I have been reading Shana Galen’s books for a long time. She is just so amazing and creates wonderful stories that take me away from reality and into a fantastic fantasy. Her series Jewels of the Ton, Misadventures in Matrimony, Sons of the Revolution and Lord and Lady Spy are just outstanding. There is something so refreshing about relying on an author that you KNOW that when you get one of their latest books, you won’t be let down. You know there will be adventure, romance, smoking hot love scenes and a twist you didn’t see coming. I am fascinated by the process that authors take to craft such amazing stories and I contacted Shana to ask her if she would share about her new book. Totally fangirling on her, she agreed to do a Q & A about her new book Earl’s Just Want To Have Fun, which is part of the her new series Covenant Gardens.
I’ve had the pleasure of reading the new book and it’s amazing. I reviewed it a month ago on the site. You can see the review here.
So I had so many questions after reading this book and here are my questions and Shana’s answers:
Thanks for having me!
1. How did you come up with the concept for this new series? What was the inspiration?
I wanted to write something different from spies and pirates but a story that still allowed for plenty of action. I also knew I wanted to write a book set in London, and lately I’ve been interested in looking at the juxtaposition of the rich and the poor in London during the Regency period. The slums were literally right next to the most affluent neighborhoods. I came up with a few ideas but nothing that excited me, so I went to my brainstorming group with the above stipulations. Author Margo Maguire suggested I do an Oliver Twist theme, and that sparked all sorts of ideas.
As with most of my books, Earls Just Want to Have Fun is a mix of fiction and non-fiction. Max’s attitude about the poor is very typical of the aristocracy of the period. They saw the poor as less than human. Marlowe grew up in the rookeries, learning the art of thievery. The leaders of the thieving gangs liked using children because they could more easily slip in and out of small spaces and because, if caught, they were often given more lenient sentences. Since the earl is rich and privileged, and she is a thief from the slums, there was plenty of opportunity for humor and action.
2. What research did you have to do to learn so much about the lives of the poor in London at that time?
I’d done research about the rookeries and the lower classes for other books. If You Give a Rake a Ruby features a heroine who grew up in the rookeries, and several of my books have scenes set in Seven Dials. So I had some basic knowledge. When I was writing Earls, I re-read a book called The Regency Underworld by Donald A. Low, which has extensive information about the different slums and their “specialties,” like pawn shops or gin houses, as well accounts from notable people of the time—criminals and police officers. I love reading first-hand accounts from Bow Street Runners or doctors who routinely went into the rookeries and told what the conditions were.
I also found a great website to supplement what I already knew about thieves’ cant. Malowe had to talk like the thieves she’s grown up with. They had their own slang, which I’m sure developed organically but also as a code so constables or Runners couldn’t understand them. The cant was really fun to write, and it was a challenge to make sure readers could understand what the characters were saying.
3. The title of the book is catchy. Is it difficult to put a name on a book that encompasses the content?
It’s difficult to give a book a name that 1) says romance, 2) is memorable to readers, and 3) covers the book’s content. We decided to go with something fun. I also liked the title Earls Just Want to Have Fun because I think it shows something about Max’s character arc in the book. Marlowe grows and changes too, but it’s Max who needs to change the most.
4. Marlowe is such an amazing character. How did you conceive of her and what was it like narrating her journey?
I don’t know how I conceived of her. My characters usually just come to me, and as I write the story I get to know them. I’m like the first reader of my books. I loved writing Marlowe’s chapters. I just put myself in her shoes and thought about what it would be like to be a woman in a gang of men or thrust into a situation with which she’s not familiar. The aristocratic world of Regency England would be as foreign to her as it is to us. She wouldn’t be used to taking baths, and she’d probably be in awe of all the available food. It was interesting to look at the upper class world of the ton through the eyes of someone who was seeing it for the first time.
5. Since this is a series, any hints on who gets a book next? And will there be more blending of covenant gardens and the ton?
Max’s sister, Susanna, is featured in the next book, and I just found out the title is The Rogue You Know. Yes, definitely more blending of the Covent Garden Cubs and the ton.
6. What was your favourite scene to write in the story?
My favorite scene is the one where Marlowe first arrives at Derring House. She doesn’t know where she is or what’s going on. She’s just been abducted. Max, the Earl of Dane, is trying to calm her down. He’s so calm and matter-of-fact, and she’s freaking out. That was such a fun scene. It has my favorite line of the book, the last one below.
“You,” she sneered. “You nabbed me. What is this place?” She looked around. “A bawdy house?”
Dane raised a brow. “It’s a kitchen.”
She did not look as though she believed him, and she continued to jerk her head about, jumping at the slightest sound. Dane was intrigued. He’d judged her thirty or older. She had a woman’s body, but her face was still that of a girl’s. She couldn’t be more than one and twenty, if that. And though her hair was a bit matted, her face had been scrubbed clean—or at least relatively clean. So perhaps she did not relish being dirty. She had large blue eyes that flashed with anger and hatred. This was no simpering miss. The ladies at Almack’s would have fainted dead away.
A knock sounded on the door, and she jumped to face it, hands outstretched as though to fight off an attacker. “What is that?”
“We call it knocking,” Dane said. “A polite customary way to inform others you would like admittance.”
Thank you so very, very much to Shana for taking the time to answer my questions! I hope this has whetted your appetite to read this book! It will be published on February 3rd, 2014. You can find it here:
BUT WAIT! This isn’t the end! Shana has graciously offered a giveaway of her new book to one lucky reader! To enter into the contest, reply to this post or head to twitter @kiltsandswords or Facebook and share the title of your favourite Shana Galen book or character! Open to residents of Canada and the US only (sorry!!)