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Category: Interviews

Interviews with authors and industry professionals

imgresToday our guest is my good friend, Lisa Chaplin. Lisa and I “met” on an Australian/American writers group that came about because of our interest in Romance writing. Some of us have gone on to other ventures, including Lisa, but we’re still in touch by email several times a week.

Lisa’s first Historical Fiction, The Tide Watchers, will be released June 30, just a few days from now. The Tide Watchers has already earned some rave reviews:

9780062379122A Starred Review from Library Journal
In this brilliantly complex novel, Australian author Chaplin…tightens the suspense at every moment while exploring sympathetically the motivations of republicans and aristocrats alike and highlighting the allure and danger of families, secrets, and false identities. Highly recommended for anyone who likes a “ripping good yarn.”

Four and a Half Stars from RT Book Reviews
…incredibly strong and moving tale….A fast-moving pace and a wonderful melding of accurate historical events with honorable, passionate characters make this book impossible to put down.

New Books in Historical Fiction
…a fast-paced story that will keep you riveted in your seat as the pages turn.

You can listen to an interview with Lisa here.

To celebrate Lisa’s Historical Fiction debut, I’m giving away a copy of The Tide Watchers to one lucky commenter here.

Tell us about The Tide Watchers.
Here’s my one-minute blurb: In early Napoleonic France, Lisbeth’s husband abandons her without her papers, without her child. She’s determined to be reunited with her baby and return home. The English baronet’s daughter makes a desperate deal with mysterious British spy, Tidewatcher: she will move in with brilliant American inventor Robert Fulton as his housekeeper, learn how to use his submarine, and charm him into giving it to her. Then she must teach Tidewatcher in turn so they can infiltrate a blockaded French sea-town, find Napoleon’s secret invasion fleet, and somehow disable it just before its launch.

You have written fabulous books for Intimate Moments and Harlequin Romance as Melissa James. How is it you came to write a book of Historical Fiction like The Tide Watchers?
Funnily enough, in a way The Tide Watchers is a natural extension of my old Intimate Moments Nighthawks series. When the line closed, I wasn’t invited to write for the new Romantic Suspense line. I was lucky enough to be asked to write for Harlequin Romance, which I happily did for 6 years. But I never stopped loving espionage novels, and my favorite reading was always historical. I’d read a biography called The Terror Before Trafalgar, which awakened a hunger to write a historical espionage book. Eight years later, The Tide Watchers finally sold, and to my perfect publisher.

The Tide Watchers has already been making a big splash. What’s been the most exciting part of this experience so far?
The whole thing has been an amazing ride for me! William Morrow is a fabulous publisher to write for, and my editor and agent have made it almost like a dream. Getting the power of choice over my cover, my back cover copy, and the like has been wonderful. But the sales rep from Barnes & Noble, a Napoleonic history buff, loved the book – and recent reviews I’ve received from American Library Journal and Romantic Times, it’s all really blown me away. I received the former at the NY office of HarperCollins, and I had to blink back tears of joy. To know others that love history and know history really like my book…I can’t describe it.

What is risky about The Tide Watchers?
The whole book throws the characters far outside their comfort zone. Most of them are seasoned spies, and in a position to save Britain in this time of terror, but ultimately each major character pays a terrible cost. Brilliant, unconventional Lisbeth risks life, reputation and family to save Britain, and to save her child, but she cannot reconcile her sacrifice with what she loses after. Duncan risks the family he always craved to stop Napoleon’s invasion, and loses everything. And his half-brothers risk life and career to save their brother – and the cost to them comes in book two!

Tell us about one piece of research for the book that surprised you or that you did not know before.
The one that surprised me the most, I suppose (there are two), was that brilliant American inventor Robert Fulton was not only in France at the exact time I needed him to be, but was working on early submarine and torpedo technology – and, biggest of all, he seems to have disappeared from the record in the exact months that the book takes place! He turned up again a few months after, which again made it perfect for my second book. The other (sorry, I love both) was the intervention of Lord Camelford at this time, the man called “The Mad Baron”. His attempt to kill Napoleon, and its repercussions for both France and Britain, led to the most bizarre discoveries! But that’s for book two J

You just attended the 200th Anniversary Battle of Waterloo Reenactment. Did you see our fellow Risky, Susanna Fraser there???
Haha…sorry, but I did meet, purely by chance, a Napoleonic military expert walking off the station at Braine l’Alleud! We walked to the battlefield together, and spent the day with him. He pointed out which uniforms were from what battalion, country and where those men fought on the field that day, where they were in earlier battles, etc. He also told me about the role some women played, as victuallers, nurses etc. He gave me his email address and said he’s available for any military question. He’s one of several knowledgeable people I’ve met on this trip that are willing to share their knowledge, so I feel very fortunate.

What’s next for you?
I’m currently on a research trip for the next book in the series (current title Blind Winter). When a past mission gone horribly wrong catches up with Alec Stewart, he puts his brothers and cousin in danger of their lives, as well as his ex-lover and her family. With bounty hunters chasing them all, a fledgling nation fighting for its independence, and Lisbeth’s baby’s father after his son, the vicious power games being played by leaders and spymasters alike change their world forever, including “The Mad Baron”, Lord Camelford. You won’t believe what happens to him! As they say, real life is stranger than fiction…

Thanks, Lisa!

Remember, everyone, comment here for a chance to win a copy of Lisa’s The Tide Watchers. Tell us what you like about Historical Fiction. How is it different than Historical Romance, in your opinion? Or just say hi to Lisa or ask her a question.

Please Welcome Brenda Novak to the Riskies!

Carolyn: I want to start out this post by telling all of you what an amazing, nice and wonderful person Brenda is. I’ve been reading her for years and have always enjoyed her books, as I’m sure is true for many of you. But it wasn’t until Brenda and I were roomies at Bouchercon a couple of years ago that I learned she’d started out writing historicals. Even two years ago, when we were at the San Francisco Bouchercon, self-publishing had only just begun to take off. I wasn’t sure I’d ever be able to track down her historical.
But now? Things are different, and readers and authors are the winners. Not only has she self-published that first historical, she’s released one that had never been published. Until now.
I’ll be giving away a boxed set of Brenda’s historicals to one commenter, so be sure to check the rules and comment!

Read on to find out more about Brenda’s writing, her current and upcoming projects and learn about how you can support her Diabetes Auction.

When I first started out, I wanted to write historicals. They were what I most enjoyed reading. I loved all of Kathleen Woodiwiss’s books (especially Come Love a Stranger), Gone With the Wind, Jane Eyre, Pride And Prejudice, Zemindar, Dear Amber, Rebecca and many others. But I soon learned that I’d set myself a difficult task. No only did I need to learn the craft of writing, I had to become familiar with the time period I’d chosen as a backdrop for my story (Victorian England). Today, the Internet would make such a goal far easier to obtain, but this was nearly twenty years ago. The Internet didn’t have the research materials it offers today. I remember waiting impatiently for my husband to come home from work so he could watch our four children (I now have five) while I hurried to the Sac State Library. There, I’d race the clock to find the information I needed before closing time—and spend a fortune trying to get those pages photocopied before the librarian turned out the lights.

I wrote my very first book, OF NOBLE BIRTH, under such circumstances. When I finished, it was 800 pages long, but I was so proud of reaching The End. Then I found Romance Writers of America, which I needed to be able to figure out how to market my manuscript, and learned that my beloved story wasn’t a romance so much as it was a historical with romantic elements (and as such would be much more difficult to sell). I also learned that it was far too long. So I spent several months crafting it into a true romance while trimming it to a svelte 430 pages and managed to sell it to HarperCollins. I was so over the moon when I receive The Call on August 26, 1998. I thought I had launched my career and was off and running. I had another historical finished and ready to go, and a third halfway complete.

But then Harper merged with Avon and let its romance editors and most of its romance authors go. My first book wasn’t even out yet (it debuted 11/99), and here I was, orphaned. Fortunately, I had also started writing some contemporary novels, which I was able to sell to Harlequin, who has purchased everything I’ve produced since (go Harlequin!). But in the back of my mind, I always wondered if the time I’d spent on the historicals (the second historical, in particular) would be wasted. My career had taken a different path—but would I ever get back to my first love?

The opportunity, when it came, was quite unexpected. With the advent of e-readers, I started hearing about authors who were acquiring the rights to their backlist and self-publishing those titles on Amazon. The rights to OF NOBLE BIRTH had just reverted to me, so I figured I’d do the same. Then I thought of that other manuscript that I had loved so much—HONOR BOUND—and realized that if I revised it and had it professionally edited, I could publish that, too.

New Contemporary Romance series!

OF NOBLE BIRTH hit Amazon in August. HONOR BOUND was published in November. It’s been so great to see these stories reach my fans at last. OF NOBLE BIRTH had been out of print for over a decade. And HONOR BOUND had never before been published. Together with the new series I’m writing for MIRA (a small town contemporary series sent in the fictional town of Whiskey Creek which will be out in the fall), these projects have kept me very busy. To make my life even more complicated, I’m writing a new suspense series, too. And I’m also working on another project. This one doesn’t include dreaming up stories but I’m definitely hoping it will have a happy ending.

Ten years ago, when my youngest son was diagnosed with Type 1 diabetes, I wanted to do some fundraising for research, to help him and everyone else in the same situation. I just didn’t how to go about it—or where I’d find the time. I had five kids at home and some very tight book deadlines (Ha! Sounds like now—except that some of the kids have moved out to go to college). Then I attended a silent auction at a local elementary school and realized that I could do a similar event on my Web site, where I could invite the people who visit me there to join with me.

So far, I’ve managed to raise $1.3 million, and the 2012 auction looks as if it might set a new annual record. This fundraiser is a shopper’s paradise with plenty of items to fit every budget, including trips & stays, one-of-a-kind jewelry, paintings, Native American jewelry donated by Mae Nunn, lunch with world famous author Diana Gabaldon (or Suzanne Brockmann!), and much, much more. And that’s not all. For those who are aspiring to become a novelist or to advance their writing career, there are AMAZING opportunities. Many of the most powerful agents and editors in the business have donated evaluations—some with the promise of a 24-hour response (which is unheard of in the publishing industry).

How does it all work? Just like eBay, except this auction is running at Visit that URL to register. The fun begins May 1st and runs throughout the month. When the bidding is over, you can pay with Paypal or credit card. In most instances the donor even picks up the shipping. And the person who places the highest number of bids over all, even if that person doesn’t win a single item, will receive a fabulous prize package including a brand new iMac, Your Name in My Next Book, and an autographed copy of WHEN LIGHTNING STRIKES, Book 1 in my new Whiskey Creek series.

Check out the auction, and while you’re at my website, enter to win a romantic beach getaway to the Hilton in Destin, Florida!

What cool items have you won in past charity auctions? Do you prefer on-line shopping to brick & mortar shopping? Do you think this “wave of the future” will eventually overtake traditional fundraising?

Here’s to making a difference!

Brenda Novak


Carolyn again: I’ll start us off with my answers. I have won insanely cool stuff in previous diabetes auctions, and one of them actually, and I am NOT KIDDING, led to a making a friend and to a day or so of fame after a twitter typo that involved Barry Eisler.
I won lunch with author Barry Eisler. It happens he lives in Northern California, though I had to wait a bit since he was in Japan for a while, but when he came back to the States, he came the San Francisco Bay Area RWA chapter meeting and afterward, we had a wonderful and informative lunch. (I had chili. It was good.) We keep in touch to this day. In fact, we recently chatted on the phone about self-publishing and gender, and that was a really, really interesting conversation. If I hadn’t bid on that lunch, I would never have made his acquaintance and I’d be the poorer for it. I know Barry feels the same way, right Barry? (Yes, because he paid for lunch.)
Other items I’ve won include a hand carved wooden chess set, which I bid on as a gift for my son. It’s gorgeous! I’ve also bid on and won some beautiful crystal glasses and a whole series of hand-made Russian items, including an apron that is too lovely to wear.
Do NOT miss out on this auction. It’s fun, it’s easy, and it’s for a great cause.

Buy Brenda’s Books for Your Kindle

Honor Bound

Of Noble Birth

See a list of all of Brenda’s books on Amazon


I’ll be giving away a boxed set of Brenda’s historicals to a random commenter who answers one or all of Brenda’s questions.

Contest Rules

Must be 18 or older. No purchase necessary. Void where prohibited. Leave your comment by midnight Pacific, April 27, 2012. You must either leave contact information in your comment or commit to checking back to see if you won. The winner will be notified by email (the format: blah AT blah DOT com is fine!). A new winner will be selected if there’s no reply from the winner after two weeks.

Today, author Isobel Carr visits the Riskies to talk about her new book, Ripe for Seduction, answer some questions, and give away some books. Check it out, because she’s being very generous. Details on how to enter at the end of this post.

About Isobel Carr

A photo of author Isobel Carr. She has dark curly hair, a pretty smile and she is wearing black. Behind her, there are books.

Isobel Carr

Isobel grew up participating in a wide variety of historical reenactment clubs (California Renaissance Faires, the Society for Creative Anachronism, Heyercon, Dicken’s Faire, Gaskills, etc.). On top of these clubs, she and her friends recreate 18th century fashions just for fun. Isobel has spent large parts of her life studying the manners, customs, and clothing of multiple periods (most specifically Renaissance England and Germany, Georgian/Regency England and France, and Victorian England), and she has firsthand experience creating and wearing the clothes of these eras (including the correct underwear and corsets!). Because of her interest in living history, and that hobby’s strong focus on the details of daily life, she hopes she has an unusual and intimate perspective on history that gives extra life to her books.

Find Isobel at her website:
On Twitter: @isobelcarr
On Facebook:

Ripe for Seduction

A cover in which a hunky dark-haired man is embracing a lovely blonde woman. His shirt is falling off. omg

Cover of Ripe for Seduction

After the scandalous demise of her marriage, Lady Olivia Carlow knows the rakes of the ton will think her fair game. So when a letter arrives bearing an indecent offer from the incorrigible Roland Devere, she seizes the opportunity. Turning the tables on the notorious rogue, she blackmails him into playing her betrothed for the season. But no matter how broad his shoulders or chiseled his features, she will never fall prey to his suave charm.

When Roland boasted he’d be the first into Lady Olivia’s bed, he couldn’t have imagined that behind those brilliant blue eyes lurked a vixen with a scheme of her own. Still, Roland is not about to abandon his original wager. If anything, learning that the lovely Olivia is as bold as she is beautiful makes him more determined to seduce her into never saying “never” again.

Get your hands on Ripe For Seduction: Amazon

What they’re saying about Ripe For Seduction:

Starred review from Publisher’s Weekly!

Carr is sure to balance her characters’ roguish antics with genuine heart, making the double love story a delightful and erotic page-turner.

4-Stars (RT Book Reviews)

For her third in the League of the Second Sons, Carr delivers not one, but two love stories that will charm and titillate readers. It’s intriguing that, at times, the more mature romance overshadows the younger couples love story, but it is the underlying passion in both, as well as the marvelously crafted backdrop, that holds readers’ attention. You will be easily drawn into the naught and bawdy era through Carr’s deft prose.

Five Fun Facts

The indecent offer my hero, Roland, makes to my heroine was based on one a real one made to Lady Mary Coke. The real-life lord got off easier than my hero, LOL!

Giant dogs, this time Scottish Deerhounds, once again put in an appearance. Deerhounds were a very rare breed by this point in history. It’s doubtful that most people had ever even seen one, but luckily for us all, a few people kept the breed alive. I am lucky enough to know several Deerhounds, as they frequent my local dog park. Watching them run across the field is truly a sight to behold. The Wolfhounds and Great Danes can’t keep up with them, and the Greyhounds are simply dwarfed by them.

RIPE FOR SEDUCTION features a shallop race on the Thames. The Queen’s Jubilee, with its display of historical boats, couldn’t have been more timely.

I based the house they all end up at in Paris on one that I stayed at in the Marais. Just down the street is my favorite Parisian café, Le Bouledogue, where you can meet Didier and his adorable French Bulldogs. Order the duck. You won’t be sorry.

After you’ve finished RIPE FOR SEDUCTION, you can read the reconciliation scene for the secondary couple on Ripe for Seduction’s page on my website. I deleted it from the novel to keep Margo and Philip from taking over, but it’s a scene I really love, so I kept it as a bonus for readers.


You can download the first three chapters here (Word doc).

Q. Tell us about the series:

The League of Second Sons was a writers’ lunch burst of inspiration. I knew I wanted to write about a group of younger sons, men who would be hungrier, less secure, and have entirely different issues to wrestle with than their elder brothers. After the passage of the Marriage Act in 1753, the easy path of heiress abduction was essentially cut off (marriage under duress now being voidable) and this created even greater scope for setting up interesting plots. Add into it their banding together in the fight to claim what they can in a world that gives everything to the eldest brother, and you have a solid, interesting subset of the ton that most would be essentially unaware of as a force.

Q. We are all about author pet pictures. I understand you have a dog. A very large dog. Can you tell us about him? Does he help you write? Do you have a picture of him?

Clancy: Photo by Isobel Carr (All Rights Reserved)

Clancy: Photo by Isobel Carr (All Rights Reserved)

Oh, Clancy is perhaps the most well documented dog that doesn’t belong to William Wegman. He has his own gigantic Flickr page (along with his sisters, Slag and Tallulah, who belong to my sister and best friend respectively).

He’s half Neapolitan Mastiff and half Bullmastiff and 175lbs of cuddly sweetness. Mostly, it’s like living with a lion. Mostly he’s napping (bed, couch, dog bed), but he’s defiantly aware of what’s going on around him. As for “helping” me write, not so much. He like likes to lay on the couch behind me and sigh gustily as I ignore him in favor of “petting” the evil glowing box. But he and his sisters were the inspiration for Pen, the dog in the first League book, so I guess he does help after all, LOL!

Q. Based solely on clothing alone (that is do not account for the status of women or minorities etc.) What time period would you most like to live in and why?

Mid to late 18th century. I love the clothing from about 1750-1790. Love, love, love it! The hoops and silks and hair (ok, not the 1770s hair). There’s a reason I set my books in the 1780s (my all time favorite decade for fashion).

Q. I have heard you say you like men with big noses. Like who?

Oh, I do. There’s nothing like a really nice, distinctive nose. Julian Sands, Joe Manganiello, Adrian Brody, Richard Armitage.

Q: Red-headed heroes. Go.

I love red-heads. Love ‘em. I can’t wait to write one (Leo, in Ripe for Pleasure is a red-head, but my editor made me change all the references to “auburn”). But I see Eric Stoltz, Domhnall Gleeson, David Wenham. Yum!

Q: Fill in the blank:

You walk into an antique store and you get short of breath because right there is a Limbert rocker. When you look in your wallet, you have enough money to purchase it. What is the item and why does it make you short of breath?

Well, mostly because we’re going to pretend I have that kind of money in my wallet. I own a 1916 Arts and Crafts bungalow, and one of the pieces of furniture I COVET for my living room is a genuine rocker from that period. The Stickley ones are nice, but there’s a Limbert one that I saw once in a local antique store that just called to me. The clean lines, the amazing quarter-sawn grain of the oak, the heft and solidness of it. That beautiful chair could hold up to being knocked about by my giant dog. Unfortunately, it was six grand.

Q: Corset vs. brassiere. Go.

Corset! I really do loathe the way a bra digs into my ribs. Corsets don’t do that, and if you lace them just snug, they’re really very comfortable. But I’m not yet ready to be the eccentric author who wears a corset every day…

Q: Your book is going to be a movie! Who do you cast?

Roland was based on Hal Ozsan. He played the witch in Supernatural “The Curious Case of Dean Winchester” and I just found him mesmerizing to watch. I love how dark he is, and how his hair curls. And yes, he has an amazing nose! Evidence that Isobel is right?

For Olivia, I pictured a young Rosamund Pike. I loved her as Lady Harriet in Wives and Daughters. There’s something really strong about her, but also a hint that she could shatter under the right circumstances. She’s an actress I just really enjoy watching.

Q: What’s next for you?

Next is Marcus Reeves’s book, Ripe for Revenge, which will be my first foray into self-publishing:

Running has always served Caro Frazier well. It worked when her parents disapproved of her chosen groom, when her husband took umbrage at his young wife’s social success, and when circumstances forced her to flee London altogether. But when her past comes back to haunt her—in the delicious form of Marcus Reeves—running is the last thing on Caro’s mind.

Marcus Reeves never expected to see—never wanted to see—Caroline Frazier again, not after he saved her when her husband cast her off and then she abandoned him too. He certainly never expected to discover her living in a quiet, rural hamlet with a child who is unmistakably his. Whatever her reasons for betraying him, she’s his now, and Marcus is ready for a little revenge . . .


Isobel is giving away 3 copies of her new book and one full set of the series for a new to her reader! Yes. That’s four winners. Woot!

Rules: No purchase necessary. Void where prohibited. International is OK, provided The Book Depository ships there. The winner will be picked at random from among qualified comments. Leave a comment on this post by midnight Pacific Thursday December 20. To be eligible for the full set of the series, mention whether you are new to Isobel’s books. Feel free to tell us about your pet, or the antique store item that would have you palpitating.

This week I have Susan Broadwater visiting here. After some time off-line, she’s back on line with The Regency Library. It’s a research service for anyone who needs information about the Regency. She also runs the email list Regency Library. I was a longtime subscriber and now that she’d back, well, I’m back, too. I asked her if she’d be interested in doing an interview here because she’s been researching the period for so long, I thought Risky Readers would enjoy hearing from her.

I’m offering one commenter a year’s subscription to The Regency Library email list.

About Susan

Susan Broadwater lives in Charlottesville, Virginia. In 1996 she opened Moonstone Research and Publications and began providing private research services and Regency and Research Libraries, e-mail based subscription services. Susan is a graduate of Asbury University and holds a masters degree in Theology from Emory University. Currently she is focusing most of her time on Regency and Research Libraries.

The Questions

1. Why the Regency? What got you interested in the period?
I always loved Regency romance novels. I devoured everything I could find by Mary Jo Putney, Jo Beverley, Stella Cameron and others. Then I got involved in the online services. This was in the mid-90s when online was basically three or four services and there was no widespread access to the actual internet. By the late 90s this changed and I became involved with Carmel Thomaston’s Painted Rock Writers Colony to provide research materials. At that time there was very little to be found online regarding the Regency period so I began to accumulate materials in order to provide them to writers who needed them. After Carmel’s death I basically took the regency part of the materials I had collected and began Regency Library. For other time periods and materials Research Library was created.

2. Where do you find your materials? Did you just have a big pile of stuff at your house?

I live in Charlottesville, Virginia and worked for the University of Virginia for 16 years. They have one of the best libraries in the country and what they don’t have they can get it for you. I used a lot of their materials at first. Then I discovered right across the street from the library in a little alley an antiquarian book store, which had a good selection of 18th and early 19th century materials. I began buying as I could afford the books. Later there was E-bay and I even met (through a now defunct list) a university professor who was giving his collection away. He knew what I did and sent me about 400 books which included Gentleman’s Magazines, European Magazines and half a year (1814) London Times among other goodies. I’m still going through this stuff. Eventually I had to distribute the collection over three rooms of the house and turned one bedroom into an office and another into a library.

Sometimes you come across things in very unusual places.  When I was dropping off my taxes to be done the receptionist was still at lunch so instead of waiting in my car I went to a pawn shop that is located next to the tax preparer’s to look for CD’s and DVDs. Instead of that I found an 1812 Ackermann’s Repository—with all its plates—price $50.00. I asked the pawnbroker  how he had come to have this in his shop and he said that he paid 15.00 for it and usually didn’t take such things but felt sorry for the person pawning it. I bought it and asked him why he hadn’t researched it online to see what it was worth. He said he had tried but could not find a full volume on E-bay. I distributed some of the plates from this last week to the Regency Library. Of all places to obtain Ackermann’s this was the one I never would have thought of in a million years.

I got another year of Ackermann’s in the meantime. I left a number for the pawn broker and he called me up and told me he had another set — cost more this time but wasn’t too bad and well worth it.

3. What’s the most surprising/unusual thing you’ve come across? Anything that made you laugh?
I am currently getting an exhibit together for the regency library website that involves Ladies Court Costume and court etiquette. I came across a description of one worn to the Queen’s birthday that was decorated with fossils! Had to read it twice because I couldn’t believe it. There is also a picture of the Princess of Wales in a court dress that was published in La Belle Assemblee in 1807. Just looking at that dress and her in it makes me laugh every time.

4. One thing I’ve noticed is when you spend a significant amount of time research a certain subject, one day you realize that your knowledge has become a resource in itself — you know that x and y happened, but you’re able to make connections between all the various sources. I imagine you as this treasure trove of knowledge retained from your work. Can you talk a bit about your view of the Regency period and how it’s changed (or not) over time?

I recently helped with Noel Ivor Hume’s biography of Belzoni as a literary researcher. This is when I realized that there was a connection between the actual facts of the history of that time and that literature could provide extra facts and clues to help illuminate the history and in this case it actually brought a clearer picture of Belzoni’s wife Sarah through Lady Morgan’s writings (both fiction and non-fiction) and even through the fashions of the day. There was actually a fashion plate in a Lady’s Monthly Museum showing the Belzoni fabric that was fashionable. Sometimes you go on one quest and end up somewhere you really didn’t expect to go and learning about someone that had basically been pretty much overshadowed by her husband.

I’ve learned a lot since I started with Regency Library not only about the facts of the history of that time but also a lot about the human side of the people who lived at that time. My view of it is that it’s not too different than our own when it comes to the human nature and foibles.

5. Do you read fiction? What kind?
I read historical romance—just about any time period but love Regencies and Westerns. I also read classics like the Bronte’s. I like mysteries also. My favorites are Ann Perry’s Monk series. If a book is good or sounds good from the back cover I’ll try it out. We do have a used book store here and that’s the only place I can find the old gothics so I buy some Victoria Holt and Phyllis Whitney when they have them—which is rarer and rarer now.

6. If you won a bazillion dollars, I know you’d buy me a fancy house, but what’s the second thing you’d buy?

A full, complete set of Ackermann’s Repository. Saw one at ABE for a mere 27,000! Was in great condition though.

7. Favorite Regency outfit?

Susan's Favorite Outfit

Susan’s Favorite Outfit

I like that hat.

8. You have an email-based group called Regency Library. Can you tell us a little bit about about what it is?

The Regency Library distributes both primary and secondary research documents weekly to subscribers. The documents range from late 18th century to 1830 and come from a wide variety of resources. I try to select documents that shed light on the manners and customs, basically the everyday life of the people who lived during this time period. I try to include fashion plates from one of the periodicals La Belle Assemblee, Ackermann’s, Ladies Monthly Museum and Lady’s Magazine. When I go looking for something to include in the week’s distribution I try to find something that is interesting, informative and sometimes funny. I lately came upon a book (found it through a review in one of the above mentioned periodicals) that was published in 1821 and was used for evening entertainments at home. It got a particularly bad review because the forfeit for losing some (actually more than one) of the games included too much kissing! I had to have a copy of this book and found one through ABE Books and bought it. It will be serialized this year on the list. Subscribers receive approximately 30 or 40 documents a month and we do serialize entire books/periodicals so it’s a good way for people to have searchable copies of materials without having to pay the price for owning the entire book.

9. What do you have planned for the Regency Library over the next few months?

I’m going to serialize that game book. We’ll also continue with one of my favorite research projects which are travel accounts of foreigners to England during the time period. I’m also delving into accounts of English travelers to the US during the time period because they tend to compare manners and customs in England with American manners. I want to begin making a list of what I intend to distribute during the month and send it to all subscribers with some alternative documents listed, and if they want to opt out of some of the regular things, they can substitute from the alternatives or put in an individual request. I want to tailor the list as much as humanly possible to the subscriber’s needs. I announced this to the list and the only exception would be if a request is really off the wall and I couldn’t fill the request. I’ll try to look for what is requested but if I can’t find it then it would not be done. In all the years of doing this there have been only two instances where I could not find an answer for a question either because the records had been destroyed or were in private hands in England.  I’m also going to distribute tips for doing research—like reading the reviews in some periodicals to find some real gems. Last but not least, I want to begin distributing a puzzle game weekly—crosswords, riddles, etc. that center around the Regency time period.

The Contest – Rules and Such

Void where prohibited. Must be 18 to enter. No purchase necessary. Winner will be chosen at random. Multiple comments do not increase your odds of winning. Odds of winning depend on the number of entrants and your ability to follow the rules.

To enter, leave a comment to this post by midnight Pacific March 29, 2013.

Interview with Sandy Schwab — With Book Giveaway!

The Riskies are thrilled to interview Sandy Schwab at the blog today. She helped fill in for Ammanda while she was out, so I’m sure you recall her wonderful posts here. Sandy and I are friends, and you-all know my friends are awesome. After some time away from writing while she was finishing up her PhD, she’s now back with some wonderful new books for us to read. She’ll be giving away a copy of The Bride Prize to one lucky commenter so be sure to check the rules and enter!

Q: Tell us about yourself, Sandy! In 3rd person, please.

Sandy Schwab

Sandy Schwab

Sandra Schwab started writing her first novel when she was seven years old. Thirty-odd years later, telling stories is still her greatest passion, even though by now she has exchanged her pink fountain pen of old for a black computer keyboard. Since the release of her debut novel in 2005, she has enchanted readers worldwide with her unusual historical romances.

She lives in Frankfurt am Main / Germany with a sketchbook, a sewing machine, and an ever-expanding library.


Cover of The Bride Prize by Sandy Schwab

Cover of The Bride Prize by Sandy Schwab

It’s 1839, and Lord Eglinton’s tournament in Scotland is the most anticipated event of the year: he and some of his noble friends will don medieval armor and joust like knights of old.

Does this mean a revival of true chivalry? Miss Florence Marsh thinks it might.

Or is the tournament mere tomfoolery and the greatest folly of the century? Mr. Robert Beaton thinks it is.

But when Flo and Robbie meet at Eglinton Park, they’ll soon learn that a dash of romance can make the greatest differences look rather small and that true love might find you in the most unlikely place.

Read an Excerpt

Click here to read an excerpt

The Interview

1. Tell us more about your book.

THE BRIDE PRIZE is the start of a new series set in early Victorian England. In recent years much of my academic research focused on Victorian periodicals, and I thought it would be fun to use this research for my creative work as well. So the heroes in the new series are all artists and writers working for ALLAN’S MISCELLANY, a (fictional) magazine.

In the first story ALLAN is is only a few months old, and the staff consists of a grand total of two people: William MacNeil, editor and writer, and Robert Beaton, writer and chief — well, only — artist. Robbie knows that they need a big break if the magazine is to survive, and so he drags Mac to what must have been one of the strangest (and quirkiest!!!) events of the period: the Eglinton Tournament of 1839.

2. You probably get this question all the time but I’m going to ask it anyway. English is not your first language and you are German and living in Germany. What made you decide to write in English?

I’ve written stories since — well, since forever, and I’ve always wanted to become a published author. When I was 19, I started to seriously pursue publication, and for years and years and years, I tried to find a publisher. Many submissions and many rejections later, I finally realized that I didn’t write the kind of books that a German publisher would buy from a German author.

But I wasn’t quite prepared yet to give up on my dream, so I decided to try switching languages, and English was the only other language I could speak sufficiently well to make this work. This was 14 years ago, and it was the best decision of my life!

3. How is the above an advantage or disadvantage, or is it completely neutral?

Writing in English is a big advantage: it gave me access to this wonderful community of fellow authors. Over the years, I’ve met so many great people and have made so many friends I would have never met if I had continued to write in German. Moreover, I can now reach readers all around the world, and my stories travel to far away places I will never see myself.

Last but not least, love scenes are so much better in English than in German!

4. Why Romance?

When I switched languages, I also switched genres (I had been writing fantasy fiction). At the time, I loved the Outlander series by Diana Gabaldon, and I was dreaming of going to Scotland on a student exchange program (didn’t work out; I went to Galway, Ireland instead). So I started to write this lovely contemporary romance about a young German student (who looked uncannily like myself…) who goes to Scotland (the Highlands, of course!!!) as a teaching assistant and meets this tall, gorgeous (but rather annoying!) vet called Rory MacDonald. There’s much drama, several misunderstandings, a lot of rain, a small owl who can’t fly, and a teddy bear called Hermann Bear. And kilts. Because, SCOTLAND!

I had a lot of fun writing this, yet I also realised that writing contemporary romance presented challenges to my English that I probably wouldn’t be able to fully overcome. Given my love for history, it was only natural that I eventually turned to historicals.

What I love about romance as a genre is its inherent optimism. I’ve always loved historical novels, but I was turned off straight historical fiction by the high number of main characters dying in horrid ways, by exploding wax babies, and ghastly sex scenes (I hit rock bottom with a historical novel that included goat sex scenes — there was more than one goat and more than one such scene — waaaaaargh!!!!! *runs away and hides*).

[Carolyn: Boggles]

When I discovered historical romance, it was a revelation: neither hero nor heroine die at the end of the novel; the sex scenes are fun; there are no exploding wax babies; and most importantly: NO GOAT SEX SCENES!!!! And there’s a happy ending! What’s not to love?

5. Dragons. Who’s your favorite? Pictures if you have one.



I adore the work of Richard Doyle, who worked for the satirical magazine PUNCH in the 1840s, and I love the dragons and dragonslayers that appear in several of his initial letters.

As to literary dragons, I think I might have to go with an old childhood favorite: Fuchur, the luck-dragon from Michael Ende’s NEVERENDING STORY (the book is a million times better than the films, btw!)

6. I love your artwork. Love it. What’s up with all the talent? Links? Pictures? Do you ever take requests?

Awww. Thank you! 🙂 I started to sketch again in early 2012, and took my sketchbook (instead of my camera) on several trips I made that year. The trips to Berlin and to Potsdam in particular were a revelation: So many people would just stop and talk to me while I was sketching.

Potsdam Collage

Potsdam Collage

And it’s not just people: when I visited the Berlin Zoo last year, I was doing a quick drawing of a small armadillo, when I suddenly became aware that somebody was watching me. I looked up and found those two small monkeys staring at me in utter amazement. That was the sweetest thing.

Sandy's Sketch of the Berlin Zoo

Sandy’s Sketch of the Berlin Zoo


[Carolyn: gets all teary] That is so CUTE!!!

A selection of my drawings can be found on Flickr:

[Carolyn: You should visit her flicker stream. So pretty!!!!!]

As to requests: Nobody has ever made any. 🙂

[Carolyn: Expect to hear from me]

7. If you were forced to reveal who you think is the most handsome man on the planet, who would you name?

Richard Armitage. It’s not just that he is good-looking, but he also appears to be a rather wonderful man. And that voice!!!! *swoons*

8. Favorite shoes?

I’ve got these really cute, red El Naturalista shoes that look fantastic together with jeans.

9. When you come to the US, do you get as confused as Americans about Celsius and Fahrenheit? Is 20 C cold or hot? I literally have no idea.

It’s horrible, isn’t it? I just tend to guess when I’m in the US. (20 C is 68 F, so it’s just warm enough to ditch the cardigan.)

10. What’s next for you?

In the course of the next three months I will release three more novellas in the ALLAN’S MISCELLANY series. I’m having so much fun with this series, with exploring the fate of my fictional magazine, with diving into real period magazines in order to find bits of real news to include in my stories (= excellent excuse for getting more period periodicals!)

Next up is FALLING FOR A SCOUNDREL, in which hard, cynical Jack Fletcher travels to the north of England in order to report on the murder of a gamekeeper. Sophy, the heroine, is the polar opposite of him: she has led a very sheltered, privileged life. She only realizes how very limited this life has been when she meets Jack and he makes her question everything she has ever known.

Where to buy the book!

Plain edition:
Kindle US | Kindle UK | Kobo
B&N will follow soon

Enhanced edition:
Kindle US | Kindle UK
Kobo and B&N will follow soon

Where to find Sandy

Facebook: SandraSchwab.Author
Twitter: @scribblingSandy


Rules: Must be 18 to enter. Void where prohibited. No purchase necessary. Winner chosen at random from among qualifying entries. The Riskies, relatives of the Riskies, Sandy and her relatives are not eligible to enter.

To enter, answer one, two,  or all of the following questions, and/or compliment Sandy in the comments no later than 11:59:59 PM on Friday, May 16th, 2014 according to the time at this blog– which is in the EASTERN time zone.

1. What was your reaction to the goat sex book revelation?

2. If you had a dragon, what color would it be?


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