Regency romance readers, have we got a treat for you! Today we have a behind the scenes look at one of the newest (and most fun) sites for genre fans, The Ballroom Blog. The six talented authors who contribute to the blog, Gaelen Foley, Katharine Ashe, Miranda Neville, Sabrina Darby, Sarah MacLean and Tessa Dare, are each incredibly skilled at bringing the bygone era to life in their writing. In homage to the period that inspires them, and a nod to Almacks (where all the best members of the ton could be found), these authors recently launched The Ballroom Blog with hostess Lady Heliotrope Beaufetheringstone (pictured on the left with her pet parrot, Albert). Today all seven ladies, and the bird, visit RT.
Lady Heliotrope Beaufetheringstone (aka Lady B) is the proprietress of your blog. How did the authors of The Ballroom become acquainted with the lady in question?
Well, there is the matter of Lady Beaufetheringstone’s memoirs, although it is entirely indiscreet and forward of us to mention such a thing. Suffice to say, our esteemed hostess developed a newfound interest in female authors. The six authors of The Ballroom were honored to be invited into Lady B’s home (and we’re also terribly glad that — despite all — she hasn’t yet thrown us out).
The most obvious connection between the authors on the blog is that you are all historical romance authors (as well as fans). But I was wondering if each author could share something they see as a commonality within the group that might surprise readers.
[Lady B demanded— um, asked to be allowed to answer this question. As she is our hostess, naturally we defer.]
Lady B: I love all my dear gels. I can rely on them to keep The Ballroom well stocked with Bachelors. And they know better than to introduce hobbits, parrot haters, or irredeemable rakes with unattractive lower limbs. (Though I’m not sure there exists a rake so bad he couldn’t be redeemed by one of them.) Also, they all adore my ratafia. [Sound of six ladies choking.]
I don’t think that there is a historical romance reader out there that hasn’t fantasized about being swept back in time to attend glittering balls with handsome men. If each of you were thrown back in time, would you find yourself wallflowers or society favorites? And what type of hero would you go after – rake or proper gentleman?
Tessa: I would definitely be a wallflower in Regency — or any! — Ballroom. As for what kind of hero I’d seek out… as dashing and exciting as rakes can be, I think I’d personally prefer the cool, arrogant duke who needs some warming up.
Sarah: I’m laughing at the very idea of being a society favorite. I’m way too chatty and tall and interested in politics for that. God. They’d hate me. So, if I were to even receive an invitation, I’d probably be shunned fairly quickly . . . but I’d head straight to the lords who spend their days in Parliament. No idle aristocrats for me, thanks.
Sabrina: While my husband has just assured me I would be a wallflower (exact quote: Wallflower. [pause] At least it’s good you’re a flower. [longer pause] Flowers are beautiful.), I would certainly be the sort of wallflower who finds herself surrounded by dissipated artists. So I suppose that would ensure that I end up with some form of a rake!
Miranda: I’m afraid I’d be the young lady on the sidelines making snide comments to hide my insecurity. Hopefully a proper gentleman, with enough of a rake in him to make him interesting, will perceive my inner beauty, sweep me onto the dance floor, and it’ll turn out I can dance, after all.
Gaelen: I’d be the worldly young widow leaning elegantly by the wall laughing at Miranda’s snide remarks and waiting for the most notorious bad boy in London to come strolling in so I could seduce him. (waggling eyebrows) In no way would I allow dear Lady Sarah to be shunned or the excellent Lady Sabrina to be neglected. Any woman who dared it would be given the Cut Direct by moi. And all the sweet young things would be terrified of me. (hee hee)
Katharine: I’m most likely to be moving between friends, checking to make sure everybody’s on the right track to nabbing their Gentlemen of Choice, and helping that along if needed. When that’s all taken care of, I’ll admit I’d be seeking out the rogue in the crowd… like he’s chocolate! It’s true: I get weak-kneed over a bad boy, seeing the heart of gold inside the man without any intention whatsoever of reforming him. Though naturally I am most happily surprised when he decides to reform himself into a nearly proper gentleman (don’t want to do away with all that yummy bad boy fun!) just for me or one of my best girls.
The Ballroom’s Saturday Salon posts feature different aspects of the Regency period (i.e. architecture, clothing, transportation, etc.). For each of you, what element of the time period inspires you the most?
Tessa: I love nature. And I think Regency people loved nature, too, since they were so influenced by the Enlightenment and Romantic periods. The natural world was both a subject of scientific exploration and a source of artistic inspiration, and I love working that into my stories.
Sabrina: I love how very like our present day it is. The politics were just as intricate and divisive. Advances in medicine and surgery were made on the battlefield, and there was a tremendous sense of the modern. For all the fashionable ennui of Regency society, in some ways, people of the early 19th century were living even more on the edge of discovery than we are today. And I love that edge, that moment when something is experienced for the first time.
Miranda: (Such great answers to follow!) I’ll echo what Tessa and Sabrina say. It’s not hard to find timeless concepts that modern readers can relate too. I’m researching the early 19th century art market at the moment. I was delighted to find complaints that artists planted “puffs” for their own works. Kind of like getting your best friends to post Amazon reviews. Shameless self-promotion is nothing new!
Sarah: I’m currently working on a series that’s centered around a casino—inspired by Crockford’s in London, which was one of the very first modern casinos, designed for men to lose money to the house. So, right now, I’m fascinated by the dark corners of London society . . . of course, this likely comes as no surprise to my readers, because every one of my books seems to be about the scandal . . . scandalous people, activities and now places!
Gaelen: I appreciate the manners. The refinement. The general stability of their world. And their sense of individual duty. But my favorite thing about the Regency is their conscious commitment to beauty. They went the extra mile to make things beautiful, not just utilitarian. From conversation to dress, gardens to social customs, grace and the beautiful life were consciously cultivated among the upper classes, and wonderfully embodied in Prinny himself. He spent too much of England’s money, but look at what he left behind for millions of people around the world to enjoy. God bless the beautiful fools of this world!
Katharine: I simply revel in the contrast between the decorous order of Regency high society and the vast, dangerous, richly textured empire Britain was building during this era. My heroes and heroines find themselves stealing kisses in the shadowy corners of ballrooms as well as on ship decks, and locked in embraces beneath both snowy mistletoe and wind-swept palm trees. Really, the opportunities for dalliance — both deliciously familiar and delectably exotic — are endless!
Besides the Saturday Salon, visitors to the blog will also find “parlor games” where polls are taken, information about each authors' works in progress as well as more personal messages from each of the writers. Can you share some other features/themes for visitors to look forward to in the future?
We’re still developing ideas. Coming up with posts has to fit in with writing schedules and deadlines so (shock horror!) we couldn’t necessarily tell you what will happen next week, let alone next month. We do have some tasty little ideas for different kinds of parlor games. Soon we’ll start featuring guest posts. You’ll definitely get sneak peeks of future characters and books from all of us, and you’ll see some of your favorite couples waltzing by, for sure.
Lady B: You won’t want to miss my Christmas Ball, my dear. Everyone will be there. It will be the talk of the winter.
<squawk!> Ratafia and Mistletoe! <squawk!>
Lady B: Shush, Albert. Don’t ruin the surprise.
Want more from Lady B and the authors of The Ballroom Blog? Head over to their website here. For more genre coverage visit our Everything Romance Page. And be sure to pick up copies of Tessa Dare's A Night To Surrender and Katharine Ashe's In The Arms of A Marquess — in stores today!