Monday, January 31, 2011

Author Interview & Giveaway with Regency Author Teresa Thomas Bohannon

Today I have the opportunity to share with you an interview with Regency romance author, Teresa Thomas Bohannon. (Yes, although I write medieval romances, I apparently can’t seem to find enough Regency romance authors to interview. It’s one of my favorite reading sub-genres, partly because I simply love the era, and partly because Regencies still seem to be one of the easiest historical sub-genres to still find clean romances in. And yes, I know perfectly well that sentence ended in a preposition. Live with it if you want to participate in the giveaway. ;-) )

In addition to the interview, Teresa has graciously offered to give away a dedicated copy of her e-book, A Very Merry Chase. What is a “dedicated copy”, you ask? Teresa sent me a complimentary PDF of A Very Merry Chase with the following added to her title page: “Presented to Joyce DiPastena, Medieval Historian and Author, January 2011”. Can you say “Wow!”? Let me just say, this e-book is going to be a keeper!

You can win your very own dedicated copy of A Very Merry Chase if you read the following interview, and then follow the directions at the end.

JDP: How long have you been reading Regency romances?

Teresa: Approximately 37 years.  I've always been a voracious reader, and always loved stories with strong female characters. While still in high school I discovered the risque Angelique novels written in France in the 1950's.  I loved the epic scale, the romance, and the fact that women were stars of the show--so to speak--but to be honest I scanned or skipped the sex scenes.  When I am enjoying a book, or even a movie, I become deeply invested in both the characters and their story and I am no more comfortable spying on their intimate moments than I would be with anyone else of my acquaintance.  So here I was, finally with a woman-centered genre that I loved to read for sheer escapist entertainment and having to do a lot of skimming.  Then one day I discovered Georgette Heyer and I never really looked back.

JDP: What was the first Regency romance you ever read? (Mine, as readers of JDP NEWS will know, was Friday’s Child by Georgette Heyer.)

Teresa: Heyer's The Grand Sophy.  She was everything I loved in a female character, strong, willful, witty, matter-of-factly in charge and most of all, for me, both financially and emotionally independent, i.e. she could darn well take care of herself like all the Edgar Rice Burroughs heroines, and villainesses, that I idolized as a child.

JDP: When did you first realize you wanted to write Regency romances?

Teresa: I always knew that more than anything else in the world, I wanted to write; but it was above all else, Georgette Heyer that made me take the first step towards writing novels. I loved everything about Regencies--especially the ones with strong female characters--and wanted to immerse myself in that world.

JDP: Which Regency romance authors have most influenced you in your love for the Regency period?

Teresa: Georgette Heyer, of course, Dame Barbara Cartland, and actually just about every Regency that was written in the seventies and early eighties--I literally devoured every one that I could get my hands on, especially the Coventry series with those lovely white covers graced with those gorgeous paintings of couples in Regency dress.

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 A Very Merry Chase?

Teresa: Actually, I originally wrote AVMC 35 years ago, and my options were quite limited by today's standards.  I remember filling several legal pads with every historical, social, and cultural detail I could glean from the novels I was reading.  Then, of course, there were trips to all three local libraries to read everything I could in their limited early 19th century collections. 

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

Teresa: Back then it was probably Burke's Peerage, because one of my greatest difficulties came with trying to figure out how the various titles worked.  Other than that, I really can't recall any particular titles, because I was mainly concentrating on the social and cultural aspects of the Regency--which in most of the text and reference books I read, was like hunting for a needle in a dry and dusty haystack.

When I brushed up on my research and re-edited A Very Merry Chase before publishing it last was a lot easier, because not only did I have the Internet, but there are literally dozens of books out there that feature what I call "the good parts version" of Regency history.  Answers that I would have had to track down by jumping from one encyclopedia reference to another, and then another, are now available in an instant via Google and these types of books. My modern favorites would probably be:

What Jane Austen Ate and Charles Dickens Knew: From Fox Hunting to Whist-The Facts of Daily Life in Nineteenth-Century England, by Daniel Pool

Writer's Guide to Everyday Life in Regency and Victorian England from 1811-1901, by Kristine Hughes

Our Tempestuous Day: A History of Regency England, by Carolly Erickson

And, of course, Wikipedia and all the marvelous history sites out there, both the ones from official sources and the ones that are labors of love from the aficionados.

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

Teresa: Emma, Lady Hamilton, probably more than any other.  Her history is fascinating, although history in general, and the British government, in particular, treated her abominably.  My BA and MA are both in history, and although the university I attended didn't have a women's studies concentration per se, I personally concentrated on women's history in my research for each of my classes.  In my opinion, Emma Hamilton personifies the raw deal that the majority of women have received throughout history.   Men--particularly when physical strength ruled the day allowing them to build a power base for themselves and their heirs--ran the show.  Women, for the most part, were punished harshly if they attempted to take a starring role--particularly when their looks faded, and they were no longer perceived as desirable by the men who held the power.  More often than not, their cute little aberrations might be tolerated for a while, but in the end, those who stepped outside the norm were invariably punished for their impudence.

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

Teresa: The odd thing is, neither Ms. Heyer, nor any of the other ladies who inspired me to write my Regency, wrote my favorite Regency romance.  I actually read it several years after I finished A Very Merry Chase, and then loaned it to a sweet little old lady, who never returned it.  I spent the next twenty years trying to find another copy. It's The Nabob's Widow, by Elsie Lee, and although she wrote other Regencies of little note before moving on to other genres, this was her final Regency and, in my opinion, her greatest achievement.  It is written from the male's point of view and every character in the book is an absolute charming delight.  I've read it half a dozen times in the past few years and enjoy it just as much every time I read it.  It will forever and always be the Regency I wish I had written.

JDP: I remember reading Elsie Lee many years ago, but I can't remember which titles now. I'll have to see if I can find a copy of The Nabob's Widow. What inspired you to write A Very Merry Chase?

Teresa: I wanted to be an author more than anything in the world.  At the time I originally wrote AVMC, I was young and very bright but also uneducated by the standards of the publishing world. I dreamed of writing and becoming financially independent, and I suppose, becoming the same sort of strong, self-reliant woman that I so admired in the books I read.  The choice of Regencies was almost a given since they were the traditionally female genre that I most enjoyed reading. To this day, when I just want to sit back and relax and read for sheer entertainment, I love nothing better than a quiet coze with old friends found between the covers of a Regency Romance.  It doesn't matter if I've never met them before, if the book is well done the time, the place, the language, the culture and all the other accouterments feel comfortably like home.  However, let me state, for the record, that I would hate living in the real Regency era, even if I were incredibly, independently wealthy and could afford all the luxuries the period had to offer.  You have a background in history as well, so you know that the Regency Romance era that so many readers love, is as much a fantasy as anything ever written by Tolkien or H.G. Wells.  In reality, the Regency, as was much of history, was dirty, smelly and uncomfortable, and it was a particularly harsh existence for women--even those in the upper classes whose sole responsibility was to provide an heir and a spare.

JDP: Very true. As I always say regarding my own writing time period, the Middle Ages, “It’s a nice place to visit in my imagination, but I wouldn’t want to live there.” Tell us a little bit about A Very Merry Chase?

Teresa: AVMC is a mostly light-hearted tale with just the tiniest taste of Napoleonic era intrigue.  The heroine is the Right Honorable, Lady Sabrina St. Clair, who is wealthy, beautiful, and most independently minded, and who also happens to be on the verge of becoming--according to her less generous peers--an ape-leader and antidote.  Sabrina is a bit anachronistic in that she does some things that no well-bred lady of the Regency era would ever do more than dream of doing; but she's not particularly blatant about it.  For Sabrina, the rebellion is more passive-aggressive in style, manifested, I would imagine, much the same as the small rebellions of most women actually living in the Regency (or any other historical era).  The hero of the story is Brenton, Lord Branderly, Duke of Brensted, an unusually tall gentleman, who has returned to England in search of a bride and heirs, after spending most of his adult life wandering the world.  They meet under rather unusual circumstances, clash repeatedly and eventually fall in love--she reluctantly, he determinedly--against a comfortably Regency backdrop of witty repartee, beaux, belles, dancing, mishaps, mayhem and misunderstandings.

JDP: What project are you working on next?

Teresa: My next release will be a paranormal romance that I started approximately 25 years ago.  It actually began life as a series of short stories about a trio of reoccurring characters moving through time together. After that, I'll return to writing Regency era romances.  I have several Regency storylines all rambling around in my head that will appeal to women--most probably, baby boomers like myself--that want nothing more than to spend their limited amounts of free time enjoying some old-fashioned witty repartee and early 19th century, mostly light-hearted, comedy of manners style romantic intrigue...with no sex, vampires, or zombies.

JDP: Where can readers obtain a copy of A Very Merry Chase?

Teresa: A Very Merry Chase is available at both Amazon and Barnes and Noble.  You can purchase it, or download the first chapter to read for free at either location.  I also have a video book trailer on YouTube and a Facebook author page where you can keep up with my various posts on tidbits of Regency history.

My Regency, Historical Tidbits Blog:
A Very Merry Chase Video Book Trailer:

JDP: Thank you for joining us today, Teresa.

Now to the giveaway! For a chance to win your very own dedicated copy of A Very Merry Chase (e-book PDF), 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 at WITH YOUR NAME AND EMAIL ADDRESS, with “#1 - I want a Regency romance dedicated to me!” typed in the subject line.

(2) Visit Teresa’s website to find out the “official” dates of the Regency period. Email me the answer at WITH YOUR NAME AND EMAIL ADDRESS, with “#2 – I want a Regency romance dedicated to me!” typed in the subject line. (Hint: Read the full entry under Regency Romance Revival – Hello and Welcome)

(3) Visit Teresa's blog, read the excerpt from A Very Merry Chase in the right sidebar, and tell me what happened to Lady Bethany? Email the answer at WITH YOUR NAME AND EMAIL ADDRESS, with “#3 – I want a Regency romance dedicated to me!” typed in the subject line.

Deadline for entries is February 11, midnight PST. The winner will be announced on February 12.


Marie Higgins said...

Ohhh.... How fun is this? I totally LOVE Regency romance! Don't shoot me, but I've never read Heyer. lol But I am an Austen fan! I've written a few Regencies, but I have yet to get them published.

Great interview!


DanielleThorne said...

Regency is my favorite romance genre! I'm so excited to learn about a new E-published romance author in the Regency era. It sounds wonderful. And the Regency references are much appreciated. I have "What Jane Austen Ate & Charles Dickens Knew" as well. I find the best research to be online though.

Gail Pallotta said...

A Very Merry Chase sounds like a fun book to read. Thanks for sharing how you wrote and researched it. Congratulations and best wishes for much success with it.

Judy said...

I really enjoyed the post. I love the Regency Era. The historical novels were my first romance reads.


Debby said...

Regencies are my first love. This is the genre that caught my attention and for along time I only read Regencies. They are still my fav. I am going to be looking for your book. Great post!
debby236 at att dot net