Welcome, Christine Wells!
An earl of debaucherySebastian Laidley, the sixth Earl of Carleton, is solely committed to his hedonistic lifestyle, until he makes a promise to his dying godfather. He must find his childhood friend Gemma a husband in three months – or marry her himself.
A lady of dubious virtueThe daughter of a notorious seductress, Gemma Maitland has the body of a siren but a mind for more practical matters. Snubbed by Society, she has just one ambition: to run her grandfather's estate.
A passion that begs to be unleashed...To find Gemma a husband, Sebastian lures her to his estate under the guise of helping with his sister's wedding. During the festivities, there is no shortage of men vying for Gemma's hand, much to Sebastian's dismay. Gemma has always been in his heart, but when she turns her wiles on him, she burns her way into his soul...
Don’t forget to answer Christine’s question at the end of the interview, as one lucky poster will win a copy of Scandal’s Daughter!
Scandal’s Daughter is set in Regency England. How did you become interested in this time period? What do you love about it?
My first introduction to Regency England was seeing the play of Pride and Prejudice with my mother when I was about ten years old. I loved the sparkling wit, the way Lizzie was such a strong character and the sheer romance of the period costume and manners. I suppose all of those things still appeal to me as a writer--the subtle subtext beneath the dialogue, that dry English sense of humour and the stiff upper lip that often conceals turbulent emotion.
That’s not to say that other eras don’t display these characteristics, but almost everything about the Regency period appeals to me – the architecture, furniture, clothing, poetry, literature, the dramatic culmination of the Napoleonic Wars and the subsequent civil upheaval, the personalities of the day, the way subtle wit was lauded, almost turned into an art-form, the larger-than-life personalities of the Prince Regent and his set.
What sparked this book? Was it a character? An historical event? A scene you just couldn’t get out of your head?
All kinds of things sparked different aspects of Scandal’s Daughter, but essentially, it’s a very character-driven book. I had an irresponsible rake who cares about nothing and a heroine who cares too much. Gemma was influenced by Scarlett O’Hara and the strong, fatally flawed heroine in Philippa Gregory’s Wideacre. The land is everything to them and they will sacrifice everything to keep it. I understand the deep connection some people have to a place, but what if they are clinging to that link as a way of avoiding getting hurt by people? And what if the careless persona a man has built to protect himself has now become his prison? So in this book I explore appearance and reality, how your view of yourself can be affected by the way others see you, and what it takes sometimes to break out of the mould.
Did you have to do any major research for his book? Did you stumble across anything really interesting that you didn’t already know?
Scandal’s Daughter is set in rural Sussex and shifts to Cornwall . It was interesting researching the farming practices and customs of the time, though very little of that went into the book. In Cornwall , they still hold a centuries-old ceremony called The Crying of the Neck at the end of a harvest, and a shortened version of that is in the book. I also researched Japanese porcelain, medieval stained glass, and a host of other details. Jane Digby, the intrepid Regency lady who divorced her aristocratic husband and ended up marrying a Bedouin prince inspired my heroine’s mother. She led a fascinating life.
Any historical mea culpas to fess up? Anything you had to fudge or change?
Gosh, I hope not! You know, it’s very difficult to get everything right. We can only do our best. I try to research as much as I can in the time available to me, but ultimately, the story always comes first.
What/Who do you like to read?
I try to stay away from historicals while I’m writing the first draft of anything, but I can’t stay away from them for long. I read too many wonderful historical authors to name, but Georgette Heyer will always have a special place in my heart. I also enjoy reading biographies of famous historical figures like Beau Brummell, Georgiana, Duchess of Devonshire and Lady Hester Stanhope as well as crime fiction and a bit of literary fiction here and there.
How did your writing career take off? Was it a Zero-to-Published kind of thing? Or did you have ten finished books under the bed before you sold?
It took me about five years from the time I started writing seriously until receiving that magical ‘call’. I wrote two traditional Regencies before I researched the market and discovered these wonderful novels the Americans call Regency historicals. It opened up a whole new world to an Australian who’d only read English Regencies by the likes of Austen and Heyer. The next manuscript I wrote was Scandal’s Daughter, and it was also the first I submitted to New York .
Contest finals brought me a few manuscript requests from judging editors. One of these editors contacted me wanting to buy Scandal’s Daughter. I quickly signed with an agent, who sent the manuscript to all the big houses. The following week, I had a contract with Leis Pederson at Berkley , who wasn’t the first editor to make an offer. I was pregnant with my second son at the time and I remember just before I sold I’d decided to put submitting on hold for a year or so. The publishing gods always send the good stuff when you least expect it.
Care to share a bit about your writing process? Are you a pantser or a plotter? Do you write multiple drafts or clean up as you go?
I’m a pantser, though I generally have an idea of the storyline and perhaps have in mind a few key scenes along the way. I never do character sketches and things like that because I don’t know my characters until they walk onto the page. I tend to write very few drafts, except for my first effort, which went through about 236 of them, simply because I didn’t want to let those characters go! Still, I learned a lot during that process.
What are you planning to work on next?
My second novel (as yet untitled) is about a duke who accidentally steals a lady's erotic diary. It's set against a background of political upheaval, when the Prime Minister declared a state of emergency and people were being locked up without trial for sedition. My heroine's brother is a country vicar thrown in jail for aiding suspected arsonists. She threatens to expose government secrets by publishing her diary if the authorities don't release him. My hero, the duke, steals what he thinks is that diary, only it turns out to contain the heroine's secret erotic fantasies. I had a lot of fun with it, and I hope that comes out in the writing.
Thank you for having me on History Hoydens today! I’d like to ask your readers what their favourite historical period is and why. One reader will win a signed copy of Scandal’s Daughter.