Writing Regency novels takes much more than just loving the genre. For Jane Austen, she lived during the Regency period and, therefore, could write from her own experiences. For those of us authors who love that time period and love Jane Austen, writing novels set during that time period is much harder. In order to be factually accurate and to present an authentic view into the past, authors need to research and read everything that they can get their hands on. However, even still, there is always something that might slip through the cracks.
As one of those authors, I have found that I can never do enough research. Even my best efforts find some errors that, undoubtedly, slip into my writing. It is unfortunate but most likely true of any author who writes in this genre.
In the past, I have been rather comfortable writing adaptations of Jane Austen’s novels because they were set in the Amish landscape, which is a religion and culture I have thirty years of first-hand experience to pull from. However, now that I have begun writing true Regency era novels, I have stepped out of my comfort zone and into a new world.
I rather like it.
Despite the errors that will inevitably fall into my novels, I enjoy the research and learning new things about how people lived during the early 1800s in England. Everything from their clothing to their food to their vocabulary to their social structure must be researched. And not just once (for no one researcher can truly know everything!).
My upcoming release of The Wedding of Shire Hall (written under the name Catherine Eleanor) is a true testament of the need for continuous research. The storyline itself is familiar to me as it is a fan-fiction account of my best-selling series, Plain Fame. Placing the two main characters, Amanda and Alejandro (or Alexander as he is known in the Shire Hall series) into Regency England was not too difficult. Romance is romance, after all. However, understanding all of the nuances of that particular time period puts me at a little of a disadvantage.
You see, in Plain Fame, a young Amish woman accidentally meets up with a famous international superstar, Alejandro Diaz, otherwise known as Viper. They eventually fall in love and marry, despite their differences. In Regency England, having a commoner meet and marry a member of the gentry is something that did not happen too often. Fortunately, as I am an author of fiction romances, creative liberty works in my favor.
One of the things that I have learned while writing the Shire Hall series is that many other authors take creative liberties, too.
A perfect example is the wedding ceremonies. Unlike 21st century America, Regency weddings were a much simpler affair, without large wedding parties or even guests. Most weddings took place in the morning and were followed by a wedding breakfast. What happened after that? I’ve been hard pressed to find any definitive answer.
A breakfast must end and, at that point, I have found little research into what, exactly, a newly married couple would do for the rest of their wedding day. Some source claim that there might be more celebration into the evening. Others state that the newly married couple might leave to journey home. Honeymoons were not spent abroad but, rather, considered to be the first month of marriage settling in, not traveling. But what about those who did now have a grand celebration or any place to go?
It is with this in mind that I have enlisted my own creative liberties in The Wedding of Shire Hall. Is it accurate or authentic? Obviously, I will never know as I was born 150+ years after the fact. But does it make for a good read? I certainly think so.
Hopefully all of you will think so, too.
The Wedding of Shire Hall (Kindle Worlds) is due out next week, August 22, 2017. I look forward to hearing from all of you regarding your thoughts on my fictional account of a Regency Era wedding.