“…confidence comes almost exclusively as a result of our failures. We become confident not from success, but from the try, try, again aspect of getting to success.”
It’s my pleasure to have, historical romance author, GraceBurrowes, again visiting Over Coffee. Grace is a relatively new author; her first book debuted in December 2010. It hit the Bestseller’s lists.
Over night success? Hardly.
Grace writes truly enthralling Regency romance and filled with fascinating families and unforgettable characters that touch your heart. I truly love how Grace explores the complexities of the era—it’s not all lightness and parties. Her characters face some tough choices amid some of the darker aspects and problems of Regency society. Always her tales are entertaining—they make you laugh, sometimes want to cry, and you always feel good at the end.
Grace was nice enough to answer some questions. No worries, I offered her sustenance and a spot of her favorite beverage for her efforts. J
- What is it about the Regency era that draws you to set your stories there?
My very favorite keeper authors write Regencies: Mary Balogh, Loretta Chase (though she’s drifting Victorian of late), Mary Jo Putney, and others. I love the diversity of the world—the elegance and the looming threat of war, the class structure with the emerging rights of the common man (sic), and so forth. Then too, there are horses in the Regency—always a plus.
- You don’t write the usual Almacks, endless balls and assemblies, and silly debutantes thankfully, but you do write your stories to fit the mores and culture of the era—you just shift the focus a bit. I know as a reader I appreciate seeing more of the regency world aside from Ton parties but what intrigues you, as a writer, to explore darker issues or the edges of the Regency society? What makes it fun for you?
I’m increasingly aware that some of what we think of as the Regency (the balls and simpering debutantes, the strict propriety) is what the Victorians wanted us to think of their parents and grandparents. And while that picture isn't wrong, the reality also included child brothels, horrendous odors, infant mortality, childbed fever, and much unpleasantness, particularly for women and children. That complexity, and how members of society ignored it or dealt with it, fascinates me.
- In your latest release, Darius, you write about balancing honor with hard choices one has to make to take care of family. Despite his choices, what are the things you really about Darius? Is he someone you’d like your daughter to meet?
Of course I’d like my daughter to meet him! He’s fundamentally honorable, though suffering what I think of as moral fatigue. Darius’ strength and heroism lies in his honesty. He’s not whitewashing his choices, not minimizing their impact on his well being He recognizes that his choices take a toll on him, ethically, and that he can’t keep paying that price indefinitely. When the woman he loves is threatened by the choices he’s made, he un-makes them.
- Lady Vivian seems to defy people’s expectations. On one hand she comes across as weaker a damsel in distress. But, she’s not really, is she?
Some might view Vivian as “passive,” though considering her absolute lack of legal rights and material resources, and her lack of honorable male family, I think of her more as pragmatic. She’s ready to make the same compromise Darius did: To stay where she can keep somebody she cares about (her child) safe, she’ll make a deal with the devil. That’s the choice of somebody who doesn't realize they’re truly, deeply loved by others. It’s an orphan’s choice, but when she trusts Darius, she makes the heroine’s choice and gambles everything for love.
- Without spoiling the story, what was your favorite scene in Darius?
The fight scene, oddly enough. I am not a fan of violence in any form, but readers have told me that in the past, I've let some bad folks get off with a wrist slap. Darius was nearly at the end of his rope, contemplating dire alternatives when he instead found something to live for. The fight wasn't so much about administering justice as it was about Darius’s struggle to hold onto his honor, to fight his way back to a place where he could love and be loved. That surprised me.
- Even though your stories are set in the past, you tend to write about worries, flaws and insecurities people face; regardless of what time period they live in. Is the fascination in pitting those personal issues against the restrictions and limitations of the times?
Hmm. Not consciously? As you note, people are people, regardless of the era, and true love is true love. What often solves the conflict for a romance is the hero and/or heroine healing an old wound in themselves. They regain the courage to love, shed their old dysfunctional coping habits, and in so doing, regain parts of themselves they’d discarded previously. Thus renewed emotionally, they can approach some external problem (the wicked uncle, the murderous cousin) with a wider view of the possible solutions. This isn't an era-specific process.
- In your working life as attorney, you do deal with families and children in crisis. How much do you that do you draw on for your stories? (For instance, there is quite a bit of realism to Sophie and Maggie’s (Windham series) choices and worries over children of their world.)
Excellent question, and spot on. I see both tragedies and miracles in my lawyer life, and have often witnessed children in foster care unable to choose options many would say were “obviously” in the child’s best interest. As children, the instinct to stay with and protect our progenitors, even when those people are dangerous to us, trumps the survival instinct. It’s probably the most heartbreaking reality of my work, and one I relied on specifically in Maggie’s story.
Grace, speaking from a professional counselor’s perspective, I would have to agree, and what I appreciated about most Maggie dilemma. You do a great job with showing the worry, guilt, and sense of responsibility the child in question may face in such a situation. I really loved Maggie’s story.
- As a writer, how do you deal with doubts and setbacks?
Another excellent question. I’m a reader with specific tastes, so I absolutely respect that not every book I write will work for every reader. It’s the reader’s hard-earned money, and he or she should spend it on books they love. That said, I've become very, very selective about who I associate with as a writer, where I browse on the web, and what discussions I’ll become part of. I love to write, so I try to stay close to that aspect of published authordom—and stay away from places of contention, sniping, competition, and destructiveness.
- Do you think we benefit from setbacks or even failure?
I recently came across a study that concluded most of us radically underestimate the effort required to achieve success (Gladwell’s 10,000 hours being just the start), and that as a result, confidence comes almost exclusively as a result of our failures. We become confident not from success, but from the try, try, again aspect of getting to success. That rang true for me.
- If you could spend your day however you wanted, what would you do?
WRITE, take a walk with my dog, meet one friend somewhere quiet and unpretentious for some good food and good talk.
- What’s coming next from Grace Burrowes?
The Lonely Lords series launched with Darius earlier this month, and the rest of the fellows are schedule at the rate of about one a month though early next year. I have many books in production, but I’m also working on a Regency trilogy about the things, people and ideas that can hold us captive. And I feel a Scottish Victorian Christmas story coming on… For more info and updates on coming titles, please visit my website, www.graceburrowes.com.
Grace, thank you for taking time out of your busy schedule to answer my questions. I also want to thank you for the wonderful stories you tell. They have given me hours of pleasure. You have renewed my love for a good historical.
“What often solves the conflict for a romance is the hero and/or heroine healing an old wound in themselves. They regain the courage to love, shed their old dysfunctional coping habits, and in so doing, regain parts of themselves they’d discarded previously.”
DARIUS BY GRACE BURROWES – IN STORES APRIL 2013