Okay - so here is a interview from Heidi Ashworth the author of the recent release, Miss Delacourt Speaks Her Mind which is a Regency Romance...and I don't really have to remind you guys about how historical novels are my favorite do I?
Anyway, I have really enjoyed talking with Heidi and am very happy to have this interview. Enjoy!
1. What inspired you to write Miss Delacourt Speaks Her Mind?
A. Miss D is a bit of a caricature of the regency romance genre, a book genre that I love and was reading a lot of at the time I wrote it (which was about 15 years ago--so, yeah, it's been sitting in a drawer for a very long time). I had always wanted to write a book and after devouring about 400 regencies, I figured, "Hey, I can do that!"
2. How long did it take you to write Miss Delacourt Speaks Her Mind?
I was taking a romance novel writing class on Tuesday nights via adult education. Every Tuesday my mother-in-law would pick up my four year old, I would sit down with a bowl of chocolate (an essential element of the entire procedure) and write a chapter. That night I would read it to my class which, after 8 weeks, evolved into a critique group that met at our instructor's home. It was very helpful to have an audience who appreciated what I was doing, especially when it came to the comedy. Imagining their laughter was super motivating. The book originally had 24 chapters, so at one chapter a week, it took six months.
3. Do you listen to music while you write or do you prefer peace and quiet? And just in general what kind of music do you enjoy?
I love music! I listen to a wide range, everything from alternative, classical, Celtic and show tunes to pop, rock and roll, and bagpipe music. However, when I write, I prefer peace and quiet (which is why my m-i-l took my son for the day when I wrote). Since I started blogging, I have learned how to write admidst a certain amount of chaos (our large, flat screen TV is about two feet away from the only computer in the house) which is a big plus but I still prefer to have absolute quiet when I do my serious writing.
4. Are you anything like your character Ginny?
Absolutely, yes. I'm very outspoken. I wouldn't have "taken" well in the Regency time period. I would have been one of those poor relations who lived in the tower with her cats mooching off her cousin or nephew. Either that or the crazy wife living in the attic in Jane Eyre.
5. Do you have a fictional character that you would consider a "favorite"? (doesn't have to be from your book but any book)
This is hard. I am never able to narrow down any kind of favorite to just one. Or even just ten. It's like asking which is my favorite child (the youngest, but shhhhh!) b/c it would just be WRONG! However, if forced to narrow it down, I would have to admit that Percy Blakeney of The Scarlet Pimpernel and Jamie Fraser of Outlander are currently duking it out in my mind's eye for the honor. Having said that, Laurie (short for Lawrence)of Little Women was my first literary crush. And, then, of course, there's Cyrano de Bergerac. Who can resist him? I could go on and on(see what I mean about narrowing it down?)
6. Christina or Britney?
Christina comes across to me as being slightly less intolerable but I don't listen to either of them. I couldn't even tell you the name of any songs they sing.
*From Me* It's the name...what can i say... :]
7. What is the weirdest place you have gotten a burst of inspiration?
8. When do you write? Do you have a specific time of day you prefer or does it happen sporadically?
I wrote Miss D when I had just one little guy running around. Once my daughter was born, I no longer had access to my mother in law and b/c of my oldest's eccentric ways, babysitters generally ran screaming from the house. Then the third came along. I never had the peace and quiet to seriously write again until just a few months ago. I decided the Miss D formula was a winner so that is how I do it--I don't do anything else on Tuesday's, just novel-write. As before, chocolate's essential. (I blog-write whenever inspiration strikes but it's usually when the kids are at school.)
9. What's your favorite movie?
Argh! There's that "favorite" question again which is just so hard for me to answer. If forced into a corner with a rapier at my neck, I would have to say The Scarlet Pimpernel with Anthony Andrews (the hero of Miss D is named for him) and Jane Seymour but I also adore The Princess Bride and the filmed version of Pirates of Penzance with Kevin Kline. The common thread amongst all of these movies is that I can watch them again and again, they are highly romantic with strong comedic leanings and tons of FUN (like Miss D).
10. If you could have been born in any other time period, which would it be?
I have often thought it would be wonderful to have lived in the regency or victorian time period with all the beautiful clothes, etc. However, the more I learn about those time periods, the more convinced I am that unless I were filthy rich, it would be pretty intolerable since money does buy a lot of comfort. (However, had I actually been born back then, I suppose I wouldn't realize how literally stinky everything was as I would be used to it.) In short, there is nothing in the past as appealing to me as having the regular use of a flushing toilet, running water, an electric laundry room, air conditioning and a dishwasher.
11. Did you do alot of research for this book as far as the language and events are concerned?
The 400 or so regency romance novels I read were research, indeed! The genre is (or "was" since no one is publishing the genre at this time--Miss D was published as regency-set historical romance) based on what was considered mainstream fiction at the time--the novels of Georgette Heyer who began publishing in the late 1920's. She was clearly very influenced by the works of Baroness Orczy (author of The Scarlet Pimpernel) and wrote mostly georgian time period romances, then moved into the regency era books. She did a massive amount of detailed research and her books were so well recieved that people began knocking off her work right and left. A genre was born. Reading Jane Austen, is of course, a must as well. I am doing quite a bit more research of my own for the novel I am currently working on.
12. Do you think you will write another book set in the Regency era?
Back when I wrote Miss D, I started on two other regencies which I am itching to get finished up but first . . .
13. Are you currently working on anything?
I have to finish the sequel to Miss D. People loved the characters so much, they asked when I was going to write a sequel, something I had never before considered. I am on schedule to finish Miss Delacourt Has Her Day in June. It is amazing to me how much more information is available online than there was 15 years ago when I wrote Miss D--I love that I just have to click to a new screen and do my search as the story unfolds. Love it!
14. What was it like to find your book was being published, and what were you doing when you found out?
That was a day indeed! I wrote a blog post about it which answers this question in detail. http://heidiashworth.blogspot.com/2008/05/day-i-got-call.html
15. What are some of your favorite books and authors?
I love the works of Jane Austen and Georgette Heyer, as mentioned. Some of my other favorite regency romance authors are Joan Smith, Barbara Metzger, Marion Devon, Marian Chesney, Carla Kelly and Elizabeth Mansfield. I read Little Women 7 times by the time I was 12. I also adore the Outlander series and many, many works of fantasy such as Lord of the Rings, The Dragonriders of Pern series, the Chronicles of Narnia, anything written by Patricia McKillip or Robin McKinley (esp her vampire book, Sunshine)and pretty much any fantasy novel based on the Arthurian legend. Surprisingly, except for Jane, I haven't made much time for the classics.
16. Do you have any advice for aspiring writers?
Read-read-read and write-write-write. Take a writing class, join a critique group and don't give up!
*Okay so, who is excited that Miss. Delacourt is going to have a sequel? ME! You guys should run out and get a copy of Miss Delacourt Speaks her Mind, I'm reading it now, and am really enjoying it :]
And thank you Heidi Ashworth for agreeing to do this interview with me!
And also, with my earlier post today, I got the pictures figured out after texting a friend...so it should work now, at least thats what it seems like. :]