Please Welcome Candice Hern to the Riskies!
I’ve known Candice for a long time. She was a member of my local RWA chapter for quite a while. In fact, and she does not know this, but way back when I had enough nerve to actually show up to a local chapter meeting, that particular meeting involved all the published authors standing up, introducing themselves, and talking about what they hoped to most accomplish with their writing.
The fact that some 15 or so multi-published authors stood up and said they wanted to improve their writing and their writing process is the subject of another blog. Candice stood up, introduced herself and talked about her books a bit and I sat there thinking, wow. I want to be like her because it was obvious she was smart and passionate and knowledgeable. Over the years my impression of her was solidified. She’s a wonderful writer who is very generous with her knowledge about the industry and the Regency.
In addition to talking about her success with self-publishing, she’s been gracious enough to have a giveaway. So read all about Candice and her books and check out the book give away.
Q: What the hay have you been up to? I know you’ve done some anthologies, but I can hardly tell you how excited I was when I saw you were self-publishing your backlist. You have a lot of fans of your Traditional Regencies and your Regency-set historicals, so YAY! Can you tell us about your decision to self-publish?
I spent almost 3 years away from writing while I was occupied with family matters. That’s a long time to be out of the game. (I did manage to write 2 novellas that were contracted, but that last one was difficult. It was due only 3 weeks after my father passed away, and the previous months had been spent dealing with his illness. I was still away from home and my mother was not well. But I somehow got the thing written.)
When I finally had my life back and could write again, I knew that big publishing gap would be a problem in selling another book. At about that time, two of my friends were e-pubbing their backlist books and doing extremely well. I had the rights back to my old Signet Regencies, and thought it would be smart to get those out there as ebooks, get some sales under my belt, before trying to sell a new book. And I am SO glad I did!
Q: How has your self-pub experience been? I know from my own experience that there is some pretty pent-up demand for certain Romances that have gone out of print and are now hard to find. My suspicion is that the Traditional Regency is an entire genre that has an eager readership that (maybe) isn’t large enough for print publishers, but is more than large enough for self-publishing. What’s your take on that?
I have found that many readers have been starving for good old traditional Regencies. When all the NY publishers dropped their Regency lines, the audience didn’t go away. They simply had no more books to buy. One of the reasons, in my opinion, that those Regency lines were dropped was because publishers wanted steamier and steamier historicals, which were selling like gang busters. But I think there has always been an audience that preferred a sweeter romance. Yes, it’s a smaller audience, but it is devoted.
I have also found a ton of new readers in the UK, where our old Signets were typically not sold. The UK readers have been fantastic, spreading the word to other UK readers, tweeting about my books, etc.
Q: Can you tell us about your backlist plans? What’s out there so far?
All six of my Signet Regencies are now out there as ebooks (A PROPER COMPANION, A CHANGE OF HEART, AN AFFAIR OF HONOR, A GARDEN FOLLY, THE BEST INTENTIONS, and MISS LACEY’S LAST FLING).
I also have the rights back to my Merry Widows trilogy (IN THE THRILL OF THE NIGHT, JUST ONE OF THOSE FLINGS, and LADY BE BAD). Those are not traditional Regencies, but sexier Regency-set historicals. I will be publishing those as ebooks over the next few months.
Q: Tell us about your first book, A Proper Companion
The first book I epubbed was A PROPER COMPANION. It was the first book I ever wrote. Emily works as a companion to an elderly, but feisty, dowager countess in Bath. The dowager’s favorite grandson, Robert, has just announced his engagement to a beautiful girl from a family she finds unacceptable (they’re social-climbing mushrooms). Since it is clearly not a love match, the dowager has no scruples about doing her best to see the betrothal fall apart, so she and Emily go to London so she can interfere. She also decides to do a bit of match-making for Emily, who is very well-born, but penniless. Of course, Robert and Emily are very attracted to each other. But he’s engaged, so what can they do?
Q: That book was originally published in 1995. Do you have any funny or scandalous stories about that book? If not, can you make one up?
As I mentioned, A PROPER COMPANION was the first book I ever wrote. It became published, in 1995, as the result of winning a writing contest sponsored by an RWA chapter. It’s full of first-book issues — the hero and heroine are both gorgeous, both perfect. There’s way too much description of fashion. And I hadn’t quite mastered the idea of point-of-view. Actually, it seems I figured it out about half-way through, but the early chapters were full of head-hopping.
When I decided to self-publish it as a ebook, I had to have the physical book scanned as the original files were no longer available. In proofing the scans, there was SO much I wanted to change, especially those POV problems in the early chapters. But it would have meant serious re-writing, which I didn’t want to do. So I only tweaked it a bit, made a few changes to dialog tags and such, things I’ve gotten better at over the years. No major changes, though. It’s still 99.9% the same as the original.
Q: Why do you love the Regency? And do you have a picture (or link) to your favorite Regency-era gown?
I have been a collector of Regency-era stuff for years. (You can see some of that stuff on my website, here: http://www.candicehern.com/collections/index.htm). As a serious collector, I had studied the period well, the context in which my collections were made, and over time developed a sizable reference library. I grew to love the period as a sort of bridge from the pre-industrial age to the modern age.
But I will confess that it was the fashion that hooked me from the beginning. I was always fascinated by this period of loose skirts that skimmed the body, squashed between two periods of giant hooped skirts. Only 20-25 years of beautiful classical lines. Here one of my favorites, a Full Dress from Feb 1815:
I also truly believe it is in large part the fashion that makes the period so popular to readers. I think it is much easier for a reader to imagine herself as the heroine, wearing these beautiful Regency gowns, than it is to picture herself in Victorian crinolines or Medieval double-horned headdresses. Regency dress is somehow more accessible to us. Heck, I remember (dating myself here) wearing empire-waisted grannie dresses in the late 1960s. But never in our lifetimes have we worn anything close to crinolines and stomachers. We can relate to a Regency gown.
Q: Tell us about Miss Lacey’s Last Fling.
The last of my Signet Regencies, MISS LACEY’S LAST FLING, is my riskiest Regency. I knew it would be my last, as I saw the lines folding elsewhere and knew the writing was on the wall for Signet. I also knew that my next book would be a Regency-set historical, ie a sexier book. So I decided to throw caution to the wind and add a little sex to my Regency. It’s nothing too steamy (it’s still a trad, after all), but there is actual sex in the story. It’s about a young woman who believes she only has about 6 months to live. Since she’s never actually LIVED (as Auntie Mame would say), she decides to pack in a lifetime of experience into a few months. Including a little nookie.
I really loved writing this book. It was inspired by that old TV show (dating myself again) “Run For Your Life” with Ben Gazzara. He was a man with some disease or other that was going to kill him, and he decided to spend his last days doing all sorts of things he’d never done. I thought, what if this story was set in the Regency, what would he do? Better yet, what if the person dying was a woman? What would she do? So, my Miss Lacey makes a list. And in what she believes are her last months to live, she becomes full of life, passion, adventure. When it came time to create a hero for her, I decided, as I most often do, that he had to be her opposite. So, what is the opposite of someone who wants to live life to its fullest? How about a man who’s bored with life and tired of living?
Anyway, it’s a fun book and I am rather proud of it. (It won the Bookseller’s Best Award for Best Regency of 2001.)
Q: You’re an avid collector of things Regency. Can you tell us about a recent or favorite acquisition?
This week I bought 10 new French fashion prints — from 1812, 1813, and 1818. But a recent favorite acquisition is the original watercolor painting that was used for the same French publication as this week’s prints: Le Journal des Dames et des Modes. It’s a painting by Horace Vernet, who designed a lot of the French fashion prints. I was pretty stunned to find it at a local print and drawing sale.
Q: I’ve heard rumors that you’re working on a brand new book. Is that true? If it is, what can you tell us about it?
All those years I wasn’t writing, I was sitting on a proposal for a new historical series. It’s about two aristocratic widows in financial difficulties who start a business for young ladies. You’ve heard of wedding planners? These are Season Planners. They help girls without the right connections to navigate the social season. Each book is about one of their clients, each of whom presents seemingly impossible obstacles, eg a merchant class background, a trio of dead fiances, a mother who’s a famous courtesan, etc. A nephew of the two Season Planners is a young man based on Beau Brummell, who will help to turn a few sow’s ears into silk purses.
This series, as I mentioned, was planned as a series of sexy historical romances. When I saw how much more money I could make by self-publishing it, I decided it made more sense to continue self-publishing rather than try to get a contract for peanuts through a NY publisher. Then, when I got such fabulous feedback from my e-Regencies, I decided to turn this series into traditional Regencies. One of the best things about self-publishing is that you can do whatever you want. I don’t have to worry that there are no more Regency lines anymore. I can create my own line. And that’s what I’m going to do.
The first book is called THE SOCIAL CLIMBER, and I hope to release it in time for Christmas shopping! You can see the cover and read an excerpt on my website, here: http://www.candicehern.com/coming.htm
Q: What’s next for you?
I have to finish THE SOCIAL CLIMBER! Then, if there’s time, I want to try to write a Regency Christmas novella. After that, the next book in the Season Planner series.
Ohh!! A book Giveaway!
For your chance to win a copy of Candice’s most recent book, the anthology IT HAPPENED ONE SEASON, with novellas by Stephanie Laurens, Mary Balogh, Jacquie D’Alessandro, and Candice, leave a comment for Candice!
Void where prohibited, no purchase necessary. Winner will be chosen at random on Thursday, so leave your comment by midnight, Wednesday!