Message From The Author
All my life I had the feeling I was meant to be a novelist. The only problem was I could never finish a novel. I certainly tried, but in retrospect, the books I was trying to write were all wrong for me. In order to break through I had to do two things, find the right genre to write in and tap into what it is that makes me unique.
What helped me find the right genre was meeting, at last, the hero of my own romance. Though he is far too stable, healthy, and dependable to star in a novel—bad boys are much more fun to read about—in real life he was just what I needed. The happiness I found in our relationship turned me away from those literary stories where everything ends badly and got me writing romance.
Next I made the fateful decision to write a story rooted in all the things that interest me, even though common wisdom told me that my interests were far out of the mainstream and that a book based on them would be unlikely to sell to a mass market audience. I dismissed that thought. Marketing considerations could wait until I’d finished a novel!
Because I love everything relating to 18th and 19th century history, biography and literature, I decided to write a historical romance, set in the Regency period, which would stay as true as possible to historical fact and be written in language reminiscent of that of real Regency era authors like Jane Austen and Maria Edgeworth.
But because I have also been a student of traditional astrology since I was in my teens and would never dream of getting involved in a real life relationship without having a good look at a potential partner’s chart, I made the fateful decision to make my heroine an amateur astrologer who uses the same kinds of techniques I use to navigate her way through life.
My research showed me that astrology was alive and well in England during the Regency period. The first English woman astrologer known to history, a Mrs. Williams, advertised her services in London, Bath, and Bristol Hot Wells in the 1780s. So my concept was historically viable. Once I settled on this unlikely combination of elements, I began to find my own voice.
The seed of the story that grew into my Avon debut, Lord Lightning, was the thought, “What if a prim, gently bred Regency era lady, who had grown up in one of the families that passes astrology down from generation to generation, was to read the astrological chart of a stranger, not knowing he was a notorious libertine, and see on it a very different person from the Byronic rebel he plays on the worlds’ stage—someone, in fact, with a deep need to give and receive love?
That led me to wonder how a man who took so much pleasure in being so very bad would respond to an astrologer’s naïvely proclaiming his inner goodness. Obviously, he would try to prove her wrong, and the easiest way to do this would be to seduce and abandon her.
With this vague idea in mind I started to write scenes, and, the next thing I knew, my heroine, Eliza, desperate to earn money to keep her gambler father out of prison, was employing her astrological skills to help the mistress of a notorious libertine. When Eliza’s advice led the mistress to abandon her protector, he struck back by indulging in one of the shocking pranks that had earned him the nickname Lord Lightning. He kidnapped Eliza, intending to do nothing more than give her the fright of her life.
But armed with her unshakeable faith that Lord Lightning must have the kind heart she had seen depicted on his chart, Eliza rushed in where more worldly women would have feared to tread. Her response to his outrageous act was as unexpected as anything Lord Lightning himself could have dreamed up—and I found myself at last, on the way to writing the novel that only I could have written.
As it turned out, marketing loved it, and I hope you will, too. If you have half as much fun reading Lord Lightning as I had writing it, you’re in for a very good time!
- Jenny Brown
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