Welcome to the RWAs first ‘Three Things I Learned’ blog for 2022. We hope you are all rested amd ready for another great year of romance fiction celebration! Romance author, mentor, and avid traveller, Susanne Bellamy is no stranger to many RWA members delighting readers with her many rural romance stories. Over the last year, Susanne decided to give another romantic sub-genre a go and is here today to tell us about her experience in writing the Regency novel ‘A Spy for Lady Clementine’, welcome Susanne!
1. Changing genre is liberating!
Mostly, I write rural series set in either the Outback or small country towns. I also write C20th historical, and romantic suspense. I often include suspense elements in my rural and historical stories because I really enjoy reading suspense, so, naturally, when I decided to join a Regency anthology of novellas in 2020, I included a shot of suspense.
2020 was a strange, unnatural, and confusing year, and I was at odds with myself in my writing. My daughter and her little family in Melbourne were in frequent and long lockdowns. We had long daily Face Time chats and I couldn’t focus on writing; my rural stories were too long for my brain to get a solid grip on plot development. But the lure of writing ‘short’ ie a novella of 20-30K, and in a genre I love reading did the trick.
2. My love of reading Regency-set stories began with Georgette Heyer’s books.
‘Devil’s Cub’ was a particular favourite in my early teens, because Mary Challenor was the first Regency heroine I encountered who refused to conform to societal norms, and Dominic, Marquess of Vidal and son of the Duke of Avon, was my first ‘bad boy’. Ah, the redeeming power of love! And in France, which seemed romantic to my teenage mind.
When I began writing ‘A Spy for Lady Clementine‘, my love of suspense meant William (Will), a businessman who spoke excellent French and had connections deep within a wine-producing region, had to be a spy, Naturally, his quarry lived in the heart of wine country and Will had to survive on his wits, evading Napoleon’s soldiers while working out who and where his contact was after his guide was killed.
3. Research is king!
I studied French language and literature at university but dipping back into France of two centuries earlier meant hours of research. Fortunately, I love researching, but it’s too easy to go down a rabbit-hole because the discoveries are so interesting! While checking details about French religious houses, I lost an hour or two reading up on the French Revolution and the de-Christianisation of the country. I may also have drunk wine in the pursuit of truth about the industry 😉
Fun fact: Did you know the bridlepath known as ‘Rotten Row’ on the south side of Hyde Park is a corruption of the original French name, ‘Route du Roi’? Despite all my reading of Regency romances over the years, I didn’t. The nuggets of interesting information are numerous, and seldom what we expect!
At the end of the limited release anthology in which this first appeared, my publisher accepted it for publication and asked me for a new title; thus ‘A Spy for Lady Clementine’ was born. It introduces Lord Rufus who is Will’s best friend and spymaster, and whose story is told in ‘Spying for the Earl’ in this season’s anthology, ‘Sweet Christmas Secrets’. But ‘A Spy for Lady Clementine’ is first and foremost Clem and Will’s story.
About A Spy for Lady Clementine
He’s the King’s man … will he also be hers?
The war with Bonaparte rages in France while the London Season is in full swing. Businessman William Ravenshoe plans to propose to Lady Clementine, but a secret interview at the War Office upsets his plans and he is immediately deployed to spy for the King.
When Clementine’s fiancé goes missing before the announcement is made, she agrees to a fake engagement with his best friend to keep her parents happy.
But where is Will, and why did he disappear right before their betrothal?
Revised and updated. Previously published as Four Calling Cards in the 12 Rogues of Christmas anthology
Born and raised in Toowoomba, Susanne is an Australian author of contemporary and suspense romances set in exciting and often exotic locations, and rural romance set in Australia. She adores travel with her husband, both at home and overseas, and weaves stories around the settings and people she encounters.
Her heroes have to be pretty special to live up to her real-life hero. He saved her life then married her.
Susanne is a member of the RWA and was a finalist in their 2011 Emerald Award. She placed third in the 2015 Pan Macmillan short story competition with Chez Romeo. Mentoring aspiring writers, and working as a freelance editor keeps her off the street! She loves connecting with readers and fellow writers.
Head on over to my webpage and find out more about my rural series and other stories:
Where to find Susanne on Social media