Janet Mullany's new Regency, Rules of Gentility, is something different. Here Janet talks about her writing, her love of the Regency period, and of course her new book.
Thanks for having me as your guest here today and allowing me to talk about myself--oh, and the book.
Fashion and charitable works are all very well--but what's a Regency girl got to do to get married around here?
Regency heiress Philomena Wellesley-Clegg is not short of offers. Unfortunately those doing the offering--two lords, a viscount and a mad poet--all fall short of her expectations. But she's about to meet Mr Inigo Linsley. Unshaven, wickedly handsome and hiding a scandalous secret, he simply isn't Philomena's type--so why can't she stop thinking about how good he looks in his breeches?
Pride and Prejudice meets Sex and The City in this ravishing Regency romp about boys, bonnets and breaking the rules.
I started writing The Rules as a joke--light relief from the angsty ms. (as yet unsold) I'd just finished where everyone gave everyone else a hard time, the heroine laughed at the hero in bed, and the weather was atrocious. First I started imitating Bridget Jones' Diary (the US tagline was Bridget Jones' Diary meets Pride & Prejudice) but I couldn't find an equivalent to a daily weigh-in, cigarette, and calorie count. So I abandoned that format in about five minutes.
Then I thought I'd write a parody of trad Regencies (a la Signet Regencies)--although my first book, Dedication (2005), published by that line, had two (yes, two, count 'em) bondage scenes and some fairly grown-up sex. And I didn't feel like cruising the used bookstores for ancient Signets, so I decided to write both a parody and a get-back-to basics Regency: I chose a heroine who has some smarts but isn't particularly intelligent or gifted and frustrated because of it; her goal is to get married; and she's smart enough to trust her instincts in choosing a husband. She has some fairly silly hobbies (fashion and fashionably good works). And the hero is basically a nice guy, the youngest son of a normally dysfunctional family, who's done some stupid things but has grown up enough to get beyond them.
I should add that I have a very low tolerance for tortured heroes (and heroines). There comes a point, usually very early on, where I want to smack them and shout, Oh, get over yourself already. Grow up!
Basically it was a lot of fun to write. I threw in as many bad jokes as I could, because my experience of most romantic comedies is that they're not that funny, and I became very fond of Philomena, who is innocent but not stupid, and certainly very observant. Someone told me (I think it was my daughter) that I have the humor level of a twelve-year-old boy, something I'm quite proud of.
Also there is no overt sex in the book, purely because of the characters. On the other hand I think it's one of the sexiest things I've ever written (and I also write erotic romance as Jane Lockwood, www.janelockwood.com) because of the intense awareness between the hero and heroine, and the acknowledgment of desire that cannot be acted upon--yet-- and the power of anticipation.
Being published by Little Black Dress is amazing. I'm their first historical writer, and my editor told me she loved my voice (writers take note: it's how you write as much as what you write). My first thought, very early on, was that I should sell it to a chicklit line in the US. It was a hard sell in the US--for one thing, it was written in alternate first person between Philomena and Inigo, and in present tense, which is unusual in US romance. HarperCollins published it as a historical in their Avon A+ line (2007), and told me it wasn't a romance (and here I was thinking I'd finally cracked the romance code!). They gave me a superb cover--as did LBD.
One warning--the LBD edition does not carry the Top 10 Things No One Would Ever Say in a Regency Romance that was part of my afterword in the HarperCollins edition. I've published them on my website, www. janetmullany.com
In March 2009 a sort-of sequel will be published by LBD--A Most Lamentable Comedy. It's set six years later and most of the characters are still around, but the heroine is Caroline, who you meet early on in the Rules. I thought it might be fun to write about a bad girl, having written about a good girl in the Rules.
Thanks, Janet, the book looks terrific, and hooray for Little Black Dress for doing something different with the Regency.