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MENU and RANSOME Questions Answered

Tuesday, June 23, 2009

Sylvia asked: “What all does Boudreaux-Guidry Enterprises include? I know that Meredith’s parents started it as a real-estate business, but is that all it is? Could you expound on that and Meredith’s role in it? Also, does Major run his business out of one place and then go on location to all the places that need him?”

      I don’t want to give too much information on it, as Menu gives quite the inside look at the workings of Boudreaux-Guidry Enterprises. But it’s a large corporation (top 100 in the Southeast) that owns major real estate tracts in Bonneterre, including the tallest building in downtown, Boudreaux Tower, the site where the engagement party took place in Stand-In Groom, Lafitte’s Landing, and they were greatly involved in the revitalization of Town Square and Old Towne.

Jane G. asked: “What made you decide on 1814 as the setting for Ransome’s Honor? Most Regencies I’ve read are usually earlier, like 1802 or 1803.”

      Not to get too technical, but the Regency period in England began in 1811 the Prince of Wales became the Prince Regent because his father, George III, was completely bonkers and couldn’t handle the job anymore (yes, the George III who was king when America declared Independence thirty-six years earlier). The Regency period ended in 1820 when the Prince Regent became King George IV upon his father’s death. The year 1814 was a time of peace in the Napoleonic Wars. What is generally referred to as “The Napoleonic Wars” is basically from the beginning of the French Revolution in 1793 through Bonaparte’s defeat at Waterloo in 1815. Bonaparte came to power around 1799, but as Great Britain had been at war with France almost continually for the six years before that, it’s all considered part of the same conflict. There were two significant times of peace during this twenty-two year war: what is commonly referred to as the Peace of Amiens (for the Treaty of Amiens) from March 1802 through May 1803, when open hostilities once again erupted. Then in April 1814, with defeat imminent, Bonaparte abdicated his position of Emperor of France and was exiled to the island of Elba. The Royal Navy was recalled to England to be decomissioned, which was a realistic time for both William and Julia to both be in Portsmouth. And, as a matter of fact, when I added the prologue for Ransome’s Honor—which was the last time William and Julia saw each other—I had it take place in 1802, the Peace of Amiens, which would have seemed like a safe time for then-Captain Witherington to have his wife and daughter come back to England from Jamaica (where they’ve been since 1794) for a visit. In 1802, when we first meet William, he’s a poor lieutenant with nothing to offer his wealthy Captain’s daughter. However, by the time 1814 rolls around, he’s been in the Royal Navy for almost twenty-three years (since he was twelve), so he’s had plenty of time not only to rise through the ranks, but to also amass a small fortune of his own, which, by 1802, he wouldn’t realistically have had time to do.

      And now I’m sure you’re wondering why I’m referring to him as Bonaparte and not Napoleon, which is what most people are used to seeing him called. Well, his name was Napoleon Bonaparte. When he declared himself Emperor of France, he was referred to as Napoleon I of France. However, Britain didn’t recognize him by this title and continued to refer to him as Bonaparte (or “Boney”). And yes, during this same time period, England and America are at war as well, which is another of the reasons for choosing the year, because it gives a good reason for William to be sent to the Caribbean, as that’s where the Royal Navy’s main action was now to be found—in the waters surrounding North America.

Becky Davis asked: “How did you come up with your characters’ names? I’m just starting with writing fiction and I can never think of good names for my characters. Also I heard your not supposed to have characters with names that start with the same letter in a romance novel. But you have Meridith and Major. So is it ok to do that.”

      You may want to read these couple of posts I’ve written on naming characters:
      Creating Credible Characters–What’s in a Name?
      Which Comes First–the Character or the Name?
      By Any Other Name . . .

      Yes, it is frowned upon for a hero and heroine in a romance novel to have names that start with the same letter, as using too many names starting with the same letter (especially if they’re around the same length) can be problematic for a reader (for example: John, Jack, Jake, Jane, Joan—see how they all kind of look alike?). But Meredith and Major were created as secondary characters in Stand-In Groom long before I knew they’d have their own story together. Meredith was named on a whim for someone I worked with and Major is a family name from the Caylor side of my family. In Ransome’s Honor, the name William came from the character who inspired him (William Bush from the Hornblower series) and the name Julia is in honor of my maternal grandmother, Julia Katherine Caylor McLellan. I do try to be careful when it comes to using names of family members, especially for main characters. And with a large family, it’s hard to find names that aren’t already in use in my family.

Rachael Adams asked: “Has it been different to market an historical novel than a contemporary novel? Have you done anything differently to get the word out about Ransome’s Honor than you did with the contemporary novels?”

      You know, I hate to admit it, but with all of my focus the last five or six weeks being on getting A Case for Love finished, I’ve only been doing some general marketing for both books. Once I meet with the marketing/sales executives at ICRS in a couple of weeks, I’ll probably have a better idea of what I can do differently. I have been trying to get ARCs (advance reader copies—basically bound galleys) to people who have more of a focus on historical fiction and especially those who’re big in the Jane Austen blogosphere community (see the two Jane Austen blogs in my links to the right). But so far, I haven’t really done much differently.

Eileen Astels asked: “Which did you have the most fun writing, and why?”

      Though I’m very happy with the final product of Menu for Romance, I’d have to say the process of writing Ransome’s Honor was more fun—for the main reason that I had all the time in the world to work on it and could really fly by the seat of my pants and change my mind as I went. Plus I love research, so it was great being able to incorporate my love of that period in history into fiction.

Caleb asked: “What does it feel like to be a multipublished author? How has it changed your life? Also can you talk about deadlines and what it’s like to write when you have to meet a deadline?”

      I still have a hard time thinking of myself as a “multi-published author.” Probably because there’s technically only one out right now—and because other than advances, I haven’t really seen the financial “benefits” of being multi-published.

      As far as what it’s like to write on a deadline, I just wrote a full blog article on that which will be appearing on the Seekerville blog on June 30. I’ll announce it here when it goes up!

  1. Tuesday, June 23, 2009 10:24 am

    Calebs are like highlanders. Than can be only one.

    I was really, really confused when I read this. Good stuff, though.


    • Tuesday, June 23, 2009 12:01 pm

      Now, you know that even within your extended family, that’s not true, as I have a step-nephew named Caleb as well. (But that question wasn’t from him either!)


  2. Tuesday, June 23, 2009 2:10 pm

    So maybe we’re more like Jedi. Post-Clone Wars, of course.


  3. Tuesday, June 23, 2009 5:03 pm

    I have your Seekerville appearance marked on my calendar…can’t wait to read it! That’s kinda a worry for me…my WIP has taken two and a half years…and counting! Soooo yikes…deadlines might be very interesting. 😦 Can’t wait to hear your thoughts.


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