Today we're welcoming author Amy Corwin to the blog on her tour with Goddess Fish Promotions for the regency romantic mystery novel, "The Vital Principle". We've reviewed this story, here. It's a great read!
Amy is giving away a $25 Amazon GC to one randomly drawn commenter. So comment today AND follow her tour (if you click on the banner over there on the left, it'll take you to a list of her tour stops) -- the more you read and comment, the better your odds of winning. You could be introduced to a great new author AND win a GC!
Amy was kind enough to answer my questions. Take it away!
Why do you write in the regency era? I'd think that would be quite challenging.
A lot of folks ask me that and I can usually pull something out of my hat to answer it. The reality is: because I always want to know “how/why/what”. What is that bird and why do you find it in that particular tree? How does it fit into that particular environment? And what has that got to do with writing about the Regency period? Well. When you start trying to understand a lot of the hows and whys in the world like “how did the science of forensics get started”, you sooner or later wind up in the Regency.
A lot of the world as we know it, our sciences and all the things we take for granted, had their roots in the Regency. Medicine, forensics, roses (yes, Hybrid Teas and other roses as we know from our friendly neighborhood garden center), trains, transportation, police, you name it and it probably had its roots during this period. Something happened when we reached the 19th century that directly led to the civilized lives we know and love today.
How could I resist that period? The start of the modern world?
Besides the fact, of course, that since forensics and police forces and all the law enforcement goodies we take for granted today were either non-existent or barely out of diapers at that period. This gave me enormous scope for creating detectives who could actually mess around crime scenes without being locked up for it.
Lastly, I love Georgette Heyer and Jane Austen. Not enough to divorce my husband and change my orientation, but… Yes. They were a great influence on my writing and why I wanted to write.
How do you conduct your research? Are you ever stymied by something you need to know for your books?
Research is hard. Very hard. But it’s hard regardless of what period you pick. If you write contemporaries (I’ve got my first one of those coming out later this year) you’re up against forensics, science, police procedures, and the fact that no matter what you think you know, someone else out there will know something that contradicts it. Plus there’s the fact that you may need to bend reality to make it do what you need to do for your story and since there are others now living, breathing and reading your book who have direct experience of this time period, well, it’s a bit harder to pull off.
Writing books set in the past simply trades those issues for others, like clothing, words (not all the words we use today existed/meant the same in the past), social mores, and so on. And again, whatever you write will undoubtedly run counter to what some other scholar knows.
Ultimately, you do the best you can to strive for accuracy. While we all like to think there are facts, there is also the interpretation of those facts, and even the experts argue about what they really mean. If there is room for argument between experts in the field, well, I do the best I can to interpret things in a way that works for my story and hope the readers will grant me a bit of leeway.
But I do work diligently at it. I look up dozens of words every page to try to make sure they existed prior to the year the story begins. Over the years, I’ve collected hundreds of reference books including The Constable’s Pocket Guide, law books from the Regency, medical books, and gardening books. I read extensively. I check the details.
Do you write full time? If not, do you hope to?
I have a full-time job as a computer specialist at the moment. But sometime within the next two years, I’m hoping to brick over that sinkhole and write full-time.
What's a typical day for you?
At the moment, it’s pretty appalling. I get up between 5-6AM and work at my day job until around 5PM. I walk the dogs. Do a bit in the garden. Cook dinner. Then from 7-10PM each night I write. Since I’m pretty wiped out by the weekend, I do try to take Saturday off. If I’m in the middle of a book, however, I might write for a few hours on Saturday and Sunday. The problem is burnout. I can push it for a couple of months, but then my mind goes belly-up, so I’m trying to be more measured in my approach.
Plotter or Pantser?
Both. I have to plot out the first few chapters and come up with a few twists and red herrings. I need to find a humorous thread I can pull through the story, otherwise I get too depressed to write it because when you write mysteries, there are often some fairly dark threads. I need that humor to avoid dissolving into a small, weepy puddle. Sure, sometimes the humor is fairly dark, but hey, humor is subjective, right?
Once the first few chapters are written, things often take a turn, so I then have to revise the skeletal outline I previously created. But I do need to at least have a few bullets written down so I know what needs to happen each chapter or I get a terrible case of writer’s block. I often think writer’s block is simply that the writer doesn’t know where to go with the story. At least that’s true for me.
But some chapters are written because when the story demanded it and they were never part of the outline at all.
Anything coming up from you we should be looking forward to?
A couple of things! I’ve got a hardcover contemporary mystery called Whacked! coming out this year although I don’t have a specific date yet (it might be this summer). And I have a new Regency book in the Archer Family series called Escaping Notice, coming out in March 2012. The Archer Family series is more of a light, humorous romance with a mystery subplot, while the Second Sons Inquiry Agency series is more traditional Regency mystery, occasionally with a romantic subplot.
I’m really excited about both Escaping Notice and Whacked! and hope my readers enjoy them.
If things go really well this year, I may even have a Second Sons Inquiry Agency book, Hidden Aspects, coming out sometimes in the fall, but that is not definite yet. This one features Prudence Barnard and Knighton Gaunt from The Vital Principle, and this time, it’s Pru calling on Knighton for his assistance in solving a murder, rather than Knighton investigating Pru as a suspect. I loved having the opportunity to catch up with the two characters and find out what they’re up to. With luck, they may have a few more appearances in the future.
Do you mainly read in the genre you write in? Why or why not?
Yes. Probably half or more of the books I read are mysteries of all kinds, crime, Regencies, Science Fiction, and horror. I’m addicted to haunted house stories. I don’t know what the heck is wrong with me. I’ll often re-read Austen while I’m writing Regencies, just because it’s like a mini refresher course in all the minutiae of Regency life.
Tell us about some authors who've inspired you? How?
Georgette Heyer. I could never match her brilliance, but I adored her. And P.G. Wodehouse, Saki (H.H. Munro), Jane Austen, Barbara Michaels, Victoria Holt, Mary Stewart. The list goes on and on. They gave me so much joy that I wanted to write, too, and share the joy with others in a creative way. At the end of the day, I want people to read my books and simply be happy. Our days can be so draining and there often seems so little reason to hold on to hope, but ultimately, that is what I want to achieve with my books: put a smile on the reader’s face and give her (or him) a renewed sense of optimism.
Any questions for our readers?
I would dearly love to know what sorts of stories they love to read and what makes them happy. Who knows, I may even be able to use it in a book!
I can't wait to see their responses! Thanks for visiting, Amy.
In 1815, inquiry agent, Knighton Gaunt, is asked by Lord Crowley to attend a séance with the express purpose of revealing the spiritualist as a fraud. When the séance ends abruptly, an unseen killer poisons Lord Crowley, leaving Gaunt to investigate not fraud, but murder.
Suspicion turns first to the spiritualist, Miss Prudence Barnard. But as Gaunt digs deeper into the twisted history of the guests at Rosecrest, he discovers a series of deadly secrets. Long-time friends soon turn against one another as the tension mounts, and Gaunt is challenged to separate fact from fiction before another death at Rosecrest.
Amy Corwin is a charter member of the Romance Writers of America and recently joined Mystery Writers of America. She has been writing for the last ten years. She writes romance, historical and cozy mysteries. To be truthful, most of her books include a bit of murder and mayhem since she discovered that killing off at least one character is a highly effective way to make the remaining ones toe the plot line.
Amy’s books include the three Regency romantic mysteries, I BID ONE AMERICAN, THE BRICKLAYER’S HELPER, and THE NECKLACE; Regency mysteries, THE VITAL PRINCIPLE, and A ROSE BEFORE DYING; and her first cozy mystery, WHACKED!, will come in in 2012 from Five Star.
Join her and discover that every good romance has a touch of mystery.