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Please Welcome Candice Hern to the Riskies!

I’ve known Candice for a long time. She was a member of my local RWA chapter for quite a while. In fact, and she does not know this, but way back when I had enough nerve to actually show up to a local chapter meeting, that particular meeting involved all the published authors standing up, introducing themselves, and talking about what they hoped to most accomplish with their writing.

The fact that some 15 or so multi-published authors stood up and said they wanted to improve their writing and their writing process is the subject of another blog. Candice stood up, introduced herself and talked about her books a bit and I sat there thinking, wow. I want to be like her because it was obvious she was smart and passionate and knowledgeable. Over the years my impression of her was solidified. She’s a wonderful writer who is very generous with her knowledge about the industry and the Regency.

In addition to talking about her success with self-publishing, she’s been gracious enough to have a giveaway. So read all about Candice and her books and check out the book give away.

The Interview

Q: What the hay have you been up to? I know you’ve done some anthologies, but I can hardly tell you how excited I was when I saw you were self-publishing your backlist. You have a lot of fans of your Traditional Regencies and your Regency-set historicals, so YAY! Can you tell us about your decision to self-publish?

I spent almost 3 years away from writing while I was occupied with family matters. That’s a long time to be out of the game. (I did manage to write 2 novellas that were contracted, but that last one was difficult. It was due only 3 weeks after my father passed away, and the previous months had been spent dealing with his illness. I was still away from home and my mother was not well. But I somehow got the thing written.)

When I finally had my life back and could write again, I knew that big publishing gap would be a problem in selling another book. At about that time, two of my friends were e-pubbing their backlist books and doing extremely well. I had the rights back to my old Signet Regencies, and thought it would be smart to get those out there as ebooks, get some sales under my belt, before trying to sell a new book. And I am SO glad I did!

Q: How has your self-pub experience been? I know from my own experience that there is some pretty pent-up demand for certain Romances that have gone out of print and are now hard to find. My suspicion is that the Traditional Regency is an entire genre that has an eager readership that (maybe) isn’t large enough for print publishers, but is more than large enough for self-publishing. What’s your take on that?

I have found that many readers have been starving for good old traditional Regencies. When all the NY publishers dropped their Regency lines, the audience didn’t go away. They simply had no more books to buy. One of the reasons, in my opinion, that those Regency lines were dropped was because publishers wanted steamier and steamier historicals, which were selling like gang busters. But I think there has always been an audience that preferred a sweeter romance. Yes, it’s a smaller audience, but it is devoted.

I have also found a ton of new readers in the UK, where our old Signets were typically not sold. The UK readers have been fantastic, spreading the word to other UK readers, tweeting about my books, etc.

Q: Can you tell us about your backlist plans? What’s out there so far?


I also have the rights back to my Merry Widows trilogy (IN THE THRILL OF THE NIGHT, JUST ONE OF THOSE FLINGS, and LADY BE BAD). Those are not traditional Regencies, but sexier Regency-set historicals. I will be publishing those as ebooks over the next few months.

Q: Tell us about your first book, A Proper Companion

The first book I epubbed was A PROPER COMPANION. It was the first book I ever wrote. Emily works as a companion to an elderly, but feisty, dowager countess in Bath. The dowager’s favorite grandson, Robert, has just announced his engagement to a beautiful girl from a family she finds unacceptable (they’re social-climbing mushrooms). Since it is clearly not a love match, the dowager has no scruples about doing her best to see the betrothal fall apart, so she and Emily go to London so she can interfere. She also decides to do a bit of match-making for Emily, who is very well-born, but penniless. Of course, Robert and Emily are very attracted to each other. But he’s engaged, so what can they do?

Buy A Proper Companion (various formats)

Q: That book was originally published in 1995. Do you have any funny or scandalous stories about that book? If not, can you make one up?

As I mentioned, A PROPER COMPANION was the first book I ever wrote. It became published, in 1995, as the result of winning a writing contest sponsored by an RWA chapter. It’s full of first-book issues — the hero and heroine are both gorgeous, both perfect. There’s way too much description of fashion. And I hadn’t quite mastered the idea of point-of-view. Actually, it seems I figured it out about half-way through, but the early chapters were full of head-hopping.

When I decided to self-publish it as a ebook, I had to have the physical book scanned as the original files were no longer available. In proofing the scans, there was SO much I wanted to change, especially those POV problems in the early chapters. But it would have meant serious re-writing, which I didn’t want to do. So I only tweaked it a bit, made a few changes to dialog tags and such, things I’ve gotten better at over the years. No major changes, though. It’s still 99.9% the same as the original.

Q: Why do you love the Regency? And do you have a picture (or link) to your favorite Regency-era gown?

I have been a collector of Regency-era stuff for years. (You can see some of that stuff on my website, here: As a serious collector, I had studied the period well, the context in which my collections were made, and over time developed a sizable reference library. I grew to love the period as a sort of bridge from the pre-industrial age to the modern age.

But I will confess that it was the fashion that hooked me from the beginning. I was always fascinated by this period of loose skirts that skimmed the body, squashed between two periods of giant hooped skirts. Only 20-25 years of beautiful classical lines. Here one of my favorites, a Full Dress from Feb 1815:

I also truly believe it is in large part the fashion that makes the period so popular to readers. I think it is much easier for a reader to imagine herself as the heroine, wearing these beautiful Regency gowns, than it is to picture herself in Victorian crinolines or Medieval double-horned headdresses. Regency dress is somehow more accessible to us. Heck, I remember (dating myself here) wearing empire-waisted grannie dresses in the late 1960s. But never in our lifetimes have we worn anything close to crinolines and stomachers. We can relate to a Regency gown.

Q: Tell us about Miss Lacey’s Last Fling.

The last of my Signet Regencies, MISS LACEY’S LAST FLING, is my riskiest Regency. I knew it would be my last, as I saw the lines folding elsewhere and knew the writing was on the wall for Signet. I also knew that my next book would be a Regency-set historical, ie a sexier book. So I decided to throw caution to the wind and add a little sex to my Regency. It’s nothing too steamy (it’s still a trad, after all), but there is actual sex in the story. It’s about a young woman who believes she only has about 6 months to live. Since she’s never actually LIVED (as Auntie Mame would say), she decides to pack in a lifetime of experience into a few months. Including a little nookie.

I really loved writing this book. It was inspired by that old TV show (dating myself again) “Run For Your Life” with Ben Gazzara. He was a man with some disease or other that was going to kill him, and he decided to spend his last days doing all sorts of things he’d never done. I thought, what if this story was set in the Regency, what would he do? Better yet, what if the person dying was a woman? What would she do? So, my Miss Lacey makes a list. And in what she believes are her last months to live, she becomes full of life, passion, adventure. When it came time to create a hero for her, I decided, as I most often do, that he had to be her opposite. So, what is the opposite of someone who wants to live life to its fullest? How about a man who’s bored with life and tired of living?

Anyway, it’s a fun book and I am rather proud of it. (It won the Bookseller’s Best Award for Best Regency of 2001.)

Buy Miss Lacy’s Last Fling (Various formats)

Q: You’re an avid collector of things Regency. Can you tell us about a recent or favorite acquisition?

This week I bought 10 new French fashion prints — from 1812, 1813, and 1818. But a recent favorite acquisition is the original watercolor painting that was used for the same French publication as this week’s prints: Le Journal des Dames et des Modes. It’s a painting by Horace Vernet, who designed a lot of the French fashion prints. I was pretty stunned to find it at a local print and drawing sale.

Q: I’ve heard rumors that you’re working on a brand new book. Is that true? If it is, what can you tell us about it?

All those years I wasn’t writing, I was sitting on a proposal for a new historical series. It’s about two aristocratic widows in financial difficulties who start a business for young ladies. You’ve heard of wedding planners? These are Season Planners. They help girls without the right connections to navigate the social season. Each book is about one of their clients, each of whom presents seemingly impossible obstacles, eg a merchant class background, a trio of dead fiances, a mother who’s a famous courtesan, etc. A nephew of the two Season Planners is a young man based on Beau Brummell, who will help to turn a few sow’s ears into silk purses.

This series, as I mentioned, was planned as a series of sexy historical romances. When I saw how much more money I could make by self-publishing it, I decided it made more sense to continue self-publishing rather than try to get a contract for peanuts through a NY publisher. Then, when I got such fabulous feedback from my e-Regencies, I decided to turn this series into traditional Regencies. One of the best things about self-publishing is that you can do whatever you want. I don’t have to worry that there are no more Regency lines anymore. I can create my own line. And that’s what I’m going to do.

The first book is called THE SOCIAL CLIMBER, and I hope to release it in time for Christmas shopping! You can see the cover and read an excerpt on my website, here:

Q: What’s next for you?

I have to finish THE SOCIAL CLIMBER! Then, if there’s time, I want to try to write a Regency Christmas novella. After that, the next book in the Season Planner series.

Ohh!! A book Giveaway!

For your chance to win a copy of Candice’s most recent book, the anthology IT HAPPENED ONE SEASON, with novellas by Stephanie Laurens, Mary Balogh, Jacquie D’Alessandro, and Candice, leave a comment for Candice!

The Rules:

Void where prohibited, no purchase necessary. Winner will be chosen at random on Thursday, so leave your comment by midnight, Wednesday!

Stuff to Win Again!

Congrats to the winners of last week’s giveaway of Not Wicked Enough. It was easy to give eBooks to the winners who preferred that reading format. In fact, it was so easy that I got to thinking that eBook readers don’t usually get to share in the giveaway love.


I have decided to giveaway 20 eBook copies of Not Wicked Enough. Visit my blog to enter and for details and rules. Entry closes at midnight Pacific on February 16, 2012, so get there quick!

And now, on to my second topic.

Contraception during the Regency

In Not Wicked Enough, the hero, Mountjoy, uses a condom in a somewhat unusual way, in that he is not using it to prevent STDs but to prevent conception. Only, actually, I don’t believe it was all that unusual.

The common belief is that men used condoms only to prevent disease. This would not have been entirely effective of course, since many STDs would have passed through a condom made of gut. The history of condoms is a long one. There is evidence that the Romans used condoms, as did the Chinese and the Japanese. The fact that many of these early condoms covered only the head of the penis speaks rather loudly, I think, of the intention to prevent not disease but the transmission of sperm.

The point, really, is that humans the world over have made the connection between disease, pregnancy and intercourse, and that knowledge, however inaccurately they may have understood the underlying biological processes, is not new.

In Europe, Antonie van Leeuwenhoek “discovered” sperm circa 1677. The role of sperm in conception was well known by the Regency. The actual process of conception may not have been correctly understood, but one need only know that getting sperm into a woman was necessary for conception and that the penis was the sperm delivery system. Once you’ve figured this out, it strains credulity to suggest that no one then realized that if you inferred with the delivery system, you would vastly decrease the chance of conception. No sperm. No baby.

If a man wears a condom, he’s going to notice that the sperm stays inside the condom. He may, in fact, not care even a little that he has just reduced the chance of knocking up his partner. He may have worn the condom for the sole purpose of preventing disease. But it’s too obvious a connection for an educated, informed man not to make. In fact, there are historical mentions of the use of condoms as contraception throughout history.

Unquestionably, their use as a disease preventative is mentioned far more often. That makes sense. Men didn’t want to get the clap and in the West, men tend to own the discourse. And spin it, by the way.

It’s important to keep in mind the highly charged debate around contraception and female reproduction. This is NOT a subject people talked about frankly. As with references to access to abortion, the language is coded. And yet, throughout time and history, women have acted to control their reproduction through abstinence (which all women recognize is not always possible or even a choice they have) contraception, abortion, including self-mutilation once pregnant, and infanticide.

So, in Not Wicked Enough, Mountjoy is an educated man of means with access to other educated men of means. He has the money to purchase the very highest quality condoms. None of his peers would blink at his doing so. Men didn’t want to get the clap, after all. When he embarks on his affair with Lily, he is aware he can withdraw and thus interfere with the sperm delivery system. He even does so. But he does not want to continue with that method. And being the sort of man with access to condoms and who would know that a condom would also prevent the delivery of sperm, it’s impossible, in my opinion, for him not to also understand that if he wears a condom, he can finish inside and not put Lily at risk of conception. And that’s what he does.

Some condom Facts

In the Regency, the best condoms were made from highly processed gut that required the use of caustic chemicals. They would stiffen (HAH!) when completed and therefore needed to be soaked in liquid to soften before use. They were typically fastened to the base of the penis by a ribbon.

Make of it what you will, but condoms were washed (one prays about the washing part) and reused.

In this 1779 painting by German artist Johann Zoffany (Self-Portait as a Monk) on the wall to the left of the rosary beads and beneath the bottle are two condoms.

Airing out, one supposes.

Think about the title of this painting: Self-portrait as a Monk and then consider the  presence of the condoms and all that is suggested by those two things.

Naturally a monk would also wish to avoid the clap, but oh, the coded images. A pregnant nun would be so awfully inconvenient.

Happy Anniversary to us! I can’t believe we’ve been here 6 years–time flies when we’re having fun, I guess. It’s been wonderful to be a part of this blog and find so many new friends and great reads. To celebrate, I am giving away a free download of my August “Harlequin Historical Undone!” story, Unlacing the Lady in Waiting, set at the court of Mary Queen of Scots (a fascinating woman! Next week I will share some of the research I did for this tale…)

Scotland, 1561

Lady Helen Frasier thought Highlanders were barbaric—until she shared an intimate encounter with her betrothed, James McKerrigan. Though their families were enemies, the Highland lord roused a surprising passion in Helen. Then she was chosen to become a lady in waiting to the queen, and their engagement was broken.

Now, Helen has returned to Scotland and her jilted lover, who has vowed to take revenge and claim his promised bride….

(It can be ordered here at Eharlequin or at Amazon…)

And as a bonus, Barbara Monajem, whose The Wanton Governess is also out this month, is giving away a copy! So we will have not one but two stories today….

Sussex, 1801

Governess Pompeia Grant thinks pretending to be Sir James Carling’s wife as a favor to his sister will be harmless. She is haunted by his rejection of her youthful advances, but she’s desperate for a place to stay after losing her last post.

When James unexpectedly returns home from America, she assumes the game is up—until James encourages her to stay, and enjoy the pleasurable consequences of their charade.

Do you like reading short stories? (I love them for these super-hot summer days…). What have been some of your favorites?

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