Regina Scott’s debut Regency-set YA novel, La Petite Four, is available now from Penguin Razorbill!
Riskies: Welcome back to the blog, Regina! Tell us about La Petite Four.
Regina: It’s a romp of a young adult Regency about 4 friends making their debut in 1815 London, and running afoul of a handsome young lord who may have more up his sleeve than a nicely muscled arm. But why tell you when I can show you?? Here’s the La Petite Four video, courtesy of the Class of 2k8, a group of 27 authors with YA or middle grade novels out this year.
Riskies: What gave you the idea for this story?
Regina: One of my traditional Regencies, A Dangerous Dalliance, featured an art teacher who is coerced into chaperoning 4 students on an Easter holiday visit to a Great House. The four students–Lady Emily Southwell, Priscilla Tate, and sisters Ariadne and Daphne Courdebas–help the teacher blossom and catch the eye of the new earl. They also solve a mystery along the way. Readers had written me asking if I would ever tell the girls’ stories. When I decided to try a YA, I knew exactly which story I wanted to tell first!
Riskies: What was the research like? Did you find any unusual or unexpected facts?
Regina: Lady Emily wants to be an artist, a rather shocking pastime for the daughter of a duke. At first, I hoped she would join the Royal Academy of Arts school, but as I went deeper into research I was shocked to learn girls weren’t allowed! One of the required courses involved sketching nude models, and it wasn’t considered “proper” for young ladies to view nudes. Some women actually posed nude, but that’s another story. Even Angelica Kauffman and Mary Moser, founding members of the Royal Academy, were treated differently. In a famous painting, Johann Zoffany depicted the founding members of the Academy, all standing around models. Kauffman and Moser are seen only as paintings on the wall! Of course, one of the great things about writing today is that you can sometimes address these historical issues. I created a group of aristocratic artists, men and women, who paint only for charity–The Royal Society for the Beaux Arts, and gave Emily the dream of becoming a member there instead.
Riskies: What are some of the challenges and rewards of writing for the YA market?
Regina: Today’s teens are amazing! I’d barely put my toe in the water on MySpace, and I had friends everywhere, many teen reviewers with their own blogs and webpages. These are mostly girls who read voraciously, then talk eloquently about what they’ve read, sharing their thoughts with dozens of other teens with similar interests. I don’t think I was half that organized at their age! I only hope I can do them justice in my books by writing about similar teens with dreams and spunk.
Riskies: What is “risky” about this book?
Regina: Historical YA without a paranormal elements is a risk these days. The Luxe came out recently, but it was more glitz and garters. I’m more giggles and gowns. I also stretch the boundaries of what is considered appropriate for the Regency period. I tried hard not to break the rules, but I did push them! I made them go as far as they could go to meet what my publisher thought would excite teen readers.
Riskies: Tell us about your own blog, Nineteenteen!
Regina: It’s dedicated to sharing things teenagers did during the 19th century in England. Marissa Doyle and I are having so much fun! The more we share aspects of the 19th century the more we find to write about. The language of flowers, a decade-by-decade look at fashion, even the first rollercoaster! I focus on the Regency, and Marissa is more early Victorian. We both love to tell stories and share cool stuff we’ve found in the our research. It’s been exciting to see our readership grow.
Riskies: I saw that some of the your Regencies are available at Belgrave House through their Regency Reads line! How does it feel to have them out there again?
Regina: Very gratifying! The stories are finding a whole new group of readers, and I’m enjoying hearing from them. I’m also honored to be one of the Regency Reads authors, with my books alongside those of Emily Hendrickson, Allison Lane, and Barbara Metzger. It’s a great resource for Regency lovers!
Riskies: What’s next for you?
Regina: I’m happily playing in this new world of YA fiction! I’m also working on a contemporary fantasy based on Native American mythology. And, of course, I’m hoping readers will want more stories like La Petite Four! I’d love to tell Priscilla’s story next.
Congratulations on the new book. I’m wondering what you think is the biggest difference between teens back then and teens now.
Hi, Maureen! I think the biggest difference between teens in 1815 and teens now is the amount of freedom today. As I mentioned, Lady Emily couldn’t be admitted to the Royal Academy of Arts school, but a talented young female artist has equal footing today. I’m sure some young ladies felt frustrated, though a large number likely just took it for what it was. I’m so glad so many fought over the years, though, or who knows where we’d be today!
Welcome, Regina. Great interview! This book sounds so fun – I’m definitely going to check it out – and what a gorgeous cover!
Is there a difference in how you’ve approached writing for teens? Any changes to your voice, style, storytelling to give it more YA appeal?
And do you have more historical YA planned for the future?
It is such a pleasure to have you here. My WIP, coincidentally, also involves the Art world.
La Petite Four sounds so delightful, I’m betting Regency readers of all ages will love it. I, for one, am grateful you are developing our future readership!!
Hi Regina! I love it that you brought characters from another book into this new genre. Do you have plans for any others? Do we get to meet the art teacher again in LPF??
The alluring cover makes me want to buy the book already and the premise sounds like a hoot. Women’ve certainly come a long way since the Regency. Which of the four girls is most like you and how?
Hi Regina! Congrats on this book and it sounds like so much fun. I know several girls who I expect will enjoy it very much.
As far as strict historical accuracy, I always think that in a romp one can and should stretch things if it makes it more fun. Readers understand. Especially young readers who are often a lot more savvy than we expect.
I think this sounds like a really good book! I’d love to read it. I like historical fiction and I want to learn more about the Regency. I am almost 12 years old, but I usually read books about people older than me. Why is its title French? How old is Lady Emily?
it’s great to see an interesting YA Regencybook, my girls use to read my books but sometimes complain about the heroines being too old. They will love this one and will want more!
Wonderful interview. Do you plan to do cross-over characters with your YA and future adult Regencies?
I tried to watch the video but it says it’s no longer available.
I found another link that works.
The video is very neat and tasteful!
Wow–I go away to church and everyone comes to visit! How cool!
Lindsey–I didn’t change a lot in writing YA. My style and tone actually fit pretty well there. That’s one of the reasons my agent pointed me in that direction. The one thing my editor encouraged me to do, though, was really let my humor come through. I’ve always had a bit of humor in my books, but Penguin wanted more, more, more. I told them they should be careful what they ask for. 🙂
Thanks for the warm welcome, all! Amanda, dear Miss Alexander only appears in Emily’s thoughts in La Petite Four. I don’t know whether she’ll appear in future books. If I’m being faithful to the timeline, she’s kind of on her honeymoon. 🙂
As for other books, I can only hope!
Jenny, each of the girls are like me in some way, but they are their own persons for sure! I look the most like Lady Emily, with dark hair that’s frizzier in the rain, but could never paint like she does. Priscilla and I share the love of pretty clothes, but I could only wish for her mastery of society. I read voraciously like Ariadne, but I’m not sure I have her courage to break the rules when necessary. And like Daphne, I love a good sword fight, though I’ll never be the rider she is.
Anonymous, my dear, Lady Emily is 17 years old. You’ll see some publicity out there that says she’s 16, but she’s had a birthday since then. 😉
The title was my darling editor’s idea. It seems “La Petite” is a young girl, so “La Petite Four” would be four young girls. The folks at Razorbill thought it sounded sophisticated. I was thrilled to learn that petit fours were popularized by the Regent’s French chef Careme, so it’s actually fairly accurate to the period.
Michelle, I’ve always tried to interconnect my books, so it’s likely that other characters may get cameos in the future. I enjoy making it feel like a little community, like you know everyone in the Regency universe, or at least my little corner of it.
Hello, Regina! I have really been looking forward to this book! As a Regency historical aspiring writer (aspiring meaning hoping, praying and working really hard to get published!) I too would like to thank you for introducing the wonderful world of historical romance to the next generation of readers!
What a gorgeous cover too! I am so excited to hear that young ladies on my space are really interested in the past. As a former history teacher I often had to fight the “Why do I need to learn this stuff? What does it have to do with me?” attitude. How much actual history do you filter into the story – not necessarily to teach, but to set the scene and give young readers a real sense of the times? Is it more, less or about the same as you would do for your non YA historicals?
Go, history teachers! That was always one of my favorite classes! As to how much history I put in to La Petite Four, I actually started out putting in a little less than my other historicals, not being sure how young people would react. But again, my oh-so-clever editor said, “Give us more!” so I did! I did chuckle, though, when, during one of her edits, she questioned “Rotten Row.” “Can’t we come up with a prettier name?” Uh, no. It’s a real place! 🙂
Great to see you here, Regina! And definitely looking forward to your book. Have to run out and get it — I see my local Borders has it in stock!
Oh, and, Jennybrat, thanks for the link! I also had trouble seeing the book trailer at the original link. But now I’ve seen it! Very nice, Regina.
Regina, I love your website Nineteenteen and the way you bring the history alive. It’s full of so much fun! I’m really looking forward to reading La Petite Four.
Congrats, Regina!! I am a huge fan of related books, so I do hope you’ll have the chance to write about all of your young ladies! And how neat that you’re creating more links between this world and other titles–how do you keep track of those links? Do you keep a map or a “bible” or Post-its? 🙂
Thanks, Cara and Gillian! Flchen, I have my own timeline that lists when every character was born, arrived in London, got married, etc. When I start a new book and figure out the year, I look at my timeline to determine who’s where and who might play a logical role. Sometimes I wish I could go back and add a few folks here or there in previous books. I’ve actually done a little of that with the electronic books. That’s another reason they’re so fun!
Regina, great to see you here at Risky Regencies! I have fond memories of you and your alter ego, the dashing Sir Reginald. (Though as I recall, he got a bit riotous during the OP riots.)
Your book sounds like a lot of fun. Too bad I’m not eligible to win a free copy. 🙂 I guess this means I’ll have to actually buy one!
On a recent trip to London I picked up a reprint of an old annual for girls: The Girl’s Empire, from 1903. There had already been a huge change from the Regency–there were articles about different sports for girls, about making a career as a typist, etc. But some things were pretty similar–stories about girls making their come out at their first ball and meeting a dashing stranger, for example! A lot changes, but I guess some interests of teenagers are constant through the ages. 🙂
Todd! The only fellow more dashing than Sir Reggie! How good to see you here, sir!
The Girl’s Empire, eh. Sounds very interesting. I shall rise above commenting on La Grande Five.
Great to ‘see’ you again, Regina! Congrats on your new book! It sounds like so much fun!
Regina, laughing my head off at “Can’t you give it a prettier name?” Too funny! I love that your editor asked for more and I will be interested to see what sort of discussions it sparks among your young readers.
Regina, Fascinating, especially about the art. And I am so glad you are bringing Regencies to the next generation of readers. They will love it, I know.
Sounds like a fabulous book. Congrats!
Hi Regina! Congrats on the great book. Forget the kids- it sounds so intriguing, I want to buy it for myself. And it makes me wish I were writing YA. Actually I’ve thought of it, but wouldn’t there be a lot to learn?
Congratulations on the new book; Regency fans will love this. I, too, hope you write about each of the girls.
I’m glad you like to put humor in your books b/c I like to laugh whenever possible.
Sounds great! Congrats Regina!
The explanation of the title is very cool. 🙂
Oo, more friends! Thanks so much for the kind congratulations!
Delle, the learning curve was a little steep, but the process was a lot of fun. I got to read some great books by Meg Cabot, Stephanie Hale, Shannon Greenland, Serena Robar, and others who are heating up the YA market. There’s so much more out there now than when I was a teen. But that’s good news for authors, because we have a lot more publishers to choose from! If you’re at all interested, I’d say go for it!
Hi Regina! Congrats on the new book. I can’t wait to read it. I too am writing a historical YA but mine is set in a women’s college in Upstate New York. I find it fascinating dealing with what was and still wasn’t appropriate for young women of that era, even though they were attending an institute of higher learning. Colleges back then were touted as helping young women become better wives and mothers, even though the course work looks pretty difficult.
*waves madly* Hi, Sir Regginald. So good of you to come and visit us Riskies. Now that Ammanda is going to be Sir Armand, would you consider being Lady Regina?
That cover is so delicious, delicate, but delicious and perfect for a title like “Petite Four.” Dying ot read it of course. This Memorial Day holiday put a crimp in my regular book-buying, otherwise I’d have it alread. Tomorrow’s another day.