We're taking a quick detour from our series on dancing to welcome author Sarah MacLean, author of the forthcoming The Season, just out from Orchard Books. Today we're featuring an interview with Sarah, so have fun and be sure to leave a comment in order to be entered in a drawing to win a signed copy of Sarah's book!
Nineteenteen: You're among fellow history geeks here, so tell us--what first turned you on to history and historical fiction? And what drew you in particular to the Regency/early 19th century period?
Sarah: I happened to be one of those kids who was surrounded by history buffs. Aside from my parents, who are European (father, Italian; mother, British) and therefore were incredibly committed to making sure that I knew and loved our family's history, I also had teachers and librarians and an older sister who were always putting great historical novels in my hands and incredible historical tales in my head. I went through phases...By high school, I was obsessed with historical fiction. I would become enamored of whole eras and read any- and everything I could get my hands on that related to them. I went through phases—the Civil War, Medieval England, the Vikings, the Italian Renaissance. And then, in the 11th grade, I found Jane Austen. And I was hooked. Here was an author (a woman no less!) who went against everything that had been written before and who birthed a genre of literature. She made romance fun . . . and funny . . . and real. Her heroines were cheeky and ironic, her heroes dark and brooding and arrogant to a fault. The combination of the two, for the teenager I was then and the twenty-something I am now, was electric. After that, I just wallowed in Regency literature. There's such a rich collection of it, that I never ran out, never got bored. And now...I get to add to that collection. Which is pretty awesome.
Nineteenteen: So give us the data dump on your about-to-be-released (next week!) debut, The Season--what is it about, and what inspired you to write it?
Sarah: The Season is the story of seventeen-year-old Lady Alexandra Worthington, who is sharp tongued and strong willed and positively loathes dress fittings—exactly the opposite of what a lady should be in Regency London. Alex, along with her BFFs, Vivi & Ella, can't seem to sit idly by drinking tea and embroidering. Instead, she gets herself tangled up in a dangerous mystery—involving a dead earl and potential treason. The Earl of Blackmoor is mysteriously killed, and the girls team up to help his son, Gavin (who happens to be totally dreamy), to uncover the truth about his father's death. As the mystery unravels, Alex and Gavin grow closer, and Alex finds herself losing her heart. But her girls are there to the end to make sure everything goes her way. The book is the result of my triple threat of obsessions: romance, YA and the Regency. When faced with those things, it's hard to imagine writing any other book than The Season. That, and the fact that Alexandra came into my head clear-as-crystal, like an avenging queen . . . I had to write her out of there.
Nineteenteen: What were the best parts about writing it, and what proved to be less fun?
Sarah: I loved writing The Season from beginning to end...the research, the character development, the story itself...I had a complete and utter blast. But my favorite parts were definitely the scenes involving all the girls. Alex, Ella and Vivi have this intense and wonderful friendship that reminds me so much of the friendships that I have been blessed with over the years. They're teasing and funny and supportive and, I hope, great models for real-life friends.
As for what was less fun, revisions weren't the easiest thing in the world...but once they were over, the book was infinitely better than it had been in first-draft form...so much so that now I look forward to revising!
Nineteenteen: How do you think teens in the 19th century and teens now differ or resemble each other?
Sarah: I think, fundamentally, they're incredibly similar. The things that define "teen" resonate through history. I think friendships were vitally important in the early 1800s, this is something we see clearly in the writings of Austen, and now it's no different. Parents' wishes and expectations are still so important--in 1800, it was about who you'd marry; now it's about what college you're going to. And, for girls especially, your whole world revolved around making a sound match. Anyone who has ever been a teenager knows that sure hasn't changed. The good thing is, marriage isn't the defining characteristic of teenage girls anymore. And that's a huge step in the right direction.
Nineteenteen: If you could visit Regency London for one day, what place would you visit or person would you like to have a glass of ratafia with?
Sarah: Oh, I'd go straight to Vauxhall Gardens. And then shopping on Bond Street. And then sneak into Parliament. And then have tea with Aunt Jane.
Nineteenteen: You've signed to write three adult historical romances for Avon--many congratulations!! Do you think you'll come back to writing more YA books after that?
Sarah: Thanks! It's really exciting to be immersed in the Regency for multiple audiences...I'm still pinching myself about the Avon books...even though the whole thing is rather terrifying! But, absolutely I'm coming back to YA sometime soon. After all, both Vivi and Ella deserve to have their stories told...and I think they'll just nag at me until I tell them...so there will be more YA for sure.
Nineteenteen: Anything else you'd like to tell our readers? And where can our readers go to learn more about you and The Season?
Sarah: It's preaching to the choir, I think, but one of my biggest concerns about the state of YA today is how little historical fiction there is out there--not just Regency historicals, but historicals altogether. So, I'd just say, keep reading it...because history is such rich fictional food!
I'm always happy to answer questions from readers. You can find me at http://www.blogger.com/www.macleanspace.com/, or email me at sarah (at) macleanspace (dot) com.
Thanks for talking to us, Sarah!
Don't forget to comment if you want to be entered to win a signed copy of The Season. And come back on Friday, when Sarah will be back for more Regency-inspired fun!