Today I’m introducing my first author interview at JDP NEWS! While the Middle Ages is my first love as a setting for my novels, I cut my romance reading eye-teeth on the Regency romances of Georgette Heyer and have been a huge Regency romance fan ever since. It’s my hope to conduct interviews with three new Regency authors whom I have recently discovered and enjoyed, beginning with author Donna Hatch. I’m waiting to hear back from the second Regency author about her willingness to be interviewed, and…okay, I’ll be honest…I haven’t actually contacted the third author yet, but I hope to do that soon! (And hope that she’ll say “yes!” when I do.)
Allow me now to introduce you to Regency romance author, Donna Hatch. After the interview, she has a great book giveaway to offer, so be sure to stay tuned all the way to the end!
JDP: How long have you been reading Regency romances?
Donna: I read almost everything, especially sci fi and fantasy, but was always more interested in the interpersonal relationships and romances than the plot itself. I started reading Romances when I was about 14 or 15, and immediately was attracted to historicals of all kinds.
JDP: What was the first Regency romance you ever read?
Donna: You’re going to laugh when I confess how clueless I was, but I didn’t really know what a Regency was until I started really researching it. Until then, I couldn’t have told the difference between a Regency and a Victorian.
JDP: When did you first realize you wanted to write Regency romances?
Donna: I love historicals overall. I grew up on Little House on the Prairie books, Jane Eyre, Anne of Green Gables. Historicals are like a whole new world, totally different from the modern world in which I live. Regency in particular is fun because the manners and mores of society are so formal and lavish (unlike my reality). Besides what’s not to love about men who can dance? Not to mention that there are few things as manly as a man riding horseback or fencing or willing to engage in a dual to protect his honor. Or that of his lady love. I have a thing for medieval romances, too. Love those knights who are all about duty and honor.
Honestly, I didn’t know if I wanted to choose Georgian, Regency or Victorian until I really did my research. I discarded Georgian because I hated the white wigs and the wide panniers women wore then. I chose Regency over Victorian for a number of reasons: it was during and right after the Napoleonic war, which provides the perfect backdrop for the tortured hero still haunted by the horrors of war (my favorite kind of fictional character); it was a unique period, people were more free thinking and also their days were filled with huge, lavish parties which adds an element of fantasy or magic (yeah, still soooo not like my real life); I like the clothing styles and part of the fun of a historical is getting immersed in the ‘world’ which includes describing clothing; and a large part of my decision to go with fantasy is because it is a solid market niche which helps with marketing.
JDP: Which Regency romance authors have most influenced you in your love for the Regency period?
Donna: Jane Austen, Charlotte Bronte, Georgette Heyer, Candice Hern, Julia Quinn, Carla Kelly, Jo Beverly, Emily Hendrickson, Rhonda Woodward, and many others.
JDP: 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 The Stranger She Married?
Donna: I read a lot of Regencies, but the most helpful thing was to read books that were actually written by authors who lived in that era, which is why Jane Austen is used so much; she lived during that time, so what she writes is how things were, rather than someone’s perception of how things were. I also read a bunch of research books. And I joined an online writer's group called the Beau Monde which is for authors of the Georgian/Regency Era. The members are a plethora of information and can sometimes just answer questions, other times they can recommend sources for what members need.
JDP: Can you share with us your top three favorite Regency romance research books or other resources?
Donna: Okay, this is more than three, but in addition to the Beau Monde RWA group, some of the best sources for that era are:
The Regency Companion, by Sharon Laudermilk and Teresa L Hamlin
Georgette Heyer's Regency World, by Jennifer Kloester
Dee Hendrickson's Regency Reference Book (now on CD)
Our Tempestuous Day: A History of Regency England, by Carolly Erickson
The Prince of Pleasure and His Regency, by J.B. Priestly
JDP: Are there any historical figures from the Regency era who particularly intrigue you?
Donna: Beau Brummel was interesting; he inspired the clothing styles of men, bringing them from the overly lavish frills of earlier eras which make the modern-day reader think of Liberace, and made the suits more tailored, more subdued and which are pretty similar to how the modern day suit is styled. He was also a total snob and a free-spender. He ended up fleeing for the continent to escape creditors.
I'm also intrigued by Maria Fitzherbert. She was the secret and illegal wife of the Prince of Wales, who later became King George the IV. He loved her deeply and was rumored to have threatened to throw his crown so he could have her. The marriage was invalid because she was Catholic instead of Church of England. I always thought the reason he was such a wild party animal and a womanizer was because his heart was broken over having to give her up. He was forced to marry a woman he despised and he continued to love Maria and couldn’t bring himself to stay away from her. Tragic and romantic, is it not?
JDP: Do you have an all-time favorite Regency romance?
Donna: There are so many, it’s very hard to choose. I have two criteria for a masterful book: 1. unforgettable characters who are deep and complex and 2. are beautifully written with gotcha phrases that demand I go back and re-read just to savor, like taking a walk in a garden and stopping to admire a single bloom.
JDP: What inspired you to write The Stranger She Married?
Donna: It’s a combination: I often wonder about a secondary or walk-on characters and start thinking about what their story is or could be. Sometimes I don’t like how a book ended, or how it deviated from what I thought was important, so I think about it as it should have been. I’ve always kinda wondered what would have happened if Christine in Phantom of the Opera fell in love with the Phantom instead of the young handsome viscount. Or if maybe she’d felt really torn between them.
I’ve always been drawn to the arranged or forced marriage situation; two good people who are thrust together, not necessarily happy about it, but learn to fall in love and make the best of it. (No, it’s not based upon my real life!) I also enjoy love triangles.
There’s another influence, but for readers who haven’t read my book, my telling you would be a spoiler, so I won’t ruin it.
JDP: Tell us a little bit about The Stranger She Married?
Donna: It's a sweet, yet sensual Regency romance with adventure, intrigue, a love triangle, and a terrible secret.
Torn between a disfigured war hero with the heart of a poet, and a handsome libertine who may not be all he seems, impoverished Alicia must marry by the end of the month. Despite a murder threat looming over her, learning to love the stranger she married may pose the greatest danger of all … to her heart.
JDP: I understand you also have a novella out. Would you tell us a little about it?
Donna: It's called Troubled Hearts. I wrote it in about three days, and spent even less time editing it. It pretty much just poured out of me as a complete work. It’s bit darker than I usually write, but in the book, I’m dealing with high emotions and a really heart-wrenching issue. It’s not based on anything in my life, but I went back to some of my darkest moments, and pulled out those emotions and plunked it into a new plot. It’s gotten fantastic reviews. Here’s the backcover blurb:
Desperate to escape her estranged husband and a home enshrouded with death and despair, Julia flees in the middle of the night. Little does she know, her determined husband is in pursuit. Along the journey, she discovers a telling revelation. But will it be enough to banish the ghosts of the past and quiet her troubled heart?
JDP: What project are you working on next?
Donna: Book 2 of the Rogue Hearts Series: The Guise of a Gentleman, which is about the brother of the hero in Book 1, The Stranger She Married. There are four books planned for this series, each about a brother of the same family, but each book is meant to be a stand-alone novel. Book two is about Jared, who is a spy infiltrating a pirate ring whose past comes back to haunt him…and endanger the life of the lady he loves. It’s under contract and I’m finishing final revisions suggested by my editor. It should be out this fall. Here’s the backcover blurb:
The widowed Elise is a perfect English lady living within the confines of society for the sake of her impressionable young son. Her quiet world is shattered when she meets the impulsive and scandalous Jared Amesbury. His roguish charm awakens her yearning for freedom and adventure. But his irrepressible grin and sea-green eyes hide a secret.
A gentleman by day, a pirate by night, Jared accepts one last assignment before he can be truly free. Elise gives him hope that he, too, can find love and belonging. His hopes are crushed when his best laid plans go awry and Elise is dragged into his world of violence and deceit. She may not survive the revelation of Jared’s past…or still love him when the truth is revealed.
JDP: Where can readers obtain a copy of The Stranger She Married?
Donna: They can buy the ebook at www.thewildrosepress.com or amazon.com
The paperback is available through my website at www.donnahatch.com or amazon.com.
JDP: Thank you for joining us today, Donna!
Donna: Thank you for having me!
Okay, here comes the Giveaway! Donna is offering a free, autographed copy of The Stranger She Married to some lucky person whose name I draw two weeks from today, on June 29th. There are three ways you can enter (and yes, that means you can enter three times if you do one each of the following):
(1) Send an email to me at firstname.lastname@example.org with your name and mailing address. Type: “JDP NEWS Contest” in the subject heading, and type: “I want to know who the stranger she married is!” in the body of the email.
(2) Leave a comment on this blog about my interview with Donna, then send me an email (with your mailing address, please) to email@example.com, letting me know you’ve left a comment. Please type: "JDP NEWS Comment" in the subject line.
(3) Go to Donna’s blog at http://donnahatch.blogspot.com/, find the answer to the question: “What contest is The Stranger She Married a finalist in?” and send the answer (with your mailing address) to firstname.lastname@example.org. Please type: “Stranger She Married Finalist” in the subject line.
That’s all there is to it! You can enter once, twice, or by all three methods. Just be sure I have your emails by June 29th, midnight PST.
Our Summer Treasure Hunt: Dig for Clues and Win contest is still going on. Click here to see which prizes are still available and for details on how to enter.
And click here to read about another great contest over on the Why Not? Because I Said So! blog.