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Tag Archives: Jane and the Damned

Good morning! Today I’m going to talk about some of the research I did for JANE AND THE DAMNED which released a few days ago and I’m going to give away two copies of the book. I’ll announce the names of the winners on Monday, so please feel free to comment on yesterday’s post about BESPELLING JANE AUSTEN too.

So who were the Damned in Georgian England? They were the fashionable vampires who were regarded with awe and envy and lust by the ton, and were the favored companions of the Prince of Wales who later became the Prince Regent. Because being fed upon–the euphemism for the Damned’s feeding was dining–was intensely pleasurable for mortals, and because dining was inevitably accompanied by skillful sexual activity (they had had centuries of practice) without any risk of pregnancy and disease, their parties were legendary.

Naturally, etiquette books regarding correct behavior with the Damned became best sellers and I was fortunate enough to acquire a copy of this guide from 1795:

The Gentlewoman’s Guide to

The Damned

being a guide to the Manners, Habits, and Pleasures of the Fashionable Immortals; including a full Set of Instructions for those who are invited to Dine; and Useful Instructions on Matters of Dress and Deportment and Methods of Revival the Morning After

It’s an extraordinary record of social behavior, with some information I found very useful. For instance:

It is advised that a Lady’s gown should display the neck and shoulders in as revealing a way as possible without actually resorting to Vulgarity, which the Damned abhor, for those areas of the person are naturally of greatest interest to them.

And

It is unwise to speculate upon the true age of one of the Damned. Generally one should converse on the weather, fashion, and politics.

It appears the Damned did actually provide food for their human guests, as both courtesy and as a matter of practicality to keep up the strength of those who would later provide them with their dinner:

For a guest to remark upon the lack of appetite displayed by the Fashionable Immortal Host is considered Impolite; moreover, a guest is supposed to dine heartily, for the menu will have been prepared with the utmost consideration, as providing the most pleasure for the Damned themselves.

This advice was given for the actual dining experience:

While in the Transport of Sensual Delight which accompanies the Host’s Dining, a lady should remove her necklace, for the teeth of the Damned enjoy Remarkable Sensitivity at such a time. She may also, if she wishes, remove her gloves.

As for the morning after, when the fashionable lady might feel a little wobbly from blood loss, the guide advises that

…although many consider a glass of wine with a drop of Immortal blood dissolved in it to be infinitely superior to any Apothecary’s Brew, the blood will most probably be provided by a fledgling, a lesser member of the society of the Damned. It is most uncivil to refuse on the grounds of the fledgling’s rank, and consider that even a drop of fledgling blood will bring Improvement to the Complexion and Brightness to the Eyes.

What recommendations would you have for an etiquette guide to those consorting with Regency-era vampires?

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I’m in a combination of deadline hell and getting ready for the Baltimore Book Festival, where I’ll be talking and signing this Saturday with a whole bunch of other writers from my local chapter. And I’m getting excited about the release of Jane and the Damned and Bespelling Jane Austen, both of which come out in just a few days on September 28.

So this is going to be a short post, but first I wanted to share a story that I heard on the news yesterday. Eileen Nearne died, poor and alone in Newquay, UK, and it was discovered after her death that she was “Agent Rose,” a hero of World War II who worked with an elite spy force helping the French resistance. She was captured by the Gestapo, did not break under torture, and was sent to a concentration camp. One tough, courageous lady. Here’s an account of her life and how she was honored with a full military funeral from the Guardian.

She said this of her experiences as a spy, which I think could well be attributed to our fictional men and women who experienced great danger during the Napoleonic wars, as spies or fighters. How would they adapt to “real life” after such events and how they would they see the world?

It was a life in the shadows. I think I was suited for it. I could be hard and secret. I could be lonely, I could be independent, but I wasn’t bored. I liked the work. After the war, I missed it.

And now for something completely different, as they say. Here’s the book trailer for Jane and the Damned. Things to look out for: On the soundtrack, a French soldier saying Ton pere est un hamster (Your father is a hamster) and a depiction of me carrying a flag in the last frame (my initials are on my apron).

Can you identify any of the music?

I haven’t talked a whole lot about Nationals and I don’t intend to now, having had a radically different experience from nearly everyone else who’s discussed it online.

But one thing that became very clear to me was that I needed to reevaluate what I was doing and why I was doing it, and that’s what I’ll talk about today. At Orlando I found my head was entirely stuffed with … I don’t know what, but I could barely think or write. Maybe it was the a/c, maybe it was something the hotel piped in to make us spend spend spend, maybe it was the swamp trying to reclaim its own and revert us all to far off primitive sluglike ancestors.

And it got me thinking about why I write romance. Why?

Because it changes people’s lives. Nope. Abolutely not. I have never had a letter from someone telling me that I burst upon them in their darkest hour and saved them from the great black hole (and please don’t tell me if, in fact, one of my books did. I don’t want to know). What a terrible burden to have to carry in all subsequent writing. What if you don’t make the grade the next time?

Because it’s all about hot men. No way. Really. You all know what I think of most cover art (although I’m impressed that Harlequin M&B shows males that look fairly human on their historicals). I alarmed a tableful of women in the bar at the last NJ Romance Writers Conference when I told them I was really more interested in writing about women, which I was–I’d just finished Improper Relations, which is primarily about the relationship between friends. But I am not averse to the male form. Check out this site (NSFW).

Because love conquers all. I think this one is really interesting because generally in my books love gets people into trouble. It’s the catalyst for change, not the answer.

And here’s the why:

Because … what I write fits in, in a strange niche of the genre, and since I starting write to sell, that makes me very happy and I’m happy that people enjoy my books.

And because it entertains me first. And that’s what came as the big realization at Orlando, that I need to think in terms of my pleasure to be able to produce. Who else but writers get to make stuff up for a living!

Why do YOU write? As a reader, can you tell if a writer is having fun?

And in the red print, CONTESTS! Enter to win a copy of JANE AND THE DAMNED at Goodreads (and thanks to HarperCollins for giving away the books!)
The contest on my website runs until the end of the month, as does this contest at Supernatural Underground where I ask for your help in writing the next book.
Go check it out!

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