Today I have an author interview and giveaway with David William (D.W.) Wilkin, who among many other things, writes Regency romances. David has graciously agreed to give away one of his books at the end of this interview, Colonel Fiztwilliam's Correspondence, a Regency romance based on some characters from Jane Austen's Pride and Prejudice. Read on to learn more about David and find out how you can enter to win a copy of this book! (E-book open to International and US entries, print copy US only)
JDP: Thank you for joining us today, David. How did you become interested in writing about the Regency period?
David: That is a tale, and bear with me, I shall lead you to the end of the trail. I liked history enough from High School to make it my major in college. I specialized in Pre-Modern Asian history while getting my degree which is pretty far from the study of Regency England. But History, I have always found, is stories. I like stories and even before college I wrote some, but after, I started my quest to be a novelist. I also became an Historical Re-enactor.
I joined groups where we made the costumes of the era we were Re-enacting. I learned the dances from those times, and then actually taught well over 1000 people how to do them. Running regular dance practices. My early main focus was Medieval and Renaissance, but one day a friend said, 'Have I got a girl for you to meet,' and dragged me to a Regency Dance. Well, not that girl, but several years later, I met my wife, Cheryl at a Regency Ball.
To woo her (she was very far away), I wrote her a regency romance, a few pages a day, that turned into a novel. When taking a class to further enhance my writing, I resurrected the story and worked on it more. Then over the last ten years, found that a good third of my output was Regency Romances.
JDP: Wow, that’s an amazing (and wonderfully romantic) story! What do you find most fascinating about the Regency era?
David: We of course stylize the era. How many of us portray London or Town, other than full of beauty and elegant living? When of course you step outside those stately homes, and there is filth in the streets. The lower classes are everywhere, and the middle classes are struggling. But in our Regencies, we set aside that and in is light and glitters. That is something I love. It is actually a fantasy world we create each time.
Even in movies, or especially in movies, the clothes our heroines and heroes wear are never smudged with dirt, or tattered. I find it hard to imagine that everything would look so clean back in the day. So on my Planet, where I recreate the Regency, I can enter the world of the Aristocracy and Nobility, and share those titles, and those riches. I think of it as a great escape.
JDP: Ah, yes, I relate to your cleaned up fantasy world. Only my characters live on Planet Medieval, rather than Planet Regency. I’m always interested in how authors research their historical novels. Could you tell us a little about how you researched the historical background for Colonel Fitzwilliam's Correspondence?
David: Colonel Fitzwilliam's Correspondence is of course a sequel to Pride and Prejudice. So first, I reread Austen's classic. My book also focuses on Darcy's cousin, who does not get a lot of play in a novel set during the Napoleonic Wars. It was still a time where a very rich man could purchase their rank, and one can imagine that the Earl of M----K, as Austen calls Fitzwilliam's father, having done so for his son.
As a history major, I have delved into military history, and have learned a thing or two about the Napoleonic Wars. Philip Haythornwaite's Wellington's Military Machine, Sir Charles Oman's History of the Peninsular War, David Chandler's The Campaigns of Napoleon and David Gates The Spanish Ulcer all have places on my bookshelf along with dozens of others about the battles and period of the war. In addition to many books about the Regency. Knowing about the war and thinking about the Colonel, I knew that he had to be a participant in it.
I knew that by bringing the two together, I could craft a story with a little steel in our hero. (I hope I've conveyed that.) And that during the period, many, many men were affected truly by the war.
JDP: Can you share with us your top three favorite research books or other resources?
David: For the Regency era, my all time favorite is What Jane Austen Ate and Charles Dickens Knew by Daniel Pool. Very similar but with enough extra is Kristine Hughes Everyday Life in Regency England. Last, since I have been influenced by Georgette Heyer in creating my view of the Regency since a friend told me at one of those Regency Dances I just had to read Frederica, is Jennifer Kloester's Georgette Heyer's Regency World.
JDP: Ahhh, I love Frederica, by Georgette Heyer! (And Friday’s Child and These Old Shades and The Convenient Marriage and The Talisman Ring… Oops! Better stop and get on with the interview!) Are there any historical figures from the Regency era who particularly intrigue you?
David: We often forget that that across the channel a whole slew of characters, who were very much effecting what happened in London, were alive and influencing all of Europe. I think the most exciting is Ney. If your readers hear of his defense of the Grande Armee as it retreated from Russia and crossed the bridge at Kovno. Heroic stuff.
In England and our Regency, I love the many fictional Age of Sail officers. Hornblower shall always be a favorite, followed by Ramage, Bolitho, Drinkwater (isn't that a great name that Richard Woodman gave us for a Naval Hero?) Nelson then is fascinating to me as are some of the other great British seamen, Hornblower's Pellew was a real historical figure. Militarily Wellington and his generals are also fascinating. Henry Paget, a great cavalry commander that returns from the Peninsula and promptly runs-off with Wellington's sister-in law. Wellington thus cannot have him serve on his staff, at least not until Waterloo years later and there his leg had to be amputated. He lived almost 40 years after that. Stapleton Cotton (What a great name), a Cavalry officer who lived to the age of 91 after the war.
What of Sir Harry Smith, who Heyer immortalizes in The Spanish Bride. Later to become a Lt. General and his wife, saved from Badajoz, becomes the woman that the cities (3 of them) of Ladysmith is named after. Beau Brummel and his Dandy Club, all I find fascinating
JDP: It was truly a fascinating age. What inspired you to write Colonel Fitzwilliam's Correspondence?
David: Before I was a teenager, we were flipping through channels on television, when my mother, who thought she could order us when it came to control of the tv set, made us stop on an old black and white show. 'That's my favorite,' and then she made my three younger brothers and I watch it. It was Olivier's Pride and Prejudice and yuck! Fast forward into my twenties and I began to appreciate that movie, and then in my 30's loved it. I even delved into reading the original piece of chick lit and enjoyed it as well. While I do not think of myself as a tremendous fan of Jane Austen, her work certainly got me interested in the Regency, along with the re-enactment activities I was becoming involved in. And then I read Heyer.
What a hoot! Georgette's use of language to evoke a period was tremendous and that further gave me an appreciation for the period. As I spent more time with the Regency, meeting Cheryl who would become my wife in that society, I also worked on my writing. Also working on a true Historical of the Peninsular war. While researching that, the pieces fell into place for a sequel to Pride and Prejudice. Something that Cheryl and I would also watch is the A&E (1995) version of each year. So many write about Darcy and Lizzy and so few acknowledge that the war was occurring and that those of the Ton were quite concerned that the Little Corporal go down to defeat. I thought it an important gap that needed to be addressed.
JDP: I agree. I think even historical romances sometimes need to be placed in their historical context. Please tell us a little about your Regency romance, Colonel Fitzwilliam's Correspondence.
David: Originally I envisioned that the Colonel would emerge and have a romance, but I quickly put Kitty into the scene. With Lydia gone, I found Kitty torn between wanting to be a better young lady than she had been while her more boisterous sister led her about, but also still a person of fun. I knew that the growth that occurs in all of us over time could be telling for one such as Kitty moving from being a girl to a woman.
I also knew that the war lasts for years, and a woman, if not married before her lover goes to war, most likely would not wait and appear to be on the shelf. When I placed the first letter in the story as a device to appease and contain the ever flighty Mrs. Bennet, I had no realization that would become the device I could employ for the entire story, but the truth is that England was growing closer by virtue of the post. Look to the original and the post between Jane and Lizzy telling of Lydia's flight. Look at the missive Darcy places in the hands of Lizzy to explain himself. There is a great deal of letter writing occurring.
I believe that carries my book. That it is also the change in our hero, who becomes a great correspondent and uses his connections back in England to keep him sane amidst the battlefields of Portugal and Spain. The crux of both his growth, and that of his love interest occurs when he returns from the war. I attempt to place my own use of language, as did Heyer, into the story. I think this is a dividing point for my readers. Some have related that they find this works for them, while others expecting this book to be our current use of language can't get past that.
The last caveat of a work based upon another's writing is that many have their own ideas of what should be happening to the characters the original author created after writing The End. I of course take all those characters in the direction I chose. I used the last few paragraphs as a guideline, and I used Aldous Huxley's view of Pride and Prejudice's Catherine de Bourgh portrayed by Edna May Oliver for mine more than some of the others. Austen says that Lady Catherine and Elizabeth will make amends in the final paragraphs of the novel. The Olivier movie (1940) I think shows that clearly. (Edna May beats Judi Dench in this portrayal, hands down-IMO)
JDP: Are you working on any new projects?
David: Always. Currently being edited by my core group is a modern romance. I don't want to say too much, but as it is Halloween, there are certain spectral beings that bring humor and channel Cupid. There are a few other Regencies also being edited at the moment. One called Beggars Can't be Choosier, the other is Two Peas in a Pod. The last about identical twins and mistaken identities. Beggars has the underlying theme that so many Regency marriages were founded on, marrying for money.
JDP: Where can readers obtain copies of your books?
David: All my books are available at Amazon, Barnes and Noble, and Smashwords. The iTunes-iBookstore carries my Regencies
List of titles by David William Wilkin
The End of the World
The Shattered Mirror
Colonel Fitzwilliam's Correspondence
A Trolling We Will Go
Trolling Down to Old Mah Wee
Trolling's Pass and Present
Genghis Khan's Rules for (
You can learn more about David and his books at the following links:
Regency Assembly Press Home page: http://regencyassemblypress.com/Home.html
Colonel Fitzwilliam's Correspondence Book site: http://www.colonelfitzwilliam.com/Home.html
David’s blog: http://thethingsthatcatchmyeye.wordpress.com/
Okay, now for the giveaway. This is a busy month, so I'm going to keep this one easy. Just leave a comment on this interview AND INCLUDE YOUR EMAIL ADDRESS for a chance to be entered to win a copy of Colonel Fitzwilliam's Correspondence, by D.W. Wilkin. Winner may choose either a print or e-version of the novel if USA, or if International, will receive an e-book version of this romance.
Deadline for entries is Sunday, November 13, midnight PST.