Today, I’m very happy to welcome multi-award-winning author Charlotte Betts to the blog! She has kindly consented to a short Q&A session to celebrate the release of her fifth book, The House in Quill Court.
If you’re a reader of historical romantic fiction, this book will be right up your alley. Here’s a quick blurb —
When a handsome but antagonistic stranger, Jack Chamberlaine, arrives at the Lovell’s cottage just before Christmas bringing terrible news, Venetia’s world is turned upside-down, and the family has no option but to move to London, to the House in Quill Court and begin a new life. Here, Venetia’s courage and creativity are tested to breaking point, and she discovers a love far greater than she could have ever imagined…
As part of #QuillCourt blog tour, I was given a chance to post the author some questions, and I love learning more about Charlotte through her eloquent answers.
Q1. The House in Quill Court is the first novel of yours that I have read, and it is the first one in your bibliography set in the Regency era. I read from your website how you were so taken with the Restoration period, and I was wondering if something similar happened that got you into the Regency period this time? Was there something in particular that made you want to explore and set your story during this period?
I’ve always loved the Georgian and Regency era for its grace and sophistication, the clothes, the elegant architecture, the Grand Tour and the books of Jane Austen. It’s been a dream of mine for as long as I can remember to live in a Georgian rectory near Bath!Read more of Charlotte's response ►
Q2. How different are the various eras of your novels — the Restoration, French Revolution, and now, Regency — and how has this affected the way you write your characters and their stories?
All eras have their own particular upheavals and crises, and I usually write about a particular point of change, such as the Great Fire of London, the plague or a revolution. It interests me to discover how my characters will be affected by the event and if it will make them stronger.Read more of Charlotte's response ►
Obviously, there are differences between the eras, and I use details of how people lived, the clothes they wore and the social context to set the scene. As far as a character is concerned, the important thing is to make sure they are each of their own particular time. Their social and political perspective must be correct for the period. This can be difficult because their attitude regarding, for example, slavery or homosexuality, may be totally unacceptable to today’s reader. I have to find ways to temper their beliefs without losing a character’s historical integrity.
In other respects, the era doesn’t make a huge difference to the way I develop my characters. I focus on the emotions a character might feel that will resonate with the modern reader: fear, sorrow, hope, joy, etc.
Q3. In The House in Quill Court, the character Venetia is what people in the present day would call an interior designer. It is a not a secret that you used to be one yourself, and I’m sure you enjoyed writing those scenes where she envisions how to set up rooms and choosing various design pieces. Would you say that out of all the characters you’ve written so far, Venetia is the one that is most similar to you? What aspects of her character or behaviour is most unlike you?
I loved writing the interior design aspect of the book so much that I was carried away, and I had to make substantial cuts later to keep within the contracted word count! The leader of the fashion for decorative and opulent interior design in the Regency era was George IV, and this is clearly demonstrated at the Brighton Pavilion. Money appeared to be no object to realising his design visions, unlike in commercial design, and I’ve always envied that.Read more of Charlotte's response ►
Q4. Other than the time period, how is this novel different from your previously published books? How do you keep your novels from being repetitive but still keep to what your readers would know and love about your stories?
The House in Quill Court explores what happens to shopkeepers in Cheapside, London when criminal activity spirals out of control. This gives a slightly different slant from a natural disaster, such as a plague, or a fire and is much more localized than a revolution or a natural disaster. Different settings, time frames and characters mean that there are always innumerable combinations to write an exciting new story.Read more of Charlotte's response ►
Q5. I cannot help but notice that you have moved from writing stories set in the 1660s to the 1820s. I’ve learned from your website that you have a short story coming out in December that will be set in the Regency period as well, but will your readers see themselves in the Victorian era next? Do you have something in the works that you can tell us about?
In fact, the Regency short story was published last Christmas! I’m not intending to write about the Victorian era yet as there’s still so much I haven’t yet explored in the Georgian and Regency periods.Read more of Charlotte's response ►
Once the book is completely finished, it will be hard to leave the characters behind. On the other hand, I do have a new idea beginning to whisper in my ear. A story set somewhere more exotic…
Again, thank you so much, Charlotte, for taking the time to answer the questions! Your answers are so full of detail and information that I’m sure your fans had a lot of fun reading them!
Her debut novel, The Apothecary’s Daughter, won the YouWriteOn Book of the Year Award in 2010, and the Joan Hessayon Award for New Writers, was shortlisted for the Best Historical Read at the Festival of Romance in 2011, and won the coveted Romantic Novelists’ Association’s Historical Romantic Novel RoNA award in 2013. Her second novel, The Painter’s Apprentice, was also shortlisted for the Best Historical Read at the Festival of Romance in 2012, and the RoNA award in 2014. The Spice Merchant’s Wife won the Festival of Romance’s Best Historical Read in 2013.
Charlotte lives with her husband in a cottage in the woods on the Hampshire-Berkshire border.
It’s the last day of the blog tour, but there are still five blogs (which includes The Travelling Bibliophile) who are posting about The House in Quill Court! Do give them all a visit!