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Tag Archives: Georgette Heyer

One of my favorite parts of the Romance Writers of America (RWA) Annual Conference is that the Beau Monde chapter of RWA holds their annual conference the Wednesday before. I try always to attend. It is a great chance to see old friends and to hear great presentations on my favorite topics–anything about the Regency era!

IMG_0082This years conference keynote speaker was Miranda Neville, who honored her recently deceased father in her speech. Her father nurtured Miranda’s interest in history and took her and her sister to museums throughout Europe as a result. If that wasn’t enough to envy, she also had an idyllic childhood on a farm in Wiltshire and went on to work for Sotheby’s, writing catalogues of rare books and original letters and manuscripts. This meant she was paid to read the personal correspondence of historical figures, including those of “our” time period. Needless to say, Miranda likes to get the history correct in her books!

Our Risky Janet Mullany presented a workshop on servants, but I won’t say much about that, because she may be telling you herself. She told us about Black servants who were in England for many years. She mentioned one of the duties of footmen was to deliver messages for the lords and ladies for whom they worked. I thought it a clever fact to use in a future story that the footmen might take hours to deliver such messages, even though the distances might be nor more that a mile away.

Another Risky who presented a workshop was Isobel Carr, who spoke about the fabrics of the time period, about the different weaves of fabrics and the different materials from which they were made. Isobel has so much expertise to share on this topic, it is much too extensive for me to repeat. One interesting fact, though. We all believed that Scottish clans each had their own tartans. I imagined the clans rushing into battle at Culloden each wearing their clan’s plaids. It turns out that, in the late 18th century, a man named William Wilsons published a pattern book in which he assigned clan names to different tartans. The clans themselves had nothing to do with it.

Edmund_Blair_Leighton_-_Singing_to_the_reverendRisky friend Louisa Cornell talked about The Musical Education of a Regency Young Lady. I’ve heard Louisa speak on this topic before and I was so happy to hear Louisa, formerly a professional opera singer, sing some of the examples. She showed us what (and how) a sweet young might sing at a recital, what a talented young lady might sing, and what selections would be scandalous for a young lady to sing. Turns out, singing scandalous songs was acceptable in society.

Jackie Horne spoke about The Material Culture of Childhood and showed how the different cultural views on childhood were reflected in their toys, furniture, and clothing. Before 1750, children were rushed to adulthood, so their furniture, clothing, etc. reflected that. 1750 to 1830 was the era of the Natural Child, the belief that childhood was a special time requiring more freedom of movement than children had experienced previously. One interesting fact Jackie told us. Baby carriages were not invented until 1830, so don’t have your Regency characters pushing one!

Cheryl Bolen shared tons of information on the interiors of Regency houses, both in Town and in the country. She showed us slide after slide of wonderful Regency interiors, including some beautiful Adams rooms. You can see these images on her Pinterest Boards. An interesting fact–her floorplan of a typical Regency town house showed that the master’s bedroom was on the ground floor behind the dining room.

georgette-heyer-biographyThe Beau Monde was honored to have Jennifer Kloester, author of the recent acclaimed biography of Georgette Heyer. Ms. Kloester gave us a lovely picture of Heyer, including many of the insider tidbits she’d learned doing her research. She showed us a photograph of Heyer in her 20s by a then famous photographer. She looked like a 13 year old. Another photo the next year was more like the one on this book cover.

I missed the last workshop, because I needed to get ready for RWA’s huge Literacy Book Signing, but I heard it was wonderful, too. It was about Regency dance and was intriguingly titled Rethinking the Regency Ballroom with special guest Susan de Guardiola.

Miss Guardiola also led us in dance later at the evening soiree, where I joined other Beau Monde members, many in period costume, dancing the dances of the Regency. My dance partner was Joanne Grant, Senior Executive Editor at Harlequin UK. She and I have danced at previous soirees and it was a delight to have her attend this year’s and dance with me again!

It was a wonderful Beau Monde conference. Special thanks to Janna MacGregor, the coordinator of the conference. She did a marvelous job! And has become a great friend of mine, as well!

What topics would you like to hear presented at a Beau Monde conference? I’ll pass on your ideas!

Georgette Heyer. Frequently imitated, never duplicated. Yes, other authors have done wonderful things, splendid, hilarious, beautiful things — but these are their own wonderful things. No one can replicate Heyer’s touch, Heyer’s style, and the wise do not try.

So . . . what are your favorite Georgette Heyer books?

By the way, I love this question. I’ve heard at least twenty different novels listed on “favorites” lists. Some crop up a lot, some crop up rarely, but it seems no one’s list of Heyer favorites is exactly the same as anyone else’s.

Do you like her early, 18th-century books, full of masquerades and highwaymen and Scarlet Pimpernel-influenced escapades? These Old Shades, Powder and Patch, The Masqueraders, The Convenient Marriage? Or do you like just some of these, and not others?

Do you like her more serious romances? Her more farcical ones?

Do you prefer her alpha males (such as the heroes in Venetia and Regency Buck) or her more sensitive men (such as the heroes in Cotillion or The Foundling)?

Have you read Heyer’s mysteries? Her modern novels? If so, do you like them at all?

How about her more historical works, such as Royal Escape and The Conquerer? Or do you prefer to stick to her Georgian and Regency fiction?

So — what are your favorite Heyers? All opinions welcome!

MY LADY GAMESTER — Booksellers’ Best Finalist for Best Regency of 2005!

I’ve been having a rather grumpy—as in, not good for writing—week. The kids had their last week of school, with changing schedules that meant I had to do more pick-up/drop-off than usual. We’ve also had a heat wave and without central air, we’ve spent a lot of time hiding down in the basement rumpus room where at least it’s cooler and there’s a large screen TV (thanks, Kelly!)
I also had this bit of weirdness which was a tad funny, a tad embarrassing. A concerned reader from the UK informed me that on the UK Fantastic Fiction site, I was listed as Georgette Heyer’s daughter. Since Heyer must have been in her 60s when I was born and probably never visited Cleveland, Ohio, I couldn’t imagine how anyone could have gotten that idea!
I emailed the webmaster who responded and corrected it promptly but I still don’t know how it happened. The only thing I can guess is that someone misunderstood my short author bio, which starts with “Elena Greene grew up reading her mother’s Georgette Heyer novels…” but I never imagined anyone would think this meant anything other than that my mother was a Georgette Heyer fan and I picked up the bug from her. Anyone think I need to clarify? This bio is everywhere so what a pain…
Anyway, it has made me think about the debt I owe to Georgette Heyer (and mom, who let me start read those books while I was in 3rd grade). Those books were my introduction to the Regency and I still Heyer does the best job with the “comedy of manners” style Regency.
When I first started writing, I caught myself trying to write just like Georgette Heyer and failing rather miserably. I realized that I had to find my own voice, even though it would still be influenced to some degree by my favorite authors.
Meanwhile, I was reading more broadly and discovered authors like Mary Jo Putney, Jo Beverley and Mary Balogh, who moved the genre beyond the comedy of manners in exciting ways. A Regency could have angst!  It could even have sex!
Although my first published Regency was very “traditional” I started to move further away from that style with almost every book.  My current mess-in-progress definitely has angst. And sex. 🙂
Anyway, I hope this helps readers understand why I confuse them by writing such a range of books. I truly love the variety that’s possible with Regency romance. I’m grateful to Georgette Heyer for getting me into it in the first place.
What was your gateway to Regency romance (reading or writing it)?  Any weird stuff happen to you lately?
Posted in Writing | Tagged | 5 Replies

Like almost every other writer/reader, I have a TBR pile. No, pile is a vast misnomer–it’s s structure, a mountain. For a long time, I had these books stacked in my hallway, blocking the coat closet and waiting to brain unwary passers-by. Until one day, when the volumes went almost to the ceiling, my cat tried to climb up the pyramid and started an avalanche. Books were scattered far and wide, and I knew I had to make a change. Get organized. So, I bought a slew of clear plastic tubs at Target and started packing the volumes away to store them in the garage (after I moved the car out, of course). To a non-reader this sounds like a quick and easy job, but we here at Risky Regencies surely know better. This job took days, weeks, because I ended up sitting on the floor re-reading old favorites, starting new books I’ve been meaning to get to, just basically wasting time and having fun.

I sorted these books into several stacks–books I will read soon, books I will read some day (when I’m 80?), and books to give away (I think there were about 3 of these). Then I found it. A battered, taped-up copy of the Very First Regency I ever read–Marian Chesney’s AT THE SIGN OF THE GOLDEN PINEAPPLE. And nostalgia set in.

A little backstory. Unlike lucky Megan, my parents were never great readers. But my grandmother was, and she was always taking me to the library and giving me books as presents. Some of them I loved, like the Little House on the Prairie and Anne of Green Gables series (for their romantic elements, and their plucky, wanna-be writer heroines). Some I loathed (like the egregious, treackle-beset POLLYANNA and ELSIE DINSMORE). But I devoured them all.

My grandparents lived on a sort-of farm, and every summer we visited them for several weeks. This particular summer, when I was 8 or 9, someone gave my grandmother a couple of big boxes full of romance novels, and I ended up sitting in the closet (where the boxes were stored) and reading the whole time. At first it was just a fun way to avoid my cousins, who only ever wanted to play Star Wars and brooked no deviation from the script. Boring. Soon, though, I was totally hooked, living in a world of country estates, Almack’s, handsome dukes, and high-perch phaetons. I could not even be lured away by my grandmother’s German chocolate cake.

These boxes were filled with mostly Cartlands, with a couple of Heyers, and some old Fawcett and Harlequin Regencies. I was somewhat familiar with the period, having seen the Garvie-Rintoul P&P, and I loved the clothes, the manners, the witty atmosphere. I was so excited when I pulled a book out of the box–AT THE SIGN OF THE GOLDEN PINEAPPLE–and saw the words “Regency Romance” at the top. I devoured it on the spot, and then dug out every single volume that also declared itself a “Regency.” The monster was unleashed.

I don’t remember a huge amount about that particular book. It was maybe set in Bath, and the heroine ran a Gunter’s-style shop. But it sucked me into a fabulous, fascinating new world I couldn’t get enough of. I still can’t.

So, I’m curious. What are the books that first drew YOU into the Regency? What did you like about them, what kept drawing you back? What was your first time like?

I’ll start the discussion by sharing what I think is risky in my Regency — my heroine.

I have always adored Georgette Heyer’s
FARO’S DAUGHTER, but every time I read it, a little part of me is disappointed that, of course, the hero is much better at cards than the heroine. She runs a gaming house, but he still knows more than she does. When they play piquet, he tells her she’s weak in her discards — and then he piques, repiques, and capots her. Argh! I love the hero, but sometimes I wanted to smack him across his self-satisfied face. Or have the heroine capot HIM for a change!

So when I wrote MY gambling Regency, I made my heroine, Atalanta, brilliant at cards. My hero, Stoke, is strong, smart, and stubborn as can be, but he’s not better at piquet than she. Oh, he THINKS he is–he assumes he is–and she helps along that assumption because, well, she’s a card-sharp. 🙂

I was hoping all along that I would not be forced to tone down Atalanta, to make her weaker so that Stoke seems stronger — and I am delighted to report that my wonderful editor never hinted that my heroine should be turned into a kinder, gentler version of herself. No, when MY LADY GAMESTER appears in November, Atalanta will be as fierce, as uncompromising, and as ambitious as she was when I first wrote her.

Will the readers like her? I guess I’ll find out in November! 🙂


Cara King —
MY LADY GAMESTER — Signet Regency, 11/05

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