IMG_0583Oh to be in England
Now that Spring is here
Oh to be in England drinking English beer
–English Drinking Song

By the time you read this, I will be in England (or on a plane getting ready to land at Heathrow). I’m tagging along with Kristine Hughes of Number One London blog. Kristine is going to be offering tours soon and this is her exploratory trip. We’ll be investigating all the wonderful places her tours might visit and meeting experts who might provide in depth information about what we see.

We’ll arrive Monday morning and at six o’clock in the evening, we are scheduled to take a special, small group tour of Buckingham Palace.

The next few days we’ll be walking the streets of Mayfair and meeting experts and visiting places of interest.

Then we’re off to Chatsworth House, for a whole day. We’ll be walking from our hotel, over that bridge.

Then to Derby, where we might see this Pickford Museum

Then to Brighton to spend a day at the Regency Town House

And on to the Pavilion

Finally back to London where we’ll visit my editors at 1 London Bridge, where the new Mills and Boon offices are now located and last, but not least, an evening tour of Apsley House, a fitting ending for two Wellington groupies like us.

Keep track of us on Facebook. We’ll be posting photos of the whole trip.

Posted in Frivolity | 2 Comments

Servitude: a Poem written by a Footman

Robert Dodsley by Sir Joshua Reynolds, 1760. (Image source: Wikimedia.)

Robert Dodsley was popularly known as the footman poet! Wikipedia explains:

In 1729 Dodsley published his first work, Servitude: a Poem written by a Footman…and a collection of short poems, A Muse in Livery, or the Footman’s Miscellany, was published by subscription in 1732, Dodsley’s patrons comprising many persons of high rank.

Dodsley quit his day job in 1735 (with financial help from, among others, Alexander Pope) and from there his career grew rapidly. By the mid-1730s his plays were being produced in Covent Garden and Drury Lane. He was also a publisher and bookseller:

He published many of [Samuel] Johnson’s works, and he suggested and helped to finance Johnson’s Dictionary. Pope also made over to Dodsley his interest in his letters. In 1738 the publication of Paul Whitehead’s Manners was voted scandalous by the House of Lords and led to Dodsley’s imprisonment for a brief period…[I]n 1751 [he] brought out Thomas Gray’s Elegy.

You can read the first edition of Servitude on Google Books, including the foreword exhorting masters to treat their servants better.

There were actually a fair number of working class poets in eighteenth-century England, though their work has been excluded from the canon. A few of my personal favorites are:

1. Mary Collier. Wikipedia notes:

She read Stephen Duck‘s The Thresher’s Labour (1730) and in response to his apparent disdain for labouring-class women, wrote the 246-line poem for which she is mainly remembered, The Woman’s Labour: an Epistle to Mr Stephen Duck. In this piece she catalogues the daily tasks of a working woman, both outside the home and, at the end of the day, within the home as well:

You sup, and go to Bed without delay,
And rest yourselves till the ensuing Day;
While we, alas! but little Sleep can have…

The preface writer (who is identified only by the initials “MB” which don’t belong to anyone on the title page, so not sure what’s up with that) notes, “I think it no Reproach to the Author, whoſe Life is toilſome, and her Wages inconſiderable, to confeſs honeſtly, that the View of her putting a ſmall Sum of Money in her Pocket, as well as the Reader’s Entertainment, had its Share of Influence upon this Publication.” Relatable!

Read the full text.

2. Ann Yearsley. I love her! She gave no fucks, refused to go to church, and alienated Hannah More by asking for personal control over the money More had “generously” raised for her.

1787 engraving of Ann Yearsley, via Wikimedia Commons.

I have a biography of her called Lactilla: the Milkwoman of Clifton that is just gripping (I’ve only read the first half because I had to start researching True Pretenses, but one day I’m going to finish it!).

3. Mary Leapor.

4. And of course Robert Burns.

For a more comprehensive survey, check out the Database of English and Irish Labouring-class Poets. It’s a work in progress but the first blog entry, entitled “Static Updates of the Database of Labouring-class Poets,” allows you to download the lengthy list of poets.

Listen to the Moon has no poets, but I’d bet anything my valet hero Toogood has read at least Servitude.

Posted in Uncategorized | 1 Comment

A Duchess in Her Own Right

This is a topic that always gets people talking and scheming. HOW can we pull this off!!!?!!! Is there a way to make my heroine a duchess in her own right? The answer is yes, but you’d have to model your fictional title after that of the Duke of Marlborough, and seeing as this is the ONLY dukedom that can be inherited by a daughter, you’d have to create a very detailed background for your family and there would likely be a lot of howling. It’s rather easy (comparatively speaking) for your heroine to be a countess or a baroness in her own right though. It all comes down to how the title was created …

Henrietta Godolphin, 2nd Duchess of Marlborough
Henrietta Godolphin, 2nd Duchess of Marlborough


Ancient Earldoms were mainly created by investiture and oral grant by the king (aka girding; literally belting the man). They were sometimes created by an Act of Parliament and would have a Royal Charter (before Henry VI [1422-1461] per Peerage Law in England; after this point letter patent are the norm). Dukedoms, and marquisates are later creations and were mainly created by charter. Viscounties (a very late comer to England) have always been created by letters patent. Baronies are where it gets fun … initially they were connected to the land. In the time of Edward I [1272-1307] they became distinct inheritances and were created by writ (being summoned to parliament). In 1387 came the first creation by letters patent. From the time of James I [ruled England 1603-1625], creation of baronies was exclusively by letters patent. So to have your barony or earldom in fee simple, it has to be very old, and the family has to have never been granted a higher title.

These peerages can have different rules of inheritance, depending on how they were created. They can be in fee simple (usual for ancient earldoms and baronies by writ), in fee tail general (all heirs of the body, meaning both sons and daughters), and in fee tail male. At their creation they might also have been in fee tail special (usually where there was no son and the inheritance was directed to a specific person such as a daughter’s son or husband or the title-holder’s brother. The second creation of the Duke of Marlborough is a good example of this (he had no sons so his title was allowed to be inherited by his daughters).

When a title is in fee simple, it usually means there are no letters patent spelling anything out. The peerage was created by writ of summons or girding, and is so ancient that there are no records specifying a limitation of the tail. It is generally treated the same as in fee tail general for inheritance purposes, but this could be tricky, as in fee simple legalistically means “to his heirs” not limited to “heirs of his body” (so collateral relations can inherit if all branches of direct descent fail, and this happened on occasion way, way back [usually within a generation or two of the creation of the title]; the law book says that such failure has been “of such rare occurrence in the history of the peerage that this rule need not detain us”). The reason that quite a few baronies can be inherited by women is that when they are created by writ, they are inherited in fee simple. This is also true for some of the older earldoms (if you look at the law book I linked to earlier, there is a list of them p. 118-119).

When a title is in fee tail general, the letters patent say “the heirs of his body”. Sons always have legal precedence over daughters and elder sons over younger sons (basic English law of primogeniture). But this is how you can get a female heir to a title, co-heiresses (when there are more than one daughter and no sons), and titles falling in abeyance (basically being put in limbo until only one claim remains, or until the Crown picks an heir, and yes, this is the one interference allowed the king; how’s that for a plot bunny?).

Most common, of course, is for the title to be in fee tail male (the heirs of the body male) so that only direct male descendants are eligible to inherit. This is the real limitation on having a dukedom inherited by a woman. They’re all just too new to have been created under the old system. The oldest extant (non-royal) dukedom is that of the Duke of Norfolk, and was created by letters patent in fee tail male. And this is the case with all the others as well (with the already noted exception).

One more interesting legal bit to remember, while a man might hold many titles (George Fruit, Duke of Apple, Marquess of Orange, Earl of Pear and Rose, Baron Fruit and Flower), they might not all have the SAME rules of inheritance. So, George, the Duke of Apple dies, leaving behind a younger brother and a daughter as his heirs. Under most circumstances, all the titles will go to the duke’s brother, BUT, depending on how the duplicate titles were inherited, and IF the duplicate title is in fee simple or in fee tail general, then the daughter COULD inherit it, and after she makes her claim, the titles she was legally heir to, and any holdings entailed to them, would be broken off from the inheritance of the new duke and she would become a peeress in her own right. This was even more likely if some of the titles were Scottish and some were English (see the division of the titles of the 5th Duke of Sutherland).

Basically it would work like this:

These are direct titles which have built up upon one another in the same male line. The younger brother will get all of these, even though the earldom and barony are in fee tail general or simple and could go to a daughter. I can find no cases of a direct line of titles being broken in favor of multiple heirs.

Duke of Apple, in fee tail male
Marquess of Orange, in fee tail male
Earl of Pear, in fee tail general
Baron Fruit, in fee simple

But the Earl of Rose and Baron Flower are not related to the dukedom in the same way as they others. They might have come into the family through the marriage (having already been inherited by a woman in a past generation) or they might have belonged to a distant male relative and devolved that way to the Fruits. Because Rose and Flower are not in the direct line of Apple, and because they are (for our example) in fee simple or in fee tail general, they can be broken off and can go to the most direct heir of the body. And that is the recently deceased duke’s daughter, not his brother. This is not to say that the daughter HAD to make this claim, or that she would even know it was possible to make it. There have surely been many claims daughters could have make over the years that they didn’t, and thus the titles and lands went to the more distant male heir without a fuss.

So there you have it, ways to get yourself tied into legalistic knots for fun (and maybe profit).

Posted in History, Isobel Carr, Plot bunnies, Research, Uncategorized | 3 Comments

Research Ahead, Plus Book News

I’ve been head down working on book three in my Sinclair Sisters series and am at the point where I think the basic plot is in place and a few interesting themes and developments have emerged. I’ve only just begun listing these issues out for a research intensive session.

For those of you who are familiar with the series, Book 3 features a man (Devon, Lord Bracebridge) who was the youngest of several boys and never, ever expected to inherit his father’s title. He and his father did not get along. Rather than join the army, he became a boxer  and from there branched out into businesses that made him wealthy but not respectable.  :::waving of hands::: So, now he’s Lord Bracebridge and he has his hands still in these other ventures.

And now I must go down a research path that should be pretty fun. Gaming hells and other disreputable locations. I will be researching that. I imagine by my next post that I’ll have some interesting facts to share.

Book News – Secrets of a Soprano by Miranda Neville

Miranda is a friend of mine and a wonderful author, and I so love love love the cover of her newest release. Miranda is dealing with some health issues right now, and isn’t able to let people know about her release, so I’m telling you about it.

Cover of Secrets of a Soprano my Miranda NevilleGreat fame brings great heartbreak

No one knows the perils of celebrity better than Teresa Foscari, Europe’s most famous opera singer. The public knows her as a glamorous and tempestuous diva, mistress to emperors, a reputation created by the newspapers and the ruthless man who exploited her. Now she has come to London to make a fresh start and find her long lost English family.

Foscari’s peerless voice thrills all London—except Maximilian Hawthorne, Viscount Allerton, the wealthy patron of opera—and lover of singers. Notorious Teresa Foscari is none other than Tessa, the innocent girl who broke his youthful heart. When his glittering new opera house sits half empty, thanks to the soprano filling the seats of his competitor’s theater, Max vows to stop the woman he unwillingly still desires.

Amidst backstage intrigue and the sumptuous soirées of fashionable London, the couple’s rivalry explodes in bitter accusations and smashed china. With her reputation in ruins, Tessa must fight for her career —and resist her burning attraction to the man who wishes to destroy her.

Where to buy Secrets of a Soprano

Amazon | Nook | iBooks | Kobo | Print

I have a release of my own, too. A historical novella, A Seduction in Winter.

A Seduction in Winter

Cover of A Seduction in Winter. It's mostly blue and the lady is wearing a beautiful dress.He’s an artist and a duke’s heir. She’s sheltered and scarred. Can he show her by Christmas that love can be theirs to share?

As the holidays approach, Lieutenant Leoline Marrable, now Lord Wrathell, travels to London where he’s expected to fulfill longstanding expectations and propose to his former commander’s daughter. Wrathell longs to ease the strained relationship with his ducal father. The key may be an unfinished portrait of his late brother.

Honora Baynard has a terrible facial scar as a result of a childhood injury. She has never forgotten Leoline, who came to her defense when other children tormented her. Now, her over-protective artist father keeps her indoors, creating the beautiful detail work that makes his paintings so sought after.

As Wrathell and Honora spend more time together, mutual interest becomes mutual attraction. Can Wrathell convince Honora that for Christmas, he’d like to give her not only passion and pleasure, but his heart to keep for her own?

A Seduction in Winter is a holiday novella and appeared in the historical romance anthology Christmas in Duke Street. If you like sensual romance, complex characters, and witty dialogue, you’ll love Carolyn Jewel’s latest refreshing Regency tale.

Buy A Seduction in Winter to experience the passion today!

Where to get A Seduction in Winter

Amazon | iBooks | Kobo | Nook | Google Play | All Romance | Print


Posted in Risky Book Talk, Writing | Tagged , , | 6 Comments

An Unconventional Princess

Happy Monday, everyone!  (is that even a possible thing??)  It’s been a while since I sat down with the Riskies, since there have been some back-to-back deadlines here and lots going on, so I am extra excited to be here this week.  And I am also working on a new project that I am VERY excited about, concerning Queen Victoria’s most beautiful, rebellious, and interesting daughter, Princess Louise, who was sort of the Princess Diana of her time.  Princess Louise, the future Duchess of Argyll, who was born March 18, 1848.  As well as being the most beautiful of the princesses, she was a talented artist and sculptor (of a professional caliber), friend of Pre-Raphaelites and other avant-garde artists, as well as a supporter of the suffragist movement and women’s rights.

Princess Louise Caroline Alberta was born at Buckingham Palace, the 6th child and 4th daughter of Queen Victoria and Prince Albert, in the middle of a year of revolutionary upheaval in Europe, which led her mother to say Louise would surely turn out to be “something peculiar”.  She was always lively and vivacious–her family nickname was “Little Miss Why,” and her artistic talent was recognized early on.  She was even allowed to attend classes at the National Art Training School in South Kensington, and even though as a royal she could never be a professional she later sculpted many memorials, among them a memorial to the Boer War and one for her brother-in-law Prince Henry of Battenberg, as well as a famous sculpture of her mother now at Kensington Gardens.

Her liveliness was strained after the death of her father in 1861, when the royal court went into prolonged mourning.  She wasn’t allowed a debutante ball, as her older sisters had, and she was bored and dissatisfied.  She served for a time as her mother’s personal secretary, writing letters and attending to duties Victoria was unable to.  Her mother, who had sometimes despaired of her pretty, energetic daughter, said, “She is (and who would some years ago have thought it?) a clever dear girl with a fine strong character, unselfish and affectionate.”

After an unsuitable attachment to her brother’s tutor, a clergyman who late became Canon of Westminster Abbey, and proposed marriages to the Crown Prince of Denmark, Prince Albert of Prussia, and William, Prince of Orange (all shot down by her mother!), Louise decided she wanted to break with tradition and marry a British subject, John, Marquess of Lorne, heir to the Duke of Argyll.  Her brother, the Prince of wales, objected, but Queen Victoria liked the idea of “new blood,” writing to her son:

“That which you object to [that Louise should marry a subject] I feel certain will be for Louise’s happiness and for the peace and quiet of the family … Times have changed; great foreign alliances are looked on as causes of trouble and anxiety, and are of no good. What could be more painful than the position in which our family were placed during the wars with Denmark, and between Prussia and Austria? … You may not be aware, as I am, with what dislike the marriages of Princesses of the Royal Family with small German Princes (German beggars as they most insultingly were called) … As to position, I see no difficulty whatever; Louise remains what she is, and her husband keeps his rank … only being treated in the family as a relation when we are together .. “

Louise and Lorne were married on March 21, 1871 at St. George’s Chapel, Windsor, where she wore a lace veil of her own design.  The couple had no children, and though happy at first were later estranged (there have since been rumors Lorne was a homosexual).  Lorne was the only royal son-in-law with his own political career, and in 1878 was made Governor General of Canada.  Louise was homesick in Ottawa, appalled at the “rough” accomodations at Rideau Hall.  But she redecorated, became a social sensation in Canada, enjoyed the outdoors activities like skating and sleighing, and was patron of several charities as well as founder of the Royal Canadian Academy of Arts.  After a serious sleigh accident on February 14, 1880, her health was never quite the same, and she spent more and more time in England, apart from her husband.  Lorne returned to England in 1883, where his hopes of growing a larger political career were frustrated and the marriage grew more remote.

Louise moved into the apartment at Kensington Palace where she lived for the rest of her life, and became preoccupied with her own artistic work, as well as family quarrels (especially with her sister Beatrice, who thought Louise was too close to her own husband, the handsome Prince Henry of Battenberg).  She became obsessed with physical fitness and diet (her family made fun of her for it, but she lived longer–and looked better–than any of them!).  She also became interested in women’s suffrage, and made a point to patronize female physicians.

Her husband was in failing health and declining finances from 1911, and she was reconciled to him and nursed him until his death in 1914.  After World War I she mostly retired, except for some charity work. and lived at Kensington next door to her reconciled sister Beatrice.  She died Dec. 3, 1939, and was the first royal to be cremated.  Her ashes were first deposited at the Royal Crypt at St. George’s, but were then moved to Frogmore with her siblings and parents.  Her sculptures can still be seen in London, a monument to a princess who lived her own life within the strict restraints of her birth and times.

For more info, Jehanne Wake has a great biography of the princess, Princess Louise: Queen Victoria’s Unconventional Daughter (1988), and a brand new biography was just released, Lucinda Hawksley’s Queen Victoria’s Mysterious Daughter.  I hope some of you find Louise as fascinating as I do!

Posted in History | Tagged , , | 3 Comments

New Book, New Life, & Roman Food

a teaser picture for Sandra Schwab's new book, Eagle's Honor: Ravished

Hello Risky Readers, I’ve got so many exciting news for you this month! First of all, I’ll finally have a new book out: my second Roman romance will be ready for publication later this spring (I’m currently finishing up the revisions). Livia and Adelar’s story is set at the Germanic limes amidst heightening tensions along the borders of the Roman Empire.

I had a lot of fun with this story, not the least because it is set near where I live: I used the Saalburg, the reconstructed Roman fort I mentioned before, as the model for the fort commanded by my heroine’s uncle. I can tell you, it is most strange to stand onthe ramparts now and imagine that this was once the edge of an empire, the edge of what was regarded as the civilized world.

Roman cooking

And remember that Roman cooking class I mentioned last month? That was also a bit strange and highly instructive! It also taught me a few things about myself as an author: I have a tendency to go for the weird stuff — in terms of Roman food this would be the fried dormice (sprinkled with poppy seeds), the sow’s udder stuffed with giant African snails, and, well, you get the idea. But of course, such dishes were the extreme, and, as I found out during that cookery class, “normal” Roman food tastes surprisingly… eh… normal. It’s a bit sweeter than what we are used to today because the Romans added honey or mulsum (white wine with honey and spices) to basically EVERYthing. But everything we made in that class was delicious, from the dates filled with walnuts and wrapped in bacon to the pork goulash with dried apricots (and a bottle of mulsum) to the chicken with mulsum and coriander. Yum!

As you can see from the picture above, we ate from replicas of Samian ware (pretty Roman earthenware) and with replicas of Roman spoons (smaller and more shallow than our own spoons). All in all, it was a most delightful afternoon and evening! And all for research! Wheee!

And my last bit of news? Well, as some of you know, my contract as a university lecturer ran out in December and was not renewed. And my chances to find a new job at another university are basically nil, so I needed to rethink my life and career options. Indeed, this whole year will be about rebuilding my life. At the beginning of April I laid the foundation for my new career: I’m now officially freelancing as a translator and cover designer! It’s super-thrilling and super-exciting and super-scary, but I hope I’ll be able to build a much happier life for myself as Sandra Schwab, author, artist, and translator. 🙂

Posted in Research, Writing | Tagged , | 6 Comments

Pondering Primary Sources, and Spring Cleaning!

Cooking recipes 1882How many of you researchers love primary sources? Is anyone’s hand NOT raised?

One of the things I love best about researching is that moment when you stumble across some telling tiny detail that just resonates…. Diaries, letters, and other materials from centuries past offer a trove of detail rich enough to make a researching author sing for joy. Where would we be without Jane Austen’s letters? How would we know what colors were in fashion, or how seams were sewn, without period magazines, dressmakers’ patterns or samples of clothing? Just for examples. While we may learn some of these things through secondary sources, we wouldn’t have THOSE without the primary sources to be studied and interpreted first.

I am currently deep in the middle of two quite different published collections of letters and diary excerpts, Penelope Hind’s (thank you for the loan, Elena!) and James Woodforde’s famous “Diary of a Country Parson”. As is so often the case, parts of them are wonderful and parts less so. Woodforde's Diary  Because these published versions have been edited, I wonder about the parts that have been left out –probably dull, but what if something useful to me (not to the editor) was in there? I would have loved to have the job of reading through the originals. Do you also think this way?

What got me thinking about this topic, though, was spring cleaning. My younger son, temporarily out of work, has been helping out at home by bravely delving into boxes that have been sitting in various corners ever since we moved here –and I don’t want to tell you how many years ago that was. Many belonged to my mother, who passed away four years after we moved here, and that was not recently!

Amazing things have been coming out of the boxes, besides trash (junk mail still unopened from when we moved, for example) –two items pictured here were too old to belong to my mother. Who knew we had this stuff?  Caduceus 1908

The 1882 recipe booklet (at top) is filled with ads for local businesses on all the pages facing the recipes. It is too old even for my grandmother. Did it belong to my great-grandmother? The ads remind me of my favorite type of primary resource, old newspapers. Do you have a favorite?

The “Caduceus 1908” was a mystery, even after I saw it was a sort of yearbook from the senior class of Classical High School in Providence, RI. Why did we have it??? As I perused the pages, amused by descriptions of events and the humor, I stumbled across write-ups of the individual class members and discovered that my paternal grandmother was a member of this class. I can pick her out clearly in the class photo (blonde in the center of the 2nd row) –because she looks so much like my sister!

Class of 1908I knew she had been a school teacher, but love this glimpse of her earlier life. My imagination runs with it. She did not live in Providence and must have had a long trip by trolleycar and on foot each day to get to school and home again.

I won’t be keeping these, fascinating as they are. But I hope to find good homes for these treasures. “Museum mentality” is the bane of those of us with cluttered homes. We can’t hang onto everything! But what if no one ever did? Those precious letters and diaries, those old newspapers and magazines from long ago that we now enjoy so much, that give us glimpses into the real lives of people in the past? What if zealous spring cleaners had tossed them all?

Do you wonder, as I do, if all the electronic versions of everything we have now were to disappear (or, as we have repeatedly seen, become inaccessible as technology keeps changing?) –what are we leaving for future generations to study? I know it won’t be stuff from my house.  The chorus around here lately is “just throw it out!” However, at least a few treasures deserve to be “re-homed”, as I call it. I just wish that didn’t require so much extra time. What do you do with your clutter?

Posted in Research, Uncategorized, Writing | Tagged , , , , , | Comments Off on Pondering Primary Sources, and Spring Cleaning!

Interesting things that probably don’t have anything to do with writing

Here are a few discoveries from around the web today.

First, two of the few remaining seventeenth century houses in London have been given Grade II listings. They’re on Denmark Street in Soho, and would first have been middle class dwellings, then in the Regency, part of the notorious St. Giles Rookery. Later in the nineteenth century, they became used for industry, metal working and shops. They retain a lot of their original features–look at this wonderful doorway:

7-denmark-st-p1110772exterior-6-7-denmark-st-p1110713And here’s a view from the street. Now, there’s an interesting factoid associated with the listing of these houses. Soho in the mid-twentieth century became associated with London’s musical life, (and other things too, such as the sex industry and good restaurants). In the mid 1970s an outbuilding of 6 Denmark Street was used as a recording studio by none other, wait for it, the Sex Pistols. Some of their graffiti still survive. And the buildings have been recognized in a year which coincides with the 40th anniversary of Punk. Yes, Punk is now an institution, recognized by none less than the British government.

For more about the houses and for a good timewaste, visit

Another wonderful site if you’re in a spending frame of mind is the British Library shop.

cakestandMany terrific, literary-themed goodies are here, including some truly gorgeous Alice in Wonderland items such as this cake stand. I have lustful dreams about this cake stand. Thank goodness I don’t bake and thank goodness it’s out of stock.

There are also some very lovely items  connected with the library’s 2013 Georgians Revealed Exhibit. And of course if you absolutely have to do some research, there’s all this stuff.

Now on to think locally if you’re in the Washington DC area. A couple of great events are coming up, both on the same day, April 2, but you have time in between to put your feet up and then stuff them into your dancing shoes.

First, JASNA-DC presents Lizzie + Darcy 4Ever: All About Jane Austen Fan Fiction, a panel discussion with some JAFF authors. It’s free, in Bethesda Library starting at 10:30 am. Details here.

Then in the evening, the Spring Ball at Dumbarton House takes place. The dances will be called with walk throughs and you don’t have to put on your Regency drag unless you want to/have some. Admission includes three glasses of wine (I can just hear Jane Austen asking, “Only three?”).

Found anything good online recently, or do you have plans for fun activities?

Posted in Anything but writing, History | Tagged , , , , , , | 2 Comments

Debut author Ingrid Hahn visits the Riskies!

TWaLH_1600Today I’m very excited to welcome debut author Ingrid Hahn to the Riskies with her book To Win a Lady’s Heart. Welcome, Ingrid and congratulations!

England, 1811. When John Merrick, the Earl of Corbeau, is caught in a locked storeroom with Lady Grace, he has but one choice—marry her.

He cannot bear to tarnish any woman’s reputation, least of all Lady Grace’s.
Lady Grace Landon will do anything to help her mother and sisters, crushed and impoverished by her father’s disgrace. But throwing herself into the arms of her dearest friend’s older brother to trap him in marriage? Never.

Corbeau needs to prove that he loves her, despite her father’s misdeeds. After years of being an object of scorn, not even falling in love with Corbeau alters Lady Grace’s determination to not bring her disrepute upon another. However, if they don’t realize that the greatest honor is love given freely without regard to society’s censure, they stand to lose far more than they ever imagined.

What was the original impulse/inspiration for this book?

An idea had been floating around my mind for some time—a woman going into a storeroom single and coming out again engaged. I started studying tropes and was drawn back to the idea of a forced engagement. But I didn’t know what came next! Not being a plotter was something I used to struggle with, but I decided to embrace it. I decided to start writing to see what happened. So I did. And what happened was much more fun than anything I could have plotted.

Was there any special research you needed to do?

There’s a careful balance with research, isn’t there? “Here is my research, let me show you it” vs not enough period detail to evoke era.

I’m always researching clothing. First, I can’t remember what men’s pants/trousers/breeches were doing in any given year. I look it up, I find something I hope is reliable, I use it, I forget. Regency was a flux time for the lower half of men’s fashions. Sometimes I just pick something and hope it’s not too egregious an error (although I know enough not to use pants, in case you were worried). Yes, obviously we want pants/trousers/breeches OFF our heroes, but sometimes he does have to be around his mother, and she would like them to be ON, thank you very much. Second, I like the names for regency colors. I was pleased to work Pomona into this particular story because green is my favorite color. Browsing at the fashion plates imagining my characters wearing this or that is very fun for me, which is weird, because I’m not really a clothes person.

I also did some research on Regency Christmases. Eventually, though, the Christmas theme took more of a backseat to the rest of the story, so I have a very few light touches here and there, but I pulled back from going into too much detail about the food and other customs.

At the very last minute, I realized I needed to do some research on Regency stables, but between my baby and needing to do a quick turn around after the copy edits, I had to cut part of a line rather than risk another flub.

What’s difficult is sometimes not knowing what you need to research. “Nope,” ended up in this book, which wasn’t used until much later than 1811, but it wasn’t caught until the galley stage (copy editor didn’t catch it, she might not have known either). This is why it’s important to have multiple read your book before delivering to your editor, and at least some of those readers should have some knowledge of your historical time period. Sometimes you just have to accept an error, hope readers will forgive you, and do better next time.

What do you love about the Regency?

I absolutely love the Georgian era. It was a lively time, a lot was being discovered, there were wars here and wars there that add a lot of personal drama and heartbreak in a quickly changing world. The class system was still very much in place (think of Anne Elliot’s objection to Mrs. Clay marrying her father, Sir Walter—and Anne didn’t even very much like her father), so there is a lot to play with between different classes that can help drive up the conflict in a romance novel.

For the regency in particular, I love the fashions—especially earlier, with the gauzy white fabrics, and I love the Grecian hairstyles—and I love the classically inspired interior design. Plus, it doesn’t terrify me. Anything before about 1750 seems dark and incomprehensibly frightening. Everyone seems to have been mad, violent, drunk, filthy, and diseased. The Tudor and Elizabethan eras terrify me. Anything earlier—absolutely not. Nope. No way, no how. I’m a pampered modern woman too used to good dentistry and modern medicine. I like those eras, but I will leave them for other writers to write about so I can keep my cleaned-up fantasy version. Having to do the research myself would put me off them entirely.

What do you hate about the Regency?

Lack of rights for women, lack of equality among people, the idea of having to use a chamber pot (or worse), slavery and conquest in America, war, revolution in France, colonialism in other parts of the world, smallpox, tuberculosis, barbaric childbirth practices (no, please, wash your hands!)…lack modern of dentistry.

Who’s your casting dream team for the movie version?

o-jennifer-connelly-labyrinth-facebookOh! Well. Even though physically she’s not as I imagine my heroine, Grace, I would want a young Jennifer Connolly. Nobody can do unassumingly powerful and secretly vulnerable like Jennifer Connolly. She’s probably a little too beautiful to be Grace, not the Grace isn’t beautiful, but we could let that point slide.

Silhouette_of_man_facing_left_no_4For my hero I’d want a complete unknown. Someone highly trained on the stage who can do incredible acting with minute expression changes and through his eyes. I’d want the glossy magazines to all be crying in outrage: ‘They cast WHO to play John Merrick?’ and ‘Our list of who we would have cast.’ And then for him to become a huge, iconic star always best known for his breakout role in the movie made from my book.

ltroyFor the Landon Sisters’ mother, Lady Bennington, there is no question. She’s one part Mrs. Bennet, one part —Deanna Troi’s mother in Star Trek: The Next Generation. So she’d definitely have to be played by the (very beautiful) late Majel Barrett.

What do you like to read?

Everything! Well, not true. Without question, I adore historical romance. But romance is where genre fiction begins and ends for me. I’m not a huge fan of crime, thriller, or mystery. I’m too daunted by the doorstops of fantasy to even try (plus I’m a very slow reader). I dabble in historical fiction, capital-L Literature, a few classics. I’m all about voice. Voice to me is huge. HUGE. Jane Austen, in my book, no pun intended, has the very best voice in English literature—not that I’ve read all of English literature, of course. For period voice, I love Patrick O’Brian, although he wrote much later. I like his characters, too. When I (finally) read All the Pretty Horses by Cormac McCarthy, I practically got drunk on the beauty of the language. I followed it up with The Road and was blown away all over again. The story made me cry on the plane, but the language was heaven. I like sharp imagery, reinvented clichés, and having tired, old, everyday things made new and fresh—which makes me the perfect Terry Pratchett fan. Doesn’t hurt that he’s written some of the best characters I’ve ever read, either.

Thought I’m crazy about voice, I’m not really into poetry. I like Mary Oliver, Keats, and Shakespeare, but I find most poetry jarring, inelegant, and trying much, much too hard to be inaccessible. I dabble in poetry in fits and starts, and I have found a few modern poets I like, like Traci Brimhall, and, to some extent, Charles Wright.

What’s next for you?

I am thrilled beyond expression to be working with Entangled again—especially my lovely editor, Erin Molta. My current set of books follow a family, mostly sisters, through the time they fall in love while they’re still grappling with the outfall from their infamous late father’s scandalous downfall. I’m contracted for two more and I have the option of doing the final two if the first three sell well. I’ve had nothing but a wonderful experience with Entangled. I hope my books sell very, very well because I could see myself working with Entangled for quite some time. I’ve had nothing but a 100% positive experience.

Author Photo in GreenIngrid Hahn is a failed administrative assistant with a B.A. in Art History. Her love of reading has turned her mortgage payment into a book storage fee, which makes her the friend who you never want to ask you for help moving. Though originally from Seattle, she now lives in the metropolitan DC area with her ship-nerd husband, small son, and four opinionated cats.

Find Ingrid online at

Interestingly, the tagline for To Win A Lady’s Heart is

She has lost everything but her dignity…

So, you know what I’m going to ask, don’t you. Yes.

Tell us about an undignified episode in your life.

You know, getting locked in a storeroom with an aristocrat and having to eat your way out. If you dare. Or ask Ingrid questions about herself and her book. The winner–and you don’t have to make any embarrassing revelations, although I really, really hope you will, there are other ways, see the rafflecopter options–will receive a free download of To Win A Lady’s Heart. The contest runs through midnight EST on Saturday and I’ll announce the winner on Sunday.

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