When I was fourteen, the librarian selected a book for me that ended up changing my life. No, it wasn’t To Kill a Mocking Bird. I’d already read that one. No, it wasn’t Gone with the Wind or War and Peace. I’d already read those, too. And it certainly wasn’t something by Judy Blume or any other young adult write de jour.
It was Charity Girl by Georgette Heyer.
This is not one of Ms. Heyer’s best books. I recently reread it, and it’s not really that good at all. And for me, it opened a whole new world of which I had previously been unaware—the Georgian era, specifically the Regency.
After that, I began to devour books by Ms. Heyer, Clare Darcy, Patricia Veryan, and others. Oddly, nearly two decades passed before I read a Jane Austen novel and then was so steeped in the twentieth century version of the Regency novel, Ms. Austen bored me (I know: blasphemy). Ms. Austen, however, wrote contemporary novels, not Regency romances, and her perspective was the narrowness of her world, not the panoramic view of that era we have looking back two hundred years—but that’s another post.
Wanting to know more of titles and fashion and the social mores of the day, I also consumed nonfiction books, diaries of people living during that time period, and other research materials. I also began to learn about writing and tried my own Regency novel
The less said about that the better; however, the potential lay within those now long-since destroyed pages, so I went back to writing after graduate school and corporate jobs and those practical things in life.
I wrote a Regency novel for the Christian market. The editor loved it. Marketing did not. “We can’t sell a Regency.”
Books set outside the U.S. didn’t sell in the Christian market in America. So I wrote one for the sweet market and sold it. It won the National Readers Choice Award for Best Regency. Wonderful, but I wanted to write Christian fiction and Christian Regencies specifically.
So I set out to pay my dues in the business. I wrote a prairie romance and sold it. I wrote a romance set in New Jersey with a hero from Scotland, and sold it as the first in a series. I then submitted a daring proposal—a book set in America but with an English hero, a young man who would have been a fine Regency hero if the book had been set in England. But I put him completely out of his element, a stranger in a strange land—and sold it. That book, Lady in the Mist, was my seventh book sold and the first book in the Midwives series from Baker/Revell. That risk led to them asking for a Regency proposal from me—and buying a three-book series.
More than two decades after I read my first Regency romance, seven and a half years and twelve books and two colonial-set novella sales after being told I could never sell a Regency to the U.S. Christian market, I celebrate the release of A Necessary Deception my first Regency historical romance from Baker/Revell. To add to the international flavor, my hero is French.
Above is a great number of words to convey a concept so simple it’s trite, yet true—don’t give up on writing what you want or, if you are a reader, finding the sort of books you want to read. If you think a market is closed to you, think again. You may not get there immediately. You may not get there the way you want to, and getting there is not beyond your reach once God has called you to a way of life, a career, a ministry in the writing profession. If this is the road He wants you to walk, then He will make the way clear.
You can read excerpts of A Necessary Deception on my blog at www.lauriealiceeakes.blogspot.com
Award-winning author Laurie Alice Eakes wanted to be a writer since knowing what one was. Her first book won the National Readers Choice Award in 2007, and her third book was a Carol Award finalist in 2010. Having her first book with Baker/Revell, Lady in the Mist, picked up by Crossings Book Club, and six of her books have been chosen for large print editions by Thorndike Press. She has been a public speaker for as long as she can remember; thus, only suffers enough stage fright to keep her sharp. In 2002, while in graduate school for writing fiction, she began to teach fiction in person and online. She lives in Texas with her husband, two dogs, and probably too many cats. http://www.lauriealiceeakes.com