Sunday, September 30, 2018

What does a Regency hero look like?

Some writers I know like to have an image of the hero they are writing about pinned above a desk. Personally I don't do this. My heroes tend to jump into my head fully formed and if I went looking for a picture of them I'm sure I wouldn't find one. Occasionally, a hero doesn't make an appearance except as a vague shadow in my mind until I set him loose upon the page when he starts to take form and his features clarify for me.

Now and then though, I get hooked into images on Pinterest and collect pictures of potential heroes. Or pictures of men who might fit a Heyer hero I'm particularly fond of. Fellow Heyer addicts tend to use modern actors or stars (often pictured dressed in Regency gear) when they are musing about which Heyer hero this could be.

What better, however, than images of real men from the era? Portraits of the time may be a touch romanticised by the painter to make them flattering to the buyer, but they do depict men looking as they did back in the day. These are the guys who might truly be a Regency hero.

How about this blonde specimen, guaranteed to set our heroine's heart a-beating? A tad arrogant, do you think?

"Do I know you, madam? I think not."

But of course he'll find her irresistible and that look of disdain will be wiped from his features with a charming smile.

What do you think of the hairstyle?

Or this for the brooding hero? More at home on the battlefield than in the ballroom perhaps. Disinclined to grant our heroine any favours. Naturally she will charm him into submission and brooding will be a thing of the past.

What of the handsome hero here? He's interested, for sure. But I'll bet there are rivals a-plenty to prevent our heroine catching his attention. He's smart, and the hair is always in place, I should think.
Now here we have "the look" for sure. You know, the one he gives the heroine when he's royally infuriated with her. A blazing row is on the cards within minutes. But oh, that long hair tied in the back - gets me every time.

As for this guy, I wouldn't fancy the heroine's chances at all. He's clearly a wild, annoying creature who will drive her crazy in the first five minutes. If only he wasn't so devastatingly good-looking. And that loose lock over the brow - oh, be still my beating heart!

Now what about this fellow? To me, he looks a dead ringer for Willoughby in the TV version of Sense and Sensibility. Though if he's going to be a hero, we can't have him that villainous. Besides, he's clearly in the navy, so he can't be all that bad. I think we'll have to give him the benefit of the doubt. He's got a sweet smile too.

This is the older hero. There's a touch of kindness in that face, and I'll bet our youthful heroine will be smitten in short order. He's another naval warrior, pretty high-powered by the look of that uniform. All neatness and precision. That will have to go. I think our heroine is going to have to do some softening here.
And finally, the unattainable. Every girl wants this one, but of course he's going to fall desperately in love with our heroine, who will be the most unlikely match for him. He looks a bit like a young George Brummell, but he's probably a poet or an artist. Oh, that wild hair!

Now, honestly, aren't these a great deal more like the heroes we read and write about than your modern film star (always excepting the delectable Colin Firth, of course)? Personally, I'd cosy up with any one of them, no questions asked.

Elizabeth Bailey

Saturday, September 15, 2018

New Books for Old.

Earlier this year I signed a three book contract with Aria-Head of Zeus for my Ellen's War series. As I'd paid for the photo shoot with the the model  I was able to give all the images to Aria. I love the new cover, but then I loved the old one too. Which do you prefer?
They have changed the blurb and the title, the book was edited again and a few extra scenes put in - but essentially it's the same book. The series title is now The Spitfire Girl instead of Ellen's War. Books ending in 'War' are no longer popular and there must be 'Girl' in the title now.
The fact that Ellie has no contact with any Spitfires in this book doesn't matter, it seems, as it is the series title as well as the book title.
The second book in the series is with them and I'm waiting for my editor to read it so I can start writing the third. If she wants changes to the second book they will impact on the third and I need to have these in mind when I'm writing. I've just bought two new research books -The Hurricane Girls, and another one I can't remember the title of. I already have a dozen books on the ATA, autobiographies mostly, as well as forty or so about WW2. I aim to start thinking about this final book in the series next week as it's due in at the end of the year.
Fortunately, the book once entitled The ATA Girl, only sold around 40 copies before I removed it from Amazon. This means it can be put out as a brand new book. Blue Skies & Tiger Moths/ The Spitfire Girl sold thousands and had as many books read on KOL. Therefore it's essential to let my readers know that this isn't the much awaited second book in the Ellen 's War series, but the first book repackaged. I hope no one buys it in error. Aria are a brilliant mainstream publisher and I'm sure they know what they are doing.
The publicity department has the book on NetGalley and is arranging a blog tour. I've written the first four blogs and have another four to do. I'm finding it hard not being in total control of everything but it's a good feeling having the enthusiasm and energy of such a vibrant team behind this book.
It's out on the 16th October.
Fenella J Miller

Friday, September 14, 2018

Pride and Pyramids - new illustration

Some of you will remember Pride and Pyramids, which I wrote with Jacqueline Webb. It's set fifteen years after Pride and Prejudice, and it gives us a glimpse into a possible future for Elizabeth and Mr Darcy. They have six wonderful children and they all go off to Egypt on an educational holiday, which turns into an adventure.

Some time ago, I saw Elizabeth Monahan's wonderful illustrations for Pride and Prejudice. I loved them so much I commissioned her to do me an illustration of Pride and Pyramids. It's not in the book, it's something I wanted for my own pleasure and the pleasure of my fans. Here's a reminder!

 I recently decided to commission another illustration from Elizabeth. I was curious to see how she would depict the Darcys as they all set off on their adventure. You can see her finished artwork below. It shows the Darcy family, with Mrs Bennet in the background, emerging from below decks. Mrs Bennet was desperate to go to Egypt but of course Elizabeth and Mr Darcy wouldn't let her accompany them. So what did she do? Why, she stowed away!

I hope you love this illustration as much as I do!
Amanda Grange

Wednesday, September 05, 2018

Six Must-have Accessories for a Regency Heroine

There are a number of objects which every self-respecting Regency lady had to hand - each of them very useful for a novelist.

The most important was probably her writing desk. It was the laptop/smart phone of the day and no lady would travel without it. Catherine Morland in Northanger Abbey has one. We know how much she valued it because, as she was setting off with the Tilneys to Northanger Abbey, such was the General’s impatience that ‘she had some difficulty in saving her own new writing-desk from being thrown out into the street.’


Wooden portable writing desk with brass fittings
The writing desk shown here has neat brass bands for strength and brass corners to save it from knocks; it also has a lock as well as two square wooden holders for glass ink wells and a longer container for quill pens and a knife to sharpen the nib. Catherine Morland would probably have kept her journal safely locked inside.
The hero, Henry Tilney, teases her about it. ‘Not keep a journal! How are your absent cousins to understand the tenor of your life in Bath without one? How are the civilities and compliments of every day to be related as they ought to be, unless noted down every evening in a journal? How are your various dresses to be remembered, and the particular state of your complexion and curl of your hair to be described, in all their diversities without having constant recourse to a journal?’  
I’m sure we can all think of a modern equivalent!

Writing desk open with cut glass inkwell. Writing slope covered in green leather. Underneath are storage spaces and three very small drawers. 
Writing desks are not just for heroines; a competent villainess could make very good use of one, too. A writing desk could be quite big enough to hold a pistol, for example, and there are some small, discreet drawers inside which could hold billets doux, stolen jewels, an important document, any number of secret things.
Beaded reticule with draw-string

Then, our heroine will also, of course, have a reticule. I have chosen the larger of the two I possess to show you; it is U-shaped, 7 x 7 inches and has a draw-string. It was once lined in cream silk. I’m guessing that a heroine would keep more in it than just her purse.

Brass etui with tassel, about 2 inches long.

So, what else might be inside it - a handkerchief, perhaps, or a small notebook with a pencil? What about this pretty brass sewing etui? Inside, it contains a thimble which sits on top of a very small china tube with a brass cap. Various coloured cotton, or possibly silk lengths, are wound round the outside and, if you take the cap off, there are a few needles inside. However, the thought instantly struck me that you could put anything inside – smelling salts, say, or even poison.
Inside the etui: thimble, cotton/silk strands, needles

In fact, the more I thought about it, the more I realized that most of the everyday objects a Regency lady owned could be used for other things. A villainess could make very good use of an etui, or a writing desk, I felt sure.  
Glass powder bowl with silver rim

The next object is a powder bowl with a silver rim – for loose face powder. It would have had an ostrich feather powder puff with a small ivory stick to hold it with. So why might a Regency lady need it?
Suppose our heroine has enjoyed a few stolen minutes in the conservatory with a delightful man. She knows that he’s a detrimental but … he has other talents which she is only just discovering. Horrified, she spots her mother coming across the room. Quickly she nips behind the curtains, races upstairs to her bedroom and looks at herself in the mirror. Her hair is a mess and her face is pink and glowing. This won’t do! She reaches for the powder puff, dips it in the bowl and frantically pats her face to restore it to its fashionable pallor. Whew!

China hairpin container 
But what about her hair? She has left several hairpins on the conservatory floor. Fortunately, she has a small china knick-knack on her dressing-table which holds her hairpins, so she can easily repair the damage the handsome Mr Detrimental did to her coiffure.
Little does our heroine know that the gentleman in the conservatory has picked up several of her dropped hairpins and is studying them thoughtfully. Could he be contemplating blackmail? Or perhaps the villainess finds one an hour or so later – it looks just the right size to pick a lock …. If the hairpin was distinguishable in some way, she might even use it to get the heroine into serious trouble, if it were discovered somewhere suspicious.

Ebony and silver spangled fan

Lastly, her fan. This one, with carved ebony sticks and discreet silver spangled design, is a mourning fan. In an age which demanded physical restraint from ladies, a fan could be very useful. From a body language point of view, a fan can be used as a 'body extension' tool. A lady cannot touch a gentleman but a touch of her fan on his forearm, or a light tap on his hand, allows her to touch him by proxy. Not to mention holding her fan to hide her face, but allowing herself to peep at him from over the top of it. What gentleman could resist?  
So there you are. Make sure that your heroine has the right accoutrements for the period and you will have all the props you need for a gripping story which will keep the readers turning over those pages.
Elizabeth Hawksley