4 December 2016

…. And The Best Supporting Character Is : Viscount Stafford

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Supporting Role Characters
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We all know the protagonist is the hero (or anti-hero!) of a novel. He or she usually has a companion main character, often the ‘love interest’ or maybe the stalwart side-kick, but what about that next rank down: the supporting role guy or gal? You know, the one who doesn’t get Best Actor, but Best Supporting Actor at the Oscars. I thought it time that some of these supporting cast characters had a chance to step from the shadows of novels and have a turn in the limelight.
So, a rousing round of applause please forAdam Lawrence, Viscount Stafford
a Supporting Role Character from novels
by  Regina Jeffers

Helen: Hello, I believe you appear in several of Regina Jeffers’s novels. Would you please introduce yourself?
Stafford: I am Adam Lawrence, the only child and heir to the Earl of Greenwall, with whom I am often at odds. I employ of father’s courtesy title of Viscount Stafford. I have appeared in eight of Mrs. Jeffers’s novel: two of her Austen-inspired titles and six of her Regency-based “Realm” series.

Helen: What role do you play in the novel/s?
Stafford: I first appeared in Jeffers’s cozy mystery, The Phantom of Pemberley. In it, I begged shelter at Pemberley House during a raging snow storm. Mr. Fitzwilliam Darcy, Austen’s most famous hero, would have preferred to turn me away for I was traveling with my mistress, and Darcy wished not to expose his wife and sister to such a woman. However, as I am an intimate acquaintance of his cousin, Darcy relented. Later, he was glad of my attendance in what turned out to be an impromptu house party because I aided in his attempts in locating a killer at the grand manor.

In other of Ms. Jeffers’s books, my role varies. I had a “walk through” role in A Touch of Velvet, greeting the Duke of Thornhill and Miss Velvet Aldridge at the infamous Vauxhall Gardens. In A Touch of Grace, I was the foil to Gabriel Crowden, the Marquis of Godown, for he and I often vied for the same women. I again came to the aid of the heroes of A Touch of Mercy, A Touch of Love, and A Touch of Honor by providing transportation, advice, and a bit of “pretense.”  I attended the house party in His American Heartsong and persuaded Lawrence Lowery to seek out an American hoyden, Miss Arabella Tilney, as his lady love, as well as protecting the reputation of both Lowery and the lady. In Ms. Jeffers’s most recent release, Mr. Darcy’s Bargain, I assist Darcy in the capture of the infamous Mr. George Wickham, an event which brought me more renown than I cared to acknowledge.

Helen: No spoilers. But are you a ‘goody’ or a ‘baddie’? (Or mayhap you are both!)
Stafford: I suppose many among the ton would characterize me as a “rake.” I hold the reputation of being a man about Town, but I privately pray that does not define me. I enjoy the turn of a card for my winnings supplement my allowance from my father, the Earl. I admit that I have not been the easiest of sons for Greenwall, for I am often defiant and disrespectful. I learned long ago that I could not live up to him reputation, and so I chose no longer to try. Nor have I been a “true friend,” for the majority of my “friends” are mere acquaintances, not trusted companions. However, in each of Mrs. Jeffers’s novels, the dear lady has been kind enough not to paint me with a “black stroke.” She saw beyond my shallow facade and presented me with a few redeeming qualities. 

Helen: So you support the lead character? Who is he or she and tell us a little bit about him or her?
Stafford: I said prior that Fitzwilliam Darcy was not happy to accept me into his home. In truth, I was not much pleased with the idea either, for his cousin had filled my head with tales of Darcy’s “perfectionism.” However, my attitude changed when I observed Darcy’s tender care of his sister, his wife, his servants, and his house guests. I began to envy the relationship he and Mrs. Darcy share.

I admit to enjoying plaguing Lord Godown. In my opinion, the man is too thin-skinned. I have been known to seek out a particular woman just because Godown showed interest in her. However, I have witnessed the man’s devotion to his wife. To my regret, their marriage brought an end to our “competition.”

As to the other men of the Realm, I am a bit desirous of their “brotherhood.” I have no doubt that their duties to the Home Office often placed them in danger, but as I have never known the type of loyalty they display, I feel ashamed of my failures. 

Helen: Do you like being the ‘supporting role’ or do you wish you could have a lead part in a book of your own?
Stafford: My dear Ms. Jeffers has been kind enough to bring me from the shadows and into a starring role. I am greatly in her debt and that of her loyal readers who kept asking for me to have my own tale. His Irish Eve takes place some six years after I released my mistress to a return to her family after that debacle at Pemberley House. Little did I know at the time that Cathleen Donnel was with child. It was only after Cathleen’s cousin contacted my father for financial assistance that I learned of my “bastard.” When I arrived to claim the child, I found not only a son, but also two daughters. As I am certain you readily suspect, they are triplets.

This encounter brought me into the life of not only the children, but also their cousin, Miss Aoife Kennice, who assumed the children’s care when Cathleen passed. Miss Kennice is the type of woman to demand that a man be a better person. She rejected my flirtations while enticing me to learn more of my responsibilities as the future Earl of Greenwall, a task I had avoided for years. Needless to say, we were meant to be together for she is “Aoife,” the Anglicized name for “Eve.” I am much impressed when Ms. Jeffers adds these little details to a story, for I am quite happy to be “Adam and Eve.”

Helen: What is one of your least favourite scenes?
Stafford: My least favorite scene in all the books comes in His Irish Eve. I planned to propose to Miss Kennice when she turned over the children to me. We were to meet in Manchester. Unfortunately, the day of our meeting was also the day of the Peterloo Massacre at St. Peter’s Field. I have never been more frightened in my life, not for myself, for I could have turned and walked away from the melee, but I could not leave Aoife and the children, who were caught between the cavalry and those who came to the park to demand the reform of parliamentary representation. I had to fight my way across the field to reach my family. 

Helen: And your most favourite?
Stafford: There was a moment in A Touch of Mercy where I executed something “heroic,” but not dangerous. Aidan Kimbolt, Viscount Lexford, searched for Miss Mercy Nelson, who had been kidnapped. I had encountered the woman upon the road, although I did not recognize her situation at the time, and informed him of where to search. Meanwhile, his friend Lord Swenson was to purchase a special license in Lexford’s name so Lexford could marry the girl quickly when he found her. Needless to say, the Archbishop did not approve of Swenton’s maneuvering. With the combined efforts of Lexford’s Realm companions, I pretended to be Lexford in order to convince the Archbishop that the special license was necessary. Despite it being but a twist of the facts, it was quite satisfying to know I served the Lexford well. 

Helen: Thank you – that was really interesting – I look forward to meeting you again in Ms. Jeffers’s novels!

Helen: Now something for the intrepid author to answer. You can invite six fictional characters (not your own!) to Christmas Dinner – who will they be?

Jeffers: Gosh, this threw me at first. I am accustomed to answering the one about what “real” people I would ask to supper.

First, I would choose Mr. Rochester from Charlotte Bronte’s Jane Eyre. Rochester fascinates me because he plays his games with Jane and Miss Blanche Ingram well. He is the perfect Byronic hero: dark, brooding, intense, troubled, arrogant, emotional. His great passion and forcefulness make him an appealing character. As a military brat and a military wife, such men do not intimidate me.

A character I return to often is Lieutenant Rebecca Phillips in Zack Emerson’s (really Ellen Emerson White) Echo Company series (Welcome to Vietnam, Hill 568, ’Tis the Season, Stand Down, and The Road Home). Rebecca is a nurse in Vietnam who encounters Echo Company when her medvac helicopter is shot down. Although the story was written for young adults, it is filled with enough grit to satisfy even those who wish for a description of the horrors of war. Having once thought to be a nurse, this would likely have been my calling for Vietnam was my era and the military was my life. I adore Rebecca’s vulnerability and her wit and her larger-than-life optimism in the midst of war’s worst scenarios.

One Thousand White Women: The Journals of May Dodd brings us the fictitious adventures of an “J. Will Dodd's" ostensibly real ancestor in an imagined "Brides for Indians" program of the United States government. The premise of the story is that the Northern Cheyenne Indians are shrinking in numbers and seek a way to assimilate into white society. They decide to marry white women and have half-blood children, enabling the two cultures to blend naturally. The Cheyenne Chief Little Wolf approaches President Ulysses Grant with the proposal to trade 1000 white women for 1000 horses, an offer publicly refused by the government. May Dodd chooses to join the program as a means to be released from a mental asylum, where she has lived since being incarcerated by her family for having two children out of wedlock. I would be very interested in her backstory, one of which the reader learns only bits and pieces. 

Sharyn McCrumb’s The Songcatcher, shares the story of pioneer settler Malcolm McCourry beginning in 1751, when nine-year old Malcolm was kidnapped from his home on the Scottish island of Islay to serve aboard a sailing ship. As an adolescent Malcolm turned up in Morristown, New Jersey, where he apprenticed with an attorney, later becoming a lawyer himself. He fought with the Morris Militia in the American Revolution. In the 1790s, Malcolm McCoy left his wife and children in New Jersey, and in the company of his daughter and her husband, he made his way down the Wilderness Road to western North Carolina, where he homesteaded, married, and raised a second family. As I live in North Carolina, this book and character struck a real chord with me. I often used it in my classes on Regional literature when I was a teacher. I love how McCrumb intertwines the traditional ballad sung by Malcolm with the country music star modern-day relative, who searches for the old song to give it new life. I have a ton of questions I wish to ask Malcolm on what he witnessed.

Another female I would choose would be Regina Hubbard Giddens in Lillian Hellman’s The Little Foxes. The role of Regina Giddens was one I adored performing over the years in community theatre. Tallulah Bankhead originated the role on Broadway, and Bette Davis played the part in film. The play's focus is Southern Regina Giddens, who struggles for wealth and freedom within the confines of an early 20th-century society where fathers considered only sons as legal heirs. She is conniving and will do anything to be independently wealthy, including taunting her fatally ill husband Horace with her contempt. She withholds the medicine he requires to live. I ask you: Who does not love a woman who takes no prisoners? Especially in a time when women held few options.

Those of you who know me can guess the last person on my guest list. I fell in love with Jane Austen’s Fitzwilliam Darcy from Pride and Prejudice when I was but 12. That emotion has not changed. Darcy exhibits all the good and bad qualities of the ideal English aristocrat — snobbish and arrogant, he is also completely honest and sure of himself. As Darcy’s nemesis, George Wickham, notes in his sly assessment, “His [Darcy] pride never deserts him; but with the rich, he is liberal-minded, just, sincere, rational, honorable, and perhaps agreeable — allowing for fortune and figure.” Darcy falls in love with a girl who is smart, witty, a bit judgmental, sympathetic, and naive to the ways of the world. At age 12 (and now at age 69), those traits still describe me.

Regina Jeffers, an award-winning author of historical cozy mysteries, Austenesque sequels and retellings, as well as Regency era romances, has worn many hats over her lifetime: daughter, student, military brat, wife, mother, grandmother, teacher, tax preparer, journalist, choreographer, Broadway dancer, theatre director, history buff, grant writer, media literacy consultant, and author. Living outside of Charlotte, NC, Jeffers writes novels that take the ordinary and adds a bit of mayhem, while mastering tension in her own life with a bit of gardening and the exuberance of her “grand joys.”

You may find Regina at …
Every Woman Dreams Blog
Austen Authors
Twitter @reginajeffers
Amazon Author Page
Also on Pinterest, LinkedIn, and Google+.

Come back tomorrow to meet the next Supporting Role Character - but meanwhile did you make the acquaintance of yesterday's guest? 
< previous ... next > 

6th     Inge H Borg
7th      Matthew Harffy
8th     Alison Morton
9th     Regina Jeffers
10th   Anna Belfrage
11th   Christoph Fischer
12th   Pauline Barclay
13th   Antoine Vanner
14th  Annie Whitehead
15th   Derek Birks
16th   Carolyn Hughes
17th   Helen Hollick

29 November 2016

A Visit to the Channel Islands - via Isabella of Angoulême and a pirate or two...

My Tuesday Talk Guest: Erica Lainé... 

At the HNS Conference 2016 in Oxford we were all given goody bags. In mine was a reprint of a 1902 book Nelson and His Captains by W H Fitchett. Chapter 9 was about Sir James Saumarez, a famous Guernsey admiral. Someone I knew about, and in a way the book was the impetus for this guest post. My interest in the Channel Islands and especially Guernsey stems from a long and happy childhood there and a true Guernseyman for a husband. 

The discovery of the subject of my book, Isabella of Angoulême: The Tangled Queen Part 1 came about as I researched the history of Normandy. As the wife of King John, that marriage acted as a trigger for the loss of Normandy. I found her interwoven history with Aquitaine, the Poitou, Normandy and England fascinating. 

Whenever I find a relevant 13th century reference about the Channel Islands that I can use in my fiction I do. In Part 1 it was Eustace the Monk sailing out of Sark to the Battle of Sandwich, in Part 2 Henry III stops in Guernsey on his way to St Malo, small details but all important to me.

The Channel Islands, Corsairs and Privateers
William the Conqueror brought Normandy with him to England, and with Normandy came the Channel Islands. They had been ceded to or taken by William Longsword in 933 when he took the Cotenin and Avranchin. 

When King John lost Normandy between 1204-1214 the Channel Islands were not part of any agreement between the French and the Anglo-Angevins. They remained faithful to a King who had lost their parent Duchy and did not swear allegiance to the French King who had resumed it.

The law in the C.I. remained the law of the Duchy of Normandy. An ancient law, which became varied by local customs. There was nothing written as law but there were commentaries on what happened, court records which were consulted as if they were text books.

In 1217 two important castles were built, Castle Cornet in Guernsey and Mount Orgueil or Castel Gorey in Jersey, they both had garrisons of English troops. Fortification was now necessary, as it had never been before.

In 1218 Henry III, John's son, wrote to Philippe D'Aubigny, his Warden:
'It is not our intention to institute new Assizes in the Islands at present, but it is our will that the Assizes which were observed there in the time of King Henry our Grandfather, of King Richard our Uncle, and the Lord King John our father, should be observed there now.'

Three years later he wrote to Philippe d'Aubigny, the younger, this very stringent command:
'Rule the Islands by right and due custom, as they have been accustomed to be ruled at the time of our ancestors, Kings of England.'

And the customs and laws related to the time when the Kings of England and the Duke of Normandy were still one person. 

(The Queen despite being a woman is known as The Duke of Normandy, when referred to by Channel Islanders. During the loyal toast, they say The Queen, our Duke or, in French a Reine, notre Duc, rather than simply ‘The Queen’ as is the practice in the United Kingdom.)

In 1254 Henry III granted the Islands to his son the future Edward I of England. The King ordered that these Islands were never to be separated from the English Crown, that no one by reason of this grant might at any time claim any right therein but that they should remain wholly to the King of England for ever. But the position was both anomalous and advantageous at the same time. In 1483 a papal bull declared the Channel Islands neutral with free ports. This began a far reaching maritime trade.

Jumping forward some 300 years to the Navigation Acts in the 17th century, the position changed again. The Acts were designed to restrict trade with Europe. These restrictions were ignored by the C.I. and the rise of Guernsey as a significant entrepôt was intricately linked to the rise of St Malo, which had been made a free port in 1395. According to a medieval Bishop the French port had always attracted all manner of thieves and rogues. 

As imports of French goods were forbidden they came into to St Peter Port from La Cité corsair and were sent onwards to England or America. In 1689 the neutrality of the C.I was overturned and they were banned from importation or retailing any commodities of the growth or manufacture of France.
So Guernsey turned to privateering. There is a fine line between outright piracy and the more respectable privateering. A Letter of Marque or Mart is issued by the Lord High Admiral licensing the commander of a privately owned ship to cruise the waters in search of enemy vessels. Either as a reprisal for injuries suffered or as acts of war. And so the commander became a privateer. Licensing privateers by special commission was highly profitable and many owners equipped their ships with guns to prey upon merchant shipping. 

During The American War of Independence, the Americans were helping Britain’s enemies and making a profit for themselves by importing goods from Europe and then reshipping them.  In 1801, a letter of marque was issued to Captain James Lainé, commanding the Guernsey privateer The Hawk.
'You are instructed to cruise off Bordeaux, keeping close inshore and as near as possible to the Cordouan lighthouse. You are to send in all Prussian vessels which you find suspicious, all Hamburg vessels bound from enemy colonies in the East and West Indies to any European port except Hamburg itself, and all Russian, Danish, and Swedish vessels without reservation.
You are also to send in American vessels coming from enemy colonies to Europe, all vessels bound from one French or Spanish port to another, all vessels having two sets of papers on board and all vessels attempting to enter enemy ports with warlike stores. Vessels bound from America to an enemy port are to be sent in if they have enemy property on board, to ascertain which you must be particularly nice in examining every paper you can of every denomination whatever.
Neutral vessels with passengers or supercargoes on board are to receive particular attention, but no neutral vessel is to be given the benefit of the doubt, for we daily find out neutrals with false papers and masked cargoes.'

Letter of Marque
1801 John Laine’s personal copy
In France the commission was a lettre de course, and the commander became a corsair. From the 1500s for over 200 years St Malo was the dominant corsair port. Robert Surcouf, a famous corsair was born there in 1773. The son of a ship owner and a mother who was daughter of a captain his privateers led successful campaigns against the British in the Indian Ocean and disastrous ones in the English Channel. However he had great celebrity in France where he became a ship owner himself and he died in St Malo in 1827. A true Malouin, there is a bronze statue of him on the ramparts.

Robert Surcouf
Photo taken by Guillaume Piole/CC by 3.0 
James Lainé was 22 years old when apart from captaining The Hawk he also became captain of the Guernsey privateer Mayflower, a 151-ton cutter owned by the Priaulx brothers. On 27 April 1806 he captured the lugger privateer Sorcière of St Malo, sailed by Captain Thomas Lauriol, three leagues west of Jersey. By sailing down to leeward James Lainé prevented Lauriol from firing his main cannons due to the heel of the Sorcière.

copyright JRL
He was mentioned in dispatches by Rear Admiral James de Saumarez, Commander Guernsey who wrote:- 
'Great praise is due to Mr James Lainé, her commander, for his activities and exertions on this occasion. He was in pursuit from windward and the chase took nine hours The ‘Sorcière’ is a remarkable fast sailer with sixteen guns and forty six men and has done immense injury to our trade, particularly off the coast of Ireland and the Bristol Channel.'

It is believed that the Guernsey privateer had friends in Royan who provided them with food and intelligence. It would be quite usual for Guernsey captains to have friends in Royan and other ports along the coast of France. France was a neighbour with which the C.I shared language and lineage dating back to the 10th century. The alliances still worked.  

Buy the Book Amazon.UK
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Twitter @LaineEleslaine 

* * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * *
And for all indie writers: Chill With A Book Award
by Pauline Barclay

September saw the launch of a brand new award, Chill with a Book AWARD.

The Award is exclusively for indie authors and authors with small indie publishers. It is designed to promote the best books from indie authors.

Indie authors write some of the best reads in out the market place, but due to a number of constraints their work is not always as visible as authors published with large publishing houses, yet many of these authors deserve as much, if not more, recognition.

For those who know me, understand I am very passionate about supporting indie authors, I am one myself and know from personal experience how tough it is to gain recognition and a large following whilst sitting down and writing the next novel, and that is why I have created Chill with a Book AWARD .

I want Chill with a Book AWARD, not only to gain a reputation for recognising great reads, but for authors to feel proud to receive the accolade. However, the AWARD is not for everyone, it will only be honoured to the best.

How the process works:

Once a title has been accepted for consideration it will be read by a number of Chill’s readers and checked against the following criteria…

Were the characters strong and engaging?
Was the book well written?
Did the plot have you turning the page to find out what happened next?
Was the ending satisfying?
Have you told your friends about it?

Readers have clear instructions on how to arrive at their evaluation.

Authors must understand that a book accepted for consideration for a Chill with a Book AWARD does not guarantee it will receive the AWARD.

Authors of books accepted for consideration will be notified directly whatever the final decision.

Awarded books will be promoted on Chill with a Book’s web site, Chill's Pinterest board, Chill's Facebook page and Twitter

A small fee of £16 is charged for each book accepted for consideration payable via Paypal (the fee is for the purchase of Kindle copies for readers and any balance left used to maintain Chill’s web site)

There are limited places each month for books to be considered and if you are interested in submitting your title, please email Pauline at paulinechill@hotmail.com in the first instance.

Chill with a Book’s decisions to accept or reject a book for consideration is final.
Chill with a Book's decision to award a book or not is final.

It is an exciting time for Chill with a Book and indie authors and I look forward to seeing great, well written reads sporting the coveted Chill with a Book AWARD button on every book shelf.

For more about Pauline and Chill with a Book AWARD click on the following links: