Author Interview | Diving behind the story of “Lady August” by Becky Michaels and her writerly styling for #HistRom!

Posted Monday, 7 June, 2021 by jorielov , , 0 Comments

Conversations with the Bookish badge created by Jorie in Canva. Updated version July 2020.

Hallo, Hallo dear hearts and fellow book bloggers from the #LadyAugust tour!

I had a lot of lovely plans for last week on Jorie Loves A Story – I was going to run a finale week for my beloved #WyrdAndWonder event I happily co-host with Imyril and Lisa every May and October. I was also planning to run this interview with Ms Michaels on Friday, which was the last day of the blog tour for Lady August. Sometimes best laid plans go a bit awry as they had for me this past week. Between the seriously serious thunderstorms, the wreck of a work week and a bit of illness thrown into it – I decided to throw the towel in on it all late Sunday night whilst stuck in my car due to another fierce storm for two hours after my shift.

Whilst there is a lot of finale celebrations happening today via #booktwt, I had already sorted out I could feature this interview today. Apparently, time is now in my favour and I can bring this conversation to you at long last! I wanted to dive into the topics and subjects being explored in the context of the novel as well as give Ms Michaels a chance to talk about her writerly style and process of creating her stories.

For those who haven’t read the novel, this is a different kind of Regency Romance as it delves more into topics which will relate to women which is why for me it felt a bit more like a Historical Women’s Fiction novel than a traditional Regency Romance. I also felt this was a work of Feminist Historical Fiction with a 21st Century sensibility attached to it as well. As although I do agree Jane Austen was a Feminist, she showed her feminism in a different way than how the romance and relationships were presented in Lady August. And, of course, none of the traditional Regencies bespoke of relationships in such an open manner of approach – as things like that might have been held in more private conversations or at least, that is what it has felt like since I’ve been reading Regencies and other #HistRoms throughout my life.

Lady August broaches a conversation I felt today’s reader would enjoy seeing explored especially since a lot of our Women’s Rights are always on the fringes of being expelled. It has been an incredible several years on that front and the battle continues to see where our rights will remain and which of our rights as women will be unceremoniously removed. It is a good novel to open a discussion with your friends and all the women in your life.

And, without further adieu – enjoy where the conversation I had with Ms Michaels took us!

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Author Interview | Diving behind the story of “Lady August” by Becky Michaels and her writerly styling for #HistRom!Lady August
by Becky Michaels
Source: Author via Historical Fiction Virtual Book Tours

August Summer thinks she is a nobody until a London solicitor barges into her employer’s drawing room, revealing not only is she the daughter of an earl but a wealthy heiress as well. Optimistic about a new life, she travels to her ancestral home of Linfield Hall, only for her brother to banish her to London to live with her aunt, a dowager duchess with a reputation.

When Lord Bolton asks him to fetch his illegitimate daughter, solicitor Samuel Brooks does not expect himself to become so invested in the young woman’s debut after wanting nothing to do with dinners and balls before. But as August navigates her way through this new world of the British aristocracy, Brooks is the one who is most dazzled by her unexpected charms.

Since society demands every young girl must marry, August decides she will accept nothing less than someone’s heart in exchange for possession of her newfound fortune. Forced to reexamine his negative views of love and marriage or lose August forever, Brooks soon realizes his heart is the only thing in danger of becoming possessed.

Genres: Historical Fiction, Historical Romance

Places to find the book:

Add to LibraryThing

ISBN: 978-1735140131

Also by this author: Lady August

Published by Mildred Press

on 30th March, 2021

Format: Trade Paperback

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On the Historical & Romantic styling of Becky Michaels:

You easily fall into step with Ms Michaels reading this lovely story because of the charm and the delivery of the novel itself. She has captured the Regency well, with descriptive narrative and dialogue which alights through the pages as if we were timewinders ourselves and could easily remove ourselves back into the Regency to experience these scenes firsthand. I love whenever I find a writer who can write a Regency like this one, as it allows your mind to suspend itself into a timescape you enjoy reading! It has all the essences of the Regency, too, from the mindset of the men to the priorities of the women  – Michaels happily carts you backwards into a time where there wasn’t as much equality between men and women as much as the fact young children oft found themselves betwixt and between their parents rows! (ie. arguments)

Michaels is exploring topics and subjects not generally inclusive of a Regency Romance – such as a woman’s right to explore her sexuality even at a young age such as Lady August – there were a few content warnings attached to this novel post-receival but so far, I haven’t had any issues in the pages I’ve read this far along. It is a wonderfully Feminist driven storyline as well – as Michaels have all her female characters in the story feel more well-rounded in their abilities to choose their own paths and speak their own minds; which wasn’t always the case in the Regency.

Even when she shifts back to the male perspective in the novel, she is writing with a realism that is oft found in more contemporary novels than historical; though there have been quite a few I’ve read in the Historical market too, which re-explores sentiment and opinion on these subjects as well. It was a bit refreshing to find this kind of voice in a Historical Regency – wherein its not your traditional Regency by the constructs you’re familiar with finding inside one – but rather a more contemporary Regency by way of how this novel re-explores a look into a time period in History with the sensibility and perspective of a 21st Century writer who is tapping into previously unspoken moments in people’s lives which has merit of being explored.

-quoted from my #25PagePreview of Lady August

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Converse via: #HistFic or #HistNov as well as #HistRom
+ #LadyAugust and #HFVBTBlogTours

Available Formats: Trade paperback and Ebook

About Becky Michaels

Becky Michaels

Becky Michaels is a historical romance author and self-proclaimed Anglophile. After graduating from Boston University with a degree in English, she reluctantly decided to get a day job but never stopped writing—or dreaming. THE LAND STEWARD’S DAUGHTER, a Regency romance set in 1815 England, is her debut novel. Despite the cold winters and high rent, she still lives in the Boston area with her boyfriend and cat.

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| a conversation | with Becky Michaels

You’ve written a very modern Feminist perspective of the Regency era in “Lady August” – especially how August presents herself initially in the opening chapters, as we can easily see this isn’t your regular Regency. How did you approach bringing 21st Century perspectives into your Regency?

Michaels responds: To me, Jane Austen was a Feminist, though the word didn’t exist at the time, and she is the gold standard for Regency romance (to me, anyway). She consistently critiqued the patriarchal society in which she lived (in which we all still live), and I want to continue that tradition by writing about characters who do not necessarily think and act like the majority of their contemporaries.

Are those characters 100% realistic? Maybe not, but to me, they are a lot more fun and interesting. But there is a fine line that you have to walk because there could be very real consequences for not following the status quo at the time. So I realize that some things I write might not jive with purists, but I’m slowly becoming okay with that because I really care about the message I’m sending to the modern day women who are reading my books.

One thing I don’t like about a lot of Regency romance is that the heroine is most always a virgin, and sometimes the hero even fixates on taking her virginity in a weird way. And you know, maybe that makes sense for the time period, but for me and I’m sure a lot of other women reading my books, we didn’t necessarily lose our virginity on our wedding night in the most romantic fashion possible. We lost our virginities to some loser we probably aren’t talking to anymore. And I just want young women reading my book to know that’s perfectly okay if that’s your story. You’ll be okay, and you’ll meet someone who is worthy of all you have to offer, and that’s really what happens to August in the story when she meets Samuel.

Both of your lead characters, Samuel and August have a unique spin on how they want to live their lives – their both independent-minded and both share a want of abstaining from being married. Why was it important to show both of your characters choosing to live outside the norms of their society?

Michaels responds: I think they just make for more interesting characters. Plus both of them are kind of on the fringe of polite society, so I think they can get away with more modern ways of thinking, which is helpful for me in the type of book I want to write. They do have the Finch family kind of tethering them to the ton, but when the book is over, I kind of envisioned them living a more quiet life away from ballrooms because polite society just doesn’t matter that much to either of them. Brooks is happy with his current level of success as a solicitor, and August just wants to make her aunt and mother proud. But neither Brooks nor August are social climbers. What matters to them is each other, and I personally think that’s really sweet and romantic.

There are a few topics and themes inclusive of “Lady August” which are not usually inclusive of Regency Romances – how did you hope readers might accept this is a different style of Regency than the one they’re become used too? And, how did you want to handle those topics and themes within your own story?

Michaels responds: I really hoped they could see some of themselves or their own family members or friends in these characters, especially when it comes to Samuel’s character, and maybe find some comfort. When I first started writing Lady August, I really did want to write something light and fun, but Samuel’s background just kept getting darker and darker as it went on. I tried really hard to approach it with sensitivity and empathy because the things he’s dealing with are very real things for a lot of people.

And I think when you go through bad times, you have a tendency to push people away because you are afraid of what might happen next. You just don’t want to get hurt anymore, and you’re always waiting for the other shoe to drop even when you do finally feel sort of happy. So when Samuel chooses love at the end of the story, it’s actually very brave of him because he’s embracing the unknown. And I hope my readers know that if they have ever gone through something similar, they are very brave as well whenever they choose love instead of fear.

What is your favourite scene in the novel and why?

Michaels responds: That’s a tough one. I really like the scene where Samuel is drunk and climbs up to August’s balcony. Things start to get hot and heavy, and she says no, and Samuel actually stops and backs away. There’s no additional coercion or begging. He stops, and unfortunately, this is a novel idea even in the 21st century, but I really try to show that consent is sexy in my books. I also thought it showed a lot of maturity on August’s end. Her first sexual experience was kind of her throwing all caution to the wind and now she’s like no, I know what I want, and it’s not this. I want something bigger than this. And it’s hard to say that especially when you’re filled with so many lusty feelings.

What drew you into writing Historical Romances and especially into the Regency? Was it an avid curiosity of yours or did something in your research draw your eye?

Michaels responds: Well, it all really started with Jane. I think I was in elementary school or middle school when I was on a business trip with my dad and one of his colleague’s wives handed me a copy of Pride and Prejudice to read by the pool. My grandma also had Persuasion and the Pride and Prejudice mini-series on VHS, and I remember watching them when I was younger.

I’m actually a big Emily Brontë fan, too, and I love Victorian literature as well. I spent most of college studying 19th Century literature, particularly novels. I just think it’s such an interesting time of social upheaval with the middle class becoming more prevalent and the upper class losing power and influence in England. But I only started writing Historical Romance after discovering authors like Tessa Dare, Lisa Kleypas, Mia Vincy, Julia Quinn, Loretta Chase, and Mary Balogh. They’re probably the biggest influences on my work. I’m also extremely lucky to be working in the time of Google, and there are so many great blogs and resources online with information about Regency and Victorian times.

If you were to travel back into the Regency
where would you cross paths with Lady August, what do you think you’d talk about?

Michaels responds: I would love to join her book club with Lady Ramsbury, Lady Sarah, and Mrs. Ferguson!

Of all the secondary characters,
which one stood out to you as you were writing the book?

Michaels responds: I love Lady Ramsbury, with Rosamund being a close second. I’m looking forward to exploring their characters more in future novels.

The quirkiness of the cover art is a fun play on the era you’ve written,
can you talk about how it was designed?

Michaels responds: I was a big fan of Leni Kauffman’s work, but from what I knew when I first approached her, I believe she had only really designed contemporary romance covers at the time. But I really wanted to see her take on the Regency. I was super inspired by the latest film adaption of Emma at the time, so I sent her a lot of pictures from Emma. The costumes were just divine in that picture. I also told her the song “August” by Taylor Swift really captured the vibe I was going for, which might make only sense to my weird, Taylor Swift-obsessed brain, but I think she did a really amazing job giving me what I wanted! But she’s extremely easy to work with and so amazing at what she does. It really didn’t take much input from me. She’s so talented.

When it comes to writing a historically set story, what is harder? Creating the reasons for your characters to be there or to craft together a portrait of that era you want readers to see beyond the story? What do you love most about writing Historicals?

Michaels responds: Characters are pretty easy for me. Getting the historical detail right is much more difficult. I can be writing, but then I have to stop and research for a few hours just to make sure I’m getting one small detail right in my text. I also take calculated liberties, but I think you roll the dice a bit whenever you do that.

Some readers have certain expectations, and if you subvert those expectations, they might feel disappointed or cheated. Others just want to escape to a time period that just feels more romantic and chivalrous than modern life, even if it’s not 100% true to reality. I try to be somewhere in the middle. I like to inject historical detail without the reader feeling bogged down by it because for me, the characters are what are most important. And you know, sometimes I do make honest mistakes.

In my first book, one of the characters uses matches, but matches weren’t invented 1826. Other times people will think I make a mistake even though I have tons of research to back up a decision to include something. For example, I mentioned baseball in my first book. I got raked over the coals for that by multiple readers, even though Jane Austen herself mentions “base-ball” in Northanger Abbey. It was probably more like rounders than modern-day American baseball, and sometimes I wish I had written rounders instead… but another part of me can’t wait to write a Regency novel inspired by A League of Their Own just to annoy people. But in all seriousness, I love writing historicals because I really do find the time periods in which I write about really interesting, but I love giving them my own twist as well.

When your not writing or researching your stories what renews your spirit the most?

Michaels responds: I love cuddling with my cat, Millie, and watching a good movie.

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Thank you, Ms Michaels for responding with such open candor about your writerly style and process of writing Historical Fiction and Historical Romance! I especially enjoyed hearing about how you’ve approached writing Regencies with a bit more Feminist 21st Century influences — even though, I generally am considered a purist reader of Regencies and after canons themselves, I do admit, I see merit in sometimes painting outside the established lines in order to tell a story which is cross-relatable to both readers of the old standard of Regencies and/or after canon literature and the modern reader who perhaps wants something more to chew on as their reading a story that they hope can cross-relate into their own life now.

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This blog tour is courtesy of:

Historical Fiction Virtual Book Tours - HFVBT

Historical Fiction Virtual Book Tours!

Follow the Virtual Road Map

as you visit others participating: along the route:

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 I look forward to reading your thoughts & commentary!
Especially if you read the book or were thinking you might be inclined to read it. I appreciate hearing different points of view especially amongst readers who gravitate towards the same stories to read. Bookish conversations are always welcome!

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NOTE: Similar to blog tours wherein I feature book reviews, book spotlights (with or without extracts), book announcements (or Cover Reveals) – I may elect to feature an author, editor, narrator, publisher or other creative person connected to the book, audiobook, Indie film project or otherwise creative publishing medium being featured wherein the supplemental content on my blog is never compensated monetarily nor am I ever obligated to feature this kind of content. I provide (98.5%) of all questions and guest topics regularly featured on Jorie Loves A Story. I receive direct responses back to those enquiries by publicists, literary agents, authors, blog tour companies, etc of whom I am working with to bring these supplemental features and showcases to my blog. I am naturally curious about the ‘behind-the-scenes’ of stories and the writers who pen them: I have a heap of joy bringing this content to my readers. Whenever there is a conflict of connection I do disclose those connections per post and disclose the connection as it applies.

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{SOURCES: Book cover for “Lady August”, book synopsis, author biography, author photograph of Becky Michaels the tour host badge and HFVBTs badge were all provided by Historical Fiction Virtual Book Tours and used with permission. Post dividers by Fun Stuff for Your Blog via Pure Imagination. Tweets were embedded due to codes provided by Twitter. Blog graphics created by Jorie via Canva: Conversations with the Bookish banner and the Comment Box Banner.}

Copyright © Jorie Loves A Story, 2021.

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About jorielov

I am self-educated through local libraries and alternative education opportunities. I am a writer by trade and I cured a ten-year writer’s block by the discovery of Nanowrimo in November 2008. The event changed my life by re-establishing my muse and solidifying my path. Five years later whilst exploring the bookish blogosphere I decided to become a book blogger. I am a champion of wordsmiths who evoke a visceral experience in narrative. I write comprehensive book showcases electing to get into the heart of my reading observations. I dance through genres seeking literary enlightenment and enchantment. Starting in Autumn 2013 I became a blog book tour hostess featuring books and authors. I joined The Classics Club in January 2014 to seek out appreciators of the timeless works of literature whose breadth of scope and voice resonate with us all.

"I write my heart out and own my writing after it has spilt out of the pen." - self quote (Jorie of Jorie Loves A Story)

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Posted Monday, 7 June, 2021 by jorielov in #HistoricalMondays, 19th Century, Author Interview, Blog Tour Host, Historical Fiction, Historical Fiction Virtual Book Tours, the Regency era

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