Guest Post: Emma Lane on Researching a Regency Novel

Today I’m very excited to announce the first ever guest post here at Dianna’s Writing Den. I thought this would be a great way to bring in the new year. Today’s guest poster is Emma Lane, author of a series called ‘The Vicar’s Daughters Three’, published by Aurora Regency, Musa’s regency imprint.

Researching a Regency Novel by Emma Lane

Writing historical can be a challenge. My first suggestion to any would-be author is to read (and enjoy) first what you are deciding to write. The genre of Regency (1811-1820) is widely represented by well-known and respected authors such as G. Heyer, Jo Ann Ferguson, Jo Beverly, Mary Balough, Edith Layton and many, many more. Some readers are fans of B. Cartland who had a successful string of winners for years. My vote will always go to G. Heyer as the contemporary queen of the Regency Romance.

A first and foremost task would be to read and reread a few times any of the books by Jane Austen. Who doesn’t love the romance between Darcy and Elizabeth? Her other books are fascinating, but I think ‘Pride & Prejudice’ is the very best. All are excellent sources of historical accuracy( albeit fictional) since when they were written, they would have been called ‘contemporary.’ Here the acerbic wit by which the period is known is clearly available to the reader. Elizabeth’s father Mr. Bennet is notorious for his enjoyment of his neighbor’s follies. Of course, in the end, he pays dearly for his objective stance when his own family reputation goes awry. Family reputation was very important; all could be ostracized for the mistakes of one member. Is that very different today?

RWA has a subchapter called Beau Monde which is strictly for the study and interaction of Regency authors. These members are studious and savvy on the details of the period in question. There are many, many postings available for research. On line search engines are a wealth of information as well. Recently I researched early 1800 carriages and came away with thirty printed pages of historical facts complete with photographs and illustrations.

On-line sites which discuss the clothing fashions of the era often give illustrated examples for the researcher. It was a time of many societal rules for dress. Young girls making their debut into society were censored for wearing gowns that were too bold in color. Conversely the necklines of their gowns were little short of scandalous. The material was often a thin muslin that clung to a young lady’s frame.

Napoleon figured prominently in this period and there is a wealth of information available about the Napoleonic Wars. The English Regency king was a story by himself. He was appointed king or regent while his father was still alive but unable to rule his country. This one is an easy research.

Some simple rules for writing Traditional Regency would be: no overt sex. Lots of romance, but no four star heat ratings. Careful with the language. If uncertain, look it up. Women were expected to marry, have children and keep house. Period. One of the fun tasks of a Regency author is finding a story line that allows the heroines to ‘jump out of the box’ without getting caught and scandalizing their friends and relatives. Jane Austen would be a case in point as an author. The heroines are not insipid and are usually strong-minded women. Regency Romances are happily ever after. No cruel twists in the end. These are romances designed to entertain. They are fun to write and fun to read. That’s the genre and we like it that way.

Happy Regency researching. The worse problem an author might face is getting lost in too much information. It is all fascinating and interesting to read. Right now I’m stuck on finding out about gypsies who are really Roma. They have an elected leader and a woman is one of the leaders. But I digress.

Bio:Ms Lane lives in Western NY on a few acres with her husband. She is part owner of an Herbtique which keeps her busy in summer. In between she writes (and avidly reads) Regency Romances (A Series called The Vicar’s Daughters 3: SCANDALOUS DESIGN(2), MY PASSIONATE LOVE(1), BELINDA, MY LOVE(3), Epubbed @Musa Publishing) and ocassionally a Contemporary Romance (SANDPIPER AFFAIR, Epubbed @Desert Breeze Publishing). She loves nature, books, her two children and her two precious grandchildren.

I’d just like to say a big thank you to Emma for sharing this with us. If you’d like to buy one of her books, you can do so here.