Welcome romance author Maggi Andersen

Today, I'm delighted to welcome highly acclaimed historical romance author, Maggi Andersen, on her book tour sharing her new novel, A Baron in her Bed



As a fellow Georgette Heyer fan, I asked her to chat about her influences in plotting Regency novels. Here goes...

'Unusual Regencies - How to plot a Regency novel that stands out'

The Regency era offers so much for a writer. Historical events, larger than life historical characters, the ton and the Prince Regent’s sparkling, decadent court, and the Napoleonic Wars, all of which offer great material for any number of stories and fit well with popular tropes in romantic fiction – marriage of convenience, forced marriage, and friends become lovers etc. Many sub-genres adapt well to Regencies from historicals, like my sensual adventure romance, A Baron in Her Bed, to sweet stories inspired by Jane Austen, mysteries, crime novels, paranormals, young adult, fairy stories and even steampunk. What about alpha males? A sexy, disreputable rake? The trick is to give it a fresh twist. 

Making the novel stand out and gain readers attention is the greater challenge. 

When I decided to write a Regency spy series, I wanted it to be nothing like other spy stories. Spy plots are woven into the books drawn from history, but it’s the characters which drive the stories. Hopefully, readers will enjoy my three heroes and heroines. All very different and from different backgrounds. Horatia Cavendish is not a society miss. In the second book published in September, Taming a Gentleman Spy, Lady Sibella Winborne, is a member of a big wealthy family. My third book, What a Rake Wants, features a widow, Lady Althea Brookwood.  

Of course, your story has to have drama. It has to have conflict. You need charismatic characters who want something badly and struggle throughout to get it. Give them flaws but make them redeemable. During the Regency era, your heroine may struggle for her independence, but make her strong. I like this quote from author Elizabeth Gilbert:

I was not rescued by a prince; I was the administrator of my own rescue."—” 

Horatia Cavendish fights to realize her dreams and gain independence in A Baron in Her Bed, refusing to bow to society’s demands.  

Don’t forget the satisfying resolution – a neat tying up of all the threads of your story. Some writers have it all planned out before they begin. They know what each scene will contain before they write it. I wish I could do that at times, but I’m what is called a panster, at least at heart. When beginning my novel, I can tell you how it will end with that essential HEA, but I can’t tell you how I’ll get there until I write it. If I try to plot it out in advance, the story lacks passion. I like it to reading. If I know what happens in a book, I put it down. A voyage of discovery ensures I remain emotionally involved as my characters reveal themselves to me, sometimes surprising me in unexpected ways. 

Whichever way you go about writing, you must be emotionally caught up in the story. Robert Frost puts it well: “No tears in the writer, no tears in the reader. No surprise in the writer, no surprise in the reader.” 

Karl Iglesias, in WRITING FOR EMOTIONAL IMPACT, finds a difference between story and plot. He feels there’s too much attention given to plot and not enough to story. Writer’s make a mistake focusing on plot construction. Plot is not as important as story, accordingly to Iglesias, and it produces too many predictable, formulaic storylines. 

Plot is the arrangement of events designed to make your story emotionally satisfying to the reader. While you need to connect on an emotional level with your reader this does not create the story.

Story arises from a great premise, concept or theme, and character development.

I like the way E M Forster puts it in Aspect of the Novel: 

The king died and then the queen died. (Plot)

The king died and then the queen died of grief. (Story)

After you have your premise, you should be able to state it simply in a few lines. Then give your characters something they want badly. Something important enough that, if they fail there are serious consequences. Then have them struggle to achieve it.

Fill your novel with surprises to keep your reader guessing what will happen next. Nothing too easy. If readers guess what lies ahead too easily, they may give up on the story. And watch the use of coincidences. They happen in real life, but aren’t so well accepted in fiction. 

If you are stuck or run out of ideas, I find asking ‘what if?’ helps. 

Cheers,
Maggi 

If you don’t have Karl Iglesias’ book I do suggest you purchase a copy. It’s a great addition to my library.
~~~~~
Blurb:

London, 1816. A handsome baron. A faux betrothal. And Horatia’s plan to join the London literary set takes a dangerous turn.

Now that the war with France has ended, Baron Guy Fortescue arrives in England to claim his inheritance, abandoned over thirty years ago when his father fled to France after killing a man in a duel. When Guy is set upon by footpads in London, a stranger, Lord Strathairn, rescues and befriends him. But while travelling to his country estate, Guy is again attacked. He escapes only to knock himself out on a tree branch.

Aspiring poet Horatia Cavendish has taken to riding her father’s stallion, “The General”, around the countryside of Digswell dressed as a groom. She has become bored of her country life and longs to escape to London to pursue her desire to become part of the London literary set. When she discovers Guy lying unconscious on the road, the two are forced to take shelter for the night in a hunting lodge. After Guy discovers her ruse, a friendship develops between them.

Guy suspects his relative, Eustace Fennimore is behind the attacks on his life. He has been ensconced in Rosecroft Hall during the family’s exile and will become the heir should Guy die. Horatia refuses to believe her godfather, Eustace, is responsible. But when Guy proposes a faux betrothal to give him more time to discover the truth, she agrees. Secure in the knowledge that his daughter will finally wed, Horatia’s father allows her to visit her blue-stocking aunt in London. But Horatia’s time spent in London proves to be anything but a literary feast, for a dangerous foe plots Guy’s demise. She is determined to keep alive her handsome fiance, who has proven more than willing to play the part of her lover even as he resists her attempts to save him.
~~~~~
Excerpt:

She patted The General’s nose and fed him an apple. By the time the last of it had disappeared, she heard the clip of a horse’s hooves on the gravel drive. She peeped out of the barn door and saw the baron, tall in the saddle, riding towards the house.
Horatia stepped out and beckoned him. He caught sight of her and rode towards the stables then dismounted and led the horse inside.
“Sorry, my lord,” Horatia said, adopting Simon’s gruff voice. “We have no footman here. No under-groom neither. I’ll stable your horse.”
“Simon, good fellow,” he said warmly. “I came to thank you again. I am indebted to you.”
“No need for that, my lord,” she said. “Everything’s right and tight here as it happens.” She turned her back to lead his horse into one of the stalls. Seizing a brush, she bent and swept it over the horse’s flanks.
He came to rest an arm on the stall door. “I am relieved. If you had lost your job, I was going to ask you to work for me.”
She straightened to brush the horse’s back, confident of the poor light. “Mighty good of you, my lord. But not at all necessary.”
Eh bien, merci encore.” He turned towards the door.
Relieved it had gone so well, Horatia stepped out from behind the horse. She looked up to see if he had gone and found him watching her with his arms folded.
The elation left her, and she took a deep, shaky breath.
“Did you really think you could go on fooling me?” A note of outrage lay beneath the humorous tone in his voice. “How many people around here have red hair like yours?”
“My hair’s not red,” she said, incensed. “It’s chestnut.”
“I wondered how far you would carry this ruse, Miss Cavendish.”
She backed into an empty stall as he strode towards her.
He followed her inside. Reaching over, he whipped off her hat, and her hair came loose and tumbled around her face.  “So, what do you have to say in your defense?”
“Nothing, my lord.” Horatia lifted her chin, her heart pounding loud in her ears. She chewed her lip. She would have to brazen this out.
Annoyed blue eyes stared into hers. “I do not like to be toyed with. I thought there was something wrong with me.”
“Pardon?”
“Watching you bend over in those breeches. Zut! From the first, I felt a strong attraction to you. And then, when I saw you dressed as a woman, I understood.”
“You knew it was me at the dance?” She scowled. “And you deliberately teased me?”
“Don’t you think you deserved it?” He seized her shoulders and gave them a shake. “You tricked me. Why?”
She swallowed. “No trickery, my lord. I was dressed this way when I found you, if you recall. I needed to keep up the pretense.”
He shrugged. “But why do you dress like that?”
She couldn’t explain her restlessness to him and tossed her head. “I prefer to ride astride.”
He raised a brow. “You like a strong beast moving beneath you?”
She bristled at the insult. “I like to ride alone.” He made it sound as if she gained some sort of indecent enjoyment from the exercise. Her face heated. To ride astride was unfeminine, she knew, but that fact had never bothered her before.
“But to do so places you in peril.”
Horatia drew herself up. “I can handle myself as well as a man.”
“You believe that, do you?” His gaze flicked over her. What was he thinking? She quivered under his scrutiny.
~~~~~
About the author:

Maggi Andersen and her lawyer husband are empty nesters, living in the countryside outside Sydney with their cat and the demanding wildlife. Parrots demand seed, possums fruit, ducks swim in the stream at the bottom of the garden, and the neighbours chickens roam their yard providing wonderful eggs. She began writing adventure stories at age eight. Three children, a Bachelor of Arts degree and a Master of Arts in Creative Writing degree later, her novels are still filled with adventure and suspense, but are also passionate romances. Georgette Heyer among others, brought inspiration to her seductive Regencies and she also writes darker, Victorian novels, contemporary romantic suspense and young adult.
She supports the RSPCA (The Royal Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to animals) and animals often feature in her books.
~~~~~

Maggi will be awarding the winner’s choice of a backlist eBook to two randomly drawn commenters during the tour, and a $30 Amazon GC to one randomly drawn commenter!

24 comments:

  1. What an excellent question, because with all the Regency reads around you really do want your book to stand out.

    marypres(AT)gmail(DOT)com

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Thank you, Mary. I found Maggi's advice very useful too.

      Thanks for stopping by. :-)

      Delete
    2. Hi Mary, I realize I haven't talked much about Heyer. I'm happy to answer any questions.

      Delete
  2. What an exciting series. I really want to read all three books.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. It sounds very exciting, doesn't it?! Thanks for stopping by.

      Delete
    2. Hi MomJane! Great to see you here. I wish you luck with the contest.

      Delete
  3. Very interesting post, I enjoyed reading it.

    Kit3247(at)aol(dot)com

    ReplyDelete
  4. Sounds like a great read!

    galaschick78(AT)gmail(DOT)com

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I agree, Gala. Nice to see you here. :-)

      Delete
    2. Thanks for the comment, Gala!

      Delete
  5. What is a book, you would not travel without?

    shadowrunner1987(at)gmail(dot)com

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. So many, Ami. I take my kindle on my travels. I'll re-read any Heyer, Austen or Bronte books.

      Delete
  6. Is there a book that influence you in your choices in life?

    emmasreadings(at)gmail(dot)com

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Fab question, Emma.

      Thanks for stopping by.

      Delete
    2. No special book, Emma, but reading a variety of different books teaches you a lot about life. I like to think my heroines and heroes are inherently decent people who learn by their mistakes.

      Delete
  7. I like Horatia, she doesn't behave like the typical woman of her time!

    elaynelost at yahoo dot de

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Thanks for stopping by, Ellie.

      Delete
    2. Thanks Ellie. It couldn't have been easy, but there are plenty of women who forged their own path. Poets and writers especially. George Eliot (Mary Anne Evans) who wrote Middlemarch, and French writer, George Sand, Amandine Dupin, who had a relationship with Chopin. That was the Victorian era though.

      Delete
  8. Thanks for the guest post! I love regency romance and I get what you mean when sometimes it's hard to make one stand out...I like most of what I read, but there are only that select few that stick with ya. I bet your book will be one of them :)

    andralynn7 AT gmail Dot com

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Thanks for stopping by, Andra. :-)

      Delete
  9. Thanks for your great comment, Andra!

    ReplyDelete