDRESS at jdipastena@yahoo.com. Please type ""I Love Regency Romance #1" in the subject line.

(2) Visit Sarah's website at www.sarahmeden.com. Find the name of the first book that Sarah ever wrote (you might want to check out her Bio page) and email me the answer at: jdpastena@yahoo.com.  Type "I Love Regency Romance #2!" in the subject line, and INCLUDE YOU NAME AND MAILING ADDRESS!

(3) Email me at jdipastena@yahoo.com and tell me what, in Greek mythology, Athena (the name of Courting Miss Lancaster's heroine) was goddess of. (If you don't know the answer off the top of your head, click here for a clue. I'll accept any of the 7 answers given.) Type "I Love Regency Romance #3" in the subject line, and INCLUDE YOUR NAME AND MAILING ADDRESS!

Deadline for entries is March 14, midnight PST. The winner will be announced here on JDP NEWS on March 15.

29 comments:

Donna Hatch said...

I absolutely adored Sarah's last book, Seeking Persephone, and I can't wait to get my hands on a copy of her newest one!

Miss Mae said...

Delightful interview! Loved learning about all of this new information (for me) from our sweetie, Miss Sarah. :)

Your books sound wonderful, Sarah. :)

Kate said...

Wonderful interview! I'm excited to start reading Sarah's books! Thank you:-)

Kate said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Virginia C said...

Hello, Sarah and Joyce! Thank you for a lovely interview! Both "Courting Miss Lancaster" and its "sort-of-sequel" sound absolutely delightful! My earliest romance reads were written by Georgette Heyer, Barbara Cartland, and Jane Aiken Hodge. They will always be wonderful, truly romantic reads : )

gcwhisaks at aol dot com

Josi said...

Loved Seeking Persephone and can't wait to read the sequel! Great article--I want to take a European vacation with Sarah, will you give that away next?

Tina Scott, the writing artist said...

Joyce,
This is a great interview. I learned tons about Sarah that I didn't know.

Joyce DiPastena said...

A European vacation is completely up to Sarah, Josi. She's footing all the giveaways. LOL!

Krista said...

Okay, I was JUST on Amazon trying to order "Seeking Persephone" (no luck BTW) and then checked Twitter, just because, saw Annette Lyon's plug for this post, and BLAMMO, I have a chance to win "Courting Miss Lancaster" AND I will still find Persephone and order it, AND I found Joyce's blog! I am even more excited to get my hands on these books! Thank you, Joyce and Sarah! I am crossing my fingers!

Gail Pallotta said...

What an interesting interview. I love your mother's advice, and you've followed it well with all of the research and now writing a true Regency.

Laura Fabiani said...

Thanks for a great interview, Joyce. I have never read any of Sarah's books but I want to now! I enjoyed learning how she researched for the writing of her books as this is a topic that I deal with in my workshops. Thanks for giving us an opportunity to win this author's latest book!

Becki said...

What a fun interview! I haven't read many regency novels, but this one sounds like a good one to start with! How awesome to have a chance to win a copy!

Anna del C. Dye said...

I meet Sarah last month and I have never seen such a bubbly person as her. Wow. I was tired and she went on and on by the time I got home I was exhausted.
She is really fun and a treasure to have around when you are feeling down.

Kari Pike said...

Great interview, Joyce! I am very excited that Sarah moved up here and that we are still in the same ANWA chapter! You are both so much fun to talk to...and of course I love reading all of your books!

I sure missed seeing you at the conference this year.

Krista Darrach said...

Love, Love, Love Sarah! And can't wait to read her new book.

Debby said...

Wonderful interview! I am going to have to try one of her books.

Pat Cochran said...

Sarah is a new-to-me author, but
I have seen the title "Seeking
Persephone" someplace recently.
I'll have to look for it - this
discussion is piquing my interest!
Thanks!!

Pat Cochran

Stephanie Gamm said...

Sarah's books are always so captivating...I am a huge fan! This was a wonderful interview; thank you both!

-Steph

buddyt said...

As you mentioned Jane Austen in the interview, I wondered what both of you think of all the "mash-ups" that are appearing of her novels?

Thanks

Carol

Joyce DiPastena said...

I haven't read any of the "mash-ups" of her novels myself, but I've certainly stared in dismay at a lot of them. Has anyone else read any of them? If so, I'd love to hear your opinions!

Sarah M Eden said...

Carol--
I think by "mash ups," you're referring to the new versions of JA's novels that are adjusted to include various horror-flick monsters. I, personally, think these "reinventions" are brilliantly hilarious ideas. Having said that, a true Austen fan absolutely has to look at them as a gag, which is the way I think they were intended to be taken. Taking them as a serious attempt to improve Jane Austen's work by commissioning zombies to interrupt Elizabeth and Darcy's romance would be almost offensive.
I take it as good-natured satire and get quite a kick out of it. (Hey, if nothing else, it might get some guys to read Jane Austen!)
I, of course, still far prefer the originals!

Danielle Thorne said...

Wow--your books sounds wonderful, Sarah! I'm already familiar with Courting Ms. Lancaster--but I can't wait to check out your other works. You background and love for Jane Austen are so easy to understand! I love Persuasion, too.

Connie Hall said...

I thoroughly enjoyed the interview with Sarah Eden. I'll be excited to read her new book although I'd love to win her first book.

Heather Justesen said...

Okay, first, I totally agree with Sarah about Persuasion being the best Jane Austen written--though that could be because it was the first I ever read. =) And I want to know why the Kindle books for Georgette Heyer are so dang expensive! *sigh* I'm going to have to run to the library. I know mine has a few--but nowhere near all of them!

I totally want to read Sarah's books!

Joan Sowards said...

I'll looking forward to reading Courting Miss Lancaster.

Aleksandra said...

The book sound great & the interview was great, too :)

Sheila said...

I loved reading Seeking Persephone! I was thrilled to know that Sarah's next book is here. I think that the interview was wonderful Joyce. ~~Sheila

Anonymous said...

i enjoyed reading this interview...would love to read Sarah's latest :)

karenk
kmkuka(at)yahoo(dot)Com

Meandi's corner said...

great interview

-jennifer