My guest today is Regency Romance writer, (say that three times fast!), Susana Ellis. Susana and I have many mutual Facebook friends, including our Founding Fox, Jillian Chantel. I thought it was time to have her visit us.
Thanks for having me, Tonette!
In case some of our readers are not familiar with them, could you them a definition of what constitutes a Regency Romance?
The Regency was the period in English history (1811-1820) when King George III was too mentally unstable to manage his monarchical responsibilities, so his eldest son, the future George IV, was called on to serve as Regent. Although sometimes the period is stretched to include the decade prior to and after that period. The Prince Regent was a connoisseur for the arts and promoted a wide range of artists, musicians, architects, etc. It was a fascinating period between the extravagant Georgian age of the previous century and the modernization of the Victorian one.
How do you do your research? Are you a stickler for details?
Google is my friend! I also collect research books for all sorts of things historical. I do like to get things right, but without having lived there myself, I have to use my imagination as well. I have a critique partner who is great at spotting anachronisms, and I do use an etymological dictionary as well.
Oh, and I try to travel to English for at least three weeks at a time each year. I just can’t get enough of the museums and stately manors.
You mentioned to me that there is a recent trend in the Darker Side of Regencies. Would you please explain and add your ideas on the subject?
The Regency wasn’t all sweetness and light. The upper classes lived extravagantly, the middle classes managed to eke out a living, and the lower classes struggled to survive. Essentially, birth determined your class and economic status, and there weren’t many ways to advance. Crime was rampant, and punishment was harsh.
Life for females was even tougher. Jobs for women were poorly paid and almost non-existent. A girl raised on the streets had a better chance of becoming a prostitute than a servant, of whom references would be required. Even among the gentry, daughters had few options other than marriage, and marriage to the wrong man could be a misery, since divorce was virtually impossible and husbands had the right to everything the wife owned, including their children. Even marriage to royalty is not guaranteed to be a bed of roses. The Prince Regent’s estranged wife Caroline is a good example of that. She couldn’t see her own daughter without his permission.
Considering this, you’d think more fathers would make provisions for their families (esp. daughters) in case of their untimely death, but my impression is that a lot of them were like Mr. Bennet in Pride and Prejudice, who didn’t think of it until it was really too late. (I know, a lot of people today don’t buy life insurance for their families either, but the consequences of not doing so were so much worse 200 years ago.) For example, what would have happened to Lydia if Wickham had not been bribed to marry her? She could not have come back home again without seriously damaging her sisters’ reputations, and frankly, that would have likely already occurred. In my opinion, she was just a silly young girl, but running away from the protection of her family would have made her an outcast and a pariah to her family and polite society.
Please tell us something about your new series that touches on The Dark Side.
Book 3 in my time travel series features an abused wife who travels to the future to escape the clutches of her murderous husband. The hero is an ex-cop who lost his wife several years ago as a consequence of his job. Eventually, he returns to the past with the heroine to help settle things with her abusive husband. And yes, the (in)famous Lady P gets involved in the situation too. (I’m working on this story this month for Nanowrimo.)
Do you write in any other form or genre?
Not yet, but maybe someday, if I get all my historicals written!
I know you have done several collaborations. I’ve been told that many authors find them not worth their time, since you split the credit and royalties so thinly, (not that I know many authors who are making REAL money off of their work). Can you give us your input on the pros and cons?
As long as all the authors are contributing to the promotional side of things, anthologies can be a great way to increase your exposure to readers. 2014’s Sweet Summer Kisses made decent money for all the authors, and even since then, my single story, The Third MacPherson Sister, from that collection is my best-seller. The Bluestocking Belles’ 2015 Christmas collection made over $6000, and although every penny went to the Malala Fund, it did a lot to solidify our brand and help us find new readers, which is a huge plus. While our commitment to Malala remains unchanged, this year we decided to recoup the costs of production (which were paid out of our pockets last year), and pay ourselves something for our efforts, so 25% of the royalties from the new collection, Holly and Hopeful Hearts, will go to the Malala Fund.
On the other hand, a collaboration without the full support of all of the authors—particularly if only a couple of them are doing much at all to promote the work—can turn out to be disappointing. So it’s really important to choose the right people and make it clear from the beginning that there’s no free lunch.
You Winter in Ohio and Summer in Florida. Is there a difference in how much writing you get done in either place, how or if your location affects your work?
It all depends on mindset. In Florida I have a lot of responsibility with my parents, although we have a caregiver for the mornings so I can write. I do have less freedom during the day, so I have to make good use of the time I have. In Ohio my days are pretty much my own (my sister takes responsibility for the folks), but that doesn’t mean I get more writing done. It’s still a matter of discipline and self-control, and I’m not terribly good at those. Plus, since Ohio is my primary home, I have so much STUFF there that needs sorted out and tossed out and in many ways that is much more of a burden than dealing with my parents. So, just because I have more time to myself there doesn’t mean I get more done.
Plus, I’m seriously working on cleaning up my unhealthy lifestyle, and that takes time too. In fact, that needs to come FIRST! I’m a work in progress!
[Wow, your life in Ohio really sounds like mine!- T.]
I know you are a great reader, but with all your moving back and forth, do you keep many books? Do you keep certain books in certain places? Are there any that travel with you? Have ebooks helped?
Ebooks are fabulous! They take up no room in the house and I don’t have to worry about transporting them back and forth. I do have quite a collection of research books, though. They tend to be big and heavy with lovely color pictures, like the one on Vauxhall Gardens I did a blog series on last year. I really can’t lug them back and forth, but I always sort out a few to bring with me. Most of them stay in Ohio because I have more room there, but my stash here in FL is gradually growing too, thanks to Louisa Cornell constantly sharing all the great research books she’s collected over the years. It’s amazing how many of them can be had for a few dollars plus shipping on the Amazon marketplace!
Do you have any other hobbies or creative activities you enjoy?
I like to cook, mostly because I like to eat. I cook more in Florida because I have my parents to cook for. Fortunately, they like my cooking, as long as I don’t season it too much. I’m addicted to some TV shows like Law and Order and just about anything on HGTV. If I have free time, I love reading. I have four Kindles and four different books going on at a time!
[Now you REALLY sound like me!-T]
Is there anything else you’d like our readers to know?
I’m a retired Spanish/French teacher and have traveled widely. I urge everyone to spend some time abroad, not just sightseeing, but getting to know people. It gives you a global perspective you’ll never get from staying home and watching TV news. Essentially, people are more alike than different. Once you get know each other, you’ll see there’s nothing to fear from those who grew up in different cultures.
Thank you so much for joining us, Susana.
You’re so welcome, Tonette! I’ve enjoyed answering your thoughtful questions.
How can our readers learn more about you and your works?
Holly and Hopeful Hearts
When the Duchess of Haverford sends out invitations to a Yuletide house party and a New Year’s Eve ball at her country estate, Hollystone Hall, those who respond know that Her Grace intends to raise money for her favorite cause and promote whatever love-matches she can. Seven assorted heroes and heroines set out with their pocketbooks firmly clutched and hearts in protective custody. Or are they?
Amazon US: http://http://ow.ly/INwa3049Ey3
Amazon UK: http://http://ow.ly/ZMuH3049ELM
Amazon Australia: http://http://ow.ly/TczG3049EQ2
Amazon Canada: http://http://ow.ly/IERm3049EYM
Barnes & Noble:http:// http://ow.ly/LqCI304jGuS
The Bluestocking Belles, the “BellesInBlue”, are seven very different writers united by a love of history and a history of writing about love. From sweet to steamy, from light-hearted fun to dark tortured tales full of angst, from London ballrooms to country cottages to the sultan’s seraglio, one or more of us will have a tale to suit your tastes and mood. Come visit us at http://bluestockingbelles.net and kick up your bluestockinged heels!