Thursday, February 18, 2016

Regan Walker's Best of the Regency: Barbara Monajem

The next author up in my Best of the Regency series is Barbara Monajem, who you can see on the left imbibing her morning coffee.

Winner of the Holt Medallion, Maggie, Daphne du Maurier, Reviewer’s Choice and Epic awards, Barbara wrote her first story at eight years old about apple tree gnomes. She published a middle-grade fantasy when her children were young, then moved on to paranormal mysteries and Regency romances with intrepid heroines and long-suffering heroes (or vice versa).

Barbara loves to cook, especially soups. There are only two items on her bucket list: to make asparagus pudding (because it’s too weird to resist) and succeed at knitting socks. She’ll manage the first but doubts she’ll ever accomplish the second. This is not a bid for immortality but merely the dismal truth. She lives near Atlanta, Georgia with an ever-shifting population of relatives, friends, and feline strays.

Be sure to comment and leave your email as she is giving away the ebook of the first in the series, To Kiss a Rake. (If you already have that one, she will substitute another book.)

The Meandering Path to My Regency Story

I am not one of those authors who gets caught up in historical research. I’m too eager to get on with writing each story to be patient about doing research, so it’s a bit of a surprise to me when I actually find myself delving deeper than strictly necessary. Often, by the time I finish a book, I can’t even remember what research I did—but not so when it came to writing The Rake’s Irish Lady.

The path I took was a meandering one. It may have started as far back as childhood, when a family joke said that one of our ancestors was an Irish horse thief. I never knew whether there was any basis for this in fact, but it was the first indication that I had a tie to Ireland. As I grew up, and during my early adulthood when there were so many troubles in Ireland, I learned a little about the conflicts there. I was told it had something to do with Protestant vs. Catholic, but that was about all I knew; religious prejudices made no sense to me. I didn’t learn much about the long history of the troubles until I read a novel by Diana Norman, The Pirate Queen. Much of the story takes place in Ireland during the time of Elizabeth I. For me, it was a harrowing introduction to how the English mistreated (to put it mildly) the Irish.

Some years later, I visited friends in Derry in Northern Ireland, who lived there when the Bloody Sunday massacre took place in 1972. I learned a lot from both my friends and from the city itself, and by the time I returned home, I had decided that someday I would write a book that dealt with the conflicting loyalties involved. I think the fact that I have some Irish ancestry way back (thief or otherwise) intensified my desire to learn more and to write about it.

By this time, I had also realized that the situation with Ireland was extremely significant in the Regency era, especially following the French Revolution and during the ensuing wars between England and France. The Irish hated the English and therefore supported the French. They sought French aid to further their struggle for liberty.

I did some research by reading The 1798Rebellion: An Illustrated History. It's a fascinating and sometimes horrifying account, and it gave me enough information to make up my own little bit of history that takes place six years later in England, with a very English hero and a heroine who is half-Irish, half-English—the embodiment of conflicting loyalties.

And then all of a sudden, because of a twist the story took, I found myself doing a completely different kind of research—reading Irish folk tales. Serendipity played a part in this. The friends from Derry came to visit and brought me a copy of The Mammoth Book of Celtic Mythsand Legends by Peter Berresford Ellis.

I devoured the Irish myths. I love folklore because there’s so much magic involved, and I’m quite frankly addicted to magic. I have incorporated folklore into other stories, such as Lady of the Flames, in which a hobgoblin is a significant character. There are no hobgoblins or leprechauns or other magical characters in The Rake’s Irish Lady, but folklore does play a role, and that was fun—and it helped to lighten up a story, which deals with a very serious topic.
 
What surprised me was how many readers have commented on the funny bits in The Rake’s Irish Lady. Looking back, I realized there’s plenty of light-heartedness there. It’s a romance, so of course there’s lots about love and a happy ending, but there is other fun stuff, too. I guess I was too caught up in the dark side to notice, even while I was writing it.

So, tell me, does your ancestry make you curious about the history of a particular country? If so, which country, and why?


ONE WILD NIGHT . . .
Widowed and lonely, Bridget O’Shaughnessy Black indulges herself in a night of pleasure.
After all, she's in disguise. And the baby girl? An unexpected blessing...until an old flame claims the child as his own to force Bridget to marry him.

ONE DETERMINED LADY. . .
Many women pursued Colin Warren, but only one climbed in his bedchamber window. When Bridget does it for the second time, she needs his help. Colin feels he’s unfit to be a parent, yet he has no choice but to acknowledge the little girl. 

RISKING EVERYTHING FOR LOVE
Together they must solve the mystery of the old flame’s intentions—but can they reconcile their divided loyalties—Irish and English—through the power of love?

Buy on Amazon

Keep in touch with Barbara on her website, Facebook, Twitter and Goodreads 

20 comments:

  1. No but then I've never been a history buff. Tho I absolutely love reading historical romance.

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  2. Hi, Linda. I'm so glad you love historical romance. :)

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  3. I am really curious about my family's Sicilian side and I know there was Native American on my Maternal grandfather's side... thanks for sharing! greenshamrock at cox dot net :)

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  4. Hi, Colleen! Your name sounds very Irish. ;) Will you take a trip to Sicily someday?

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    1. One day, I do wish to visit Sicily (find out where my great grandfather came from specifically)and Ireland... on my bucket list! :)

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  5. I'm German, English and Scottish on my dad's side. I'm French,German and Canadian on my mom's side. My in-laws came over from Hungary but are of German descent.

    I'd love to visit Germany were so many of my relatives originated. Bavaria on my mom's side. I'd love to go down the Rhine River.

    Scotland I'd love to visit Edinborough and the Highlands. I'd like to tour the English countryside, a castle, Staford on Avon.

    I'd like to visit Montreal and Ottawa. The Trois Rivieres area of Quebec were my relatives lived.

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    1. Hi, Laurie. I've been to several of the locations you visited -- relatives in Bavaria, holiday in Scotland, and I once lived in Montreal!! All well worth visiting. :)

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  6. I wrote a book based on my mother's survival of the Holocaust, In the Face of Evil. She's from Poland, and there was a lot of research involved. It's very rewarding to learn about where you hail from. Thanks for the blog, I've studied Irish and English history quite a bit. I never tire of learning about the past.
    Cheers,
    Tema Merback
    Writing as Belle Ami

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    1. I'm fascinated by the past, too -- loved history class in school. Thanks for stopping by, Tema. :)

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  7. We have a winner! The winner of Barbara's book is Colleen C., greenshamrock@cox.net. Congratulations and thanks to all for commenting!

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  8. I'm very Scandinavian and Celtic. Would love to visit all those countries. Great post!

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  9. Enjoyed your post! I really like Celtic history/myths as well and would love to visit Ireland. One side of our family has always said it was "Scots/Irish" but I've just never been able to work on that side of the family tree much.

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    1. Hi, Barbara. Thanks so much for stopping by. I have been to Ireland once but it wasn't long enough. I want to go back! And see my comment to Beppie. Some of the Scots/Irish were Scots who fled to Ireland, though they didn't improve their lot much.

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  10. Great blog, Barbara! And for Barb Bettis, Scots/Irish is what I am as well, much to my disgust. Scots/Irish are the Protestants (mainly Scots) planted in Ulster (the northern counties) after the Flight of the (Catholic) Earls after an English victory. They threw out the Irish tenants and landowners and gave the land (the system was called "plantation") to the Protestants in the hope that the population would eventually persuade the rest of the Irish Catholics to turn Protestant. Funny thing: seizing their property did not turn out to be a great way to convert them.

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    1. Beppie, my mother told me, "We were Papists in Scotland and Protestants in Ireland." Mind you, this was the same family... fleeing English persecution, I assume. But my Scots/Irish great grandfather married a girl from France, who I assume was Catholic--and they moved to America.

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  11. Should have given the date--the Flight of the Earls was in 1607. Unhappy English/Irish relationships go a long way back. The Normans were the first to arrive and take Ireland over at the beginning of the 12th century. Took 700 years for the Irish to become independent.

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