Thursday 21 April 2016

Researching the Regency

It's my pleasure to welcome Zoe Burton to the salon today, to discuss her research of the Regency!


Thank you for having me today!

I am a relatively new author, having self-published my first book in August of 2014. I have always enjoyed reading Regency romances, and when I discovered first Jane Austen (though I would not classify her works as romantic, necessarily) and then Jane Austen Fan Fiction, I thought I had died and gone to heaven! Then, a horrible thing happened. I ran out of things to read! I had read every story I could find, many of them multiple times, and had no new material. So, I began to write, and as I started talking to other authors I learned just how important it is to get the historical details right!

Zoe Burton
In the past two years or so, I have accumulated a large number of bookmarked sites. Everything from Old Bailey records to Debrett’s to the Online Etymology Dictionary has a placeholder in my browser. I have learned more than I ever thought possible about Regency houses (bought an actual book about those), and servants, and travel. I do have to say, though, that the research is often just as interesting as the story I am writing, and I strive to get as many details correct as I possibly can. Which is a very good thing, because one of my other lessons to learn was that readers will often complain if you mess it up. 

Of course, I do have that pesky rebellious streak that likes to tweak the nose of propriety now and again. I’m sure my mother is rolling her eyes in heaven about that. (Love ya, Ma!)

I think my book, Decisions and Consequences, is a perfect example of the way I try to balance my wild side with proper Regency behavior. In this story, Mr. Darcy and Elizabeth Bennet marry before they truly fall in love. As a matter of fact, they are just starting to really like each other. They do, however, soon succumb to Cupid’s arrow and are just beginning their life together when George Wickham leaps into what he thinks is a carriage containing only Elizabeth. Darcy is there, and both he and his wife are injured, Elizabeth worse than her husband. Darcy insists on helping care for her, and Elizabeth’s sister Mary helps take care of the pair of them as they recover. I explained Mary’s knowledge of married couples sharing a room in a way that made it seem normal to her that Darcy and Elizabeth do, knowing that not only is this not something that a nineteen-year-old gentlewoman was supposed to be aware of, but propriety also states that couples sleep in separate rooms. I did bow to proper behavior, though, by not allowing Georgiana to be in the bedroom with Elizabeth when her brother was there, and by having her read to them from just inside the adjoining sitting room in a position where she could not see. Then, she could help in her own way but not have her maidenly sensibilities offended. I must have done well with it, for I have heard no complaints! ☺

I am grateful to the beta readers and writer friends who have steered me to the many resources I use on a daily basis. I enjoy the feeling of satisfaction I get from knowing I have gotten the details as correct as I can.

Thanks again for allowing me to share a little about my Regency research and my book!

Decisions and Consequences can be found in print and ebook at both Amazon and Barnes & Noble Online, and in ebook at Kobo, Inkterra, Itunes, and 24Symbols
Written content of this post copyright © Zoe Burton, 2016.


Sarah said...

Running out of books was why I started writing fanfiction before there was such a thing as the internet... I appreciate your position! Good luck with it, it sounds as though it might be a winner.

Mom said...

Wow! Cannot imagine running out of regency books. And still P&P is popular. I will admit that the latest movie is my favorite. Love your candor.