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We’re delighted to have Amanda Grange as our guest today, author of Henry Tilney’s Diary, the latest in her line of takes on Austen leading men (and yes, she’s also tackled Wickham and Darcy as a vampire!). Amanda will give away a copy of her book, so please comment or ask her a question to enter into the drawing! Since Amanda is on UK time, we’ll be choosing a winner at 12 noon EST on Monday.

I was thoroughly engaged. I believe my money and my time, well spent; surely one of her best diaries to date! Austen fans may declare Mr. Darcy as their favorite, I dare say, Mr. Tilney improves on acquaintance. Even if you are not as familiar with Northanger Abbey as other Austen works, you will still find the tendency of Henry Tilney’s Diary to be altogether recommendable. A must for your reading list. Austenprose

I adore Henry Tilney and I’m so glad your book is about him. What do you like best about Henry?

I like his wit and his irreverence, in fact, I love them. He doesn’t take himself, or life, too seriously. He has an odd life in many ways: his mother died when he was young, his father is overbearing and his brother is dissolute, but Henry manages to rise above it all and go on being amusing and entertaining. Anyone who can maintain his good humour in the face of such adversity is someone I really love.

Did you find him more difficult to write than Austen’s more alpha male heroes such as Darcy and Wentworth?

If I’d written him as the first hero, I think I might have done, but after writing so many alpha males I was glad to have a break from them and write about someone warm and witty instead. I particularly enjoyed exploring his relationship with his sister, which we know to be a close one, and I think it’s this relationship that makes him so open and comfortable around women. I think that’s why Henry avoids so many of the problems the alpha heroes have in their romantic relationships. Although Darcy is close to his sister, it isn’t a relationship of equals as there is too much of an age gap, but Henry and Isabella are friends as well as siblings.

I read somewhere that Henry and Catherine are doomed to become Mr. and Mrs. Bennett—that Catherine’s sweetness and prettiness alone aren’t enough to sustain a long term relationship. How do you expand upon Catherine’s character?

I don’t see it like that. I think there is a solid basis for their future together because Henry is a clergyman and Catherine is a clergyman’s daughter, so they have the same kind of background, whereas Mr. and Mrs. Bennet came from different spheres of life: he was a landowner and she was the daughter of a country attorney.

And of course, Henry won’t have so much to try him. Catherine’s follies are the kind that she will naturally grow out of, in fact she’s already started to mature by the end of Northanger Abbey. She realises that she was a fool – however sweet – for imagining the laundry list was something sinister, and for thinking that the abbey was the scene of a murder. But I think she will remain imaginative, and that Henry will always appreciate this, because it’s one of the things that attracts him to her. There is a bit in Henry Tilney’s Diary which sums this up for me (Henry’s words):

“Not for me the unthinking, unfeeling woman who wears a halo of common sense and sees nothing in an abbey but an old building with inconvenient passages. Far rather would I have a young lady whose head is in the clouds, when those clouds are filled with such startling adventures.”

Did you make any interesting discoveries about Henry and the rest of the Tilneys?

Oh, yes, a lot. I started the book when Henry was fifteen so that I could explore his backstory and find out what makes him the man he becomes. I delved into his relationships with his parents, his brother and his sister. This led me to elaborate on Eleanor’s romantic relationship, and the ways in which Henry helped it along. I’ve always been intrigued by Eleanor, because although Austen tells us, at the end of Northanger Abbey, that Eleanor marries, we don’t see her husband in Northanger Abbey. So I created a house party at which she meets her future husband and Henry sympathises with her difficulties, namely that her father won’t countenance a match with a poor man.

I also had a lot of fun with Frederick. To begin with, I was going to make him a Wickham / Willoughby type, as he seems like a typical rake, but there are hints in Northanger Abbey that he is something more, and so I cast him as a disappointed romantic – which is often the reality behind a cynic. I created a backstory for him which explains his behaviour and also allows him to develop a friendship with Catherine, once they come to know each other better after Catherine’s engagement. I don’t want to say any more because I don’t want to spoil it, but I really enjoyed writing it.

I think we’re left at the end of Northanger Abbey with a divided extended family—the General isolated from his children, and a lot of awkwardness between Catherine and her former BFF Isabella. How do you think everyone will get on in future?

The General is reconciled to his children when the young man Eleanor wants to marry inherits a fortune and title – “never had the general loved his daughter so well in all her hours of companionship, utility, and patient endurance as when he first hailed her Your Ladyship!” (last chapter of Northanger Abbey). And through Eleanor’s good offices, he is reconciled to Henry and Catherine’s match. So although he will never be close to his children, he will at least be invited for Christmas, or vice versa! And in Henry Tilney’s Diary, I have him reconciled to Frederick as well, even though he hurt Frederick a great deal when Frederick was a young man.

As for Catherine and Isabelle, I don’t believe they will ever see each other again. They will move out of each other’s lives, and a good thing, too.

What research did you do for the book?

I read Northanger Abbey again very carefully, once to put myself back into the mood of the book and then again to make detailed notes on names, places etc. Then I worked out the timeline for the book and drew up a calendar of events. And then I set about reading some of Mrs. Radcliffe’s Gothic novels again, to choose one for Henry and Eleanor to read together in the early part of the book. I wanted to use The Mysteries of Udolpho, but somehow it didn’t gel – I wanted to use some actual quotes from the book, to give readers a flavour of the Regency Gothics, and the story of Udolpho didn’t fit. So I read through about half a dozen other Gothics until I came to A Sicilian Romance, which has a plot that beautifully complements Northanger Abbey and paves the way for Catherine’s wild imaginings. As to the other side of research – the historical detail side – I’ve written so many Regency novels that I now have files of notes I can turn to when I’m not sure about something, but for the most part I can move comfortably in that world because I’m familiar with it.

Who would your dreamteam movie cast be for the book?

Although I generally think of English actors for Austen characters, I actually think that Bradley Cooper would make a good Henry. I would choose Sophie McShera for Catherine. She plays Daisy the kitchen maid in Downton Abbey and I think she would have just the right mixture of naïveté and innocence for Catherine. Plus it would give the actress a chance to wear some better frocks!

For Eleanor I would choose Carey Mulligan. She played Isabella in the recent TV adaptation of Northanger Abbey, but she’s a very versatile actress and I think she would also play Eleanor very well. For Frederick I would choose Rob James-Collier for Frederick. He plays Thomas in Downton Abbey – can you tell I’m obsessed with Downton Abbey? – and is perfect for a sleazy lothario, but I also think he’s capable of giving depth to the character, which is perfect for my view of Frederick.

So let’s get chatting! Have you read Northanger Abbey? Who’s your favorite Austen hero (other than Darcy)?

A Terrible Secret… When she departs for her wedding tour, Elizabeth Darcy is the happiest woman alive—until she sees the look of torment on Mr. Darcy’s face…

A Test Of Love That Will Take Them To Hell And Back… A vampyre, cursed for eternity, Darcy thought he could marry Elizabeth and never tell her the truth… but as he carries her across the Alps to visit the one person he hopes can advise him, Elizabeth’s terror grows, until the Darcy family curse threatens to tear both of them apart… Starting where Pride and Prejudice ends, international bestselling author Amanda Grange delivers a brilliant vision of Austen’s brooding hero in a delightfully thrilling, spinechilling, breathtaking read.

Welcome Amanda! Amanda’s offering a signed copy of her book to one of our commenters today, so please join the discussion–and she’ll mail to the US or UK. We’ll announce the winner here tomorrow.

Hi! It’s great to be here on the Riskies blog so thanks for inviting me!

This book is something of a departure for you from your previous books. What prompted this new direction?

I wanted to write a sequel to Pride and Prejudice because I adore the characters and I wanted to read more about them, but there are so many sequels that I wanted to write something different. I’d had an idea of Darcy as a vampyre a long time ago when watching Buffy the Vampire Slayer but I couldn’t see what to do with it, so I just tucked the idea away at the back of my mind and got on with other things. Then, when I was reading a lot of Regency Gothics as research for Henry Tilney’s Diary – because his book, Northanger Abbey, is a Gothic – the idea just came to me: what if I started the sequel on Lizzy and Darcy’s very romantic wedding day, and what if I then sent them to Europe on their wedding tour, and what if Lizzy slowly discovered that Darcy was a vampyre? It immediately felt right and so I decided to go with it.

Did you find it intimidating channelling Jane Austen?

ALol, I’m not sure about chanelling Jane Austen! I just love her books and, as a reader, I want more. As no one else writes Austenesque books that satisfy me, I write my own. I try not to think about the fact that I’m reworking or extrapolating some of the best novels ever written, otherwise I would never dare put pen to paper – or finger to keyboard!

What sort of research did you do?

I’ve done a lot of research into the Regency period over the last ten years or so, reading letters and novels from the time, studying fashion plates, visiting stately homes and learning about the political and economic situation. Most of this doesn’t go into my books, but I find it helps me to know about these things so that I get the background right. For Mr Darcy, Vampyre I researched the histories of Paris and Venice as well as researching the landscapes of Regency Europe, complete with travel arrangements. I’m lucky because I’ve been to most of the locations used in Mr Darcy, Vampyre and as the cities like Venice are so old, large parts of them are still the same today as they were two hundred years ago, so I had all that experience to draw on.

What’s your favorite part of the book?

It’s difficult to say. Like all authors, I suspect, I love every bit of my books, and if you ask me on another day I would probably choose a different bit! But I’m very fond of this bit, where Lizzy and Darcy are in Paris, attending a salon. It’s a very romantic part of a novel which is full of romance but also full of fantasy and horror as well.

Darcy was at once welcomed by four women who walked up to him with lithe movements and lingering glances. Their dresses were rainbow hued, in the colours of gems, and flimsy, like all the Parisian dresses. Their hair was dark and their skin was pallid.
‘You will have to be careful,’ came a voice at Elizabeth’s shoulder.
She turned to see a man with fine features and tousled hair. He had an air of boredom about him, and although Elizabeth did not usually like those who were easily bored there was something strangely magnetic about him. His ennui gave his mouth a sulky turn which was undeniably attractive.
‘They will take him from you if they can,’ the man continued, watching them all the while.
Elizabeth turned to look at them and as she did so she was reminded of Caroline Bingley and her constant efforts to catch Darcy’s attention. He had been impervious to Caroline and he was impervious to the Parisian women as well, for all their efforts to enrapture him. As they talked and smiled and leant against him, flicking imaginary specks of dust from his coat and picking imaginary hairs from his sleeve, they looked at him surreptitiously. When they saw that he was oblivious of their attempts to captivate him they redoubled their efforts, one of them whispering in his ear, another leaning close to his face, and the other two walking, arm in arm, in front of him, in order to display their figures.
‘It is not right, what they do there, he being so newly married,’ said a woman, coming up and standing beside the two of them. ‘But forgive me, I was forgetting, we have not been introduced. I am Katrine du Bois, and that is my brother, Philippe.’
There was an air of warmth about the woman which was missing from many of the salon guests, and Elizabeth sensed in her a friend. And yet there was something melancholy about her, as though she had suffered a great disappointment from which she had never recovered.
‘It is not right, no,’ said Philippe. ‘But it is nature. What can one do?’
He turned to look at Elizabeth with sympathy but Elizabeth was only amused.
‘Poor things!’ she said.
Darcy wore the same expression he had worn when she had first seen him at the Meryton assembly; and despite the difference in the two events, the noisy vulgarity of the assembly and the refined elegance of the salon, he was still above his company. His dark hair was set off by his white linen and his well moulded face, even in such company, was handsome. His dark eyes wandered restlessly over his companions until they came to rest on Elizabeth. And then his face relaxed into softer lines, full of warmth and love.
‘I wish a man would look at me the way that Darcy looks at you,’ said Katrine.
‘I am very lucky,’ said Elizabeth, and she knew that she was.
She had not married for wealth or position, she had married for love. She wished that she was not in company, that she and Darcy had stayed at the inn where they could have been alone, but she knew they would not be in Paris for ever. The calls and engagements would come to an end and then they would have more time to spend, just the two of them, together.
‘You are,’ said Katrine. ‘I have many things, I have jewels and clothes, carriages and horses, a fine house and finer furnishings, but I would give them all for one such look.’
Darcy’s companions claimed his attention and he turned reluctantly away. As he did so his hand moved to his chest as though he were lifting something beneath his shirt, pulling it away from his chest and then letting it drop again.
‘What is it he does there?’ asked Katrine. ‘Does he wear something round his neck?’
‘Yes, I bought him a crucifix yesterday. The shops in Paris are very tempting,’ said Elizabeth. ‘He refused to take it at first, but he had given me so much and I had given him so little that I insisted and at last he allowed me to fasten it around his neck.’
Katrine’s voice was reverent. ‘He must love you very much,’ she said.

Great excerpt! What’s next for you?

I’m writing a Darcy and Elizabeth story for a Christmas anthology and I’m also starting work on a prequel to Mr Darcy, Vampyre, which explores Darcy’s early life as a vampyre and reveals a lot more about the other characters in the novel, as well as putting a new slant on his early relationship with Lizzy.

Thanks so much for crossing the Atlantic digitally to be with us today, Amanda. Chat away–and have your name entered into the pot to win a signed copy!

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While Elena’s away, the members of the UK Historical Romance Blog bravely offered to cross the Atlantic and take over on a Wednesday–in fact, there are so many of them, and they’re such a talkative lot, they’ll be visiting again on March 4. So, a warm welcome ladies, and take it away…

Hi! It’s great to be here on the Risky Regencies blog. We’re a group of British Regency writers and we got together a few years ago to chat about our favourite genre. We run the Historical Romance UK blog so please drop by and visit us! And if you sign up for our monthly email newsletter, you can enter more competitions to win books and goodies. Just send a blank e-mail here and we’ll do the rest!

Ever since the Riskies invited us to blog we’ve been thinking about the differences between Regencies in the US and in the motherland, which largely depend on which publisher we’re with. Here are our thoughts, together with some information about us and our books, and of course there are plenty of competitions for you to enter, too! What better for February than some Regencies to win?! Unless otherwise stated, the closing date for our competitions on this Risky blog is 28th February.

Amanda Grange: I write a lot of Jane Austen inspired novels – Mr Darcy’s Diary, Mr Knightley’s Diary, Captain Wentworth’s Diary, Edmund Bertram’s Diary and Colonel Brandon’s Diary – which retell Jane Austen’s stories from the heroes’ point of view. This kind of book is very popular on both sides of the Atlantic, but the UK books tend to stay closer to Austen in style and tone. A lot of the US books take Jane Austen’s characters into new territory, exploring their sex lives, and giving them more dramatic storylines, whereas my books aim to be as close to Austen as I can get them. I particularly liked writing the backstories for Wentworth and Brandon, whereas the US books tend to focus more on continuations.

Visit Amanda’s website to enter a competition to win a hardback copy of Colonel Brandon’s Diary and a trade paperback of Lord Deverill’s Secret. Just email Amanda with the answer to these questions, which can be found on her site: What is the name of the heroine in Lord Deverill’s Secret? And what is the name of Colonel Brandon’s first love?

Jane Odiwe: It’s lovely to be invited over to the Risky Regencies Blog!I’m an English author with an American publisher, Sourcebooks Inc. and find my inspiration from the wonderful novels of Jane Austen. Lydia Bennet’s Story, a sequel to Pride and Prejudice, appealed to me because I saw a challenge in developing a secondary character. I like the idea of telling the stories that Jane Austen didn’t relate and it was during a trip to Brighton that I started to wonder how Lydia and George Wickham came together before eloping. As I walked along the seafront I could imagine the balls and the promenades against the backdrop of fashion, scandal and frivolous living at the Marine Pavilion. I wanted to write a comic novel,and I thought with Lydia there would be plenty of opportunity for laughs.

Willoughby’s Return is my next sequel. I wanted to know how Marianne would fare in her marriage to the much older Colonel Brandon and how she might react if a former love, Mr Willoughby, returned to the neighbourhood. Margaret, another secondary character from Sense and Sensibility, is eighteen in this novel and I wanted to give her more of a heroine’s role,intertwining her story with that of her sister’s. Some of the story takes place in London with several of Austen’s characters like Mrs Jennings and Lucy Steele reappearing. I love to write scenes with these wonderfully humorous characters.

Having an American publisher means they are very open to scenes which Austen might not have written herself; and there are a range of sequels that Sourcebooks produce from those with no sex to the very steamy! My books have mild references to love-making and contain double entendres, but remain true to the Austen spirit. I am writing for a British and American audience, some of whom are Austen experts and some not, but I like to be meticulous in research and detail, reflecting the themes that Austen wrote about herself.

Monica Fairview: Yes, I think the expectations of Jane Austen fans in the US and the UK are quite different. I recently read a quote from Virginia Woolf which I loved. She says “anyone who has the temerity to write about Jane Austen is aware… that there are twenty-five elderly gentlemen living in the neighbourhood of London who resent any slight upon her genius as if it were an insult to the chastity of their aunts.”
Of course, no one thinks that way today, but a hint of Jane Austen as untouchable still lingers in the UK. I think US Austen fans demand a lot, too, but they are willing to tolerate more creative licence.

My Austen-inspired novel, The Other Mr. Darcy, is coming out in June 2009 in the UK, and will be published later in the US by Sourcebooks. The Other Mr. Darcy deals with cross-cultural issues. It features an American main character along with the woman everyone loves to hate in Pride and Prejudice, Miss Caroline Bingley. My hero, Robert Darcy, is a Boston Brahmin, (though the term wasn’t used until after the Regency) so he has his own ideas of what constitutes a “gentleman.” Obviously his ideas are going to clash with Miss Bingley’s. I had great fun writing the novel, which I hope is in the spirit of Jane Austen, if not in the letter.

Louise Allen: my last book was the final title in my six part Those Scandalous Ravenhursts series, out along with numbers four and five this year. I thought I had got to grips with writing a series, but I soon discovered I had a lot to learn when I embarked on my current project – writing two stories as part of a, yet untitled, eight-part Regency continuity for HMB. My fellow authors for that project are Christine Merrill, Gayle Wilson and Julia Justiss from the States and Margaret McPhee and Annie Burroughs from the UK.

Thank goodness for email, is all I can say, I don’t know how we could have created all our intertwining plots and characters without it. I’m lucky enough to be close enough to London to go and check out oak trees in Hyde Park (for kissing behind) or whether a certain square is just right for someone’s hero’s town house while the others contribute fascinating research on Romany life and curses, Cornish smugglers, the American navy or keep our tangled stories straight.

It doesn’t matter which country you’re in, I’ve decided – historical romance writers are all sisters under the skin. My aim is to create heroes and heroines who will reach out to a 21st century reader while staying true to their Regency world: find out more at my website.

To win signed copies of the first 3 Ravenhurst titles e-mail me and tell me why you love Regencies to be entered into my prize draw. Passion… from the past into the present.

Amanda: I write other types of Regency as well as Austen inspired novels. Books like Lord Deverill’s Secret and Harstairs House are closer to Georgette Heyer in feel, with an adventure as well as a romance.

Lord Deverill’s Secret takes place in Brighton, with visits to the races and the Pavilion, and Harstairs House is set on the Cornish coast. I think the closest equivalent in the US would be the trad Regency, although US trads don’t seem to have as much adventure as the UK trads.

Jane Jackson: My books have never been traditional regencies – mainly because my stories are set in Cornwall – or at least begin there before travelling to countries served by the Packet Ships, and few young ladies would ever have managed to get to London for the Season. That said, Truro and Penzance had their own Assembly Rooms, their own circulating libraries and gentlemen’s clubs.

We had our own mini-Season here in Cornwall, where the daughters of the gentry would attend parties, balls and suppers with the express purpose of meeting eligible gentlemen. It was simply done on a smaller scale. My stories are adventure romance. We have such a rich and dramatic heritage here in Cornwall that I will run out of time before I run out of inspiration.

Visit Jane’s website to enter a competition to win a copy of either of my most recent books, Devil’s Prize or Bonded Heart (you choose). Just answer this question: What is the name of the village featured in both stories? Send your answer to me via the Get in Touch link on my website. Good Luck!

Kate Tremayne: Like Jane Jackson’s the Loveday series of novels are set in Cornwall where the family have their estate at Trevowan and a shipyard on an inlet of the River Fowey. Again they are not standard regencies as I am now writing book ten in the series that covers the lives, romances, conflicts, rivalry and adventures of four sets of Loveday cousins. The series has been reviewed as being a sweeping family drama in the tradition of Poldark with the mystery and suspense of Daphne du Maurier and an emotional intensity that transcends time. The novels weave through adventures and drama involving the French Revolution to the Napoleonic wars, smuggling, highway robbery, the criminal underworld and theatrical world of London, transportation to Botany Bay and a visit to Virginia involving a scandal involving their American kin.

Adam Loveday, the first book in the series, is rich in drama and passion, filled with memorable and feisty characters, with the atmosphere and flavour of Georgian England. The childhood rivalry between Adam and his elder twin St John continues to govern their fated passions and chequered fortunes. St John has become a dissolute wastrel but Adam, with a talent for ship design and a thirst for adventure, has fierce family pride in the family estate and yard. He will never accept St John as the rightful heir. St John is equally determined that Adam will never get his heart’s desire: the estate, the shipyard – and Meriel Sawle, the seductive daughter of the local innkeeper. whose violent family are infamous in the smuggling trade.

I can’t think of an American equivalent but if any of you know of something similar in the US, please let me know!

Visit Kate’s website to enter a competition to win a copy of Adam Loveday. Just email Kate with the answer to this question, which can be found on her site: What is the name of the Loveday estate in Cornwall?

Kate Allan: After writing Perfidy and Perfection, a Jane Austen inspired Regency rom com, I have been interested to see a handful of Regency rom coms appearing in the US and hope this is a trend that will continue. My other Regencies are all romantic adventures. I like setting my stories in different parts of the UK and making sure the local detail is correct as possible. One difference between Regencies published in the UK and those in the US is the level of historical realism that is required by publishers here. My next novel, which should be out at the end of this year, is set in Cornwall and the hero is a ex-smuggler back for revenge of those who betrayed him. It is a little darker in tone than my previous books. It is grey and raining throughout the whole novel and the sun only comes out at the very end.

Monica: Like Kate, I’m very fond of Regency romantic comedy. In my opinion, a comic touch is important to Regency. If you look at both Jane Austen and Georgette Heyer, who laid the foundation for Regency romance, comedy is at the heart of both. I think of my novel An Improper Suitor as a comedy of manners, though it also has an element of suspense and adventure to it. Generally in the UK there is still a hearty tradition of adventure attached to Regency romances, following Heyer, whereas in the US there’s been a drift towards longer historicals that are more spicy and more relationship-focused.

Well, that’s all from us for now. We’ll be back again in March, when the rest of Historical Romance UK will be talking about their take on the similarities and differences between UK and US Regencies.

If you’d like to buy any of the UK published books and can’t find them in the US, The Book Depository delivers them free worldwide.

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