Sunday, 17 April 2016

From Regency to Science Fiction - Maria Grace Casts Light ...

Today I am delighted to welcome as my guest, author Maria Grace ~

I asked her:
Why the Regency period? What is it that you love so much about that era? 
I think the Regency is particularly fascinating because it sits on the cusp of the industrial revolution. It is ‘historical’ but not so far removed from our context that it is hard for readers to relate to. I also love that I can access documents published in the period and read about it in the words of people who were living and writing then. 

Obviously Jane Austen is an inspiration to you. What is it that you admire so much about her writing?
Jane Austen’s characters were simply brilliant. Though set two hundred years ago, her people are vivid and relatable today. Her plots also stand the test of time and are as entertaining today as they were in her day. 

How does one begin to go about making a Regency costume - do any original patterns still exist? 
There are a number of Regency patterns available, both costume-y/theatrical and historically accurate. Original patterns were generally drafted by the seamstress to fit a customer. Some patterns were published in ladies’ magazines, but those were generally taken out and used by the original purchasers of the magazines, so few copies are available. But you can find both drafting instructions, if you are up to the task, and historically accurate recreation patterns pretty readily. Some will sew their Regency costumes by hand. Honestly, I’m not that dedicated. I stick to the sewing machine. 

Mistaking Her Character features many familiar names: Lizzy Bennet, Darcy, Lady Catherine, George Wickham - but this is not Pride and Prejudice. Can you tell us about it?
Mistaking Her Character is a re-imagining of Jane Austen’s Pride and Prejudice. It begins with the premise: What if Mr. Bennet was a second son and not the heir to Longbourn? In that case, he would need a profession. In the era, there were only a few options to have a profession and remain a gentleman: military officer, clergyman, barrister, and physician. In this book, I made Mr. Bennet a physician and the personal physician for Lady Catherine de Bourgh and her sickly daughter Anne. Mr. Darcy meets Elizabeth Bennet in this context, at Rosings Park. At that point, I more or less let the characters go and sat back and watched what happened. 

You've written novels and short stories - do you have a preference? Is one easier to write than the other?
I find short stories really challenging. It seems like I naturally conceive stories in 100K word chunks. I love depth and detail in my stories. Trying to pack that into a short form really forces me out of my comfort zone. But I think getting out and trying difficult things is the best way to try and grow as an author. So I’ve got a couple more short projects brewing for this year.

What's next? 
I’ve got a number of projects in the hopper right now. I am editing the sequel to Mistaking Her Character, a story about Elizabeth’s youngest sister, Lydia called ‘The Trouble to Check Her’. It should be out in April 2016. I am also drafting a third sequel, the story of another of Elizabeth’s sisters, Mary. Outside of the Regency era, I am working on a five book Science Fiction series, that somehow I wrote the third, fourth and fifth books first! I’m drafting the first book now. 


The Trouble To Check Her ~ Lydia Bennet faces the music…

Running off with Mr. Wickham was a great joke—until everything turned arsey-varsey. That spoilsport Mr. Darcy caught them and packed Lydia off to a hideous boarding school for girls who had lost their virtue.

It would improve her character, he said.

Ridiculous, she said.

Mrs. Drummond, the school’s headmistress, has shocking expectations for the girls. They must share rooms, do chores, attend lessons, and engage in charitable work, no matter how well born they might be. She even forces them to wear mobcaps! Refusal could lead to finding themselves at the receiving end of Mrs. Drummond's cane—if they were lucky. The unlucky ones could be dismissed and found a position … as a menial servant.

Everything and everyone at the school is uniformly horrid. Lydia hates them all, except possibly the music master, Mr. Amberson, who seems to have the oddest ideas about her. He might just understand her better than she understands herself.

Can she find a way to live up to his strange expectations, or will she spend the rest of her life as a scullery maid?

Author bio: Though Maria Grace has been writing fiction since she was ten years old, those early efforts happily reside in a file drawer and are unlikely to see the light of day again, for which many are grateful. After penning five file-drawer novels in high school, she took a break from writing to pursue college and earn her doctorate in Educational Psychology. After 16 years of university teaching, she returned to her first love, fiction writing. She has one husband, two graduate degrees and two black belts, three sons, four undergraduate majors, five nieces, six new novels in the works, attended seven period balls, sewn eight Regency era costumes, shared her life with nine cats through the years and published her tenth book last year. 

She can be contacted at:  and
Facebook and G+
On Amazon
And tweet her: @WriteMariaGrace

Thanks so much, Maria, for shining a light on your Regency (and Sci-fi!) writing.