Monday, January 10, 2011
Jane Austen style Romance
Sarah M. Eden
Trapped between an unwanted marriage and a hasty ... (Read More)
Q&A with Author Sarah M. Eden
1. What caused you to write this book?
I adore historical romance. I first read Jane Austen in junior high school and have read every Georgette Heyer romance I could get my hands on. As the years passed, however, I discovered that while thousands of romance novels fill shelves the world over, very few are what I would consider “clean” reads.
After spending an afternoon bemoaning to my mother the fact that I could not seem to find a historical romance that didn’t offend me on a moral level or bore me to tears, she made an unexpected suggestion: “Maybe you should write one yourself.”
I am almost positive she didn’t expect me to take up the challenge, but take it up I did. At that point I had already spent years reading about the first two decades of the nineteenth century and studying the history, society, and customs that made it so unique. With this new goal in mind, I devoured books on writing even as I continued my study of history.
On Mother’s Day 2007, I presented my mom with a bound copy of The Ramshackle Knight, my very first historical romance. That book would later be fixed up, improved, and published by Covenant Communications as The Kiss of a Stranger.
This is the book that started it all. Now, more than ten completed romances later, I am hooked!
2. Did you have any interesting experiences while writing it?
The story began with a single character—Catherine Thorndale. I wanted to write a heroine who was different from most romance-novel heroines. So often the female romantic lead in romances written by modern authors is a type-A personality: sure of herself, a go-getter, obviously strong and “with it.” I set out to see if a heroine could be quiet and a little uncertain without being weak and whiney.
This unconventional approach to a heroine came with a unique set of challenges. I needed to discover what her strengths were and ways in which she could show those strengths despite being shy and reserved.
I had intended only to attempt to create an interesting character, but I discovered something in the process. Too often we overlook the strengths of those around us simply because they are not obvious. Catherine was quiet and, at first, lacked confidence. However, as she grew and blossomed, her underlying strength became more apparent.
3. What kind of research did you do for this book, and how long did it take?
I have spent years researching the Regency era in English history, not simply because I am a stickler for accuracy, but also because I have something of an obsession with history. In The Kiss of a Stranger, I faced a particularly difficult challenge—understanding the social and legal issues surrounding marriages and annulments. The laws were so different then than anything we see now. Still, I was determined to get it right, and that meant extensive research.
I read everything I could get my hands on, including a dry-as-dirt tome on marriage and inheritance laws of nineteenth-century England. What I discovered was that getting married was remarkably easy—getting unmarried was very nearly impossible. The result of all those hours upon hours of research? A terrific backdrop for an enjoyable romantic comedy of errors.
4. What is the next project you are working on?
Discussion & Trivia Questions
1. In early nineteenth century England, women had no legal rights, leaving them entirely dependent on their fathers, guardians, or husbands. What impact, positive or negative, might this have had on a woman’s desire to marry and her choice of husband?
2. Although Crispin admits he had a healthy, happy relationship with his parents and sister, he claims he does not believe in love. What might cause a person to doubt something he has experienced all his life?
3. Catherine undergoes a Cinderella-style transformation from countrified miss to fashionable lady of society. While the change catches Crispin’s attention, her improved appearance is not what ultimately captures his interest. What was it that first pierced his armor?
4. Catherine says that her uncle “only cares about money and power.” That singleminded ambition wreaks havoc on all their lives. What are some examples we see in modern society of this same ambition, and what are the consequences?
5. Crispin teasingly refers to Catherine as his “accidental wife,” their marriage having come about in such an unexpected way. Yet, they find in one another a true soulmate. What are some examples from your own life of problems that, in the end, proved to be blessings?
1. Why does Crispin kiss Catherine in the garden?
2. How does Crispin describe Catherine’s attire when they first arrive at his London home?
3. Why does Catherine’s performance on the pianoforte at the musicale so upset her rivals?
4. What tea-time treat becomes an inside joke between Catherine and Crispin?
5. What is Lizzie’s plan for solving Crispin and Catherine’s marriage dilemma?
1. To prove to an obnoxious and persistent young miss that he does, in fact, “know how to kiss a lady.”
2. “A potato sack worn as a dress”
3. She plays the same piece played earlier by one of the young ladies, except she plays it much better.
4. Fairy Cakes, the Regency-era equivalent of a cupcake
5. She intends to find Catherine a new husband, namely Crispin’s best friend, Philip.
Recipe: "Fairy Cakes with Buttercream Frosting"
1 box of cake mix
3/8 cup butter
3 cups confectioners’ sugar
1/6 cup milk
3/4 tsp vanilla extract
dash of salt
food coloring, if desired
Directions: Prepare cake mix as directed for cupcakes.
Frosting: Beat butter in a large bowl until fluffy. Gradually add 1 ½ cups of confectioners’ sugar, beating well. Slowly beat in the vanilla, salt and milk. Gradually beat in the remaining 1 ½ cups of confectioners’ sugar. Add food coloring, if desired, until frosting is the color you wish.
Once cupcakes have cooled, frost and enjoy!
*Makes approximately 24 frosted fairy cakes.