There's something about the dash and verve of the Regency that has always appealed. The waving ostrich feather in a dowager's turban signaling the 'cut direct' or the clandestine preparations for a dash to Gretna Green were the stuff of a million fantasies whirling around my adolescent brain. After a few years they were no longer fantasies but a little piece of reality each time I launched a fully fledged heroine and worthy hero on the world - though it would be 23 years after writing my first novel at 17 that my heroes and heroines were worthy enough of publication.
When my fifth novel was rejected about ten years ago my husband asked me why Regency-set fiction was such a hugely popular genre. The darling man was not so insensitive as to ask why I persisted. Eivind claims he is still scarred by a year of studying Austen's Emma in high school in Norway but he has earned his colours as the husband of a Regency writer through his diligent and enthusiastic editing of my three Regency historicals published by Robert Hale.
As for the reasons for my love affair with the years particularly between 1750 and 1850 (which of course incorporates part of the Georgian and Victorian eras) I could say the colourful court of the Prince Regent and his rakish set, together with the scandals of the day, are part of the fascination.
Yet it was more than that. For me, it was escape; an antidote to the potential boredom of long periods away from home during survey contracts.
Interestingly, during the Regency the term 'antidote' described a very homely woman; not quite as bad as an ape leader - a spinster whose punishment after death for failing to multiply was to lead the apes in hell. But to be described as an antidote was no good thing.
My antidote, however, was my passion. Working in remote locations around the world during the late '90s, often the only woman on survey crews for weeks or months at a time, the Regency was a virtual escape before the internet became something we took for granted.
After a dawn take-off and sometimes eight hours operating the airborne geophysical equipment in the back of low flying survey aircraft, I couldn't wait to dive into my latest Regency historical and create a world away from the arid surrounds of Botswana's Orapa diamond mine or French Guyana's steaming jungle or the fierce turbulence over Greenland's Ice Cap.
Of course, I often had as much fun in these places as any heroine I ever created. I worked with some fantastic crews and honed my understanding of human nature through conversations with lonely pilots, but at the same time I also needed my imaginative world away from the real world; and The Regency fulfilled all the criteria.
Who can resist a dashing rake in a multi caped greatcoat and gleaming Hessians dismounting from his sweating steed and demanding his lady love disembark from the boat that is to carry her to the West Indies and marry him that night?
The scene just described is from my newly released novel A Little Deception. Unfortunately catching her rake is the beginning of a whole new set of trials and tribulations for my poor heroine, Rose Chesterfield, as described in the back cover blurb: A one-night charade to save the family sugar plantation wins Rose Chesterfield more than she bargained for - marriage to the deliciously notorious rake, Viscount Rampton. Implicated in a series of high profile jewel heists by a jealous adversary, Rose must prove more than just her innocence to regain the love of her husband.
It's creating these moments that help take my mind off my own current travails - right now shepherding two children from Australia to Norway, in the grip of food poisoning picked up in Abu Dhabi. Brainstorming my latest Regency novella for Total E-bound has been quite diverting as I hold the sick-bag for my poor groaning ten-year-old who has just thrown up nine times in the back of our KLM Airbus.
Like I said, you can't go past the Regency as an antidote for a less than perfect reality.
Thank you so much for having me here today.