I’m very pleased to welcome Janet Mullany to the blog today for an interview. Janet writes everything Regency–from Regency vampires to hilarious and accomplished “Raucous Regencies.” She’s also well-versed on a number of period topics, such as the life and role of servants in the Georgian era, and the history of black and Jewish populations in Regency London.
Welcome to the blog, Janet!
You’ve written Jane Austen Vampire novels, raucous Regencies, hot historicals, and contemporary erotic romances. How do you keep all these genres from colliding in your head?
I really don’t! I have this nasty suspicion I write the same thing all the time. There’s a certain amount of overlap–my two Austen paranormals, Jane & the Damned and Jane Austen: Blood Persuasion derived from the research I’d done on the Regency, and in the raucous Regencies I let my funny self rip. My agent persuaded me I had a contemporary voice, although I’ve never been that convinced of it. It’s certainly not an American voice, but neither is it a contemporary English voice, which is why writing hot historicals is a natural for me. As for the heat level/eroticism, I’ve never held the industry view that explicit language = erotic writing. In some ways and in some scenes I think my raucous Regencies have the greatest heat factor–with massive apologies to the readers who applauded me for my courage in not including any of that nasty sex stuff. It’s most certainly there!
Before you became a writer you were an archaeologist, a classical music radio announcer, worked in the arts, and you were also a bookseller and editor. How have these other careers shaped your work as a writer?
I’ve always been one of those people who’ve never known what they want to do when they grow up. So I developed this odd skill set–being able to shovel clay ten feet (archaeology, although I don’t think I could do it now), lift 50# in high heels (the arts–it’s amazing how much time you spend hauling around boxes of stuff), and talk quite happily into a microphone (not a skill that translates into anything else, other than being able to think on your feet). But almost all of these jobs involved having to write, sometimes because no one else could or would. The other main factor in all my odd careers was that I always found time to read and that’s what made me into a writer. I discovered that I could put stories together and invent characters on a stupendously boring excavation, the last one I worked on, which was quite some time ago. We spent weeks troweling huge areas smooth in a field in the middle of nowhere, occasionally turning up a chip of pottery, and you had to do something to entertain yourself. But I didn’t do anything about it until years later. At the time I thought it was probably some sort of minor mental disorder.
You have a new book out called A Certain Latitude (I love all the implications of that title!). What’s it about?
It’s a substantial rewrite of a book published in 2007 called Forbidden Shores which was way ahead of its time in its filth level. The book never really worked and so when I got the rights back I decided to give it another try. A Certain Latitude was my first choice of title (I love the title too!), but quite honestly it was a book the industry didn’t know how to market. It’s about sex and abolition (my shorthand): In 1800 Clarissa Onslowe seeks to redeem herself with her estranged abolitionist family by publishing an account of slavery on the island dominated by powerful estate owner “March” Lemarchand. She doesn’t anticipate falling in love with him, or becoming involved in a triangle with the restless, lusty Allen Pendale, who is on a quest for his own identity. On the island where sugar rules love isn’t always sweet and nothing’s more bitter than falling in love with the one who can’t love you back.
Compared to most Regencies, this book has an unusual setting—on the high seas and in the West Indies. How did the setting affect the story?
To a certain extent, it IS the story. My original plan was to set the book entirely in England, and concentrate on the conflict created by those who wanted to end the slave trade which was certainly the mainstay of the economy and created the great wealth of the Georgian era. It was a very divisive issue. My editor wanted me to set it in the Caribbean which I didn’t want to do because then I’d have to write about slavery. It wasn’t a romantic or exotic setting in this context. I didn’t want readers to anticipate a lovely romance on a pristine beach etc. The voyage out went on–and maybe still does–too long. I chopped out an entire chapter which is on my website. Naturally, heavy sigh, it was my favorite chapter. But I loved the idea of two people forced together in less than ideal circumstances and in a very confined space, learning about sex and love together.
What’s up next in your writing world?
When I was rewriting the book I began to wonder what would happen to the two main characters after having had such an adventurous sex life. It’s set seven years later and is called A Certain Proposition. (I guess I’d better finish it now!). It should come out in February if all goes to schedule.
Thanks so much for having me visit. It’s a great pleasure!
Readers, Janet has a question for us: “returning to the topic of settings, I’d like to ask what you consider a romantic setting for a book.“ One person who answers will win a Nook or a Kindle copy of the book! And read below for a sexy and exclusive excerpt from A Certain Latitude.
Eyes almost shut, Clarissa slowed her breathing and decided to enjoy the sight of Mr. Pendale preparing for bed.
He sat on his box of belongings, which Clarissa had asked Peter the ship’s boy to move into the cabin, along with the bootjack. He eased off his boots and tossed them onto the upper berth, stood, stretched and hit one hand against a beam. Swearing softly under his breath, he stripped off his coat and waistcoat. In his shirtsleeves, he paused, face thoughtful, and untied his neck-cloth, drawing the creamy length of cotton from his shirt, and lifted one hand to unfasten the placket. A curl of black hair, similar to the dusting of hair on his hands and forearms, became visible as he undid the buttons.
She wondered if he intended to sleep in his shirt, and her question was answered when he stripped the garment off over his head, hunching his back, arms outstretched. With a shiver of delight she saw his chest, as dark-pelted as that first curl of hair had promised, the slick of hair under one arm as he stood over her to throw his shirt onto his berth. His stockings were good, serviceable gray wool, gartered with plain black ribbon, and she shut her eyes again expecting him to bend to remove them.
Instead he moved away—she felt his warmth retreat—and through half-closed eyes, she watched him rest one foot on his box of belongings, lean over, and pull at the black ribbon, drawing the knot untied with great care. He shook the ribbon out, stuffed it into his breeches pocket, then bent again to roll the stocking down and off. He stumbled a little as the ship dipped and stood, knees slightly bent, the bone of his bared shin sharp in the lamplight, swaying with the movement. She’d never seen a gentleman’s bare foot before, and it was somewhat disappointing that his was like anyone else’s, but broad and strong like the rest of him. His skin glowed gold; he sighed and scratched his chest while his other hand lowered to the fall of his breeches. His hand lingered, resting as though pointing the way to the noticeable masculine bulge, before he unbuttoned the top button on each side, and his breeches slid a little onto his hips. More golden skin, the dark eye of his navel, were revealed as the flap fell forward.
Did he know she watched? Was he performing for her? She squeezed her thighs together, tingling and aroused.
He lifted the other leg, bent, repeated the untying, rolling down, and tossed both stockings onto his bed. His breeches now; another button loosened, a further slide down his hips, and he paused.
He reached for the lantern as the fingers of his other hand worked the next button. The cabin plunged into pitch darkness and his breeches slithered down—she heard the rasp of wool on skin. There was a warm gust of air from his body, scented with his musk and sweat as he hoisted himself onto the upper berth—and she took a much-needed breath.
Intrigued? Here’s a link to a deleted scene that Janet has on her website!