By Maya Rodale
My upcoming book is A GROOM OF ONE’S OWN —that’s groom as in husband, not stable boy, as one friend clarified to my amusement—and it’s the first book in my Writing Girl romance series. Inspired by the old adage “write what you know” I decided my new batch of heroines would be writers. They’re not novelists, because that’s such a solitary, time-consuming activity. No, these writings girls are newspaper reporters in the Regency Era—so it’s fast paced, it’s scandalous, and it gets them out and engaged with London in a way our heroines usually are not.
Take Sophie, the heroine of A GROOM OF ONE’S OWN. She writes a little column called "Miss Harlow’s Marriage In High Life" for the very popular newspaper, The London Weekly. Obviously, she writes about weddings. But while there is a certain glamour to her job, it’s not romantic or lovely at all because she hates weddings (anyone would after being jilted), and because her latest story is covering the wedding of Lady Clarissa to His Grace, The Duke of Hamilton and Brandon otherwise known as her hero. Heartbreaking, really.
There wasn’t really anything like the Writing Girls in Regency London, but that’s not to say there weren’t women actively involved in publishing. Mary de la Riviere Manley was the editor and founder of The Female Tatler (1709), and later of The Examiner (1711). Eliza Haywood launched The Female Spectator, the first magazine created by women, specifically for women in 1744. Mrs. Elizabeth Johnson, a printer, published the first Sunday paper, The British Gazette and Sunday Monitor in 1779. La Belle Assemblee, a Regency era women’s fashion periodical, employed women. Furthermore, virtually all articles in newspapers and periodicals were published anonymously, so who’s to say there weren’t women writing?
With these Writing Girl novels, I wanted to engage with heroines that did something, and something I could relate to. I imagined what it would be like if they were to exist and I loved coming up with the stories of how they defied conventions to become writers….and, in Sophie’s case, a duchess too!
In the coming weeks, I’ll be posting excerpts of "Miss Harlow’s Marriage In High Life" and other true tales From The London Weekly on my blog. I also have a deleted scene on the way showing just how Miss Harlow ended up a Regency-era newspaper writer.
So, heroines that are also writers—contemporary or historical—what do you think? Any favorites? ♥