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Author Archives: Gail Eastwood

About Gail Eastwood

Gail Eastwood is the author of seven Regencies that were originally published by Signet/Penguin. After taking ten years off for family matters, she has wobbled between contemporary romantic suspense and more Regency stories, wondering what century she's really in and trying to work the rust off her writing skills. Her backlist is gradually coming out in ebook format, and some are now available in new print editions as well. She is working on the start of a Regency-set series and other new projects. Stay tuned!


Hello everyone! Gail Eastwood here. I’m popping in for a visit thanks to the kind invitation of our Risky hostesses, most particularly Elena Greene, who has given me the opportunity to guest blog on first Fridays of alternate months. I am delighted to be here to share your gracious company and conversation, and also to help Elena gain a little more time to work on her newest work-in-progress. I have read a little of it and can’t wait for her to get it done!!

Some of you already know me, or may remember that I wrote Regencies for Signet back in the day, but for those who don’t, here’s a link to an interview Elena did with me a few months ago on this blog. Coming back to the writing realm after ten years makes me feel a little like Rip Van Winkle at times, so much as changed! It is indeed a brave new world, but I’m excited to jump into it.

If I may beg your indulgence, for this post I’d like to go back to the topic of cover art, picking up from Elena’s post of Sept 14. Elena shared her dilemma over “branding” her sexy short story Lady Em’s Indiscretion through her cover art. My own dilemma, as I prepared the first e-book reissue that I am doing myself, The Lady from Spain, was whether or not to go with a cover style similar to what the new Signet reissues have, or try something different.

The Signet reissue e-books have taken a very different approach to their cover design, and I have yet to see anyone discussing it or reacting to it, and I’m dying to know what people think! Three of my books are being done this way.

As you can see below, I opted for “different” for the ones I am doing myself–all part of the grand experiment. For LFS, I wanted something that would suggest the suspense of the story and still atleast hint at the Regency time period. The story takes place mostly in London… The reissue of The Captain’s Dilemma, my French prisoner-of-war story pubbed in 1995, is not ready yet, but I will be working on converting it next!

 

Here are the old versions of those covers. You can see more on my website or on my author pages at Amazon.

What “branding” messages do you get from the new ones? Like them? Dislike them? Do you want to see the characters, and if so, do you want to see both hero and heroine? What would you do instead?
If you’re interested in covers and/or how the designs have changed over time, here’s a link to a great website devoted to covers done by artist Allan Kass, who painted many Signet and other covers over a long career. It’s fun to look for your favorite authors in the archives, and sometimes recognize a favorite book!
Finally, I’m offering a free copy of The Lady from Spainto one lucky commenter, whose name will be drawn and announced by next Friday. So, please, join the conversation! And if you’d like to be part of the drawing, please be sure to include your preference for Kindle or Nook (the only formats available currently) or if you’re willing to wait for one of the other formats which will be available soon. Oh, and your email address!
Thanks so much for letting me visit with you today!

Does the idea of afternoon tea send a little curl of delight through you? Does the sight of rolling green pastures touched by mist make you yearn to be “across the pond”? Ha, I thought as much. As Regency fans—no, make that fanatics—we are all likely to be Anglophiles at heart—at least, those of us who aren’t lucky enough to be native Brits. Our romanticized fascination with the period is part and parcel of a love for the setting we read and write about.

The dictionary defines “Anglophile” as “a person who admires or sympathizes with Englandand English views, policy, things, etc.” It also says “Anglomania” is “an excessive or undue attachment to, respect for, or imitation of Englishmen or English institutions and customs by a foreigner.” Uh-oh. The Regency gown hanging on the back of my office door proves I am guilty of the “imitation” part of that. Certainly I don’t agree that my respect for and attachment to things English is undue, but hmm, how does one determine “excessive”? Is it a bit eccentric that I, an American, take note of Jane Austen’s and Queen Victoria’s birthdays? I believe that value judgment is both relative and subjective….

Pondering these weighty matters led me the other day to think about where this obsession with things English comes from. Have you ever thought about it? I come from a long line of English ancestors, so I could claim “it’s in the blood”, but I know plenty of Anglophiles/Anglomaniacs who haven’t a drop of English blood and are just as addicted as I am. How about you?
If it’s not heritage, then what? I suspect it’s more than just the obvious loveliness of everything English. I’ve been addicted from a very early age –if not before consciousness, at least before memory. It must be my mother’s fault. Her tool of choice had to be the books –those lovely illustrated children’s books. Beatrix Potter comes to mind in an instant. An edition we had included a sketch of Potter’s beloved home and I loved that picture as much as Peter Rabbit. And even before A.A. Milne’s Winnie-the-Pooh, we read the poems in When We Were Very Young and Now We are Six. I can’t recite “What is the matter with Mary Jane? (She isn’t sick and she hasn’t a pain), and it’s lovely rice pudding for dinner again” without attempting a British accent.

Were you raised with a vicarious diet of things English through books? Which were your favorites? The more I think about it, the more books come to mind: Peter Pan, Alice in Wonderland, The Wind in the Willows, A Child’s Garden of Verses. There’s such a rich legacy of classic children’s literature from British authors! I went through a phase of reading books about dolls—my favorites were British ones, of course. Rackety-Packety House and Impunity Jane. There had to come a point, though, when this diet fed to me became a preference of my own, and hence, a self-perpetuating addiction. Did you read The Wolves of Willoughby Hall? When did you first discover Jane Austen, or the great Georgette? Once I began to choose books because they were set in England or were about some aspect of English life or characters or history, there was no hope of a cure. And why would anyone want to be cured? This addiction has, of course, has led to a lifetime of delightful reading discoveries and pleasure, not to mention a few humble contributions from my own pen.

Speaking of which, I should mention that The Persistent Earl, the next of my ebook Signet Regency reissues from Penguin Intermix, is due out next week, on December 11. I do hope you’ll take a look at it, and perhaps if you have an Amazon account, you could give me some “likes”? The heroine in this story, a wary widow living in her married sister’s Londonhome and helping to nurse the hero back to health after Waterloo, also serves as a governess of sorts for her charming young nephews and niece. We could do a whole article about what books English children in the Regency were reading, or our characters read as children before that…Isn’t the power of books amazing?
I’ll give away a copy of The Persistent Earl to someone who leaves a comment (and includes their email so I can contact them). Come join the conversation! I’ll draw the winner’s name next Friday, the 14th.
Elena here.  To learn more about Gail and her writing, check out her website at www.gaileastwoodauthor.com 
 
And next week, we’ll be celebrating Jane Austen’s birthday.  There will be prizes.  🙂

My family and I recently returned from what for us is a rare activity–a vacation! We had a thoroughly lovely time at the two Universal Studios theme parks in Orlando, Florida (and came home just in time for the blizzard that affected much of the northeast U.S.). My husband’s random comment that much of what we did and saw “could barely have been imagined even fifty years ago” started me thinking about which aspects of our vacation might or might not have been at least recognizable to a Regency time traveler.

The notion of a theme or amusement park itself would certainly not be foreign to our visitor, for the fairs and pleasure gardens familiar to him or her were exactly the roots of the “Magic Kingdoms” and “Islands of Adventure” we have today. The history of fairs as gathering places for both trade and amusement goes back to ancient times well before the Middle Ages, and both the Bartholomew Fair, a chartered London fair held in the fall from 1133 to 1855, and the Sturbridge Fair, held in Cambridge (1211-1882 or longer), are historically famous in England. If you look carefully at the 1808 illustration of the Bartholomew Fair, you can see all the familiar elements – throngs of people, and vendors selling wares, spectacle/show stages and also rides –note the giant swings at the right, and the “spin-around” on the left (we had one of those in my schoolyard when I was a kid). There is even a “pleasure wheel” (an early form of ferris wheel) in the background. Granted, a large number of the rides at Universal are roller coasters of various sorts, but a little research reveals that roller coasters originated in Russia during the 1600s in the form of ice slides –70-foot ice-covered ramps with wooden frames for riders to slide down. By 1784, wheeled vehicles were being used (powered by gravity, I suspect), and by 1812 in Paris they had even learned to lock the cars onto the tracks! I did not find evidence that these had reached England by then, however. More investigation needed!

Bartholomew Fair 1808

The idea of a fair running all year long on a permanent basis might surprise our Regency friend at first, but not after the example of the pleasure garden is considered. Pleasure gardens date as far back as the mid-16th century, providing a permanent acreage set aside for entertainment and recreation. Pavillions and long walkways were standard landscape features, all illuminated by hundred of oil lamps. Vauxhall Gardens in London (originally opened in 1661) is the one most associated with our period as Ranelagh Gardens closed in 1803, but there were similar gardens in many places. Games, dancing, concerts and fireworks, tightrope walkers, hot air balloon ascents, re-enactments of sieges and battles, illusions of exotic places…gee, with the exception of the hot air balloons, I think I saw all of these at Universal. Do you see a similarity in the two pictures below?

Universal Gateway

Vauxhall Grand Walk 1791

Modern technology has given a new spin to all of these time-tested crowd-pleasers –computers now control everything and video enhances many of the rides. The big thrill in Hogwarts in the Harry Potter section of Islands of Adventure is basically riding a moving gyroscope, a very new way to use technology that was only in its infancy during the Regency. The fireworks display and waterworks we saw in the evening at closing time at Universal included a fabulous light show and projection of images on the constantly changing configurations of fountains and curtains of water well beyond anything Vauxhall would have been able to produce. But you know, the descriptions of period illusions and shows they did manage to put on are quite impressive, even by today’s standards.

My husband pointed out that the biggest difference that might have truly frightened our visitor is the speed of everything. Coming from a world where people were frightened by the speed of trains when they were introduced at 35mph, and where at one time 20 miles was considered a full day’s travel, to our world where 20mph is considered an annoying snail’s pace, our Regency time-traveler might think twice about going on a rollercoaster traveling at 90 miles an hour. I know I passed on some of those myself! I think in the end that he or she would have been more astounded by this and by the building technology in the parks, the moving sidewalks, the acres of parking lots and rows of huge parking garages, the cell phones and cameras (and the skimpy clothing on the tourists) than by the parks or entertainments themselves. But since our visitor is obviously intrepid (having time-traveled, after all), after equipping him or herself with an appropriate t-shirt, I am certain he/she would have enjoyed the time spent there every bit as much as we did.

For more information about VauxhallGardens, I recommend these websites (among many):

www.vauxhallgardens.com

www.vauxhallandkennington.org.uk

www.history.co.uk/explore-history/history-of-london/pleasure-gardens.html

Gail Eastwood
www.gaileastwoodauthor.com

 

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