Book Chat 24: Claudia Dain/The Courtesan's Secret
fairyhedgehog said...I can't make the chat tonight (I have to go to bed at an unreasonably early hour because of my CFS/ME) but I did read the book and enjoy it. It's a long way from Georgette Heyer! Her books were never so racy. What struck me most was that I guessed who Louisa would end up with from early on but that in no way spoilt my pleasure in the book. I hope you all have a good chat and that others enjoyed the book too.
sylvia said...Like Fairyhedgehog, it seemed clear to me at the start that Louisa and Henry were meant for each other. But Henry was so likeable, I found that it didn't bother me as I thought it might. Rather, it was fun to cheer him on and hope that he didn't turn out to be a jerk (he didn't).
Claudia Dain said...I liked Henry a lot myself. He's turned into a favorite character of mine.
Dave F. said...I didn't think I'd enjoy "The Courtesan's Secret" but it was more like Dangerous Liaisons than than mere romance. It had some bite.
Robin S. said...I want to go on record - I am always for bite. Hi, Claudia.
Claudia Dain said...Dave, thank you. I agree with you completely. These books lean very hard in the Dan. Lia. direction.
Evil Editor said...So how many courtesan books are there now?
Claudia Dain said...EE, as of July 2010, there will be five full length courtesan novels and one novella.
Robin S. said...EE, have you read the series?
Evil Editor said...I've read only this one. So far.
Evil Editor said...So, in each book Sophia helps a woman get a man, but the main character is the woman and Sophia is a major supporting character?
Claudia Dain said...EE, each book (including the novella) has Sophia as the hub of the action. She is the spur for much of the action. The story is about the h/h finding each other; the plot is their love story. It's an unusual way to structure a romance novel, but I wanted to play with something a bit different.
Evil Editor said...She's like the star of a TV show that has different guest stars each week. Louisa is a great character. Will we like the other women Sophia helps just as much?
Claudia Dain said...EE, each heroine is different, so I'm not sure you'll like each one as much. I do! But what do I know? The one constant for each heroine is that she's not afraid to ask for what she wants---a message I am very intentionally promoting in each of the books of the series.
Evil Editor said...Amelia wants a Duke; she makes that clear and it's not even her book yet. Book 3 is hers, I assume?
Claudia Dain said...EE, yes, book 3--The Courtesan's Wager--is Amelia's book. Book 4--How to Dazzle a Duke--is Penelope's book. Penelope has a small part in Louisa's book, a bigger part in Amelia's book, then her own. Book 5--Daring a Duke--takes place at Penelope's wedding.
Evil Editor said...How to Dazzle a Duke sounds like it should have been Amelia's book. What, does everyone want a duke?
Robin S. said...Well, hell, EE, of course they do. I would have wanted a Duke if there'd been any around.
Dave F. said...Do they go after "Dukes" because there are so few "princes" and I will resist insulting the current British crop of Princes.
Claudia Dain said...Ah, but Dave, everyone knows that princes have no ready money. Why want a duke? Money, power, privilege. The same old reasons anyone wants to marry the Donald Trumps of the world.
Evil Editor said...Fix me up with a duke. Any duke will do.
Claudia Dain said...I should mention that in the July book, Daring a Duke, it's a man who asks Sophia for help in getting the woman he wants, a very fun twist that I enjoyed a lot.
Dave F. said...I think there are stories in the "savage" boys. Was that a hint about the next novel?
Claudia Dain said...Dave, the "savages" are in novels 1, 2, 3, a bit in 4, not at all in 5.
sylvia said...I was concerned when I realised this was the second in the series - I wasn't sure that it made sense. It took me some time to warm to Sophia which I think would have been faster if I'd read the Courtesan's Daughter first. But the book worked fine as a standalone.
Claudia Dain said...Sylvia, I'm glad you warmed to Sophia eventually. I adore her, so I'm no judge. She's a very complex character with a long and tangled backstory. First and foremost, she's a survivor. Second and equally important, she's a fighter for the weak and disadvantaged--in this culture: women. For those two reasons alone, I'll love her till I die.
Robin S. said...Hmmm. That does sound good - does Sophia ever get who she wants - permanently, you know?
Claudia Dain said...Robin, Sophia's story has yet to be written! But I have great plans for her.
Robin S. said...Oooh, good! Glad to know that about Sophia. And I like the idea of empowering the powerless.
Dave F. said...I can't write all that internal dialog and thought. I wish I could.
Claudia Dain said...Dave, thank you again. I confess to absolutely having the time of my life writing these books. The difference between what the characters think and what they say is the soil for a lot of humorous situations.
sylvia said...In terms of message: I liked how it was made very clear that Henry was intrigued by Louisa because she was interesting, rather than despite her "flaws".
Claudia Dain said...Yes, I liked that Henry loved Louisa in spite of her flaws and that he wasn't intimidated by her. I also liked that he was the mushy romantic of the pair.
Evil Editor said...So to write a regency romance, you have to set it during this period. And I take it it's largely about the society and its rules and how they affect relationships. But do you have to alter your writing style? This style seems appropriate for this type of book. Is it your usual style, or is it different from what you use when writing a contemporary romance?
Claudia Dain said...EE, oh I definitely altered my writing style for this setting. These books are nothing like my medievals in tone or overall voice. However, I like to play with writing, like to be challenged, so this voice is a fun fit for me.
Dave F. said...I like the setting in London on that year it lends itself to the comedy of manners that works so well for lovers to miss and then meet each other.
Claudia Dain said...Dave, such a great point. I kept thinking I'd move the action to a country estate, but just couldn't make myself give up all the social action of a Season in Town. I have the floor plans of all their individual estates!! And no chance to use any of that yet. LOL Ah, well.
sylvia said...Is Daring a Duke already complete?
Claudia Dain said...Yes, Daring a Duke is complete and will be out July 2010.
Claudia Dain said...Nobody's asked me, but I don't plan out the books in the series. I just start writing and interesting characters pop up. When Louisa and Amelia showed up in Sophia's white salon in book 1, they grabbed me and I wrote Louisa's book practically in a dream state--she was so powerfully realized as a character for me that the book nearly wrote itself. In that way, I don't create secondary characters so that I can write future books about them; I write a book, characters show up, and then if they grab me they get their own book. Lots more characters than books to go around.
Robin S. said...I like that idea about the characters growing organically. Claudia, Hope you don't mind my asking, but how did you get your start, writing novels? Was it hard breaking in?
Claudia Dain said...Hard! Oh, so hard. My first book came out ten years ago; it was hard then and it's still hard. If there's an easy way to get published, I wish someone would tell me about it.
Robin S. said...Shoot, Claudia - I was hoping you had the secret to this publishing thing! (Kidding.) You write really well- I admire a good story, well told.
Claudia Dain said...Robin, thank you so much!
Dave F. said...I liked the scenes in the opera house because I've been to a few of those awfully staged and poorly sung operas. Who cares what's on stage if the audience provides alternative entertainment.
Evil Editor said...I thought they were going to strip down and go at it in the opera house.
Claudia Dain said...Dave, you should hunt down a copy of the anthology PRIVATE PLACES; the entire novella of mine takes place in an opera house in the Georgian Age--the night Sophia meets the Earl of Dalby, her future husband. We also meet the Duke of Aldreth--Amelia's father as a young man.
Dave F. said...There's a few arias that would improve with bare buns. (sorry, I couldn't resist.)
sylvia said...Regarding the Opera House...I had no idea that Regency Romances could be so racy! I thought it would be more Jane Austen-ish, to be honest.
Claudia Dain said...Oh, Sylvia, I'm sorry if I shocked you! My books are very mild compared to most. But as to the general raciness of Regency London, I picked the year 1802 for this reason--we weren't actually in the Regency yet, and it was still very wild and woolly Georgian. One of the tensions in the books is the difference in perspective between the characters Sophia's age and those of the heroines--different social mores for each. By the 1830s things had really settled down.
sylvia said...It's OK, I wasn't shocked - just surprised! I've never paid much attention to Regency Romance and had made a number of broad assumptions about the genre. :)
Dave F. said...I enjoyed the verbal back and forth. I'm not sure I wanted to read heaving bosoms and pulsing rods and an explicit (what can I say that isn't rude?)
Claudia Dain said...Dave, I prefer reading about the verbal skirmishes more than heaving bosoms as well--I find it more entertaining and more stimulating (no pun intended--though it does fit!).
Whirlochre said...Sorry to butt in without having read the book, followed the comments — or even relied on myself to be suitably dressed, but (picking up from the last few lucid drops) at what point do the characters begin to run away with things (Claudia, All)? If we've moved on to another topic by the time I've typed this out, fine by me.
Claudia Dain said...Whirl, that's a tough one to answer. I like to think that all my characters are real, but some characters just have the sort of personalities that leap up and grab me. If they do, then I want to write their book. If they don't, then they fade away for me. It's like being at a party--some people you want to spend more time with and some you don't. It's not that they're not all nice people, but not everyone grabs you.
Evil Editor said...Though in fact, they're not all nice people.
Robin S. said...I like that party analogy - explains a lot about why some parts of a novel are easier to write - they flow.
Claudia Dain said...Robin, someone very famous (can't remember who) said about writing, "Skip the boring parts." It's good advice. If, as the writer, you find the scene boring, then don't bother to write it. It makes writing a whole lot easier when you're only writing the stuff you like.
Whirlochre said...Ok — continuing the party analogy...When you're grabbed, do you listen, solely? And if you wish to elicit information, how do you force the issue without having your guest turn away?
Claudia Dain said...Whirl, I'm not sure what you're asking. Could you rephrase?
Evil Editor said...I never know what Whirl's talking about.
Whirlochre said...Ouch! That makes my butt smarter than yours, you fiend! I suppose it's about characters leading you in a direction that's unresolvable. Fiction resolves in a way life doesn't, and sometimes you have to step in, a la heavy hand, which always seems to me kind of obvious when I do this as a writer. Apologies for being opaque.
Claudia Dain said...Whirl, ah okay. So far, my characters have never led in a direction that was unresolvable, but that may be because as the author I'm not set on resolving =everything.= For example, in Louisa's book, her relationship with her father is not resolved, and will never be resolved. He was a lousy father (and a lousy human being) and he will remain so. That relationship is not going to magically heal.
Evil Editor said...Have her kill him. She can frame the Indians.
Claudia Dain said...But Louisa isn't a killer. She doesn't have the heart for it. Now Sophia on the other hand...
sylvia said...Yes, Sophia is much more believable as a murderess than Louisa!
Robin S. said...I'm not Claudia (big surprise) but Whirl, I see what you mean. Some characters simply are difficult, and they still need to be there. I sometimes think the more difficult ones are being difficult for a reason - you haven't gotten all you're gonna get out of them, yet. BTW, I think that author was Elmore Leonard, Claudia, wasn't it?
Claudia Dain said...Honestly, I can't remember who said not to write the boring parts. It could certainly be Elmore Leonard, but I couldn't swear to it.
Evil Editor said...I think there was an error on page 256, next to last paragraph, which I mention on the off chance you aren't aware of it and because they might let you change it in the many future printings to come.
Robin S. said...EE, you are an editor to the bone, son.
Evil Editor said...Just making my play to become Claudia's editor.
Robin S. said...As long as you can still be my editor, too.
Claudia Dain said...EE, thank you!! I will definitely bring that to their attention. You never know--it could get fixed. Though I don't want to bet the house on that.
Dave F. said...BTW - is "Ton" a Regency or Georgian substitution for "Town"...
Claudia Dain said...Ton is an abbreviation, sort of a slurring, of the top ten thousand---the upper upper reaches of British society.
Evil Editor said...I've run into Ton in many books, but there were a couple terms in here I didn't know. One was for being drunk.
Dave F. said..."Foxed" is slang for drunk.
Claudia Dain said...Cup-shot is another one for being drunk. I love learning new expressions! One of the truly entertaining things about any age.
Whirlochre said...I always assumed 'foxed' implied 'to outwit'. Not come across it in the inebriated context. Makes you wonder how many such familiar expressions are not similarly "on the chimp" (and I'm proposing this one as a future runner, just for the sake of it).
Claudia Dain said...Whirl, only when it's phrased "out foxed" does it mean to outwit, to get the better of someone. It seems to me that the most energetic and fast-paced changes to language are related to being drunk, doesn't it? There's always a new way to say it!
Whirlochre said...Thanks for responding, Claudia — I've been the most spurious of operatives.
Dave F. said...Was Sophia just a courtesan or did she run a house if ill repute? I sensed there was more to her than just simply a courtesan.
Claudia Dain said...Dave, no. Sophia was strictly a courtesan and she wasn't one for very long, a couple of years.
Evil Editor said...Did Louisa have her pearls at the end?
Claudia Dain said...EE, great question. No, Louisa doesn't have her pearls; she has Henry instead. A very important distinction. Will she get her pearls? I'm sure she will. But having got (Brit phrasing) Henry, she doesn't want for anything more.
Evil Editor said...Wait a minute, is that Louisa on the cover? Because she's got her pearls. I think that was the courtesan's secret--SHE ended up with the pearls.
Robin S. said...This was great, visting with you, Claudia. If you're coming to the DC RWA thing this year, I'll cab over and say hi.
Claudia Dain said...Thank you all! I've had such a great time. Thanks for letting me come to your party! I hope you'll read and enjoy all the other books in the courtesan series. The list is on my website so you can determine the order. (Except I haven't put the July book up yet---oops.) Thanks again!
Whirlochre said...Thanks for hosting, EE. Goodnight all...
Evil Editor said...Night all. Order the next book before you forget.
Chris Eldin said...Anyone still here? Ahh, blog owner approval. damn. I wanted to come to this one.
Jeb said...Fairyhedgehog, I too am a Heyer fan (and have ME/CFS). I also missed the chat but it's because I was seduced by the women's hockey final. My favourite period expression for drunkenness is 'jug-bitten'. I didn't mind the book, although it didn't thrill me to the point where I'd seek out others. I found it reminiscent of Jo Beverly's 'Rogues' series, a couple of which I read on the insistance of my daughter. Those center on men finding the right woman and cover a wider geography (including the New World) than the Courtesan books, which center on women in London during the Season.
On the whole, I prefer the freer expression people indulge in when they don't think the author will be listening in. Plus people talk to her rather than discussing their own reactions to the book. But, since I almost never make it to the book discussions, don't let my opinion weigh with anyone. Back to the Olympics.
fairyhedgehog said...This was an interesting read. Thank you EE for hosting, Claudia Dain for writing the book and coming along to chat, and everyone else who joined in!
Oh, and nice to meet you, Jeb! I hope there'll be other chats that we can both make!
I can see your point about authors joining in chats but I feel rather differently about it. I like author chats because there's something special about being able to ask an author what they were thinking when they wrote something. People may feel less able to make negative comments (or not, depending on the person!) but for me it's worth it to be able to hear from the person who created the book. Thinking about it, you never know when an author might come on something you've said about their work. That's a bit of a sobering thought!
stacy said...My take is that you can still critique the book. I think Dave critiqued the book in a polite manner that spurred conversation. That's good practice in any forum. Sorry I had to miss this chat. Looks like a good one.