Tuesday, January 31, 2012
Guest Post & Giveaway: Sophie Barnes - HOW MISS RUTHERFORD GOT HER GROOVE BACK
Hi Everyone. Please help me welcome Sophie Barnes to the blog today! She is here to promote her debut novel, How Miss Rutherford Got Her Groove Back. It's a sweet historical romance so be sure to check it out. Today Sophie is going to talk about her love of romances.
From the moment I popped into this world, I had one goal that shone brighter than the rest – to find my very own prince charming (tall, dark, handsome…you get the picture). My parents did not indulge the ‘all little girls are princesses and must wear pink’ notion that seems to have run rampant since the early 90’s. In fact, I was usually clad in a pair of overalls and a blue sweatshirt. Not that I didn’t think that frilly dresses were pretty (I even owned a few), but I quickly discovered that they were just that – nice to look at but completely impractical when sliding down a hillside on your butt.
However, my mom did read fairytales to me – repeatedly and at my insistence until she was exhausted. And so my love for romance began – particularly the sort where any number of odds must be overcome in order to achieve that “happily ever after”: a girl suppressed by her evil stepmother, a deep sleep from which only a kiss will awaken the princess or some other challenge that forces the hero to rise above and beyond his normal capabilities, spurred on by the power of true love. The stories were magical: the castles, the gowns, the handsome hero and the beautiful heroine, the battle between good and evil…Rich fodder for a child’s imagination.
As I grew older, I became enthralled by the kind of movies that offered a similar opulence, glamour and happy ending my beloved fairytales had done. I must have seen Robin Hood with Errol Flynn and Olivia de Havilland a thousand times, not to mention Pride and Prejudice, Jayne Eyre, The Princess Bride, Doctor Zhivago and of course Gone with the Wind.
And yet, surprisingly enough, I didn’t actually read my first romance novel until I was married. Yes, it’s true. Of course I’d read everything that I could scrape together by Jane Austen and I absolutely adored Wuthering Heights, but when it came to contemporary writers, I would pick Wilbur Smith, Ken Follet and Margaret George – writers that many, including myself at the time, considered to be more ‘serious’. Yet somehow it was always the moments of romantic intrigue (as scarce as they were in these novels) that drew my interest and made the rest of the pages fly by faster. What was it going to take for me to just capitulate and pick up a proper romance novel? Apparently, a mother-in-law.
I kid you not. I believe my mother-in-law has more romance novels on her bookshelves than most people would be able to read in a lifetime. So, on one of my many visits to her home, and having voiced my need for something new to read, she promptly handed me You Belong To Me by Johanna Lindsey, which she happened to have in duplicate. My life would never be the same again. I’d re-discovered the fairytales I loved - full of adventure, intrigue, a dashing hero and a gorgeous heroine with an independent streak to challenge any sane man.
From then on, I quickly began acquiring as many romance novels as I could get my hands on. Living in Africa at the time, I bought most of them on my visits abroad, sampling both the contemporary ones and those set in different time periods (Medieval, Victorian, Georgian and Regency). One day, on a chance visit to a local bookstore, I scanned the dusty shelves…hoping. There, shining like a beacon was the book that would launch my writing career as you know it – Julia Quinn’s, Romancing Mr. Bridgerton.
For many years I’d been trying to write a fact-filled historical novel about a medieval queen, but that required immeasurable amounts of time spent on research – time I just didn’t have at my disposal with two small boys around my feet (three if I include my husband). But after reading Julia’s book, I was inspired. I loved the witty dialogue, the setting, the strict etiquette governing each and every person’s conduct. It brought back the Austen novels in a modernized fashion and I thought, “Maybe I can write something like that,” figuring I wouldn’t need all that research. After all, this was pure fiction so I could just make it up as I went along. I thought.
Boy was I wrong. :o) Perhaps I didn’t need as much research as I would have had I been writing about a real historical figure, but I soon discovered that I didn’t know nearly enough about the Regency period to get past the first paragraph. (I’m so grateful for Google!) Of course, the first book I wrote was rubbish. I think of it as a lesson in everything writing related, and though I did submit it and it did get rejected a million times, I still consider the plot solid enough to merit a re-write at some point in the future.
But, back to my own love for the Regency period – as a writer. I think the period’s social constraints for women offer a never ending variety of plotlines; featuring women insistent upon thwarting those limitations; or women trying their best to adhere to them, but somehow forced to act outside the acceptable norms due to extraordinary circumstance. The promise of scandal is always juicy – particularly when a striking Duke, Earl or Viscount happens to be involved. It was a time when a woman’s virtue was held in the highest regard, when men were gentlemen and when etiquette (or lack of it) meant everything to a person’s place in society. Certainly romance writers use their artistic licenses liberally, but we do so whilst sticking to what was (and was not) socially acceptable at the time, and by injecting correct historical facts that further enhance the plausibility of both plot and characters.
Writing “How Miss Rutherford Got Her Groove Back” was a pleasure. I fell in love with the characters (and hope that those of you who read this novel, will grow to love them too).
I’d like to thank Monique for hosting me today. I’ll be popping in throughout the day to chat with you and to answer any questions you might have. So feel free to leave a comment or two. Let me know how you were first introduced to the world of Regency romance. Remember, your comment will automatically enter you to win a $25 Amazon gift card, so start typing =)
If you’d like to follow the rest of my tour, I’ll be back again tomorrow at http://www.seductivemusings.blogspot.com/ to talk about how I came to marry my husband three times in three different dresses. Hope to see you again soon =)
To find out more about me, How Miss Rutherford Got Her Groove Back, or my upcoming releases, please visit my website at: www.sophiebarnes.com
Author Bio – Sophie Barnes
Born in Denmark, Sophie has spent her youth traveling with her parents to wonderful places all around the world. She’s lived in five different countries, on three different continents, and speaks Danish, English, French, Spanish and Romanian.
She has studied design in Paris and New York and has a bachelor’s degree from Parson’s School of design, but most impressive of all – she’s been married to the same man three times, in three different countries and in three different dresses.
While living in Africa, Sophie turned to her lifelong passion – writing.
When she’s not busy, dreaming up her next romance novel, Sophie enjoys spending time with her family, swimming, cooking, gardening, watching romantic comedies and, of course, reading. She currently lives on the East Coast.
Sophie will be giving away a $25 Amazon gift card to one randomly drawn commenter during the tour. The more comments you leave the better your chances of winning.
Leave a comment or question for Sophie and include your email address.
Be sure to visit the other blogs on this tour. Click on the tour button below for a list of participating blogs.