Step back in time to Regency-era England for our newest Choices book! Desire & Decorum launches this Monday on July 30th. This book is filled with romance, drama, and witty retorts -- everything you love from your favorite Jane Austen book, and then some. For an early behind-the-scenes look at the making of Desire & Decorum, let's talk to the writing team:
It is a truth universally acknowledged that a new Choices book must be in want of an introduction! So tell us, what's Desire & Decorum all about?
Rachel: Desire & Decorum (or D&D, as I love to call it — no, not the kind with dragons. Sorry to disappoint!) is a Regency romance set in England in the early 1800s. When you become the heiress to the grand Edgewater Estate, you’ll have to navigate high society to cement your place among the British elite and even have a chance at love along the way!
What are you most excited for readers to encounter in Desire & Decorum?
Rachel: There’s so much to be excited for in this book: the art (Have you seen that cover? Shout out to our AMAZING art team!), the gorgeous music, and the love interests! I cannot wait for readers to be whisked away to this brilliant world, and hope they fall in love with the time period, just as I have.
JBH: We have absolutely gorgeous new artwork for the various estates you visit in the course of the story, along with all the different period dresses! I’m also excited about the ways in which we tried to bring diversity to what usually ends up as a very white and homogeneous genre. We really looked at how the population was changing within England at the time and tried to bring in elements like the black Americans who fought for England in the Revolution and War of 1812, and Britain’s changing relationship with places like the Ottoman Empire. We wanted to make sure that all of our players would feel that they had a way to connect with this story.
"It's court or be courted" in Desire & Decorum! Can you talk a little bit about what that will entail? (No major spoilers, please!)
Rachel: Well, in true Choices fashion, you'll have several love interests to pursue, but be warned that the course of love never did run smooth... or quick. A big thing in Regency romance is matchmaking — there’s a reason Mrs. Bennett was trying to marry off her five daughters! In D&D, we’ll explore some of that matchmaking, along with the complex social scene. Perhaps you’ll find a suitor who suits you, even if your family doesn’t approve.
Ali: Being the daughter of a powerful family means it's all about the London Season. Will you choose to marry someone above your station or give everything up to follow your heart?
This book is our first foray into historical fiction (and certainly not our last!). What were some of the challenges of writing in this time period?
Rachel: There’s so much RESEARCH! No joke, but I currently have six Regency books on my desk. We’re talking reading a ton, scouring the internet for info, and binge watching every Jane Austen movie/show ever, as well as Doctor Thorne and Downton Abbey. A group of us at the office even went Regency dancing to get into the spirit! (Fun fact: Given the nature of the dances and the ratio of men to women present at a particular gathering, same-sex dancing wasn't unheard of.) A lot of research went into this, and we’ve tried to stay as true to the time period as possible. I think it paid off, but that’s something readers can judge for themselves!
JBH: I have to give a shout-out to all the amazing Regency romance writers who maintain so many blogs and websites specifically dedicated to research on the Regency period! They made it so easy for newcomers to learn things like: “What kind of carriage would an earl’s daughter ride in?” or “How did people decide who to dance with at a party?” or even “What operas were playing in London in 1816?” Romance authors are so generous with their time and knowledge. It really made working in this period a pleasure.
Ali: We tried to strike a good balance between historical jargon and language that would be more friendly to our modern-era readers. Matching this voice was a bit of a challenge for me... but also a good excuse to watch nothing but Regency-era tv shows and movies for a few weeks straight!
What's your favorite Jane Austen (or Regency-era) novel?
Rachel: I have a soft spot for Pride & Prejudice myself, as the first Austen novel I ever read. Darcy and Elizabeth are such strong characters with great arcs and a wonderful love story. I love the sass and the sparks that fly between the two of them. And when Darcy declares his love for Elizabeth? I squee every single time. “In vain I have struggled. It will not do. My feelings will not be repressed. You must allow me to tell you how ardently I admire and love you.”
JBH: I tend to prefer modern writers’ takes on the Regency period. I particularly enjoy Mary Balough and Julia Quinn. As far as Austen movies, I was a big fan of the Gwyneth Paltrow “Emma.” It really captured the subtle humor of the genre. That’s something we definitely tried for in Desire & Decorum -- Austen wrote the original romantic comedies, and we wanted to make sure that players get plenty of laughs with their friends in between the big romantic moments.
Ali: Oooh, I have to go with Pride & Prejudice! I'm a sucker for both the book and the Keira Knightley movie.
Swoon! All of us at Pixelberry are counting down the days until Desire & Decorum launches. And of course, stay tuned for what's next! We've got It Lives and Perfect Match returning in the fall, along with The Senior and the next High School Story book! We've also got more romance and sci-fi on the way as well. Get ready to make your debut in high society this Monday!