Oct 21, 2010

EMILY MAY interview

by Zana Bell

What I'm Reading: Beauty and the Scarred Hero!

What I'm Listening to: Robert Plant and Alison Krauss

What I'm Watching: Grand Designs

What's Making Me Smile: long weekend coming up!

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?

Thanks, Zana. I'm glad you enjoyed the book!

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 th
e 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!


  1. I can't wait to read Beauty And The Scarred Hero (and The Unmasking of A Lady in December)! I adored The Earl's Dilemma - it was such fun!

    I love the Regency. All Jane Austens, The Grand Sophy, the modern Regency novels - one of my favourite genres. Thanks for the interview, Zana!

  2. Emily and Zana, I have Beauty and the Scarred hero sitting on my TBR pile! I've not long finished The Earl's Dilemma and that was a gorgeous read too so I can't wait to get to this new book!

    How interesting about a Georgette Heyer novel being part of the reading syllabus at Sandhurst in days gone by! Now I'm very intrigued and my TBR pile is going get larger! I haven't read a lot of her - and none of the one's you've listed so I must track her down. I've read and enjoyed some of her 20th-century murder mysteries.

    Hey, I love your covers, BTW!


  3. Enjoy your long weekend - searching into the dim recesses of my memory banks and coming up with Labour Day?? Is that right?


  4. Zana
    A great interview...
    And Emily I can so relate to your fascination with Gorgette Heyer...a wonderful writer who singlehandedly created the Regency Genre... What a heritage she's left for other writers.
    The Grand Sophy is my alltime favourite although Frederica is a close second...and whenever I have a fit of the sullens ..as Essie Summers would say...I go to my bookcase and select a Heyer to read.

    I must get your books...I love Regency.

  5. Hi Rachel! See if you can get your hands on copies of Faro's Daughter and Sylvester, both by Heyer. They're great fun!

  6. Sharon, I know, you don't really think of a historical romance being required reading at a military academy, do you?! That particular book is heavy on the military details and pretty light on the romance!

    And yes, you're quite right, Sharon -- Labour Weekend, this weekend. I'm off over the hill to puppy-sit for someone. I hope the pup doesn't chew my manuscript to pieces -- I'll have to be careful where I put it!

    P.S. I hope you enjoy Beauty and the Scarred Hero!

  7. Shirley, I love that! A fit of the sullens -- such a great phrase! And yes, Heyer is perfect for that. She's a great mood improver. I reread and reread her books! If you read one of my regencies, I hope you enjoy it!

  8. Zana, how fantastic that you've got Emily here today!

    Emily, I had to snicker when I read that Zana finished Beauty and the Scarred Hero in one sitting. This morning, I took off for what was mean to be a short break and I picked up The Unmasking of a Lady! Guess what? Couldn't put the damned thing down! Just finished it. What an absolutely gorgeous story! Love it! Congratulations!!!!

  9. Emily,
    I have so of those ah, mentioned books on my TBR pile, I really must get with the program!! I soo admire anyone who writes historicals, the research alone would have me tear my hair out! Can't wait to read BATSH, sounds fantastic!

  10. Anna, I'm glad you enjoyed it so much! I hope you had a nice spot in the sun while you read it!

  11. Mel, the research is actually fun most of the time. (I count reading Heyer and Austen as research, you know, and what's especially fun research is watching all those marvellous BBC adaptations of Jane Austen!) If you're at all tempted, you should give writing historicals a go!

  12. So great to see everyone dropping by. Anna, I'm glad we suffered from the same emaladay. I have to get my mitts on Em's other historicals now.

    I too am a Heyer Fan - all the ones mentioned here but I also have a soft spot for Venetia! As you say, Shirley, what an amazing legacy to leave behind.

  13. Great interview, Zana and Emily!

    Emily I'm dying to read Beauty and the Scarred hero. Not only because I adored The Earl's Dilemma, but The Grand Sophy and Faro's Daughter are my two favourite Georgette Heyer's (though I think I'd put Cotillion third) and I'm sure that means something very significant :-) Love the sound of your next book too!

  14. Zana, rah, rah, Venetia! Fabulous book!

  15. Michelle, I'm so glad you enjoyed The Earl's Dilemma. That was my very first regency and has a special place in my heart! I agree, The Grand Sophy and Faro's Daughter are THE BEST. Heyer was such a brilliant writer!

  16. Anna, you were raving so much about Venetia at conference that I went home and read it again ... dare I confess that it's still not one of my favourites? (You can sling mud at me, if you wish...)

  17. EM! I'm truly shocked. What a confession. Venetia has some of the finest scenes and dialogues. But I still like your books :)

  18. Thanks everyone for contributing to this discussion. I loved hearing about favourite reads! We also have a WINNER! Shirley, you will be receiving a copy of Beauty and the Scarred Hero. YAYA and congratulations! Can you email either Emily or myself with your address so we can get the book to you.