Hetty St. James is the perfect embodiment of an Irish-German Aries. Hard-headed, opinionated, stubborn—all those good things! But for the most part when I latch on to an idea, there is some basis in fact to bear it out. For instance: I have a NOOK (with a Kindle app on it, thanks to Google!) but I much prefer print books. Fortunately, I don’t yet need large print, but at those book signings where I’ve had both regular and large print versions, the latter have always sold more copies than the former!
For some fifteen years, I was a volunteer reader at the Cleveland Sight Center, and taped books of all kinds for their closed-circuit radio station, and a few for the Library of Congress Talking Books program. This led me to learn more about large-print books, and why they’re so important to the readers I most want to cultivate. I’ve worked (and volunteered) with senior citizens who do not have e-readers or computers, so the world of Kindle and/or NOOK is a foreign one to them. They do, however, like to read, and value large-print above other media.
Thanks to Georgette Heyer, I love the Regency era, and it is my first choice to write about. I didn’t know, however that her books were commonly known as ‘romance’ novels, until I wrote my first book in 1988. It’s a Regency titled Bertie’s Golden Treasure and it was only then that I discovered the genre of ‘romance’. It came as a big surprise to me. Of course it took eighteen years to find a home for the poor girl, because it’s told in first-person. But finally, the Cotillion imprint of Ellora’s Cave liked it enough to publish it, in both e-book and print in 2007.
Two years ago, they acquired a novella titled Wagered Kiss, which is also part of that year’s anthology, Christmas Kisses. Most of the people I know do not have e-readers, so they were happy to hear of the print versions of each of these stories. A goodly number inquired about the possibility of large print.
So, when I decided to self-publish, I naturally thought first about print and large-print as well as e-books. So my current project is a combination of the three: each of the three stories is available individually in Kindle format, while the three together form A Regency Christmas Collection in regular or large print.
These three stories are about as different from each other as it’s possible to be. The first was written in 1989, because I wanted to contribute to Signet’s Christmas Regency anthology! Hah! I was so new to it all that I didn’t realize that would never be able to happen, as I was not a Signet author. But I still liked my story—The Duke’s Christmas Gift—even if it didn’t quite fit the category requirements. Actually, almost none of my books fit well, because they tend to go off in their own direction.
But it’s those detours that can enliven one’s journey, don’t you think? A Castle Cramlye Christmas is about a family with the centuries-old tradition of everyone gathering for the holidays, until they don’t. This particular year, circumstances intervene, and most of the family are unable to gather with their matriarch. It’s a sort of slice-of-life story with a happy ending, although there’s not a lot of excitement there.
But that’s okay. The final story, Pongo Finds Love, has enough excitement for several stories, with masques, hidden identities, all swirling around the outrageous fop, Pongo (whose real name is Oswald) and his search for his own Pongerella.
The Elegant Runaways is a novelette. In an era when marriages may be determined by guardians rather than the two persons most involved, one young heiress rebels when told she’ll marry a Duke. She’d prefer to find her own husband, thank you very much. So she sets out to find one.
There are other incomplete novels and novellas and even a mystery series in my computer, all set in the Regency period. I find myself drawn to this period of history because of the inherent civility of the time. My formative years were spent with my grandparents, who were 60 years older than me, and of a strong religious bent. Good manners and language habits were pounded into me on a daily basis. Therefore, I’ve always been drawn to history, and especially that of the British Isles. There was no profanity or violence in my world as a youngster, and I much prefer books that avoid those elements, even now. This explains my love for the traditional Regency novels.
I’ve been writing for more years than I care to think about, and have no plans to ever quit! I’m also addicted to photography and classical music, especially opera. This photo was taken at the premiere of a script I wrote for an operatic production titled Puccini: The Man and His Music in January 2008.