History Hoydens


Historical Romance Writers Dishing the Dirt on Research

10 June 2008

Welcome, Barbara Metzger!

Available Now!

He’s a master of disguises— but he can’t mask true love

Spymaster Harry Harmon’s new assignment is to spy on enemies at a country house party. To do that, he’ll require a courtesan— learned, truthful, and beautiful...

Poor, sensible, smart Simone Ryland has come to Mrs. Burton’s bawdy house in search of work. But instead, she finds Harmon in need of her special “skills.”

THE SCANDALOUS LIFE OF A TRUE LADY is set in the Regency era right after Waterloo. Is there a particular reason you chose that year?
I wanted the war over because hero Harry was a master spy. Now that peace has come, he is desperate to retire and have a real life, without disguises, aliases, or threats.

How did you become interested in this time period?
The same way many writers come to the Regency, via Jane Austen and Georgette Heyer. I also have to credit Barbara Cartland for making it look do-able. I'd never have had the courage to try otherwise. What you love about it? The times? Because so much was going on. The tradition of Regency-set romances? At first, because they were comedies of manners mixed with True Love. And honor. Yes, still honor. The heroes have strict codes and strong consciences.

What do you like least about this period?
Again, there is a difference between the history and the fiction. The Regency was a great time for the wealthy and titled. Poverty, prejudice, ignorance and injustice can be ignored in a love story. What I like least about writing about the times is that so many great plots have already been used! Anything that constrained you or that you had to plot carefully around? The same thing, trying not to repeat myself or anyone else. That was one reason I started adding a bit of paranormal to my books, for the fun of going in new directions without straying to far from my home base. THE HOURGLASS had Death as hero. In the True Love Trilogy, TRULY YOURS, THE SCANDALOUS LIFE OF A TRUE LADY, and THE WICKED WAYS OF A TRUE HERO (Feb., 2009) the heroes carry the family trait of being able to discern the truth. I had a great time playing with that.

Anything you flat-out altered or "fudged"?
Like having Harry get a bad taste in his mouth when a lie is spoken? I guess I take enough liberties with reality! I do often make up towns, streets, etc., because an actual place has its own history.

Any gaffs or mea culpas you want to fess up to before readers get their hands on the book? I know I always seem to find one after the book has gone to press. *sigh*
I am sure there are many, despite so many readings and rewrites, editing and copy-editing, but I do not read the books when they come out. By then I am sick of the story, and hate to find the errors, when it's too late to fix them.

Tell us a little about your hero or heroine (or both!). Something fun, like his favorite childhood pet, or her first kiss (assuming it wasn't the hero, LOL!).
The best thing about Harry is all the characters he pretends to be: an old man, a coachman, an army officer, a rake. The heroine begins to suspect because all of them have white cat hairs on their clothes.

What sparked this book? Was it a character? An historical event? A scene you just couldn't get out of your head?
Again, I took the notion of the men in the Royce family being about to tell truth from lies and went where that led me. The first book was about a court case, because Rex could tell the heroine was innocent. In SCANDALOUS LADY, Harry is defending the country. The final book is about counterfeiting. All different heroes and plots, but with the same quirk.
I know this is a spy book. Was there a particular historical event taking place in England (something like the Peterloo massacre) that had your dashing spy master active in his own country? After the war, there were still plots against the government, still people with secrets, so Harry still had work to do before he could retire.

Did you have to do any major research for this book (I always assume with spys that there must have been lots of background research that never makes it to the page)?
No, since Harry's existence was supposed to be a state secret, I figured I could put him where I wanted, without worrying about Intelligence services, etc. Magic is very liberating!

What/Who do you like to read?
Almost anything with a happy ending. If there's a dog, even better.

Care to share a bit about your writing process? Are you a pantser or a plotter?
Both, to my dismay. I usually spend months thinking, so I know the characters, the set-up, the beginning scenes, all neatly outlined and indexed. Then I get stuck, frustrated and bored, and start writing, without an ending! Do you write multiple drafts or clean up as you go? Both, but more of reworking each chapter until I like it.

What are you planning to work on next?
Well, my next story, the last of the connected books, is done. That's THE WICKED WAYS OF A TRUE HERO, where poor Daniel gets a rash when someone tells a lie. He's a total misfit in so-called polite society, or trying to talk to a proper lady. Right now I am working on a new Regency-historical, without any paranormal at all, trying to see how I can twist the arranged marriage plot in new ways. And I am kicking around a contemporary idea, with magic. I'd start it soon. . . if it only had an ending!


Blogger Louisa Cornell said...

Barbara I love the sound of this book. Regency with a touch of magic is hard to beat!

I know you said you didn't have to do a lot of research re spies per se, but what are your favorite research books about this era?

I laughed out loud at the premise for your next book. It sounds like a lot of fun! Where did you get THAT idea??

7:06 PM  
Blogger Kathrynn Dennis said...

Hi Barbara, thanks for posting with us! I read the post and keep thinking "me too, me too..."

...making up streets and towns, hating to read the book after it's published...so true!

Best wishes, Kathrynn

10:58 PM  
Blogger Amanda Elyot said...

Welcome, Barbara! Your stories sound wonderful.

I, too, can't read one of my novels after it's published, for exactly the reasons you cite. I once did a reading at a store appearance and discovered 2 typos in a single paragraph and was ashamed and angry that no one had ever caught them, even though I was the only one looking at the page at the time. Of course, typographers do make their own errors, and if it's done in a second, or even third, pass that the author doesn't get to review, it's possible that no one would have been able to catch the errors.


I tend to plot the same way you do, too. I've often started manuscripts and submitted several pages with a proposal and my agent, and editors will invariably say, "great beginning -- but where's it going?"

My usual reply is "I don't know yet." They don't like that one. But I'm not an author who can work with such a detailed outline. My characters often tell me where they want to go, and sometimes when they get in a scene, they change their minds.

5:17 AM  
Blogger Pam Rosenthal said...

Hi Barbara -- I love the wit and charm of your books and I was interested in your take on the post-Waterloo era we've been talking about so much on this blog.

As for your hero having a bad taste in his mouth when a lie is spoken, I had a French libertine hero who knew the end of a love affair by a certain metallic taste in his mouth...

7:49 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I know I'll have a great time reading this book--I've enjoyed all your others.

I'm amazed how you continue to make your stories funny while still being true to the Regency. Even if you make some stuff up, it all still sounds "Regency-ish".

Linda Banche

7:32 AM  

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