“This cleverly orchestrated, unconventional romp through the glittering world of the Regency elite-both admirable and reprehensible-is filled with secrets, graced with intriguing characters, laced with humor, and plotted with Machiavellian flair. A joy to read…” The Library Journal, on The Courtesan’s Daughter
Risky Regencies is pleased to talk to Claudia Dain, whose new book The Courtesan’s Daughter is an October release from Berkley!
Hello, Claudia! First things first–tell us about this book!
I wish I was good at talking about my own books, but I seem to lack that ability! Uh, it’s a Regency romance? How’s that for descriptive! I can tell you that it took me two full years of research and pondering to create the character of the courtesan, but once I had her in my head, The Courtesan’s Daughter demanded to be written and I’ve been a captive ever since. Believe me, I have no complaints! This world and the people who inhabit it have consumed me completely and I love them for it.
The Courtesan’s Daughter is about a young woman who wants to make a good marriage, but is hampered by her mother’s salacious reputation. Lady Caroline’s prospects for a suitable match are severely limited by her mother’s infamous past. Before Sophia Dalby became a countess and entered London society, she was a highly desired courtesan. What man of title, position, and wealth would marry a courtesan’s daughter? Sophia’s solution is to purchase a husband for Caroline—in the person of the Earl of Ashdon, agreeing to settle his gambling debts if he will take her daughter’s hand. Insulted, Caroline refuses the match. She won’t have a husband who was bought for her.
But after meeting the fiery Lord Ashdon, Caroline begins to wonder if it wouldn’t be so very satisfying to have him pay for *her*, perhaps with a priceless pearl necklace? Who better to turn to for advice than a former courtesan? With Sophia pulling the strings, Lord Ashdon may get more than he bargained for and Caroline may get just what she wants.
And this is the first in a series?
This is most definitely a connected series, though each book can stand alone. I have a complete character arc in my head for Sophia which will span many, many books (fingers crossed) so it’s a good thing I’m enjoying this world so much.
The next book in the series is out in May of 2008 and is titled The Courtesan’s Secret. Once again, we have a young woman of title and privilege who needs just the right sort of help to bring the right man to heel and to the altar. Sophia Dalby is exactly the right sort of help. Of course, when Sophia’s involved, you’re never sure exactly what’s going to happen next.
How did you think of writing this particular book?
I’m not really sure how ideas come together in the mind of a writer, but it is a fascinating process. A little bit of this, a snatch of that, and an idea is born. I do remember thinking that I wanted to go in a different direction, to cover some history of the period that isn’t given a lot of attention in general, so instead of focusing on the battles taking place in Europe, I turned my attention to the American continent. It was a volatile age, especially for what was becoming the British Empire, and there was turbulence on almost every continent.
I (Amanda!) have always really loved the way your books “transport” the reader to another time and place. What kind of research did you do for this book?
I do love a satisfying setting! I spend a lot of time reading, immersing myself in the facts of the time period, but also in the cultural mindset of the period. This is key, I think. What’s the point of creating a perfect description of a carriage if you can’t get the worldview right? What people think, how they think, how they act, how they feel things changes through time. Getting that right, that sense of how that character you’ve created would behave and think in their precise moment in history, that’s essential to me. I have to have that down before I can write a word.
And I love doing the research. It feeds every creative cell I have. I think I must have read 50 history books before I started The Courtesan’s Daughter and sections of 100 more. I’m still researching, reading non-fiction all the time. It’s absolutely essential to my process; it’s a way of ushering me into that world and every history book I read gives me a new idea for either plot or character. I gave up having a book budget a long time ago!
A book budget? What is this unfamiliar phrase?? As you know, we do love “risky” books here! What is the greatest creative risk you’ve taken in this book?
Oh, this is a great question. I definitely felt that I was taking a huge risk with The Courtesan’s Daughter, but I’m not sure I can explain how or why (because I’m terrible at describing my own writing, remember?). The tone of the book is very bawdy, humorously and overtly sexual, with lots of dialog loaded with innuendo. There aren’t any poor vicar’s daughters, no disinherited sons, no spies, no starving widows. The heroines aren’t sweet and the heroes aren’t rakes in need of redemption. You can see why I was nervous!
What is your writing process? Are you a plotter or a pantser?
My writing process seems to veer off the normal (sane) path in that once I have the main character formed I sit down and start writing. In The Courtesan’s Daughter, the only character I knew inside and out was Sophia. Caroline and Ashdon developed as they appeared on my computer screen. In fact, the only thing I know when I start to write is who the heroine is. The hero just appears. Scary, but what can I do? That’s how it works for me.
Because of this strange mental defect of mine, I can’t write a synopsis. It kills the story before it’s even been formed. I’ve had to admit to myself that I can’t think my way through a story, I have to *write* my way through it.
And what’s next for you?
I’m going to keep writing the next book in The Courtesan Series. I’ve finished The Courtesan’s Secret as well as a novella for an anthology titled Private Places that covers one night in Sophia’s life as a working courtesan in Georgian England. That was fun! I’m currently at work on the third book of the series, untitled as yet, and once again being surprised on every page by what’s happening next. I thought I knew who the hero was. Turns out, the heroine picked someone else. I had no idea she was so headstrong!
Thank you so much for giving me the chance to ramble on about The Courtesan’s Daughter. I’ve had such fun!
Be sure and comment for a chance to win a copy of The Courtesan’s Daughter! And visit Claudia’s website at http://www.claudiadain.com
Oh wow, that sounds interesting. I have read a lot of books where there is former courtesan trying to make a good match for herself, but not one where it’s the courtesan’s daughter.
I sounds really good. Can’t wait to get it.
I agree with Stacy… it seems to be really nice 🙂
I always like interviews.
Hi Claudia. Great interview. I love your books. The Courtesan’s Daughter sounds great. How many books will there be in the series?
Claudia–great interview! I am on the edge of my seat waiting for The Courtesan’s Daughter.
Research books are more addictive than potato chips! But I think that you and Diane have both got me beat by a mile!
Hi Claudia, I really liked your interview! I’ve already heard so many good things about ‘The Courtesan’s Daughter’! But somehow, I never found the time to buy it.
That won’t happen again! I’ve put it on top of my ‘to buy’ list!
I’m looking forward to the other books too!
Thanks for a great interview. 😀
How many books in the series? That’s a good question. I would like to see at least 10, but it could be more. It all depends, honestly, on public demand and my stamina.
Thank you so much for saying that you’ll buy the book! You know how insecure writers are–we need loads of validation. I hope you like it as much as I do (is an author allowed to say they like their own book?)
DebMarlowe, not only are research books more addictive than potato chips, they’re more valuable than gold nuggets, aren’t they? Only another bibliophile gets excited about a pile of books!
Claudia, I am a big fan of yours, and so excited that you have a new release out! I like that you never shy away from the realities of the period you’re writing in–in your medievals, you acknowledge and play on the importance of religion in everyday life, and I bet you will take the Regency on just as capably.
I cannot wait to get my hands on this book! I have had my bookseller bugging her suppliers since I heard about it. I LOVE Claudia’s books and all that research shows. Everything she writes is so authentic and so much fun to read. I have to agree (says the fledgling author almost finished writing her first book) that research books are an addiction. Once I start buying them on one subject I just keep going and going, like a bookish Energizer bunny. Wouldn’t we all love to prowl around Claudia’s library. I was so excited to read how you write, Claudia! We have sort of the same disease. My heroine sprang into my head like some uninvited guest. Then she stayed and kept demanding I tell her story AND come up with a great hero. I am also thrilled to hear there will be more books in the series!! Terrific interview, Claudia and great questions, Amanda!
Thanks for the great interview! The book sounds intriguing 🙂
Thanks for a great interview.
Oh, Megan, thank you so much! That’s such high praise. I hope I don’t disappoint you.
I do take the research very seriously and I just love discovering the mindset of the time. It’s like being a time-traveller, isn’t it?
Doglady, there’s nothing I like better than having readers bludgeon booksellers! LOL I wish I could be a fly on *that* wall.
Thank you so much for your excitement and enthusiasm! And good luck with your own project and your own demanding heroine.
Great interview, Claudia! I am also really, really looking forward to this book! I didn’t realize until this interview that it is the beginning of a series. That makes me even happier! Yay! Good luck with the release. 🙂
Thank you, Andrea, and all of you who have expressed interest in the book. I’m so flattered and thrilled by that! You know how it is; you get an idea, work it into a book, sell the book to a publisher, and cross your fingers that someone, somewhere will want to read it. It’s a slow, scary process from start to finish. I just get so excited when someone *else* gets excited! Thank you!
Oh, I’m intrigued! And the business about the synopsis? I can relate, unfortunately. You’re on my to-buy list now…and maybe 9 more ahead? I’m rubbing my hands gleefully.
“Research books are more addictive than potato chips”
LOL! Ain’t that the truth?
Claudia, I’m so excited to visit us here! I’ve been a fan for a long time, and I’m so glad to see a distinctive and unusual new series coming out.
So, in your third book your heroine chooses someone else other than the man you intended for her? That is SO fabulous. That happens in real life (I married an ex-boyfriend’s roommate) but I’ve never seen it in a romance novel. And I admit to wondering if the perceived genre restraints would allow it. As a neophyte romance writer, I’ve understood that the reader is to know who the hero is at the very beginning of the book.
Brava to you and I wish you much success in your series.
Congratulations on the new book. I have enjoyed your books in the past. Your characters just come alive for me and this book sounds like another good one.
Claudia, welcome to RR, and a huge thank you to the Riskies for this opportunity to “meet” the fab Claudia Dain!
150 books, Claudia? (GASP) How long did the research take? Or did you research alongside writing the story? And one final question: How did you develop Sophia’s character? I.e., by writing her backstory, scenes, listing characteristics, ???
Oh goody, the promises of more books in this series to come. So nice that they can be read alone also.
I’m always looking for new authors to read and like reading series books. This sounds like a great new series and glad to have you here today!
I’ve always had a high opinion of authors of historicals because of all the knowledge, work and heart involved in writing in a past period of time.
Claudia thank you for keeping the past alive for us readers!
Ack! I leave my computer to go make some meat loaf and I’ve fallen behind on my responses.
But the meatloaf turned out great!
JaneGeorge, you tell me—how much mystery as to the hero can the reader take? I think people do like to know pretty quickly which guy to focus on, if you know what I mean, so I try to be as clear as possible. When my heroines allow!
Maureen, thank you so much for the kind words! I love knowing that a book of mine swept you away for a few hours.
Keira, you get the long answer since you asked the complicated question.
I do a ton of research before I begin writing and never stop. That’s the easiest way to answer the research question. For this series, I spent a year or two (it’s all hazy now) researching before I ever began to write.
As to how I came up with Sophia, that’s even more mysterious. I can tell you that I didn’t make lists or character charts. My brain doesn’t work that way. It sounds “synopsy” to me! LOL Nothing gets written until it gets written into the book, and that starts with page one, chapter one.
Historicals have always been my favorite – maybe because I enjoy more involved/evolved characters and plot. I enjoyed the intereview and your books sounds “marvelous”.
I’ve not read many about Courtesan’s daughters. Matter fact, the only one that comes to mind is She’s No Princess by Laura Lee Guhrke. I really enjoyed the premise.
So I think I should add this book to my TB list so I might enjoy another Courtesan’s daughter story!
I enjoyed your informative and interesting interview. I will be reading this unique and intriguing novel. Sounds wonderful.
Great interview, Claudia. I’ve been waiting to read this newest book of yours, Sophie is going to be very interesting.
Welcome, Claudia! I enjoyed reading all your answers to the questions. I can’t think of any stories I’ve read with a courtesan in them, only a movie. I’m already a fan and this one sounds so good!
Thanks, everyone for your encouraging words about being eager to read The Courtesan’s Daughter.
It’s been a great pleasure to be here with you today. Thanks to all the Riskies for making me feel so welcome.
Thanks for joining us, Claudia! And I must say I gave a little cheer when, in one of your comments, you said “My brain doesn’t work that way.” Because I can’t tell you how many times I’ve uttered that sentence! 🙂
For me, it’s those plot things that my brain won’t deal with…the kind with first turning point, second turning point, etc. (And I don’t do character charts, either, come to think of it!) 🙂
Hi, Claudia! Although any sane person will be getting in their jammies by now, I’m squeaking in at the very end of your day to say thank you for a great interview, a really intriguing book and for hanging around all day to chat with our readers. That was great of you.