Just finished what I hope are the final edits on the last galley for I Bid One American, my newest novel. It will be coming out soon from The Wild Rose Press. As soon as I get a date, I'll let everyone know—the anticipation is killing me. I Bid One American snagged me an agent and I'm extremely proud of it. Not that I'm not just as proud of my other stories, but as any writer will tell you, the book they are working on is almost always their favorite. This story is a mystery set during the Regency period, about an American heiress no one wants and a duke every woman is after. Unfortunately, after a debutante is killed during a soirée, the Bow Street runners are after the duke as well! So what else can an heiress do but help him out of a tight spot and possibly marry the poor sod.
In I Bid One American, I also introduce Second Sons, Discreet Inquiries—and its founder, Knighton Gaunt. I have several stories planned for Mr. Gaunt's inquiry agents and I'm afraid the murder rate for Regency England is about to go up.
While I Bid One American "brewing" I've also sent another manuscript to my fabulous agent. This manuscript is called The Bricklayer's Helper. It is another romantic mystery set in the Regency—also featuring an inquiry agent from Second Sons, who undertakes the task of discovering who is trying to kill a woman disguised as a bricklayer's helper. I got the core idea from an actual case of an orphaned girl who made the decision to cut her hair, dress in boy's clothing, and get a job as a bricklayer's helper. In the Regency, there were precious few ways for a penniless female child to survive except walking the streets, so her decision meant she could get a decent job and pay her own way. It worked pretty well for her until her mid-twenties when her landlady discovered "he" was a "she." Since about the same time, the landlady's daughter realized she was pregnant, the landlady came up with the scheme to have her daughter marry the disguised woman. The hope was that this would serve the dual purpose of "proving" that the woman in disguise was actually a real man, and making the landlady's grandchild legitimate when it was born. Their plans rather fell apart, but the story was so intriguing I couldn't help playing "what if" with it.
What if the little girl became an orphan because someone had killed her family?
What if the killer subsequently discovered that the girl had survived, and that the girl might have proof that would convict him—or her?
What if the girl realizes someone is trying to kill her and hires an inquiry agent to discover who and why?
And there you have it—the bones of a murder mystery set in the Regency.
A lot of folks have asked why I enjoy writing stories set in the Regency period so much, but really, there isn't just one answer. I like the period and "distance" makes it appear even rosier than it really was. The Regency was a more stratified Society with a great many restrictions, so there is more opportunity for a writer to explore how people find and fit into their place in a society where it isn't just "anything goes" as it is today. It was definitely not an "I'm Okay, You're Okay" situation. I've always been fascinated by the juxtaposition of outsiders versus insiders—who is acceptable and why.
And I like the comedy of manners aspect that Jane Austen does so well.
In addition, the Regency was before the regularization of the police force in London so I can play more with "amateur" detectives/inquiry agents without really stretching credibility too far. There was more leeway for that sort of thing. Now-a-days, no matter what people think, there is little (no) room for amateur detectives because they simply don't have access to the police files, forensic data, and other information that would be necessary to solve a case. The science of the Regency is at a level I can handle.
It does mean I have to do a lot of research, but I enjoy that aspect as well. Over the last few years, I've collected quite a library of original material such as Gentlemen's magazines, Ladies magazines, newspapers, and other source material that is fascinating to read on a rainy day.
Lastly, it's just fun.
So, over the next few months, I Bid One American should come out and I've even got some short stories up my sleeve.
Enjoy and have a fabulous Valentine's day!