Today my special guest author is Regina Jeffers, a Regency romance author who specializes in adaptations and sequels of Jane Austen. Welcome, Regina! When did you start to write and how long did it take you get published?
REGINA:First, I should explain that I write Jane Austen-inspired sequels and adaptations, as well as Regency romance. My career began with the Austen pieces, and I am probably more well-known for those than the Regencies, which are a relatively new genre for me.
As part of a challenge from one of my students, I wrote my first novel, Darcy’s Passions (a Pride and Prejudice retelling from Mr. Darcy’s point of view), more to answer his “test” than for any other purpose. The students did part of the editing, which still makes me cringe when I read it, but I refused to make changes because I never intended to publish the book. It was a learning experience for the members of that class, as much as it was for me. One of the students who wanted to major in art in college did the cover, and I self published the book. Then I pretty much forgot about it. However, one day I received an email from my son, which announced that my novel was #8 on the Amazon sales list. Of course, I had no idea what that meant. I was a real publishing virgin! A few days later, I received an email from Ulysses Press asking if they could publish my novel. I am one of those freaks of nature who never sent off a manuscript before a publisher picked up my first work. I do not mean to say that I have not looked for other outlets for my non-Austen works. Yet, I have not actively shopped those pieces to other publishers.
DONNA: What inspired you to write romance?
REGINA:I am a product of the 1960s, when women’s rights came to a forefront because the media gave it a window through which we could see the disparity. Unfortunately, many of the books I read (and I do devour books) pretended that women were nothing more than decoration on a man’s arm. I began to look for a heroine in my novels who was perceptive, who found wry amusement in the follies of others, and who was a keen observer of human nature and society’s quirks. I wanted a woman like me: One who could own up to her flaws. A woman who was not perfect, not a raving beauty, and not desperate to marry. A woman who read more than most women of her time, but who also had a physicality about her. I could not find such a heroine in the majority of the books I encountered at the time. Therefore, my mother introduced me to historical romance. As romance is the most compelling of tasks, it seemed a natural fix. When I began writing something beyond grant proposals and site development reports, I turned to what I loved – to romance.
DONNA: Do you write with music playing? If so, is the music likely to be songs with lyrics or only instrumentals?
REGINA:I am a Broadway baby, so I often have a soundtrack with my favorite Broadway hits playing in the background. In between passages, I sing along (VERY BADLY). I would say you should hear me belt out “On the Street Where You Live” from My Fair Lady or “Big Spender” from Sweet Charity, but, perhaps, that’s not such a good idea after all. One might also find a classical CD in the computer, with a mix of Mozart, Chopin, Handel, and Tchaikovsky. It depends on my mood.
DONNA: I love classical or instrumental music when I write, too. So what would you say is the coolest thing about being an author?
REGINA:I write under my maiden name, and I keep thinking how proud my mother would be to have someone recognize it. Receiving a promo copy of each book sets my heart racing. I have directed plays and choreographed dance numbers. Both were satisfying, providing me a creative outlet. However, writing a story that affects others is an amazing feeling. Recently, at an independent bookstore in Charlotte, NC, I was setting up my table to sign books for customers. It was the first time I had signed at this particular bookstore, and I was a bit nervous. Just as I finished the table display, a customer came by. She did not know I was scheduled to be part of the day’s array of authors. She had simply stopped at the store as part of her regular shopping. But she looked at me and said, “Are you Regina Jeffers?” When I replied in the affirmative, she said, “I have read all your books, and I loved them. They have a special place on my bookshelves.” I must admit I fought back the tears. My mother must have been doing the “happy dance” in heaven.
DONNA: What has surprised you about being a published author?
REGINA:I have met people who hold the “twisted” idea that writing is something that authors “play” at. That it is not a full time job. I would beg to differ. Besides the writing process, there is revision and editing and spending time on social media and self promotion and etc. and etc. Then there are those who think authors are RICH. Most authors I know personally write because they have to or else the stories will die, and the stories are their life blood.
DONNA: I understand the feeling! What do you like to do when you aren’t writing?
REGINA:I find it therapeutic to work in my garden. I like to travel, but I do not do as much of it as I desire. I love old movies. A good walk energies my sagging spirits and does wonders for my blood pressure. And I love to read, read, and read.
DONNA: What was the most usual way you came up with a story idea? What made you to think, ‘hey, I could make that into a story?’
REGINA:I was watching the Today Show one morning, and there was a report on Nerve O. The report told of how an olfactory nerve discovered in a whale could be the real source of attraction between males and females. Nerve O has endings in the nasal cavity, but those nerve endings play a different role from what we expect. Nerve O does not smell out the person to whom we are attracted, but it does identify sexual cues from all the thousands of potential lovers we meet on a daily basis. Family members, logically, have a similar chemical make up. This is nature’s way of protecting close family members from procreating as we seek out those with a different chemical program. Nerve O also can be a cue to fertility issues, miscarriage, and infidelity. If your partner has similar chemicals, such problems may occur. This is where the old adage of opposites attract comes into play. Nerve O became the scientific research specialty of my heroine in Second Chances: The Courtship Wars. I am reworking this title and hope to release it again soon.
DONNA: What will be your next project?
REGINA:Currently, I am working on Book 4 of my Regency series dealing with the Realm, a covert governmental unit. Ulysses Press released book 1, The Scandal of Lady Eleanor. I have self published books 2 and 3, A Touch of Velvet and A Touch of Cashémere. A Touch of Grace will follow. My latest Austen novel, The Disappearance of Georgiana Darcy, was released on March 26. I am also doing background research for a new Austen-related title to be released after the first of the year.
Shackled in the dungeon of a macabre castle with no recollection of her past, a young woman finds herself falling in love with her captor – the estate’s master. Yet, placing her trust in him before she regains her memory and unravels the castle’s wicked truths would be a catastrophe.
Far away at Pemberley, the Darcys happily gather to celebrate the marriage of Kitty Bennet. But a dark cloud sweeps through the festivities: Georgiana Darcy has disappeared without a trace. Upon receiving word of his sister’s likely demise, Darcy and wife, Elizabeth, set off across the English countryside, seeking answers in the unfamiliar and menacing Scottish moors.
How can Darcy keep his sister safe from the most sinister threat she has ever faced when he doesn’t even know if she’s alive? True to Austen’s style and rife with malicious villains, dramatic revelations and heroic gestures, this suspense-packed mystery places Darcy and Elizabeth in the most harrowing situation they have ever faced – finding Georgiana before it is too late.
Website – www.rjeffers.com
Twitter – @reginajeffers
Publisher – Ulysses Press http://ulyssespress.com/
Bio: Regina Jeffers, an English teacher for thirty-nine years, considers herself a Jane Austen enthusiast. She is the author of 13 novels, including Darcy’s Passions, Darcy’s Temptation, The Phantom of Pemberley, Christmas at Pemberley, The Scandal of Lady Eleanor, A Touch of Velvet, and A Touch of Cashémere. A Time Warner Star Teacher and Martha Holden Jennings Scholar, as well as a Smithsonian presenter, Jeffers often serves as a media literacy consultant. She resides outside of Charlotte, NC, where she spends time teaching her new grandson the joys of being a child.