A few weeks ago I hosted a bestselling indie author Stacy Juba who took a very entrepreneurial approach to writing and publishing. I would like to continue the thread of successful independent authors who take charge of the literary, editorial and marketing components of their craft. Please welcome Regan Walker, a historical novelist from San Diego. Today she joins us to discuss her multi-dimensional historical novel The Shamrock and the Rose, exploring the nuances of Anglo-Irish romances.
MJN: After working with a small press, you decided to self-publish and seem to be very content with your decision. Do you feel like you needed to start off with a third-party publisher to build your platform first, do you wish you had gone indie right from start?
RW: I had much to learn when I began, and I got a good editor who helped me. But eventually I realized that I am very comfortable being in charge of the artwork and publicity and nowadays, authors can find good editors, so the self-publishing route was a natural for me. There is more flexibility in how you market and sell your books. I really love it. I don't know if I regret not pursuing this path from the beginning. Certainly I wish I'd pursued it earlier.
MJN: Let's talk about physical face-to-face promotion locally. I live very close to NYC, and there are many Big Five (or Six?) publishers and many bestselling authors. It's hard for a small press author to get noticed. I have some friends working a local libraries, so they can squeeze me in for author events, but generally, we have big names like Wally Lamb and Nora Roberts hosting events that fans have to pay to get into. In San Diego, where you live, is the climate hospitable to indie authors?
RW: I have yet to do an author event in San Diego. So I doubt the atmosphere is any better here.
MJN: I'm writing these questions on March 17th, St. Patrick's Day. Irish culture is very near and dear to my heart. I am particularly intrigued by your novel The Shamrock and the Rose. You explore the concepts of proper versus improper for that era. You have a proper English girl conceal her identity in order accept a role in a theatrical production. You also explore the inter-ethnic relations, English versus Irish. I guess, if the roles were reversed, and it was an English man pursuing an Irish girl, he would be viewed as a predator, given the Anglo-Irish history.
RW: Historically speaking, the issue was more Catholic vs. Protestant. In my new book coming out in May, To Tame the Wind, set in the late 18th century, the heroine is French and Catholic and the hero is English and Protestant. England still had laws in 1782 preventing the Irish from sitting in Parliament and taking their place in society. And to be married, they would have to be wed by an Anglican minister before a priest. These relationships fascinate me, I confess. In The Shamrock & The Rose, the heroine is English and the hero Irish but he is Protestant, which makes it easier. The famous Irish freedom fighter, Daniel O'Connell was the cousin of my fictional hero, Morgan O'Connell. And, as it turns out, Daniel did have a Protestant cousin. I don't know that an Englishman pursuing an Irish lass would be viewed as a predator unless he was taking advantage of a disparity in their circumstances (like the rich landowner and the poor Irish maiden, a classic romance set up).
MJN: In the 21st century, the line between courtship and seduction is blurred, especially after the women's rights revolution. The blurb for The Shamrock and the Rose says that "Though he would have seduced the actress, Morgan must court the lady." So basically it's implied that Morgan, the dashing hero, is not above bedding a woman and discarding her, though he must exercise restraint with Rose Collingwood, the lady. Talking about the double standard! I guess, Morgan O'Connell is a man of his time and follows the same ethos as 99.99% of the male population.
RW: Well, actresses were notorious for being loose women. That is what Morgan expected with the actress Lily Underwood; however, when he learns she is a lady and under the protection of the dowager Countess of Claremont, it's a whole other story. Suddenly he must join her line of suitors if he wants her attention.
MJN: You have several series. In addition to your Regency line, you have a Medieval line. Do you feel that writing about an era that is farther removed historically presents more challenges or more opportunities? I imagine, it would be less likely for some purist to come up to you and say, "Hey, that's NOT the type of armor they wore back then."
RW: I do extensive research for my stories...hundreds of hours. So I was very confident when I set out to write The Red Wolf's Prize I had the era--and the history--right. And yes, the type of armor, the type of horse and the weapons the knights carried who followed William the Conqueror to England were all things I researched extensively. And as a book reviewer (Historical Romance Review is my blog and I am a top reviewer on both Amazon and Goodreads) I am a stickler for historical accuracy. I love the research!