Today I am thrilled to welcome a Tenner pal (who became an Elevensie), Stephanie Burgis. My daughter and I both read her novel, Kat, Incorrigible, in ARC format and LOVED it! This fun, clever, and fast-paced novel has just released in the U.S. this week. We’re looking forward to the next books in the series. Isn’t that a fun cover? Welcome, Stephanie!
What’s your favorite flower and why?
Lilies of the valley! They used to grow in my parents’ backyard, and not only are they beautiful, they have such an amazing scent. They also have family significance, for me – my great-grandmother, back in Croatia, carried lilies of the valley at her wedding.
Ooo, lilies of the valley are for the return of happiness in the language of flowers. They also play an important role in FHN. Is there a quotation you live by or have posted at your desk?
“May I have the courage today to live the life that I would love, to postpone my dream no longer, but do at last what I came here for and waste my heart on fear no more.”
Love it! Fear can be so debilitating. Which book do you wish you could live inside?
Ooh, good question. The problem is, so many of my favorite books would be deeply uncomfortable to actually live inside – as much as I love reading Jane Austen’s novels, I’d hate to live in the real Regency era! (And ditto for Tolkien’s Middle Earth, for different reasons. Dangerous magic is much more fun to read about than it would be to experience! )
I guess I’d have to choose Hilary McKay’s Casson Family series, and Saffy’s Angel in particular. I adore the fun and humor in those books, and the whole family is so eccentric in the most lovable possible way. I’d love to spend time hanging out with all of them!
What book have you read more than any other and why?
Hmm. Probably Elizabeth Peters’s Crocodile on the Sandbank. It’s such a delightful mix of historical mystery, rollicking adventure, and very, very funny romantic comedy, it’s irresistible comfort reading. And I loooove Amelia Peabody, the heroine! Any smart, intellectual Victorian woman who chases mummies, stands off against arrogant Egyptologists, and bashes her enemies with her parasol is definitely My Kind of Girl.
Why did you decide to write about the Regency period in England?
I’ve been obsessed with it ever since I first started reading Jane Austen, at age eight. My dad started me off by reading me Pride and Prejudice, then I devoured the rest of her books and got started on Georgette Heyer…and I’ve never really stopped. It’s just such a fun period to write in, and when you add a fantasy-adventure element, it becomes my perfect playground.
What was the hardest part of writing historical fiction?
Looking up all the zillions of tiny historical details that come up while writing! Oddly enough, the very hardest one to figure out was how exactly someone would light a candle in a room without a fire. That sounds really basic and easy to research, doesn’t it? But the answers I found totally contradicted each other, and there was no way to tell which one was right. In the end, I just had to choose one possible method almost at random and hope (with fingers and toes crossed) that it was the right one.
Funnily enough, soon afterwards I read another Regency-era novel by a big-name author that described the hero as reaching into a drawer and taking out “a candle and the means with which to light it.” I started laughing like crazy as I realized that that author, too, had come up against the candle-lighting problem – and she didn’t know any more than I did exactly what the right answer was! (From now on, keep an eye out as you read any Regency novels, and let me know if you find other writers skating over that particular detail…)
What was your favorite or least favorite scene to write?
My absolute favorite scene to write was the arrival of the (first!) highwayman. I laughed all the way through it!
What’s your #1 piece of advice for aspiring writers?
Have faith in yourself, never give up (even after the umpteenth rejection!), and keep on writing new & better books even while you’re submitting the most recent completed one to agents or editors.
Excellent advice! What do you do when you hit a writing slump? (Other than chocolate which is, of course, a no-brainer
Chocolate is ALWAYS the first port of call! But after that…actually, I wrote a whole blog post on this for the Tenners: my Top 10 Ways to Fight Writer’s Block: http://community.livejournal.com/10_ers/196076.html Some of the strategies include collaging, field trips, and, believe it or not, dish-washing!
Great! Thanks for the link and good luck. We can’t wait to see what’s next for Kat!!
You can find Steph here or follow her fun tweets @stephanieburgis.