Sunday, 21 August 2011

A guest Blog with ARRA

Today I'm very happy to be the guest of the Australian Romance Readers Association.

Guest blogger: Beth Elliott

AUGUST 21, 2011

Finding inspiration

First I’d like to say thank you for having me as a guest on your blog. I read a number of Australian-set romance stories and enjoy learning a little about people’s lives and different areas of Australia through them.
I write tales set in Regency times. That means describing a world that has gone by, especially in terms of the social framework that people were bound by. It was a harsh era but also glamorous if you had wealth. We still admire and copy the elegant fashions of the period, and admire the wonderful architecture of cities like Bath. So there is plenty of concrete evidence to help the imagination along.
Then there is the written evidence; parish registers and so on. But it is novels like the works of Jane Austen that truly show us what life was like. As a girl I used to imagine I was one of the Bennett sisters in Pride and Prejudice. For me, making up a story set in the Regency era feels like going on holiday. And in fact, doing research often is the reason for a short holiday. In All Honour takes place in Bath. It was fun to walk round the city, choosing homes for the hero, heroine and villain and measuring the distance from their lodgings to the Pump Room and the Assembly Rooms. I even drank a glass of the famous waters! (Ugh!)
A visit to any museum usually throws up details of something I can put into a story. Going with a friend to a Corkscrew Museum (her idea!), I spotted an 18th Century folding corkscrew. It was made of gold and in a blue velvet case. That will make a suitable gift for a heroine to offer a hero. On a visit to Jane Austen’s home at Chawton, a member of a Regency dancing group showed us some moves from the language of the fan. So I put that into my latest story, The Rake’s Challenge. Anna learns how to send messages by gesturing with her fan. It helps her to get out of a very tricky situation.
I used London, Bath and Brighton for different adventures and also set one in Constantinople (Istanbul) and London. That was not hard because my husband was Turkish and we spent several years living in eastern Turkey. I have used that experience to help me write a couple of ‘Ottoman Regencies’. In April and May I only show the Turkish way of life as Rose, the English heroine, sees it. But in the novel I’m currently writing I have a much more exotic flavour. My heroine has ruined herself in English society and the part-Turkish hero assumes she is his for the taking. But from a very stormy beginning, they gradually learn to understand and respect each other. There are plenty of exotic episodes in this novel. All the settings are places I’ve visited and the customs are what I’ve learned of the Turkish way of life, thanks to my husband’s family.
My fourth Regency tale, The Rake’s Challenge, set in Brighton, is just out. This is about a rake who is forced to become guardian to a young lady running away from home. She is devoted to the works of Lord Byron, like her three schoolfriends; so there will have to be one or more sequels as they all pursue their hero.
The Rake’s Challenge
Giles Maltravers has his rakish lifestyle turned upside down the day he saves Anna Lawrence from a pair of drunken young bloods. The irony is that Giles is now honour-bound to protect this headstrong girl.
Inspired by a fervent devotion to the works of Lord Byron, Anna is determined to live a life of adventure, but she plunges from one disaster into another. Giles has no time left to enjoy his former carefree existence, especially when the Prince Regent decides that Anna is just in his style …
Beth Elliott grew up in a tiny Lancashire village, so needed lots of books for companionship. When not writing, she loves to travel and hopes that one day she’ll make it across to Australia. You can find out more about Beth on her website.
Beth’s books are published in hardback by Robert Hale and can be found on Amazon and at all good bookshops.

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