Tuesday, March 16, 2010

Georgian Blackpool

Jo Beverley here.

There's not much to Georgian Blackpool, I'm afraid. The roots of the town are very much Victorian sea-side resort, as with my home town, Morecambe. But Blackpool is where I went to secondary school -- to Layton Hill Convent, which is now St. Mary's College, and where I wrote my first book. It was handwritten in a school exercise book, and I don't think it had a beginning, middle, and end, but it was a start.

Blackpool is where I'll be on Friday the 19th, in Morrisons, from 11am to 1pm, signing the second book of my Georgian historicals, Tempting Fortune, which Publishers Weekly declared, "Romance at its best!"

We sold out of the first book, Lady Notorious, when I was there in November (in picture), and I must say the Blackpool people were very friendly and interested in a fun, sexy, adventurous read. We're hoping for more of the same. If you're in the area, I'd love to meet you.

Tempting Fortune picks up a thread from Lady Notorious, sending Lord Arcenbryght Malloren (strange names courtesy of a father fascinated by Anglo-Saxon times) to Maidenhead to retrieve a document. There, he meets a challenge, and Portia St. Claire meets her fate.

Chapter 1 Moonlight shafted into the chilly hall, making mysteries of quite ordinary things. Surely it was that moonlight, thought Portia St. Claire, that made the intruder look like the Prince of Darkness. White, blade-fine features of eerie beauty; dark leathery wings trailing behind.... She jerked her heavy pistol to point at its heart. "Stop!" The figure stopped. Hands appeared. Long-fingered and elegant, they rose slightly in a pacifying gesture, and the movement showed that the black wings were merely a long dark cloak. Portia sucked in a shuddering breath. That meant the ghostly features must be flesh and blood. It was a common housebreaker, that was all. Of course, that meant her impulsive action had brought her face to face with a criminal. A wiser woman hearing breaking glass would have hidden under the bed. Portia had grabbed her brother's pistol, checked that it was loaded, and crept downstairs to see what was going on. Her motto was, "A fear faced is a fear defeated," but now she wondered if that always held true. This dark intruder did not appear particularly defeated, and having stopped him, she had no idea what to do next. Beneath his cloak the intruder's clothes must be dark too, for the only places touched by moonlight were his watchful face, his fine hands, and the froth of white lace around them. Expensive lace. He wore a ring on his left hand. The large stone was dark, but something in the way it caught the weak moonlight told her it was a precious jewel. A glint beside his face suggested another expensive ornament, a jeweled earring. Not a common housebreaker after all. "I have, if you will notice, stopped." The tone was courteous and his accent spoke of wealth and breeding. His voice carried the drawl of a man of fashion, but was unfashionably deep, and used softly in a way that did not calm her agitated nerves. "You have stopped," Portia said sharply. "Now you will turn and leave." "Or?" "Or I will summon the Watch, sirrah! I heard breaking glass. You are quite patently a housebreaker." She saw the flicker of movement that was a smile. "I suppose I am. But how do you intend to summon the Watch while guarding me, mignonne?" Portia clenched her teeth. "Leave. Now!" "Or?" he asked again. "Or I will shoot you." "Much better," he approved. "That you could do.""

You can read the rest of the first scene here.

Portia and Bryght have nothing in common and yet fate keeps bringing them together until the event that changes everything -- when she is being auctioned to pay her brother's gaming debts and Bryght must buy her to save her. That's the scene depicted on the cover of the UK edition.

Talking about Morecambe, in February my regency romance The Stanforth Secrets was reissued, and it's set in my home area. As Morecambe, like Blackpool, didn't really exist back then, I placed it in the very old town of Heysham. Despite the cover, this is a "sweet" romance. Tempting Fortune, as you'll have guessed, is much more spicy.

Tempting Fortune involves a significant real character, the Duke of Bridgwater, and initially I assumed everyone knew about his work with canals. Of course that isn't true, especially in America and that created a problem.

One day I found I'd written a long passage in which Bryght and Bridgwater explain the whole subject. Not only was it dry, it was bad writing, because they would never have done that. It might as well have begun, "As you know..." which is always a big warning flag.

Thus began my practice of including an author's note in the back of every book, which gives me an opportunity to explaining historical background that doesn't fit in the story. I find many readers enjoy them in their own right. From that, I moved to my Minepast blog, which is an outlet for the fascinating things I stumble across while researching.

I recently posted a link to some ships' accounts, and to an eighteenth century account book. Not, alas, the book itself but a paper written about it back in the '50s. Where is it now, I want to know.

All best wishes,



Sylvia Anglin said...

Ahh, an example of why you're one of my very favorite writers: "Moonlight shafted into the chilly hall, making mysteries of quite ordinary things." I'm there with the characters in an instant!

Thanks for posting the link to this blog entry on Facebook. Very enjoyable read.

Sylvia (in the US, not in the UK where i'd like to be)

Jo B said...

Thanks, Sylvia.


Leah Marie Brown said...

As a writer, I appreciate the genius of a well-crafted line. I love yours. "Making mysteries of ordinary things."