Thursday, August 12, 2010

Guest blog - Elizabeth Bailey

Elizabeth Bailey will need no introduction to our blog readers. Elizabeth is famous for her wonderful Regency romances but here she talks to us about her love of all things Georgian. Over to you, Liz!!

Thank you! It's lovely to be here.

Huge picture hats and charming straw bonnets; lashings of lace and tulle; yards of gathered floating muslin and bosoms upthrust by tightly boned stays. Powerful thighs encased in close-fitting breeches; elegant colourful tailcoats with flowing hair brushing the collar; white starched cravats and tasselled polished boots. Horses and carriages, vast estates and mansions filled with treasure. It’s a world of privilege and slowed down time, far from the rush and bustle of the twenty-first century.

Although the fictional Georgian world is necessarily a romanticised version, it harks back to an era of endless fascination. We know that the sharp class divisions and the inequities in life were unfair, that those who worked had to toil for hours to produce articles that would now be cut out in minutes by machine. We know life was harsh, that odours we would consider offensive were legion, that disease was rife and often incurable. But somehow the harshness adds to the piquancy of the period, pointing up the glamour enjoyed by the rich.

For the novelist, it’s an era riddled with possibilities. Where your modern author struggles to find legitimate obstacles to put in the way of achieving goals, the historical writer has them readily to hand. Communication can take days instead of being instantaneous; rules forbid women access to male dominated areas; travel is long and arduous; clothing is restrictive; food and drink can be inaccessible; and it is all too easy to become lost in a maze of dangerous alleyways or vast acres of uninhabited countryside.

Having recently shifted from romance to crime, I find myself faced with a whole new game of delightful options. Scientific advances are few and evidence depends on critical observation rather than forensic sampling. My sleuthing heroine has to have her wits about her and be able to get people in all walks of life to open up and talk. She needs to notice things, and she needs witnesses to help her draw conclusions about events surrounding the murder.

This is a world with little by way of police or procedure, but plenty in terms of blood, guts and stained clothing. It’s a world of easy death and frequent killings, but there was a working judicial system - flawed, but it was there. And the fascination of delving into the solving of murder mysteries has proved too tempting to resist.

But I can’t let romance drift out of my personal Georgian world. My heroine sleuth falls in love in book one, and each new book will feature a new romantic couple while my sleuth has her husband’s support to solve the next murder. I can’t give you the title as my agent is in process of selling it, but watch this space!

Meanwhile, I’ve started a critiquing and mentoring service designed to help unpublished authors reach publication standard. My main criteria are for authors to have choices about how much guidance they need, to make the service affordable and to be available for discussion afterwards.

I think it’s high time power over their own work was put back into the author’s hands. As novelists, we build our own worlds within the known one, and they are so personal we really ought to be allowed to have more control over what happens to them.

My Georgian world may be similar to that of another historical author, but each is unique, reflecting the writer’s own love of that particular past. What I love most about writing in the Georgian world is that I can invite readers into my particular world, which is close to the real one but belongs exclusively to me.

I so agree, Elizabeth, each of us has our own style and brings something of ourselves to our novels, but we all love the Georgian / Regency period.

If you want to know more about Elizabeth's critique and mentoring service you can contact her on eabailey @


Louise Allen said...

I can't wait to read the first in your new series, Elizabeth!

Lesley Cookman said...

Neither can I - as you would expect. I'm a sucker for historical detective/mystery fiction. Do you remember a short lived series where Aphra Benn was the detective?

Dying to read yours.


lynneconnolly said...

As I come to the end of the Richard and Rose series, a new series of Georgian detectives arises! What fun!

Nicola Cornick said...

Super blog, thank you, Liz, and I too an awaiting your new series with bated breath!