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Reading about Dorothy’s upcoming Five Star Regency, The Nude, made me suck in a fast intake of air. Her premise, if I’m reading correctly, involves an artist and a nude painting. The book-I-just-turned-in ALSO involves and artist and a nearly nude painting. Yipes!

How many times does this happen? We come up with an innovative plot and BOOM! discover someone else has thought of something similar? I think someone else has a Regency that deals with gossip and the newspapers, like my next one, Scandalizing the Ton…can’t remember who at the moment.

I am very confident that Dorothy’s book and my book will each be unique, but it makes me wonder. Why do we authors come up with similar ideas at the same time?

I mean, think about Cara’s My Lady Gamester and my The Wagering Widow. Both were released in 2005.

Here is the blurb for My Lady Gamester:
MY LADY GAMESTER is the story of an aristocratic card-sharp in Regency London—who just happens to be a woman.
Atalanta James is the daughter of the late Viscount James, who bankrupted his family in a single night of cards. Now Atalanta has arrived for a London Season, and seems to be as determined a gamester as her father.
The Earl of Stoke wants above all things to protect his family from the kind of gambling madness that infected both his father and older brother. Why, then, is he so fascinated by Atalanta James? And why does he feel such a strong urge to protect her from the sharks that swarm around her—and even from herself?

Here is the blurb from The Wagering Widow:
Guy, Lord Keating, laden with his father’s debts, elopes with “heiress” Emily Duprey…only to discover she is as poor as he! Now his only hope of saving his family and dependants is a reluctant return to the gaming tables. Emily needs to escape this marriage to a gamester like her father. But she needs more money than she can win as Lady Keating – so she becomes Lady Widow, a card-playing masked seductress! Then Guy recognizes the beautiful Widow as his quiet, mousy wife – and their inconvenient marriage takes an unexpected turn…

There are lots of similarities!

Cara and I are on opposite sides of the country and we have never been critique partners and yet our stories had similar elements. What wisp of creativity was in the air and traveled a whole continent and hit us both?

All of a sudden there seem to have been several Courtesan books out in close proximity. Because books are written one or two years before their release, it isn’t possible that writers were copying each other’s ideas.
The earliest copyright date I found was Julia Justiss’s The Courtesan (2005)but there are more, like Anna Campbell’s Claiming the Courtesan (2007). Again, the stories are not the same, but something was in the air telling writers to write Courtesan books.

What do you think? Do you see these waves of similar topics? Or am I nuts…..

(Next Monday I’ll be in San Francisco, a pre-conference visit with my niece. I’ll give you all a report!)

Hi Riskies!! Thanks for asking me over. I’m a great fan of your blog–I mean, come on, who could resist RISKY Regencies?

Q: What first gave you the idea for Claiming the Courtesan?

A: Ideas are mysterious beasts, aren’t they? I’d written a story about a woman with all the protections Regency society offered–money, family, position. So I started thinking about a woman who had no safety net. What if she was left responsible for people she loved when little more than a child herself? What if she came from a strong religious background so the choice she was forced to make was anathema?

Q: Did you encounter any challenges researching? Any new or surprising historical information you discovered?

A: I’d been unconsciously gathering information for this story over a long period. You can’t travel to the Scottish Highlands and Islands without being aware of the tragic scale of the clearances of the 18th and 19th centuries. You can’t visit stately homes in the UK without thinking of the psychological growth of a sensitive child who inherits all that power and isolation.

I’d already written the first draft of CTC when I discovered the story of Elizabeth Armistead and Charles James Fox. She was a courtesan (one who had a much rougher time than I ever gave Verity) and he was a famous politician from an aristocratic family. As mature adults, he and Elizabeth fell in love–she sounds like a genuinely sweet, intelligent woman and I think he was lucky to find her–and eventually married very happily. She, of course, was never accepted in society, but there was a certain amount of contact with his family. Elizabeth and my Verity were similar in many ways, not least that they married into society but were permanently outside it.

I was also surprised, again after I finished the first draft (I continue researching while I’m writing the book because it keeps me in the world of the story), quite how many dukes DID marry their low-born mistresses. What I thought was wildly daring concept was firmly grounded in life. Although the real dukes usually made sure they had a family first with an upper-class woman to keep the succession untainted by notoriety.

Q: We pride ourselves on writing “Risky Regencies”–tell us what’s risky about your book!

A: When I started writing Claiming the Courtesan, what was risky was that it was a much darker, more emotional story than I had ever attempted. Given that I’d completed my first manuscript more than twenty years earlier and hadn’t sold a book, it never occurred to me that this book would be the breakthrough. Especially as it featured a woman who slept with men for money. It seemed less commercial than my previous project, a romantic comedy set in 1817 which had all those lovely Regency elements like balls and dresses and elopements and duels. This one had two really complex characters and a mountain of difficult issues to deal with. But I couldn’t get the story or the characters out of my mind. So I did what I always do–I wrote the story that was true to those people and what those specific individuals would do in that set of circumstances. I thought it would just go under the bed with its brethren to gather dust bunnies until the crack of doom.

Then a weird thing happened. This book seemed to get people excited. Taking a risk with the emotional content paid off, wrenching as it was to write. The book, then called No Ordinary Duchess, did really well in contests, the first agent who read the full signed me, it finalled in the Golden heart, and sold at an auction between three publishers.

Claiming the Courtesan came out March 27th, and I’ve been utterly astonished by the attention it’s receiving. Being true to those characters has created a really emotional reaction in people who have read it. A proportion of the response, admittedly, has been anger and dismay. But unless I’m true to the characters, I can’t write. Does my story prove risky? As Austin Powers would say “Yeah, baby!”

Q: Who were some of your early writing influences?

A: I loved Enid Blayton and fairy tales when I was a kid. Then Barbara Cartland and Victoria Holt and Harlequin romances (they were pretty tame in those days, though I remember Anne Mather slathered on sexual tension that made my girlish heart beat faster). Then I discovered American historical romances, especially Kathleen Woodiwiss. I read The Wolf and the Dove and said to myself “This is what I want to do when I grow up!” I loved Anya Seton and Rosemary Hawley Jarman–a passionate historical, even if it has a sad ending, is a real addiction. The Brontes, Austen. Probably my favorite books of all time are Dorothy Dunnett’s Lymond Chronicles. They offer a reading experience unlike any other, and the chance to meet one of the most fascinating, charismatic, complex characters in fiction, the gorgeous if tortured Francis Crawford of Lymond.

Q: Tell us about your next book!

A: Untouched comes out as an Avon Romatic Treasure in December 2007. It’s another “Regency noir”, although the story isn’t linked with CTC. I’m putting the cover blurb and an excerpt on my website at the start of May, but if you want a peek try here.

Dear guests, leave a comment on the blog for the chance to win an autographed copy of CLAIMING THE COURTESAN! The winner will be announced on Tuesday, April 17. If you have not done so already, please read Bertie the Beau’s Official Risky Regencies Contest Rules.

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