Welcome, Diane! Tell us about Gallant Officer, Forbidden Lady:
Gallant Officer, Forbidden Lady is the first book in my Soldiers Trilogy. Three soldiers—an ensign, a lieutenant, and a captain—share a ghastly and distressing experience after the battle of Badajoz, an experience they agree to keep secret. It affects the rest of their lives.
Battle-weary soldier turned brooding artist, Jack Vernon, is hired to paint London theatre’s newest sensation, Ariana Blane. As this stunningly beautiful actress ignites feelings Jack thought destroyed in battle, another man has Ariana in his sights.
Omigosh, I’ve never counted them. I estimate I have about 700. I would love to catalogue them and organize them better. For Christmas I want this BOOKCOLLECTOR software!
When I was groping for story ideas my friend Julie suggested I watch the 1935 Gary Cooper, Franchot Tone movie, Lives of the Bengal Lancers, a story about three soldiers who go through hardships and adventures together in British India (Julie loves watching old movies!). What I took from the movie was the idea of three soldiers sharing an experience during the war, something that affects the rest of their lives. I also took from the film a tough Colonel (although I made him a General) who has a weak son under his command. This formed the basis of the trilogy.
This is my niche at Harlequin Historical. They want me to write about the seamier side of the Regency, or, as they wrote on the back cover copy of my first book, The Mysterious Miss M, “The Regency Underworld- sex, scandal and .”
I think it must have been very hard to be a virtuous actress during the Regency. I imagine women in the theatre would expect to become some man’s mistress. They’d hope to attract the attention of a wealthy man to supplement their income, so to speak.
One actress managed to marry a man with a title. , who has a lovely portrait by in the Metropolitan Museum, married the Earl of Derby in 1797. Because she had the patronage of the Duke of York (one of the king’s sons), she managed some sort of acceptance in Society. There may have been other actresses who made good, but I can’t think of any at the moment.
I bought a book (to add to the 700), Badajoz 1812: Wellington’s Bloodiest Battle by Ian Fletcher, and pored through the brazillion Napoleonic War books I already own, as well as looking online. As for Jack’s PTSD, I just transferred what I knew about the diagnosis into how a soldier during the Regency would experience it.
I learned a lot about paint! (I bought a book about that, too – Techniques of the World’s Great Painters by ). I learned to paint in oils while still in elementary school, but that was a long time ago. Not long enough to be similar to the Regency, so I had to learn about paint before it came in tubes. For example, I learned that Gainsborough used a pure white pigment called Cremora White. So Jack did, too.
Thanks, Diane! And congratulations on Gallant Officer, Forbidden Lady‘s release. What questions do you have for Diane? And don’t forget to visit her website at DianeGaston.com.