Christmas is back! And so is Regan Walker. Today, Regan is talking a bit about her historical romance novel The Twelfth Night Wager (a Christmas novella).
During this tour, Regan will be awarding a copy of three (3) of her books Racing with the Wind, The Holly and the Thistle, and The Shamrock and the Rose to one (1) randomly drawn commenter. To be entered for a chance to win, leave a comment below. And to increase your chances of winning, feel free to visit other tour stops and leave comments there, too.
As a child Regan Walker loved to write stories, particularly about adventure-loving girls, but by the time she got to college more serious pursuits took priority. One of her professors thought her suited to the profession of law, and Regan realized it would be better to be a hammer than a nail. Years of serving clients in private practice and several stints in high levels of government gave her a love of international travel and a feel for the demands of the “Crown” on its subjects. Hence her romance novels often involve a demanding Prince Regent who thinks of his subjects as his private talent pool.
Welcome back to Reviews and Interviews, Regan.
I’m glad to be here.
Please tell us about your newest release.
The Twelfth Night Wager is a novella that begins one October night as Christopher St. Ives, Lord Eustace is sitting at White’s club with his friend Lord Ormond having a brandy and discussing the leg-shackled state (Regency wording for marriage). With an ulterior motive in mind, Ormond challenges Eustace to a wager: to seduce, bed and walk away from a certain unnamed lady. The wager is entered in White’s betting book and all of London begins to speculate on just which woman the redheaded rake is after now. Little do they know it’s a comely young widow, Grace, Lady Leisterfield - a virtuous woman.
What inspired you to write this book?
Well the idea for the novella first came to me from my research into the betting habits of Regency men. I thought of the title initially as the name of a song: How to Handle a Woman. When my publisher suggested I make it a Christmas novella (my prior Christmas short story, The Holly & The Thistle has done well), the longer story became The Twelfth Night Wager. I was fascinated to learn that men in Regency England bet on anything and everything. So, why not a scandalous wager to seduce a virtuous woman?
Excerpt from The Twelfth Night Wager:
“Speak of the devil,” said Lady Claremont.
The five women looked toward the doorway that led to the smaller book room. There on the threshold stood Eustace, in a dark blue coat over a white shirt and buff-colored breeches. Grace thought him very dashing. When his eyes focused on her, followed by a warm smile, her heart skipped.
She thought she heard Priscilla Wentworth let out a sigh. Apparently Eustace had made another conquest. How tiring it must be for him, she thought to herself, all those ladies falling at his feet. But even to herself, that sounded like jealousy.
He strode to their table, stopping along the way to greet other guests playing cards. When finally he reached them, he wished the group of five women good-day.
“How’s the card game going, ladies?”
“It’s not whist,” said the countess, “but ’twill do as it’s loo.” She chuckled at her own rhyme, and the ivory feather above her silver locks flicked in jaunty fashion. Emily rolled her eyes.
Eustace chuckled, too. “You look well settled into the game.”
“Have you just come from the fox-hunt?” Grace asked.
“I have. But you can be thankful I first cleaned off the mud. It’s positively soggy out there. Still, it was worth it; Ormond, Alvanley and I had a good run through the woods.”
“It sounds delightful,” said Emily. “I love the sounds of the bugle and the hounds eager to give chase to the wily fox. Did you catch him?”
“Sadly, yes. The end of the chase is always so…final, and somehow disappointing.”
Eustace’s words drew her attention and she noticed his serious expression. She had the feeling he wasn’t talking only about fox-hunts.
What’s the next writing project?
The third novel in the Agents of the Crown trilogy, Wind Raven, is completed and on my editor’s desk; it should be out in early Spring. Currently, I’m writing a medieval, The Red Wolf’s Prize, set in England in 1068, two years after the Conquest. The hero, Renaud de Pierrepont is a Norman knight, one of King William’s favorites, to whom he has given the lands of a Saxon thane who was slain at the Battle of Hastings. The lands come with an English maiden, the Lady Serena, who hates the Normans for taking her country, her lands and her beloved father. She has no intention of being wed to a knight who may have killed the man she all but worshipped. Sir Renaud (aka “the Red Wolf,” so named for the wolf he killed with his bare hands), is a man shaped by his past who clings to a rigid set of rules (his men call him the “warrior priest”). Serena is a rebel who plans to escape. I’m having lots of fun with it.
What is your biggest challenge when writing a new book? (or the biggest challenge with this book)
Surprisingly, the biggest challenge is not the beginning, as it is for some authors. That comes easily to me, as do the characters. No, it’s about half way in when I usually come to a “dry hole” and have to look for the new action scenes and the continuing conflict. (I’m a pantster, you see.) I am at the midway point now in The Red Wolf’s Prize and have found my salvation in the siege of Exeter that occurred in 1068 when King William had to draw upon his knights to deal with some rebellious English. Now I’m buried in siege research. (Got to get those battle scenes right!) Meanwhile the heroine is about to be abducted by a rival. (Are you biting your nails yet?)
If your novels require research – please talk about the process. Do you do the research first and then write, while you’re writing, after the novel is complete and you need to fill in the gaps?
Yes, yes, yes and yes. I begin by doing some fundamental research on the history of the period (even within the Regency each year had its issues and its happenings); then I research characters (many of mine are real historic figures) and places and food. I’m visual and I need to “see” what I’m describing. Some of my readers have remarked that the descriptions are so vivid they feel as if they are there. I work to make sure that is the case. Then as I begin to write, issues pop up nearly every day. Some require hours of research. I might even order a book I need (like I did on sieges for Red Wolf) when in the middle. Even after the novel is done, I can be sent down a rabbit trail of research. I remember one of my beta readers for Wind Raven (due out in early 2014) wanted me to add the hero’s seeing the rum bottles stacked up behind the bar in the prologue. I spent a whole day researching whether rum was in bottles in 1817, and finally decided it was too chancy, so I left the scene with just tankards stacked up. (Rum was usually in barrels or casks.)
What’s your writing space like? Do you have a particular spot to write where the muse is more active? Please tell us about it.
I have a wonderful room to write in and it has a view of the beautiful Pacific Ocean. I live on a hill where I house share with friends, and my office looks west, towards the blue ocean. It’s my “den’ where I write. I have a large table with no drawers (I’d be worried I’d forget what is in there) with stacks of research, supplies and promotional material along with my Mac and my printer. And I have a bookcase with my reference books segregated by the book I’m writing or will be writing soon. It’s a wonderful workspace any author would love. I don’t often stare out the window, but when I do, I’m inspired.
What authors do you enjoy reading within or outside of your genre?
These days because of my active Regan’s Romance Reviews blog (http://reganromancereview.blogspot.com), I mostly read Historical Romance—all subgenres save for fantasy and time travel. I have a list of favorite authors, of course, and those are seen on my blog. But the short list would be Virginia Henley, Heather Graham (aka Shannon Drake), Elizabeth Stuart, Marsha Canham, Shirlee Busbee, Kathleen Givens, Victoria Holt and Jennifer Blake in the classic authors category. In the newer authors category, it would be Joanna Bourne, Madeline Hunter, Kaki Warner and Amanda Hughes, among others.
Anything additional you want to share with the readers today?
I love to hear from readers. When one heard that part of Wind Raven would be set in the waters off Puerto Rico, she suggested I locate a scene in one of the bioluminescent bays. As a result, she will get the book as my gift because I used her suggestion.
Thank you for coming back to Reviews and Interviews!
Oh, thanks for having me back. It’s been a pleasure.