Austenesque enjoyment with Riana Everly
Riana Everly is a Canadian writer of romance and historical romance. Influenced by the beautiful writing of Jane Austen and the rich historical tapestry of the early nineteenth-century, Riana combines elements of stories old and new in her Regency novels. Each one takes a surprising twist on a well-loved tale, much to the delight of her many readers. Love and adventure feature highly, and among these variations you may find your own personal favourite Mr Darcy…
Welcome, Riana. Your books have such an interesting combination of inspirations and cross-genre views. Are there any secrets hidden in your writing?
Riana: I’ve been known to sneak in song lyrics or snatches of plot elements from my favourite operas. But nobody has ever found them, so I don’t think I do it very well.
Well-hidden, then! How much research is involved in your writing?
Oh, so much research! I spend more time researching than writing. I know I can never get everything correct, but I can try, and I do try.
Because I mainly write about the Regency period, I have a fairly broad general knowledge about the basics. I know the general history, the politics, the fashions, etc, but that is just the beginning. For example, in my first published novel, Teaching Eliza (a novel in which Pride & Prejudice meets My Fair Lady), I needed to know about class-based accents in nineteenth-century England. So down the rabbit hole of research I went. For a throwaway sentence in one of my works-in-progress, my main character buys a cribbage board for a gift. And down the rabbit hole went I, searching up the history of cribbage and the sorts of cribbage boards found in England in 1810. And I have to admit, I love that part! It’s what makes the history part of historical research come to life for me.
Sounds wonderful to mix history, created characters, and devious plots. How do you deal with plot holes – if you ever have any!
Me? Plot holes? Never!
(Okay… all the time. But shhhhh. It’s a secret.)
I tend to let my stories sit for a long time between first draft and editing. This way, when I go back to them, it’s with a bit of a clear mind because I have some distance between what I wrote and what I’m reading. But I would never trust myself to find plot holes. Instead, I have a few trusted beta readers who I beg to read with a critical eye and let me know what doesn’t work. And then I go back and rewrite and tinker and fix things and hope I don’t introduce more mistakes as I edit.
What an excellent practice – hope you don’t mind if I ‘borrow’ it! Do you write for yourself or for a particular audience?
I really write for myself. I know the advice out there is to write to market, but that is not me. I have my stories that want to come out, and if they are not exactly what “the market” wants, then so be it. I would rather sacrifice some readers than write something I don’t really want to write.
I completely agree. It’s the story bursting out of me that I want to write, not what’s hot at the moment (which can be sad for the income stream!). What’s the scariest thing you’ve ever done?
I just dyed my hair purple. Does that count?
Absolutely! Not sure its it’s scarier than sending your writing out into the world, but it’s your hair after all. What’s your writing goal for the next twelve months?
I have been writing some historical mysteries. I have three completed – one almost fully edited and two in various stages of editing. My plans for the next twelve months are to start publishing these and to write the other three I envisage for the series. There is a large story arc for the main characters over the six planned books, which is why that will be the limit to this particular series. But if I still like my characters, there might be more in store for them.
That’s a massive project. It’s exhausting just to hear about it! Go you. What do you think about covers, and do you have any say in yours?
I think a cover is so very important! I know we are always told never to judge a book by its cover, but how can we avoid doing that? Some of my favourite authors have very amateurish-looking covers, and I’ve learned to focus on the text and not the outside, but were I just to see that cover, my instinct would be to assume the inside is as amateurish as the outside. Perhaps that is not a good trait of mine, but it’s there and it’s not going away.
So my advice is always to get a professional cover. If you happen to have those amazing skills, that’s fabulous. But if not, spend the few dollars and get something that looks professional.
I’ve been extremely fortunate to find a terrific cover artist. She listens to me and accepts my constant suggestions and requests with a cheerful smile. One of the perks of being indie!
Yes, it helps to be able to have that closeness, I’m sure, to others involved in getting your story out there. Do you write in more than one genre?
Sort of. Isn’t that a great answer? I started my writing career writing Jane Austen-inspired romance, which I still do and which I love. But I’ve also always loved classic mysteries, and somewhere along the line I had the idea to write some Austenesque murder mysteries. They straddle the line between historical mysteries and cozy mysteries, and I’ve really enjoyed getting to know my sleuths as they solve their way through Regency England.
Do you plan your books, or do you listen to your muse?
I used to approach my books with a vague story in mind and let my characters tell me what they were up to. But since I’ve started writing historical mysteries, I find I have to be much more of a planner. Clues, red herrings, more clues… They all have to be there and fit together and make some sort of sense at the end.
That makes perfect sense, indeed. One has to shepherd those lovely characters to a degree, or they’ll toddle off into some other plot of interest only to themselves.
Thank you so much Riana for sharing with me today. I’m so intrigued by your mash-ups of genre and manners into stories that meet us in the now. Long live the Regency in fiction!