The Riskies are delighted to welcome Candice Hern as our guest!
Candice has been a voracious reader all her life. For many years she had been a devotee of Jane Austen, Fanny Burney, Maria Edgeworth, Susan Ferrier, and other women writers of the Regency period. When she discovered Georgette Heyer and the Regency Romance genre (not so very long ago — it is not clear how she remained ignorant of the Great Georgette for most of her life) she was instantly hooked. After a few years of reading Regency Romances by the bagful, she decided to try her hand at writing one.
Her first book, A PROPER COMPANION, was published in January 1995. She went on to publish five more traditional short Regency Romances, and now writes longer Regency-set historical romances. Candice’s books have won the Holt Medallion, Golden Quill, Write Touch Readers Award, Booksellers’ Best Award and Colorado Romance Writers’ Award of Excellence, and have made it into the Top Five Romances of the Year by Library Journal and Top Ten Favorite Books by Romance Writers of America.
Learn more about Candice at www.candicehern.com.
Enter a comment or question for Candice by Sunday, September 17 for a chance to win an autographed copy of IN THE THRILL OF THE NIGHT (winner to be chosen by the Riskies).
Praise for JUST ONE OF THOSE FLINGS
Effervescent, unconventional, and brimming with honest sensuality, Hern’s second installment in her clever, well-conceived Merry Widows series about five wealthy widows bent on avoiding marriage but experimenting with affairs is a lively, thoroughly delightful tale that is sure to please. – Library Journal
It might be just one of those flings, just one of those crazy things, but it’s a rare reading experience in Hern’s capable hands. She brings the Regency to life with her endearing characters whose steamy passion (and May-December romance) only serve to heighten the powerful emotions and leave you begging for more. – Romantic Times BOOKReviews
Praise for IN THE THRILL OF THE NIGHT
Funny, fresh, and outrageously original, this lively, Regency-set historical hooks readers from the start and sweeps them right on to the satisfying conclusion. – Library Journal
This delectable tale shimmers with humor and sexual tension that only someone with Hern’s sensibilities about the era and women’s fantasies could write. – Romantic Times BOOKReviews, Top Pick
Tell us about your new release, and the next book to come!
JUST ONE OF THOSE FLINGS is the 2nd in my Merry Widows trilogy. Each book is the story of one widow’s search for a lover. Each of them has decided she does not wish to marry again but prefers to retain her social and financial independence. That does not mean, however, that they are also willing to give up physical pleasure for the rest of their lives.
I wanted each book to have a different type of love affair, coming from different experiences of men and sex. In the first book, IN THE THRILL OF THE NIGHT, the heroine had been madly in love with her husband, but the sex was ho-hum. In JUST ONE OF THOSE FLINGS, the heroine’s marriage had been good but was no love match, though the sex was fabulous. In fact, the heroine misses it. And she finds that spark of physical connection again with a younger man. Unfortunately, he is also the man her niece, for whom she is acting as chaperone, is determined to marry. You can imagine the difficulties that arise!
The third book, LADY BE BAD, comes out next year and is about the most proper and prudish of the friends, the widow of a famous bishop. She finds her stiff-backed inhibitions threatened by a sexy Bad Boy. 🙂
What gave you the idea for your new release/Widows series?
I originally conceived the idea for the first book, IN THE THRILL OF THE NIGHT as a standalone book about a respectable widow who decides to take a lover. But I like connected books and I think readers do, too, so I started to think about different ways I could make that book part of a trilogy. I decided not to use a connection with the heroes, since everyone was doing that with brothers and spies and soldiers and other groups of men. I wanted to connect the books through women, and considered doing sisters, but it just wasn’t clicking with me. Then I was watching Sex and the City one night and bingo! – it came to me. I would use a group of friends to connect the books. Like the heroine of THRILL, they would all be respectable widows. I decided they would make a secret pact to find lovers, and I would have them talk candidly about it, as Carrie and her friends do on Sex and the City. And just like those women, my Merry Widows would always have their female friendships, no matter how many men came into, and out of, their lives. So the theme of female friendship is important in all three books.
And just for fun, I decided to lampoon the Regency cliché of Almack’s and its formidable patronesses by making the Merry Widows a group of wealthy, respectable widows who sponsor charity balls. In private, however, they speak frankly about men and sex and love. I like to think of the trilogy as Sex and the City meets Almack’s.
Were there any challenges in researching these books? Any new or surprising historical information that you discovered?
The challenge for me is always to STOP researching and get on with the story. Research is so seductive. For JUST ONE OF THOSE FLINGS I wanted the hero to have been away from society for many years so that his appearance in Town for this particular season is something rather exciting for all those matchmaking mamas, making him the Catch of the Season. But where had he been all those years? I decided to send him to India for 7-8 years, and of course then I needed to know what he was doing there, so I did a lot of research on India. It was fascinating research and I became totally absorbed in it for quite a while. Of course all that research ended up being little more than a few paragraphs on the page. And I learned all about Indian dress just so I could put him in the right clothes for the masquerade ball that opens the book. I found some gorgeous books on Indian fashion and textiles that totally seduced me.
But I also got to use some “old” research for this book. I studied Indian art in college and did some serious graduate work on the subject. So I gave the hero a collection of Indian sculpture, just for the sheer pleasure of describing it. I even gave his collection my favorite piece of Indian sculpture, which you can see on the Behind the Scenes page for this book on my website.
We pride ourselves in writing “Risky Regencies.” Tell us what’s “risky” or different from the norm about your books?
I have to confess that my books aren’t what I’d call risky. I write fairly simple love stories. No complex plots with intrigue or mystery, no villains, no violence. I always strive to place the romance, the development of the romance, front and center. It’s something I honestly believe a lot of Regency writers lose track of sometimes, allowing the history (that seductive research) to overwhelm the romance.
JUST ONE OF THOSE FLINGS does have an older woman/younger man romance, so maybe that’s a bit risky. And perhaps the idea of a bunch of early 19th century women deciding to control their own lives is a risky notion. I have actually read complaints about the series and how the women’s openness about sex and men is too modern. I disagree. I think the Regency was a pretty bawdy age. Just think of all the rather “public” love affairs. Emma lived with Nelson. The Duke of Devonshire kept his mistress under the same roof as his wife, who bore another man’s child herself. And her sister, Lady Bessborough, had two children by a young man who later married her niece. And consider Jane Austen. She has a young girl run off to live with a man in PRIDE & PREJUDICE. And the heroine’s married cousin in MANSFIELD PARK runs off with another man. And then there’s Willoughby and all his sexual escapades in SENSE & SENSIBILITY. So I tend to believe that the Regency period was much more sexually liberated that some of us like to think. Many of us have taken Georgette Heyer’s version of the Regency as fact, but we have to remember that her own post-Victorian prudishness and social snobbery informs her stories, and they are more a mirror of her own age than of the Regency.
Given all that, I don’t really think my Merry Widows are that risky at all!
What is it about the Regency era that draws you in?
It all started with the fashion for me. I fell in love with regency fashion years and years ago, and I started collecting fashion prints of the age about 20 years ago. I just love how those beautiful, slender, revealing fashions were squashed between two eras of wide hooped skirts and unnaturally cinched waistlines. It’s like a few years of enlightenment between decades of darkness. 🙂 Over the years I also collected other Regency and Georgian antiques, and I read a lot of history etc to put my collections in context. A history buff since childhood, I soon fell in love with the Regency period and soaked up every bit of history — social, political, and artistic — that I could find. One of the reasons I am comfortable writing in this period is that I have years of dilettante-ish research behind me.
But what is it that draws me to the Regency? I love the Regency period because it is on the cusp on the Modern age. It is not so far away that it seems foreign, but still enough removed that it represents a fantasy world. Socially and politically it is a fascinating period, with the Industrial Age just beginning and the long wars in Europe touching everyone’s lives. It’s a time of change, of the beginning of social reform, with lessons still being learned from the French Revolution.
Tell us about your fabulous collections, which are such a great part of your website? How did you start collecting? What is your favorite item?
Like I said above, I’ve been collecting Regency and Georgian antiques for years. Our house is full of old bits of furniture — Georgian tea tables and Louis XV chairs, etc. But the fashion prints, my first “real” collection, started me off in several other directions. I never had the desire to actually own a Regency gown, but I began to look for accessories, like purses and jewelry and quizzing glasses. I even have a fichu! And I became fascinated with vinaigrettes quite early, which led to other “dressing table” items, like scent bottles and cosmetic cases. One thing always led to another. But sometimes I’d just stumble upon an item I loved and bought it, then ended up finding another one and another one until I had a collection. That’s what happened with paste shoe buckles. I bought the first pair just because I thought they were pretty. Now I have dozens of pairs. And one time I bought a small lot of Georgian silhouettes at auction for a song, and that led me to crave more of them. Collecting is an addiction. It’s never enough to have one or two of something. One has to have a COLLECTION. It’s a sickness.
As for the website, it was my designer who suggested the Collections articles as a way of having fresh content between book releases. I love writing those articles and sharing my collections with people who share my love of the period.
A favorite item? That’s a tough question, but I have actually given some thought to it. Greg and I have often discussed what we’d grab first in the event of a fire (or in our case, an earthquake). I have decided that if I could only take one thing, it would have to be a painting. We have a couple of large portraits, some watercolors, and a small collection of old master drawings. If I had to choose, I’d grab the portrait of Mrs. Urquhart by Sir Henry Raeburn. I adore her! She’s got those eyes that follow you all around the room, giving the heebie-jeebies to my house cleaner!
Let’s talk covers! How thrilled are you with the gorgeous new NAL covers???
I love them! Especially after all those dreadful clinch covers on my Avon books. I can’t begin to tell you how much I hated those covers, even as I understand why they are used.
NAL does beautiful covers. They told me they wanted to use “upscale” art to play against the “fun” titles I was using for the trilogy (twisted Cole Porter song titles for the first two, a twisted Gershwin song title for the third). My editor described my books as “elegant but fun” and wanted that same feeling for the covers. I think they did a great job. Each of the covers is based on a real painting. You can see the evolution from painting to cover on the Behind the Scenes pages for each book on my website (THRILL; FLINGS).
And, are you making any appearances or booksignings in the near future?
You just missed my big bus tour!!! I was part of the “Sizzling Summer Reads Author Tour” last month, sponsored by Levy Home Entertainment, the distributor that supplies books for Wal*Mart, K-Mart, Target, Walgreens, grocery stores, etc. There were 13 authors on a luxury bus touring the Chicago and Detroit areas. Other Regency authors on the “love bus” included “Queen Mary” Balogh, Sabrina Jeffries, Jacquie D’Alessandro, and Pamela Britton. We had a blast!
But I have nothing else on my calendar until next March when I’ll be speaking at a writers’ conference. I’m always happy to do workshops and such if anyone is interested. I have a list of prepared workshops on my website. Invite me to speak, and I’ll show up!
Thanks so much! 🙂
Thanks for having me! I’m a regular lurker here at Risky Regencies and pleased to be your guest!
Welcome Candice. You are so great about ‘details’ in your books.
Are you a ‘cup half full’ or ‘cup half empty’ type of person? Which ‘cup’ do you see or feel most often. Thanks.
Thanks for the interview! I just got In The Thrill…, but haven’t started it yet.
Given your ability and interest in research, would you ever consider setting a story in India? Or the Peninsula? Or somewhere other than in England?
Hi Candice, I’ve heard great things about this book. Going to get it as soon as budget allows. The covers are very classy.
Hi ladies. Thanks again for having me here.
Robyn, I’m a little of both. I tend to be half-empty regarding career issues and half-full regarding most everything else.
Megan, I would love to set a book in India. I did so much reading about it — for those mostly off-screen details of the hero’s years there — that I became totally fascinated with the culture. And despite my feelings about how the British presence changed that culture, I find myself intrigued with the British men and women who lived there. Especially the ones who “went native.” I would love to write about them one day, assuming such a setting would sell.
Hi again 🙂 I caught you at another blog I visit regularly and of course I’m always at Dishing with the Divas, albeit a quiet regular visitor. So still no questions at the top of my head for you here, just a great big hiya and love seeing you here! 🙂
Thanks for the great interview, Candice! And I do think that writing about women who are seeking happiness for themselves is risky–but very important. The collections on your website are wonderful, too. A useful resource for Regency Research Geeks like me.
I haven’t read all of Candice’s books, but I’ve read enough of them to appreciate the particular honesty that certain of her heroines have. They’re passionate but often also extremely forthright women, who very justly value their own achievements, experience, and place in the world. I like watching an Eleanor or an Edwina or a Beatrice defend her opinions and hold her ground — until that same ground shifts delightfully under her feet.
“Risky” is perhaps too cutesy a word for this, but I find these heroines genuine emotional risk-takers.
Hi Lois. Thanks for stopping by.
Elena, I’m alway happy to share my collections with other Regency geeks. 🙂
Thanks for the kind words, Pam. Yes, my heroines do take emotional risks. I think that’s the essence of a good love story, don’t you?
Thanks so much for being our guest here, Candice! I’ve been a big fan ever since I read one of your Regencies when I was in college. It helped me get hooked on the period. I think the “fun but elegant” description is very apt. 🙂
Gee, Candice, I wonder if we were twins separated at birth. I too came upon Georgette Heyer late and the traditional Regencies as well. I agree with your view that the Regency was a bawdy age-the rules were just a bit different for unmarried women than married or widowed ones. Your views on the Regency period could have been mine, and I could very well catch that collecting disease. I have a modest collection of fashion prints and other Regency era prints.
Loved seeing you here!
Great interview, Candice. You’re so right about having to know the details–and then forgetting about them when you’re writing. There’s some sort of chemistry that happens and gives that feeling of authenticity to your books. And I do mean your books–that wasn’t a generic you!
Your covers are gorgeous. I’ve read “In the Thrill…” and when I’m off deadline will continue with the second one.
Amanda, I am so glad to have helped to get you hooked on the Regency!
And to my twin Diane, isn’t it fun to collect prints? And totally addicting. Be careful. 🙂
Janet, I have a whole workshop I do on how to weave research into your books without knocking the reader over the head with it. I also think that all that reading we all do on the Regency (like the Brummell bio that was discussed here recently) helps to ground us in the period and quietly informs the lives of our characters. It helps us to put our fictional characters within the context of the age, to understand their lives better, even if all that data never makes it on the page.
Thanks again for having me, Riskies!
Hi Candice. I love your books. I think your collections are wonderful. I love looking at the items on your website.
Hi Candice! I love your photos of Regency then and now series and I love your books.. Keep writing about regency romance..