What I'm Reading: Beauty and the Scarred Hero!
The wonderful Emily May has done it again! Beauty and the Scarred Hero hooked me in the first chapter and I landed up reading it in one sitting. Happily, Emily is with us today to answer some questions:
Hi Emily, congratulations on the new book which is very much a Beauty and the Beast story – I’m interested which came first. Did you start with the storyline for a particular reason or was it the idea of a scarred hero that attracted you?
I must confess, I didn’t set out to write a Beauty and the Beast story at all! I started with two things: a heroine who rescues a runaway bride; and a scarred hero. The end result was a Beauty and the Beast story (quite to my surprise).
A happy surprise, because it works well! Now, Isabella is an older heroine than usual for a Regency novel. Why is that? What did you feel a more mature woman could bring to romance?
In Regency England, ladies made their debuts in their teens and married young, but I prefer a heroine who’s not straight out of the schoolroom! Someone like Isabella, who has life experience and a strong character. Plus, a heroine who was still a spinster in her mid to late twenties is clearly not marriage material—which makes the romance even more fun to write!
You have clearly done extensive research into the battles Nicholas fought in. Were there any sources you found particularly helpful?
Both James in The Earl’s Dilemma and Nicholas in Beauty and the Scarred Hero were ex-soldiers, so I’ve done quite a lot of military research. I used textbooks, but I also found Georgette Heyer’s two Napoleonic War novels very helpful (The Spanish Bride and The Infamous Army). Heyer did a massive amount of research, and The Infamous Army used to be required reading at Sandhurst (the British military academy). I also went back to the original sources, thanks to Google Books. I have some eye-witness descriptions of the battles of Waterloo and Badajoz on my website (www.emily-may.com).
I think I see the influence of the splendid Georgette Heyer in your writing. Is that right? Which writers or books have most influenced you as a writer?
Oh, yes, I’m absolutely influenced by Heyer! I love her books. I first started reading Heyer as a teenager (The Masqueraders, recommended by my father, who’s a Heyer fan too), and she’s why I adore the period and why I wanted to write Regencies in the first place. So you could probably say that she’s influenced me most on my writing journey! (As an aside, if anyone hasn’t read The Grand Sophy, they should do so immediately!)
What is it about Regency England that makes you set your books during this era?
What’s not to love about the world of Pride and Prejudice and The Grand Sophy? There are so many things I enjoy about the Regency, Zana! The tightly constrained social rules, where a misstep could be ruinous. The absurd extravagance of the Season and, conversely, the hidden underbelly of society (I venture into the slums in my third Regency, The Unmasking of a Lady). I love the opportunities for humour—but also the opportunities for touching on darker, grittier subject matter. From a distance, Regency England looks so civilised, but scratch that surface and you’ll find all sorts of unpleasant things lurking beneath. It’s great fun for a writer!
What’s next on the horizon for you?
I’ve just started a new Regency, about a penniless spinster who writes titillating tales in order to earn money. The hero, who’s recently returned from Waterloo, is determined to discover her identity.
Excellent, another fantastic book to look forward to!
If you’d like to read more about Emily, you can visit her site at www.emily-may.com. or read more about Beauty and the Scarred Hero at www.emily-may.com/BSH.html. Beauty and the Scarred Hero is available in bookshops in Australia and New Zealand until the end of this month.
Question to the readers – what is it about Regency that you love (or hate!)?
Emily is also here today to answer any questions you might like to ask. A copy of Beauty and the Scarred Hero will given away to one of the lucky contributors to the discussion. Fire away!