Ask A Wench – Wenches on Writing

The Wenches were asked to answer some questions about writing and the publishing industry, and today we’re replying to the first one – How do you decide on a title? Is it the editor or you or what?

OnceASoldier FinalMary Jo:  Titles wars, all authors know them well! Ideally, authors and editors work together to come up with titles that in just a few words will convey the genre, the essence of the story, and also have a marketing punch. Not surprisingly, this is difficult! 

In my first book, my heroine was a gifted musician so my working title was the rather uninspired THE MUSICAL LADY. Later, my brother-in-law, an amateur musician, suggested LADY OF NOTE, which was better since it conveyed both music and being notable.

The book sold quickly on a partial manuscript, but coming up with a good title was another matter. My first editor always insisted that her writers come up with good titles. We would produce pages of possibilities, which she would dismiss with a few heartless chuckles. When I'd say in exasperation that she should come up with a title, she had a whole prepared speech about HOW MANY BOOKS she'd edited over the years, how could she possible do any more???  Cowed, I'd slink off and produce more lists, which were all shot down posthaste.

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Delving into Regency Mystery with Andrea Penrose!

Black Swan and A PenroseNicola here and today it’s my huge pleasure to be interviewing our very own Andrea Penrose about her new Regency Set Historical Mystery, Murder on Black Swan Lane, which is released tomorrow! (And I'm loving the black swan in the photo!)

There was much excitement at Cornick Cottage when a copy of Murder on Black Swan Lane arrived for me to read. Not only do I love a historical mystery, I have been a fan of Andrea’s writing for years, so I knew I was in for a treat. I was not disappointed. This book was just what I needed to transport me back in time to a Regency world that was rich, vivid and atmospheric, where I spent time with a cast of characters who became as real as friends to me. You know that feeling of displacement and loss you get when you finish a really good book? Yes, that was how I felt at the end – but the good news is that this is the first in a new series. Hooray!

Andrea, welcome to the Wenches as a guest for a change! Please tell us about your new Regency-set historical mystery series and Murder on Black Swan Lane in particular.

As the title implies, a murder is the catalyst of the plot, but the plot threads also weave in the Regency’s fascination with the newly emerging world of science—as well as the era’s love of gossip and scandal, as fanned by the famous satirical cartoonists of the day. Combine the volatile elements of a sensational murder, a notoriously arrogant but brilliant aristocrat and London’s most popular—and scathing—satirist (who unbeknownst to all is a woman)  . . . and as the rules of chemistry will tell you, the mixture may threaten to explode!

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Seduced By Science!

Royal_Institution_-_Humphry_Davy
Andrea/Cara here
, m
using on science today. I confess, given that my academic expertise in science ended in 9th grade biology class (you know, the one with formaldehyde, dead frogs and very sharp knifes!) it might strike you as rather strange that science plays a big role in the plot of Murder on Black Swan Lane, the first book of my new Regency-set mystery series, which hits the shelves next month. Allow me to explain . . .

Antoine_lavoisierI have an art background, which may seem like the polar opposite from the world of laboratories, microscopes and bubbling chemicals. I thought the same thing until I read The Age of Wonder by Richard Holmes a few years ago. In it, he talks about how during the Regency era, the artists and scientists all thought of themselves as kindred souls. For them, exploration and discovery in any discipline required imagination and creative thinking. Painters, poets, chemists, astronomers—they all shared a passion for pushing themselves to think outside the box.

MBSL cover-hi res smallHmmm, I thought . . . these are just the same qualities required to unravel diabolical mysteries. So it suddenly struck me that having a scientist and an artist could be a really fun combination. In the Earl of Wrexford and Charlotte Sloane, I’ve sought to create two lead characters who embody the intellectual curiosity—and gritty courage—of the times. They are opposites: a brooding aristocrat whose extraordinary mind runs on the rational new principles of scientific inquiry, paired with a struggling artist whose innate cleverness and intuition are the keys to her survival. Forced to work together, Wrexford and Charlotte find they make a formidable team, despite their differences. (Ah, but as science tells us, opposites often attract!)

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