Regency England Offers Romance Novel with Christian Values

Reader Views interviews Linore Rose Burkard, author of “Before the Season Ends.”

Today Reader Views has the pleasure of interviewing Linore Rose Burkard, author of a Regency England Christian romance novel, “Before the Season Ends.” Welcome Linore.

Irene: What inspired you to write “Before the Season Ends”?

Linore: I wanted to read a Regency romance that was Inspirational. Period. I waited for years for someone else to write it, and then I realized that if it was ever going to happen, it was going to be my job! So I did it. I combined the Regency, which I love, with an Inspirational message. I wanted to show the experience of faith for the adventure that it is. Fun and faith are not contradictory terms!

In addition, as a fan of Georgette Heyer, I wanted to see more books like hers; in the sense of moving away from the formulaic plots that have gotten all too common in the genre. As terrible as this sounds, I thought I could bring more “reality” into both the characters and the setting, than what you often get in a lot of the mass paperbacks that are out there. I’m not saying that what’s out there is bad, just that I wanted to be different.

Irene: What do you mean by “formulaic plots”?

Linore: I mean the type of plot where you know what you’re getting by the time you finish chapter one. Perhaps some people like that; I prefer more of a set-up, where the characters get to be real people and they do things in character– not just to drive the plot.

Irene: This book is considered “Christian Fiction.” What is the difference between Christian fiction and other fiction?

Linore: Christian fiction begins with a Christian world view. Not every character has to share that world view, and usually many don’t; but the author has to have it, and it has to come through.

Irene: “Before the Season Ends” is Regency romance. Please explain to the reading audience what that means.

Linore: The Regency in England (1811-1820, politically), was the period when the prince of Wales became regent in place of his father, George III (who was believed to be insane. He wasn’t, but that’s for a different interview!) Jane Austen and Lord Byron are Regency figures; Beau Brummell, Princess Caroline; Napoleon and Wellington; lots of great historical characters! Austen, in my opinion, started the genre with her novels, and Georgette Heyer developed it further and popularized it, perhaps even defined it.

So, as well as being set in that time period, a Regency has many earmarks that are unique to the genre and which must be evident in the story, such as a lot of the language and places that are used. In general, though, a reader can expect that a Regency will be fun, and clean, as far as the romance goes. Regencies are known for being fun, even to the point of wacky fun, and yet still romantic and memorable.

Irene: Why do you believe Regency romance novels are so popular?

Linore: People know they are not picking up “War and Peace” when they go to read one. The Regency, as I said, is enormous fun; the hypocrisy of the social order and its values is just a springboard for all kinds of settings and situations that romance writers can use in really enjoyable ways to create good stories. At the same time, there’s a great deal of improbability in many Regencies which is (in my opinion) a problem of the publishing houses. Editors want to see a handful of formula plots and that’s it. So the Regency genre as a whole has suffered. But they’re still popular because the era is incredibly interesting, the romance is cleaner (which reminds me, too many modern editors don’t realize that we readers LIKE to use our imaginations, thank you). And the stories center mostly around the upper classes, people who get to live the way we all WISH we could. So that is fun, too.

Irene: Writers of novels don’t cease to amaze me. Your imagination must run rampant at all times in order to create a plot that keeps the reader wanting to flip pages. Give us a little insight on how you do this.

Linore: I guess you hit the nail on the head with the word, “imagination.” When I was a kid I was always imagining horrible things that could happen. It was very real to me and I was always scaring myself silly!(laughs) I finally figured out that I could harness the power of my imagination in good ways, too; I could use it in fun ways. This was a major turning point for me! I think all writers have to ask themselves questions, like, “What if this or that happened?” Sometimes I want something to happen and I have to ask the question, “What would have to happen first, in order to bring out this or that response in a character? Or, under what kind of situation would this character be forced to do this, that, or the other thing? (that I want them to do)

I mean, in a romance, for instance, you’ve got to find a way to bring your characters together, but not so much together that the book is over! You need to create a sort of tension, too, which is what (I think) keeps the reader turning pages. We all want to know, how is this going to work out? The bottom line in all fiction is that there are questions the reader is asking and in order to get them answered they have to keep reading.

Irene: How do you anticipate what the reader would be asking?

Linore: Questions are almost unavoidable in any situation; they just arise. For example: Something happens–so the reader wants to know: what’s going to happen, now? Or,a common question is, If they don’t like each other with good reason, how are they going to solve their differences? The key in plotting is giving the reader some information, moving the story forward, but without revealing the end too soon. As soon as you answer all the questions, the story’s over.

Irene: Sometimes the plot is so standard that in the end I think “Well, that was a given.” How do you come with a plot that isn’t predicable in the end?

Linore: Actually, knowing the end is sometimes okay, as long as you can keep your readers guessing about HOW the characters are going to get there. Romance readers WANT a happy ending, but if you’ve got the whole thing figured out way before the end, where’s the fun in that? It’s okay for them to say, “Well, I just KNOW these two are going to end up together, but I’ve got to see how it happens!” That’s fine. That’s great. But the final getting together should be really satisfying; It makes all that guessing, all the twists and turns, worth every page. But hey, there’s an art to doing this right. You don’t want to overly frustrate your reader or give them too much, too soon. It’s a fine line of a balance.

Irene: How did you come up with the characters? Are they modeled after people you know?

Linore: My characters are amalgamations of anyone and everyone I know! Of course, there’s a great deal of ME in some of them, I don’t think any author can completely avoid putting themselves into at least some (if not all) of the characters. But I couldn’t say this or that character was modeled after so and so, except for perhaps one of them.

Irene: Is there any part of the book that reflects your own experience?

Linore: In a concrete sense? I think when Ariana feels like she’s in a strange city and quite alone it must have come from my experience. I lived alone for five years while I worked full-time and put myself through college, and at times I felt very, very isolated. But I did also discover that God answers prayers–sometimes in really strange, unexpected ways!–and Ariana discovers that, too.

Irene: Some people say they’ve read “Before the Season Ends” more than once. What do you believe inspires them to read it again, especially when they know the plot?

Linore: Again, I think it’s that sense of pure enjoyment. I read it myself many times–despite having the book up to my ears during editing!–and I guess I know the plot better than anyone! (laughs) But I still enjoy the story. Readers have told me they laughed out loud when reading it, (and some have said they cried) but I think it’s the sense of reality, that this could have really happened, combined with the safety net of the fun factor that brings people back more than once. Also perhaps the way the characters change so much from who they were at the beginning of the book, and who they are by the end. It happens kind of seamlessly, naturally, and yet little by little, like real life. There’s a charm in that. Another way of looking at it is to say it’s a “comfort” book. One of those books you can just curl up with for a while and feel better from reading. You know you’ll enjoy it and it won’t bring you down.

Irene: Do you think some readers resonate with the characters and become them – maybe in a fantasy sort of way?

Linore: Absolutely. That’s why we like pretty heroines we can admire; I think every reader of every book is vicariously living that book. But we must be able to understand their motivations. We also need to be able to recognize when they make mistakes, but still be rooting for them. If you have a really stupid heroine it will annoy the reader because you want her to be smart, like you, maybe even smarter. She’s got to show you what you could be; she represents possibilities, hopes and dreams. But if she’s too stupid or foolish you no longer want to identify with her and I think that would be a drawback.

Irene: So, what’s ahead? What are you planning on doing, next?

Linore: My first plan was to do, “The Debutante Series” which would have featured entirely new characters in each book. Many, many readers told me they like a series that continues the story, though, so instead of the Debutantes, I’m doing “The Regency Light Chronicles” (Before the Season Ends is the first book in the Chronicles, even though the name, Regency Light Chronicles, doesn’t appear on the cover of this first edition). I have four or five more books to do in this series, and then I’ll probably get to the Debutante Series, because I’ve already started a number of them.

In the meantime, I’m also developing a series of presentations, each which will be about 45 minutes long, on the Regency. There’s this fabulous little tea house in my town, really elegant and pretty, and I envision having mother/daughter teas, or history buff teas there. I’m having a Regency costume made, and once it’s fitted to my satisfaction, I’ll be ready to begin the presentations. They’re going to be a LOT of fun!

I also have a new monthly eZine, Upon My Word! Facts, Fashion and Figures of the Regency which, for the time being, is free for anyone who signs up. (You can sign up at my website, http://www.LinoreRoseBurkard.com. People who subscribe now also receive a free download immediately.) The eZine is excellent for newbies (to the Regency) but even seasoned fans of the period enjoy it.

Finally, every so often (and this happened just last night!) I have to write something contemporary. I get this persistent scene in my head and one day it hits me that I’m not going to get rid of it until I write it out! So I do. I just wrote a totally unexpected short story called “Secrets” which is completely unlike my Regency writing. I’ve also got files of other things I’ve begun and not finished, including a screenplay which I WILL complete some day! (Okay, God willing, I’ll complete it!) The question is, how am I ever going to finish everything that’s in my head?

But Book Two of the Regency Light Chronicles should be out by THIS spring–so watch for it! (I don’t have the title for it, yet, but it will have the series name, Regency Light Chronicles, Volume II or Book II).

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