La Petite Four and Regency Romances
Interview by Inkona Page
Regina Scott is an accomplished author. Her Regency novels have been translated into Dutch, German, Italian, and Portuguese. Her first young adult novel, La Petite Four, is now available. She resides in the Tri-Cities in southeast Washington state with her husband and their two sons.
She is a devout Christian and a decent fencer. Her historical, fantasy, and science fiction costume collection inhabits more than a third of her walk-in closet, and she has been known to impersonate an independent consultant specializing in risk communication.
Inkona Page: Congratulations on your latest book and first young adult novel, La Petite Four. What made you decide to write a young adult novel after years as a successful writer in the genres of romance and nonfiction?
Regina Scott: I was interested in trying something different, and I’d recently read an excellent article in an industry publication about how every author has a core story, a theme if you will, that runs through everything she writes, no matter what the genre. As I looked across my books, I could see that I’d unconsciously woven in the theme of understanding who you are and how you can contribute to the world. That’s a powerful theme in romance and in fantasy, which is another genre I love. My savvy agent said, “You’re missing an obvious choice: young adult literature.” I went out and read everything I could get my hands on, and the more I read the more I wanted to write that kind of story, too!
Inkona: The characters in La Petite Four are introduced in A Dangerous Dalliance. When you wrote this romance / mystery, did you think you might do follow-up novels?
Regina Scott: I liked Lady Emily from the start. Her cynical, wry comments on the world made me think she’d make an excellent sleuth. I’d played around with several possible mysteries for her long before I ever considered writing young adult stories. So, when I decided to write that kind of story, she was my first choice for heroine.
Inkona: Your historical details and accuracy are amazing in your novels. Do you enjoy the research aspects of writing in your genre?
Regina Scott: Perhaps too much? Research can be dangerous—there are just so many fascinating facts in history! I promised myself a long time ago not to let myself get sucked in. I’ve done enough basic research on the period now that I try to focus each book around a specific area, say women painters. That way, I know I have to stick to that topic and can convince myself to stay away from carriage racing or boxing or shooting the rapids around London Bridge (some day!).
Inkona: Can you tell me more about the Bow Street Runners, the police force of Regency England?
Regina Scott: When I was a teen, I fell in love with the Regency period through a type of romance novel called a traditional Regency romance. These are typically comedy of manners, although some can be much darker, styled after the works of Jane Kristinsten. Many of those books featured the Bow Street Runners, who came to the rescue or found the most important clues. These were hand-picked men, known for their ability to catch criminals, no matter how clever. In Georgian and Regency London, they were your only hope of retribution, your last chance to make things right.
Inkona: Very cool. It sounds like you truly love this time period, but what drives you crazy about writing in this time period?
Regina Scott: You can never get it right! You’d think, as it’s only about 200 years ago, that we’d know everything we needed to know. But people don’t write enough about the little things. Did young ladies wear their gloves to eat dinner? Was it permissible to walk to church or did you have to go in style in a carriage? Who exactly were the patronesses of Almack’s in each year? I know these details don’t matter to most readers, but enquiring minds want to know!
Inkona: Speaking of enquiring minds, you have really branched out into the online world with your latest book. You have a YouTube video, a website, a MySpace page, and you blog regularly. What has been your favorite part of being online?
Regina Scott: Meeting the young reviewers. I am so impressed with these young women and men. They’ve set up their own review sites, they’re thinking about what they read, and they’re persuasively sharing those thoughts with the world. I’m honored they’ve been so welcoming and so enthusiastic in their reviews of La Petite Four.
Inkona: Have you ever based any of your characters on your friends and family? Can you tell me a bit about your decision to do so?
Regina Scott: Quite a few, actually. It all started when I was in middle school. I wrote a story about an alternative reality where the middle ages had never ended, and all my friends had roles. For instance, my friend Tina Tapert was Lady Tina of Tapert. Yeah, I was subtle back then. By the time I was in high school, I was routinely trading stories with friends who wrote, and all our stories featured us as the heroines. So it wasn’t too surprising that after my first few traditional Regencies, which is how I first started my publishing career, I would turn to one of my best grown up friends and say, “Hey, I’ve always thought you’d make a great Regency heroine. Would you mind?”
Inkona: What fun! To those people that dream of writing, as you did in middle school, what advice would you give?
Regina Scott: Write! I know that sounds silly, but so many people talk about writing and think about writing and read books about writing and join writing groups and take courses about writing, but they don’t put that same energy into writing. I learned the hard way, if you don’t write, you aren’t a writer!
Inkona: Can you talk a bit about your writing process? How do you go from having an idea to having a manuscript?
Regina Scott: I’m still a bit of an odd duck. I prefer to write my first draft longhand. There’s something about putting pen to paper that’s creative to me, while typing at a computer is definitely analytical. I’m a multidraft author, which means that I start small, with maybe an idea, a character, a thought on plot, and I rough out say eight pages. Then I write a full draft, that’s handwritten, about 100 pages. When I put it into the computer, it grows to around 200 pages. When I edit and refine, it creeps up to 300 or higher. Each draft gets thicker and richer, until I feel it’s done.
Inkona: What part of the process do you enjoy the most?
Regina Scott: Diving into each draft. I go in enthusiastically and get progressively more critical, only to get more enthusiastic again when it’s time to polish.
Inkona: What part of the process do you hate?
Regina Scott: Waiting. Publishing is a waiting game. You wait for your critique partners to comment. You wait for agents to review. You wait for publishers to review. You wait for contracts. You wait for the book. You wait for reviews from industry publications. You wait for the next contract. Arg!
Inkona: Well, we’ll be waiting for the next Regina Scott novel! Thank you so much for taking the time for the interview.