I’m always happier on Friday … I wonder why? Perhaps having the fabulous author Regan Walker here today helps. She’s a veteran in the writing/publishing world, so let’s get cozy.
Two lucky commenters can win the short story of their choice from Regan (either The Holly & The Thistle or The Shamrock & The Rose). Make sure to post your email address when you comment.
I didn’t start out as a writer of romance, oh no. Although I loved to write stories as a child, by the time I got to college, more serious pursuits were encouraged. So, naturally, I became a lawyer. Who needs adverbs as a lawyer? But after years of serving clients in private practice and several stints in high levels of government, I decided it was time for a change. My work had given me a love of international travel (I’ve been to over 40 countries…) and a feel for the demands of the “Crown” on its subjects. Hence, my first novels are all about a demanding Prince Regent who thinks of his subjects as his private talent pool.
I promise my novels will always sweep you away to another time and another place. I want you to experience adventure as well as love.
I live in San Diego with my wonderful Golden Retriever “Link.” I have one son who is a young entrepreneur and, though he looks like a Highlander of old, he would never read a romance novel. So like a man, no?
I like being swept away Regan… and I do read romance.
What inspired you to become a writer?
I have always loved to write but it was probably my love of historical romances—the deep ones—that led to my first novel, Racing With The Wind. That and my best friend who told me I should write one, and that I thought like a writer. I like real history in my novels. And I think it was a fascination with all that was going on in France and England during the time of the Regency that drew me—and a love for the stories of Jane Austen. In addition to England’s war with Napoleon, there was the War of 1812 that made the relationship with young America so interesting. There was just so much to work with. But I love history of all periods, so I won’t likely confine myself forever to the Regency period.
Are you a plotter or panster?
I’m a wannabe plotter but at heart a panster. Usually I know the beginning and perhaps the end of my story when I look at that first blank page, but the middle is all magic. My goal is to do more plotting.
At what age did you write your first novel?
I began writing stories very young—in grade school—but I did not again take up writing fiction until the last few years. I discovered historical romance about 2010 and fell in love with the genre. My first novel began soon thereafter. If I had it to do over, I would have taken up writing historical romance a long time ago.
Give us some background on your series. Share your favorite scene.
The idea came from my early love of mysteries and spy stories and my knowledge that all branches of government have their own agents. It wasn’t much of a stretch to conceive of the Prince Regent asking a few of his subjects to take on “special assignments.” Kings have been doing it for centuries. Hence my trilogy features heroes who have been asked by the Prince Regent to take on a unique task. First there was Racing With The Wind, and the British Lord who masqueraded at the Nighthawk, the thief of Napoleon’s secrets.
Then there is my current release, Against the Wind, the story of Sir Martin Powell, the agent for the Crown in France who has come home to England for one last assignment and gets embroiled in the Pentrich Rebellion of 1817. The 3rd in the trilogy—Wind Raven, which I just finished, begins in London but then quickly moves to the hero’s schooner and then into the Caribbean, It features a rakish sea captain, and a handsome pirate who actually plied the seas around Puerto Rico at the time.
My favorite scene might be the bordello scene from Against the Wind. It is very moving and there is a lot of the heroine’s emotion in it.
What is the most romantic place you’ve ever been?
The Yasawa Islands of Fiji. Nothing but blue lagoons.
Name your favorite real-life hero or fictional hero… How have they influenced your life?
I’m going to keep this to my own fictional heroes. I really love my heroes, all of them, and my heroines are women I would like to know. I suppose it might be my Scottish hero…William Stephens, the shipbuilder in The Holly & The Thistle. He is so sure of his love for Lady Emily Picton and very strategic in the way he goes about winning her. We would all love a man like that. You’ll see him again in one of my future stories, perhaps a Scottish Christmas story. But I also like Hugh, the Marquess of Ormond from Racing With The Wind—also known to some as the legendary Nighthawk. Very sexy guy, that one. Not sure how these heroes or any have influenced me, but their most noble characteristics inspire me.
Name your favorite books from childhood and adulthood.
By the time I was eight I’d read out the fairy tale section of the library. One of my favorite books from childhood was Mr. Bass and the Mushroom Planet. In my early teen years I discovered Agatha Christie and read every one of her mysteries (in the order in which she wrote them!). When my son was younger (he’s 23 today), I read Harry Potter with him and loved all the books. (They are not just for kids!) And in recent years it’s been historical romance. I began with On a Highland Shore and Rivals for the Crown by Kathleen Givens, and loved them. And that led to my Regan’s Romance Reviews blog (http://reganromancereview.blogspot.com), where I try and find the “keepers” for my fellow readers. I have maven tendencies and the blog allows me to share my knowledge.
What’s your astrological sign? Do you fit the characteristics associated with it? How?
I’m a Sagittarius—a double one actually (sun and moon), and yes, from what I recall, I think I have a lot of those characteristics. I’m independent and love adventure. I also love to travel (I have been to 40 countries). I’m honest and forthright. And I love animals. But unlike them I am very comfortable with and seek responsibility. At least I think I have that right. It’s been since college I even looked at that.
What’s the hardest lesson you’ve learned from your journey as a writer?
That you have to keep going when you think you have nothing to say or the scenes are not coming. In the writing of each of my novels I experienced this at the midpoint. Then I must take a break, read a book and then come back to it, maybe with chocolate in hand. And sometimes I only figure out a character when the book is done and then I have to go back and add dimension to him or her.
Favorite Color: Red
Favorite Actor/Actress: Liam Neeson and Cate Blanchett
Favorite Movie: Pride and Prejudice (the version with Keira Knightley)
Favorite century and why?: That’s a hard one. And it depends on what country. If it’s England, the 19th because so much was happening. If it’s America, likely the 18th but I could also do the 19th if we’re skipping the Civil War. If it’s Scotland, much earlier, say the late 13th century, and I’d pick a time when they weren’t being harassed by the English. I like the idea of the clans where everyone found a family and a place.
Favorite Food: So much of it with me is the ambiance (the candles, the wine the delicate sauces). So, probably French.
Least favorite vegetable: Cauliflower. Unless it’s doused with cheese it’s blah.
First boyfriend/How old?/Why did you like him?:
I was 12 and at summer camp running alone through the woods barefoot (as I was wont to do), and nearly collided with a boy doing the same thing. It was love at first sight. One of these days that scene is going in a prologue for one of my novels.
Describe yourself in 5 words:
Independent, fearless, adventuresome, romantic, and loving
Regan is featuring Racing with the Wind, Agents of the Crown Book 1 today…
The intrepid daughter of an earl leaves Regency London for the Parisian court of Louis XVIII, where she finds adventure, mystery, and above all, love.
Hugh Redgrave, marquess of Ormond, was warned. Prinny had dubbed Lady Mary Campbell “the Swan,” but no ordinary man could clip her wings. She was a bluestocking hellion, an ill-advised match by every account. Luckily, he sought no bride. His work lay on the continent, where he’d become legend by stealing war secrets from Boney. And yet, his memories of Lady Mary riding her stallion were a thorn in his mind. He was the son of a duke and in the service of the Prince Regent…and he would not be whole until he had won her hand.
It was unheard of for a Regency debutante to postpone her first season, yet Lady Mary had done just that. Far more interested in politics than a husband, she had no time for foolishness or frippery. Already she had assisted her statesman uncle in Paris, and she swore to return to the court of Louis XVIII no matter the danger. Like her black stallion, Midnight, she would always run free. Only the truest heart would race beside her.
Sounds so exciting!
Here’s the excerpt…
The outskirts of Paris, 1811
A tall figure stood among the trees, another shadow in the gloomy night. Swirling mist covered the ground around him like a soft gray carpet. A chateau loomed ahead, a dim monument in the light of a pale half moon that revealed only shades of gray.
He waited for a drifting cloud to obscure the moon’s faint glow before daring to steal across the wide expanse of lawn. His boots made no sound as he crossed the stone terrace and became one with the wall of the elegant mansion. There he paused and listened. All was quiet save the rustle of the leaves stirred by the gentle breeze.
Looking up, he peered through the mask that covered his face and fixed his eyes on his goal, a window high above. Barely disturbing the mist, he reached for a thick vine and climbed.
His dark hair was loose at his nape and he was clad all in black, moving like a wraith. The clouds continued to drift in the night sky, uncovering the half moon. A glimmer of silver reflected from his chest where he wore a brace of pistol daggers; the weapons were unique and of a French design, and he had used them before to great effect. A smile came to his lips as he considered the legend that had spread about him—a larger than life figure who successfully stole secrets from places believed safe from intrusion.
They called him L’Engoulevent, the Nighthawk. He came only at night, swooping down and disappearing before anyone roused. An occasional glimpse by a servant or a guard had provided only partial descriptions. Some said he flew with a cape. Others said he wasn’t human at all but rather a dark and ghostly apparition. But the Nighthawk was very real. Tonight his target was the home of a French general believed to be the author of Napoleon’s plans to invade Russia.
Perched above the ground, clinging to the vine, he reached for the edge of the leaded window. The latch gave way with a quiet click. He slipped through the opening and dropped into a low crouch on the thick rug. Surveying the bedroom before him, he could see the sleeping form of a young woman in a white poster bed, her dark hair spread upon the pillow. She did not stir as he moved past her and toward his destination.
At the end of the hall he located the study reported to hide the secret documents he sought. Cautiously he entered the spacious room lined with traditional dark wood cabinets and tall book-filled shelves, and stealthily moved to the carved wood desk facing a marble fireplace. Reaching into his shirt he pulled out a small black velvet case. Inside were the delicate tools that had opened the most secure locks in France.
Working with only the pale light from the windows behind him, he opened the locked drawers and captured his prize. Placing the correspondence and map inside his shirt, he surveyed the room. He knew there would be more.
His gaze came to rest on an old painting of a French military officer in dress uniform hanging over the fireplace. The officer’s white breeches reflected the room’s meager light, but he cared not for the painting, only for the secrets it might guard. Silently he crossed the room and lifted the gilded frame. The cast-iron safe set behind it made him smile as if encountering an old friend.
He set the painting on the floor to once again work his magic with the lock. Again he was successful. Ignoring the velvet jewelry cases and money, he reached instead for the letters and papers. Not bothering to decipher the words in the dim light, he added these documents to those in his shirt, closed the safe, and returned the painting to its original position. His mission complete, he crept down the hall to the bedroom where he had first entered the house.
The young woman stirred in her sleep, restless in her dreams. He should have departed without disturbing her, but something made him pause. Perhaps it was her beauty. Her face, with its delicate features and well-shaped lips, was turned slightly to the side. Upon closer inspection, she looked to be about eighteen.
He bent to hover for a moment, breathing in the fragrance of lavender. Her lips were warm as he bestowed his kiss. He knew he was keeping alive the legend, and there was no benefit to a legend when one’s purpose was to remain unknown. Yet, he could not resist. There were few enough pleasures in the life of duty that he’d chosen for himself.
Her pale eyes opened slowly, heavy with sleep. Placing his finger on her lips to quiet any words, he whispered to her in the perfect speech of the French aristocracy, “I leave you my kiss and a wish for a good life, beautiful mademoiselle.”
She gasped as she took in his masked appearance, but then a faint smile came to her lips. “The Nighthawk,” she whispered, and reached for him, entwining her fingers in the hair at his nape.
Without saying a word, he gently pulled her hands from his neck and moved to the window and back into the night. He had accomplished his mission. The Nighthawk might be a thief, but he was not a despoiler of innocents.
More’s the pity.
Where to contact Regan and find her books…
Thanks Regan, I’m thrilled you stopped by today.