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Welcome back my friend Christine Trent with her second release, A ROYAL LIKENESS, the sequel to her terrific historical debut, THE QUEEN’S DOLLMAKER.

“Trent allows readers into a crafts-women’s life to see women at work in a man’s world triumphing to find love and fame, meanwhile interjecting actual personages and historical facts into the story. It’s a great way to learn history.”–RT Book Reviews

“The detail in this story is so mesmerizing both with the wax figures and the battles. I would recommend this book to anyone who loves a thrill-seeking adventure with a damsel in distress sort of feel. I can’t wait to see what Christine has in store for us next!”–All Things Historical

Christine will give away a signed copy of A ROYAL LIKENESS to one lucky commenter chosen at random.

Welcome back to Risky Regencies, Christine. Tell us about A ROYAL LIKENESS.
I’m very excited about this sequel to THE QUEEN’S DOLLMAKER. In the first novel, we leave off with Marguerite Ashby as the heir apparent to the famous Laurent Fashion Dolls business. But when Marguerite’s husband is killed during a riot, the young widow travels to Edinburgh and becomes apprentice to her old friend, Marie Tussaud, who has established a wax exhibition. When Prime Minister William Pitt commissions a
wax figure of Admiral Nelson, Marguerite becomes immersed in a dangerous adventure – and earns the admiration of two very different men. And as Britain battles to overthrow Napoleon, Marguerite will find her loyalties under fire from all sides.

How easy (or difficult) was it to fit Marguerite’s story to the real historical events?
What made this novel pure joy to write was the way historical events fit so seamlessly into my story. Madame Tussaud started her travels in England in 1802, just three years before Napoleon’s humiliating defeat at Trafalgar, so it was easy to trace Marguerite’s adventures from Tussaud’s arrival on English shores, to Trafalgar, to the continuing intrigues with and against the French and Spanish governments.

What is risky about this book?
I took a risk in A ROYAL LIKENESS by incorporating a great naval battle, Trafalgar, in a way that, I believe, is appealing for the female romantic historical fiction reader. So, of course, although there are cannons exploding, crude surgery being performed, and the stench and filth that accompany every battle, the heroine manages to find romance in the middle of it all!

Did you come across any interesting research while writing this book?
Did I ever! I could have written volumes on the history of waxworking: how wax figures were already being made in ancient times, the success women enjoyed in this field, and how a waxworks exhibition was much like yesterday’s People© magazine. That research led into many other sorts of “sideshow attractions” of the time, such as geggy performances and Phantasmagorias, none of which I knew about before, but which all of you can read about in A ROYAL LIKENESS.

What is next for you?
My next book, tentatively titled THE PRINCE’S PAVILION, about a cloth merchant named Annabelle Stirling, should be released in early 2012. Thanks to her patron and great architect, John Nash, Belle Stirling is a rising star in the homes of London’s fashionable elite. Even the prince regent wants her elegant, high quality fabrics used in the decoration of his new palace, Brighton Pavilion. But when those closest to her conspire against Parliament, she risks losing her reputation, her business. . .and even her life.

I hope readers will be as fascinated as I was by details of early 19th century cloth manufacture, the Luddite riots, and other conspiracies of Regency England.

My fourth novel will be encompass another unusual profession, this time a dark and mysterious one set in Victorian England. And that’s all the detail I’m giving for now!

That’s enough to intrigue me!
Ask Christine anything about A ROYAL LIKENESS. Do you like lots of historical fact in your fiction? Let Christine know. Comment for a chance to win a copy of A ROYAL LIKENESS.

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I’m delighted to welcome my friend, Christine Trent, to Risky Regencies. Christine is debuting in Historical Fiction, trade paperback-size, with a wonderful book about Marie Antoinette’s dollmaker, The Queen’s Doll Maker. When she first told me about this book I just knew we’d see it in print and it’s out now!

Trent’s debut follows the fortunes of an intrepid heroine who triumphs over numerous obstacles. Her portrait of the world of a dollmaker places her in Rosalind Laker’s league; she takes an unusual profession, actual historical personages, a fascinating backdrop and places her heroine in a world of wealth, fame, intrigue and danger.– Kathe Robin, RT Book Reviews

“Winningly original. . .glittering with atmospheric detail!”–Leslie Carroll, author of Royal Affairs

“Unique, imaginative. . .replete with delightful details and astounding characters, both real and imagined.” –Donna Russo Morin, author of The Courtier’s Secret

We’ll be giving away a signed copy of The Queen’s Dollmaker to one lucky commenter, selected at random.

Welcome, Christine!

Tell us about your book.
THE QUEEN’S DOLLMAKER is the story of a young woman falsely accused of smuggling money and jewels inside fashion dolls destined for the imprisoned Queen Marie Antoinette.

On the brink of revolution, with a tide of hate turned against the decadent royal court, France is in turmoil – as is the life of one young woman forced to leave her beloved Paris. After a fire destroys her home and family, Claudette Laurent is struggling to survive in London. But one precious gift remains: her talent for creating exquisite dolls that Marie Antoinette, the Queen of France herself, cherishes. When the Queen requests a meeting, Claudette seizes the opportunity to promote her business, and to return home…Amid the violence and unrest, Claudette befriends the Queen, who bears no resemblance to the figurehead rapidly becoming the scapegoat of the Revolution. But when Claudette herself is lured into a web of deadly political intrigue, it becomes clear that friendship with France’s most despised woman has grim consequences. Now, overshadowed by the spectre of Madame Guillotine, the Queen’s dollmaker will face the ultimate test.

We love to hear “The Call” stories. Tell us yours.
Oh my. I suppose it was really The E-mail. Except I was too naïve to understand what it was. On a Wednesday, Audrey LaFehr from Kensington Books e-mailed me in response to a full manuscript I had sent to her. She said something like, “We really like your manuscript. When can I call you to talk to you about it?”

Any halfway intelligent writer would understand that this was the equivalent of The Call. Alas, it was me receiving this e-mail. So I ended up calling my friend Delilah Marvelle, who was too kind to tell me I was an idiot, and convinced me that, indeed, I was being offered a contract for publication.

Two agonizing days passed, and then that Friday afternoon, around 5pm, I was in the Staples parking lot in the middle of the pouring rain, carrying several packages to my car. My cell phone rang, and when I saw it was from a New York area code, I had enough presence of mind to realize that it must be Audrey. So I dropped my packages onto the soaked pavement and answered. I remember very little about that call, except that Audrey told me to think it over and get back to her the following week.

We’re all about being risky here. What is risky about your book?
I decided that if I was going to get the attention of an editor, I’d have to do something different with my heroine. Yet I wanted to do something that familiar to me. I’d just finished reading a biography of Marie Antoinette and was thinking on it while doing some organizing of my doll collection, when I thought, “What if Marie Antoinette had a favorite dollmaker?” My second thought was, “Uh oh, can I even find out anything about 18th century dollmaking?” Most dolls from that era are long gone, and the antique wax, china, and composition dolls that collectors buy today date from the early 19th century.

What interesting piece of research did you discover while writing the book?
First, that dollmaking was really a man’s job, because dolls of that period were made of wood and therefore carved by carpenters. And, of course, carpenters were men. Second, I learned that in the 18th century, cheap dolls made of rags or dried fruit were what children had for play. Carved wooden dolls, dressed in fancy fabrics, were primarily used to display current fashions for the wealthy (although some became playthings). It was also fascinating to learn that Marie Antoinette really did like dolls. After she had moved to France from Austria, she would send dolls to her mother and sister as gifts.

You have devised a unique way of promoting the book. Tell us about it.
I’ve done a little bit of community theatre, and I must confess to being a total ham, so I had a couple of authentic Marie Antoinette costumes made (panniers, crinoline, the works). I’m attending library events, book signings, book parties, and so on, in costume. I’ve been surprised by the fact that kids just love having their picture taken with “The Queen.”

But I was even more surprised to realize that there is a very good reason why a wealthy woman needed a lady’s maid back then: it is completely impossible to dress yourself. And the clothing is ridiculously heavy. Between the tight bindings of those weighty gowns and the extravagant, padded hairstyles, I don’t know how women of the French court remained upright!

What’s next for you?
I’ve just wrapped up a sequel, which follows the adventures of the dollmaker’s protégé, Marguerite. Marguerite goes on to become an apprentice to the great waxworker, Madame Tussaud, but her new career nearly melts down when the English Crown embroils her in a dangerous scheme against Napoleon. I’m still waiting for final word on the book’s title, but it is scheduled for release in early 2011.

Does anyone still have a favorite doll from childhood? Or the memory of a doll you loved? I’d love to hear about it!

(Remember to leave a comment for a chance to win a signed copy of The Queen’s Dollmaker.)
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