An Interview with Debut Author Regan Walker
Please welcome Regan Walker, whose debut novel "Racing With The Wind" is a historical romance set in the Regency period.
Well, I live in San Diego, which I think of as paradise. No matter where I travel (I’ve been to 40 countries), I love coming home. For most of my career I was a lawyer both in private practice and in government. I guess I still am a lawyer. One doesn’t really give that up. It seeps into the skin. After my last stint in Washington DC, upon returning home I decided it was time for a change. (Then, too, a few years of unemployment nudged me in a new direction.) One of my close friends, knowing of my recent passion for historical romance novels (now that I had more time to read), suggested I write one. The idea intrigued me. I’d been coming up with different endings for the novels I was reading so I thought I’d give it a try. Since my work had given me a feel for the demands of the "Crown" on its subjects, I thought to start with a trilogy called the Agents of the Crown based on a demanding Prince Regent’s “assignments” for three of his leading subjects.
Tell us about the story behind Racing With The Wind and how you developed it.
I started with just an idea, a character really—Lady Mary Campbell. I believe that women in past times were no different in character, hopes and dreams than women are today. There have always been women who are happy to conform to the expectations of their times and there have always been women who did not. Perhaps because of their intelligence and curiosity, those who do not conform become bored with the role carved out for their sex and want more. So, they push the envelope of what is acceptable. I wanted to take a woman like that and look at her through the lens of Regency England. What would she do differently than the women of her age?
While Regency England (the period from 1811-1820), was characterized by a Prince Regent who lived a debauched lifestyle where courtesans might have been treated better than the wives of arranged marriages, still a young lady of the nobility would be raised in a certain manner with certain expectations of proper behavior. My heroine is one of those who rebel. She rides astride in men’s clothes; she is educated and reads the classics; and she is ever seeking adventure. Armed with that information, I went looking for history that would make for an interesting setting. And I found it in Paris in 1816.
With Napoleon exiled to St. Helena and Louis XVII restored to France’s throne, much was happening in Paris. The allied troops were still encamped around the city and the officers frequented Louis’ Court. The English were favored having provided a safe harbor to the French king when he was in exile. Knowing what I do about governments, I knew there would be spies as well as statesmen. And that brought me to my hero. He had to be strong enough to handle a Lady Mary Campbell, and wise enough to appreciate her unique personality. Of course, while drawn to her beauty and spirit, he would find her independent nature most troublesome. Still, she would be exactly the right woman for him. Enter the Nighthawk, a mysterious figure—a legend in France during Napoleon’s reign—who stole secrets in the dead of night, secrets that were at the heart of Napoleon’s military campaigns.
From those two characters, I built my story of adventure and love in Paris in 1816.
Authors today have a lot of options in getting their books published. Why did you go with an ePublisher for your first novel?
Authors do have more choices than ever: everything from print publishers to ePublished books (with a publisher) to self-published eBooks. I had been writing for about a year and a half when Racing With The Wind was nearing completion. Attending a few writers’ conferences and listening to other authors, I began to see that print publishing is a slow boat, in many cases taking years to get an agent and a publisher and then sometimes nearly a year for a contract and then more time to see your book in print. I was surprised so many budding authors are willing to take that route. Not me. Having already had a decades long career as a lawyer, I wasn’t in the mood for a long haul. Besides, even if you have a print publisher, you can be dumped if they decide your books aren’t selling or they go in another direction. I wanted my book out there. I considered the self-publishing route, but being a new author I thought I would benefit from a great editor. Though self-published authors can hire the expertise they need (editor, copy editor, formatter, cover artist) I liked the idea of all those services being bundled together with a great editor in the mix—and that is just what I got with Boroughs Publishing Group. My editor, Chris Keeslar is a veteran and has helped many authors make their work better. He certainly helped me.
Do you have an agent? Do you need one?
No, I don’t have an agent. I wasn’t initially opposed to having one but I didn’t look very hard and then I talked to authors who had none and were thriving. I really didn’t want a middleman but I suppose if you go after the big print publishers, you might need one. But when the Boroughs opportunity came to me, I didn’t feel the need for an agent. I like working directly with the publisher and my editor. It was so fast. (I was published less than six months after they accepted my manuscript.) One of my friends who is published with an Indie print publisher has no agent and loves working only with her editor, as I do. I have a friend who has an agent and is going after the big print publishers, but is already chaffing at the loss of control. Then I have another author friend who swears by her agent. I suppose it’s what you are most comfortable with.
It's a bit of a strange path. Before I put pen to paper (so to speak) for my first Regency novel, I was an avid reader of historical romance. I have over 500 reviews on Amazon with a 90% "helpful" rating and 10 lists of those I recommend. During all that, I decided I could give the readers more information with a blog. So Regan's Romance Reviews was begun just over a year ago. Here's the link: http://reganromancereview.blogspot.com. This last week I've featured the works of Jennifer Horsman with a story of her and reviews of her books. I usually have several reviews each week from what I'm reading and then once a month an author interview or post from a "Favorite Author." Sometimes I "share secrets" (a separate "Category" of post), and then I feature my "Best Lists"--the romances in any sub genre (like Scottish/Highlander, Medieval, Viking, Irish, Pirates, Exotic Locales, American Patriotic, etc.) to which I've given 4 and 5 stars. I read constantly to update them. I want to help the readers find the good romances, at least the ones I think are the good ones. I wade through a lot to get to those lists. It's been a labor of love but I hope a real resource for the avid historical romance fan.
I understand you are a reviewer of historical romance and not just an author...tell us about that.
What’s next for you?
Well, I published a Christmas story, The Holly & The Thistle, which I loved doing. I played Christmas carols as I wrote it and by the time I was finished, I felt like I’d fallen in love in Regency England during Christmastide. Set in 1818, two years after Racing With The Wind, it begins when a young English widow meets a handsome Scot in Berry’s wine shop, each believing the other is someone else.
My second novel in the Agents of the Crown trilogy, Against The Wind, is due out in March 2013. (You can see the trailer here: http://www.reganwalkerauthor.com/novels.html. It’s the story of Sir Martin Powell, the spy for the Crown in France we met in book 1, who meets his love the day he returns to London—in a bordello. It’s set against the rebellion that occurred in the Midlands in 1817, dubbed “the last revolution in England.”
Because my Christmas story did well, my publisher asked to do another for Valentine’s Day. I just finished it and combined it with St. Patrick’s Da...it's titled The Shamrock & The Rose, and I hope it will be published in February. Finally, I’m writing the 3rd book in my Agents of the Crown trilogy, Wind Raven.
Your story is inspiring! Thanks for being with us, Regan.