Thursday, February 16, 2017

Regan Walker's Best of the Regency with Author Gail Eastwood

Regan here. My guest today on the Best of the Regency is author Gail Eastwood, who says she started writing stories as soon as she learned to put words on paper. 

Although she loved historical fiction, her earliest stories were modern. After detours into journalism and rare books, she finally figured out that no one else could write the historical stories that persisted in her own head. She found her path writing Signet Regencies acclaimed for emotional depth and innovative plots. Twice nominated for Romantic Times Magazine’s Career Achievement award, Gail had to put her writing on hold when her son, husband, and mother all developed serious health issues. Now back to doing what she loves best, Gail has been re-issuing her backlist while developing new stories, but one of her Signet stories wanted a whole new telling.

When all of London seems enthralled by the magnificent Marquess of Milbourne, Mariah Parbury’s curiosity about his life in India undermines her resistance to his charm. Is it possible he could care for her? When dangerous secrets emerge about him, is she willing to risk her life as well as her heart for the chance of love?

An excerpt:

His pulse was thundering. The kiss wasn't even close to enough, yet already he knew it was too much. The power in that slight touch had slammed into him like the sudden unleashing of a monsoon storm. His choice was to leave off, now, or to take her into his arms, into his heart, and to heights of experience she likely had never dreamed of. He had not the right. He had made a huge mistake.
Shaken, he stepped back, and held up her bonnet with hands that were less steady than they should have been. "Here now, let us see if we can get this right." His voice was husky.
She was staring at him, her gray eyes reflecting --what? Astonishment, amazement...perhaps a hint of dismay?
"I must apologize," he said quickly. "I promise we will keep our experiments to straightening bonnets and rescuing kites." That was all he had meant it to be --an experiment, and a small one at that. He sounded calmer than he felt.
Still she said nothing.
"Will you forgive me?" He needed a response --any kind of response. If she slapped him, or turned on her heel to stalk away, or burst into tears --well, no, he hoped not that, for how would they explain? --but almost any response at all would be better than this silent staring. Had he so shocked her? Or could it be that she had been rocked with the same force that had hit him? For both their sakes, he hoped not.
"You have a singular way of fixing ladies' bonnets, Lord Milbourne," she said finally.

So, with all this in mind, I had to ask Gail... Why did you decide to rewrite The Magnificent Marquess?

One of the issues with writing the old Signet Regencies was always the length limit. My books were a bit plot-heavy for their size, as well as a bit off-beat –I like to have more happening along with the romance. I was always pushing the boundaries –of the genre, at that time, but also of the format for the Signet Trads. My editor complained that they had to use smaller print to fit my stories into the page limits! While I’ve left three of my old Regencies with Penguin as Intermix ebooks, I took back the rights to the rest, which has given me the opportunity to make whatever changes I wanted.

As you can imagine, during all of those years when I wasn’t writing, I was still evolving as a writer –I was teaching writing, and reading a lot. I don’t believe we ever stop growing and improving our skills. I did some minor re-writing and added an epilogue to The Captain’s Dilemma, which readers have enjoyed. The Lady From Spain didn’t need much revision. But I always knew I’d love another chance to tell Ren and Mariah’s love story. The mystery subplot in The Magnificent Marquess was more involved than I had either the skill or the number of pages to do justice to at the time. I’ve loved the chance for a do-over!! I hope the readers will love it, too.

Tell us more about Ren and Mariah?

Ren is Reinhart Maycott, who has recently –unexpectedly –come into his grandfather’s title, the Marquess of Milbourne. He is immensely wealthy because he had already acquired his own fortune in India before inheriting his family’s wealth. Since he is, of course, also devastatingly handsome, all of London is infatuated with him, to his great discomfort. But as we all know, wealth and looks are not all it takes to be a romance hero! He is carrying a broken heart and a tragic back-story from his life in India that has convinced him that loving someone brings a death sentence on them and that he will never give his heart again.

Mariah Parbury is the third of four daughters born to Lord and Lady Parbury, a baron and baroness. She also has a brother, William, who befriended Ren back in their schooldays at Harrow. They managed to keep the friendship going despite the different paths they took from there, and that is how Ren and Mariah first meet –Ren, who has only recently re-arrived from India, comes to dine with the Parburys at William’s request. But he is trying to behave badly so none of William’s sisters will be interested in him! Mariah tries hard not to be, but she is fascinated by India and what she imagines his life there must have been like. Do you believe his amazing amber eyes and seeming connection to her have “nothing” to do with her attraction? LOL. But she has no fortune, is not high-ranked enough, and is not even the prettiest among her sisters, not to mention that her mother has set her sights on attaching the marquess to Mariah’s eldest sister Aurora.

Enemies are lurking in the background, you may be sure. Among them are some of Ren’s former associates from the East India Company. Has anyone been watching the Regency-set TV series Taboo? It’s VERY dark, but I have been interested in how trendy it seems to be now to cast the East India Company itself as villainous. Easy to do now, looking back at the company’s history, which I had to do as part of my research for this book.

How did you research what you needed for this story?

To understand Ren fully, I had to learn what his life in India might have been like. I read a great deal about the history, geography, and culture of India to figure out where he had lived as a boy whose father worked for the East India Company, and also a lot about the Company, to understand the roles, ranks and employment positions of people in its vast network! I needed to decide on a location for the fictional Indian state of Lampur, where Ren lived after he left the Company. Ren also has a pet cheetah, Ranee, and I did considerable research to portray her correctly. (I love that she’s on the new cover!) Understand, TMM was originally published in 1998. The Internet was not yet the tremendous resource for research that it is now. As I have worked on the revised, expanded story, I’ve enjoyed looking at Indian artifacts on Pinterest and digging for more details digitally, but most of the research I originally did “the old way” still stands.

And lastly, why did you decide to write Regency romance?

I was drawn into it naturally by my story ideas and my love for the genre. That's a nicer way of saying, I made no decision --I'm an addict! LOL. I love a variety of historical periods (I'm active in the Society for Creative Anachronism, a medieval recreation group), but when I discovered Pride & Prejudice in the local library at age 13, it felt like coming home. After that I just couldn't get enough of the Regency. I devoured all of JA's books, then Heyer's, then books by Cartland (yes), Edith Layton, Mary Jo Putney, Mary Balogh, so many, many others! I also developed an addiction to research books. I adore the elegance, but I also enjoy the challenges society creates for our characters. The Regency was a transitional time of rapid change which I think also resonates with our own times. I wish I had time to read all of the wonderful Regency stories that are being written now. I read as many as I can --I never tire of the setting.

Gail would ask you…

I would love to know how readers feel about revised versions of older stories. If they’ve read the original, do they go ahead and try out the new telling? If they’re Regency fans, I’d also love to know how they feel about stories that go outside the usual parameters, in setting, plot, or anything! 
 
Giveaway! Gail is giving away two digital copies of The Magnificent Marquess, as soon as it is available, so be sure to leave your contact info! However, she is willing to substitute another of her books –your choice- if you don’t want to wait.

Keep up with Gail on her Website, Facebook, Twitter and Amazon.

11 comments:

  1. Welcome to the blog and the Best of the Regency, Gail! So glad to have you here.

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    1. Regan, thanks so much for this chance to visit! I'm excited to be here, and am looking forward to giving away a couple of books to readers!

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  2. I would love to have a copy of the revised book to see how it differs from the original . I thought the original was fine.
    I am of two minds about revisions. One author has revised some of her older books and made them more palatable for our tastes today. Most modern readers do not like violence towards women from the hero. Others need to revise older books because they got some aspect of regency life wrong. One would have to do more than a revision in order to make a book in which a bastard gets a dukedom from his father work. On the other hand I don't like buying a book I think is new and discovering it is just a reprint with slight differences from first publication. If it is a revised tale, I'd like that noted up front.
    Gail has some interesting books and I am glad she is making them available to new readers.

    nmayer@bellsouth.net

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    1. Hi, Nancy! Thanks for coming over. I agree with you about authors revising to eliminate errors. But some of the classics I love and I wouldn't want them revised. Can you imagine if Woodiwiss was still alive and revised The Flame and The Flower? The romance world would revolt.

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    2. Nancy, thanks so much for stopping by, and also for your very kind words! I agree with you about the frustration of buying a book thinking it's new, only to discover I've read it under a different title. That's one reason I decided not to change the title on TMM. It is revised and expanded, but it's not a totally new story. I hope you'll enjoy it! Good luck in the giveaway!!

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  3. not a fan, so don't read them

    bn100candg at hotmail dot com

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    1. Hi BN, glad to see you here, but a little confused by your comment...if you're not a Regency fan and don't read the genre, are you still entering the giveaway??

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    2. Answering your post/question: "I would love to know how readers feel about revised versions of older stories."

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  4. I'm waiting eagerly for your re-written TMM! It sounds like you've been working hard on some interesting changes and I can't wait much longer!

    Kristen deKennet
    kdekennet at yahoo

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  5. Kristen, thanks so much!! The changes have taken a lot longer to work through the book than I expected, so I'm pretty eager myself at this point! LOL. It's very close to done, however. Hang on just a little longer!

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  6. And the winners are... Kristen deKennet and Nancy Mayer. Congratulations!

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