Interview with C. Hampton Jones about her Regency Romantic Warriors Series
What made you write a series?
I did not set out to write a series, when I originally started to write a book about a destitute officer who obtains a rich, slightly tainted bride through the help of his influential brother.
The story about Kit Andover, viscount Brondemeire became in the end book 4 and 5 in the series. The story about Kit became first a tome of 600 pages, as I started also to describe the fate of his sisters-in-law and when I wanted to submit it to an agent I read on the Internet that Regency stories were considered to be completely 'out' just like huge tomes. I should have known I should take that at 'face-value' as right now in 2014 it is the total opposite: Smashwords founder Mark Coker claims that epic stories (more than 100.000 words) are in and series are out. I decided not to heed those marketing results. I just like my series the way it is.
The story about Lionel Armstrong and his Robin (now volume 6) was underway to be written, and I already started on Lochiel's story (novel 1) as well. In the end I decided to cut the stories apart and put them into separate books. As they were all playing in the same time period I decided to put them together into the 'Regency Romantic Warriors Series.' That took quite a bit of rewriting and 'counting' due to ages and times.
In the end especially Hengist appears in almost all the books, just like the Duke of Lindley, Richard Grey. (Only Novel 6 'A Major's Mistake is a bit of an exception, as most of this book plays outside of London.)
As the heroes in the books are mostly aristocrats it is not difficult to see them as part of a higher circle within the London Ton and it became great fun to link them as friends.
Did any of your main characters ever exist?
I can say 'no' to that at once.
I invented them all myself although I was inspired once and a while by historical research that I liked to do.
I can give you an example: I once read a Jane Feather historical novel about a beautiful girl who managed to marry two dukes in a row. It was also suggested that the first duke was not the father of her children, but the second. I used that for the story between the Lindleys and the Rothfords. (Especially noticeable in Volume 1 and 7).
When in the middle of that research, just out of curiosity, I wondered why indeed the second son of the second duke never had offspring with his first wife. Then I got to tax-files in Scotland (!) in which it turned out that the girl this duke's son married was actually a granddaughter of this duchess' father. Hence Lizzy Campbell's story was born. It's artistic freedom that I paint this duchess as a shrew, I understand in real history she was a lovely person. I remade Lochiel into the duke of Rothford's son at the wrong side of the blanket, which is a bit 'soapy' but does make the story a lot more interesting.
What about the people you describe that are known in history?
Such as Wellington and George the Prince of Wales?
You must agree that they are very colorful people in history. I do take my liberties there as well.
In Volume 3 I like to describe the Prince as a man with a lot of sense of humor who is, on the other hand, always on the look-out to obtain money from wherever he can. It amuses me to write about the affection Lady Sophia feels for him that has nothing to do with the fact that he is a prince. There is not a lot of illegitimate offspring known coming of the Prince of Wales, so Sophia's 'sidekick' Jack can stay hidden until Volume 9, the last book in the series.
If it comes to Wellington: it is certainly known that he asked the favors of Harriet Wilson, the famous courtesan and his dislike for his own wife was also apparent.
I think he was a good general, but not the greatest in history. He was a defensive general and it is known that Napoleon was not very much in awe of him.
Wellington and Napoleon never met in battle before Waterloo. Napoleon beat him almost at Waterloo if it had not been for the Prince of Orange's contingent of forces at Quatre Bras, Ney's incompetence and Bluecher's decision not to return with a tail between his legs to Prussia (after his defeat) but to add his big army to Wellington's at Waterloo. Truth to tell: Wellington's defensive army was at a point where he would never be able to withdraw from, so without Bluecher's help he would have been slaughtered and history would have looked grossly different.
I do respect Wellington's legacy though, he closed the backdoor for Napoleon in the Peninsula, which was not an easy feat to undertake. Saying that: Napoleon made the mistake of starting wars at different fronts. If he would have put all his manpower in the Peninsula, I gather he would have easily smoked Wellington out, but he didn't and that was the start of his Waterloo.
Wellington was beloved with his troops and his officers and I write about that as well, but of course I love to portray him a bit more 'personally' in Volume 2, so that Hengist can use his mistress Lily to obtain a leave. If that causes offense I apologize. It's only a book.
What I write in Novel 8 about the Prince of Orange is mostly historically correct: he got into scandals concerning his bi-sexuality, but was on the other hand greatly 'lauded' as the hero of Waterloo with everybody except the English. That Anna Pavlova, the Russian tsar's sister agreed to marry him is most definitely due to his good appearance, his martial attitude and his personality (at 23), even if the British liked to portray him as a pimpled good-for-nothing brat.The more personal things I write about him are coming out of that big fat thumb of mine.
You do tacle the same-sex item in your series!
I do. I understand from statistics that almost 30 pct. of the world's population has either same-sex or bi-sexual feelings and I think that in a series that pretends to be serious you cannot avoid the item. I know that some people adamantly refuse to read Vol. 2 and 3 (A Major in Distress) and I expected for that reason for those two books to do badly in the USA, but the contrary is true. I must confess that one proofreader refused to work on those two books because of the gay-theme. That disadvantage changed into an advantage when I had to look for an other editor/proofreader and found Alex Blackburn who did his job marvelously.
I was inspired to write about the gay-theme when I read a historical book about what happened in Veere Street in London in 1810, which ended with hangings of homosexuals. In many countries in those days homosexuality was a capital crime. It was very interesting to look into it and research it. As you may know there are still countries in the world where homosexuals face the death penalty.
I know or knew quite a lot of homosexuals in my circle of friends and I had enough time to 'study' them. I think my descriptions of Philip, Stevie and David in Volume 2 and 3 are as true as possible. Every relationship differs, also in homosexual circles.
I must remark that Philip's homosexuality and his unwillingness to consummate the marriage with Marguerite is just an important basis for the story, nothing else.
What can you say about the erotic content?
Sex is as much part of our lives as food and drink. I do resent calling it 'erotica' in my books though. The books are in this respect of adult content, but erotica is to my opinion written to enhance erotic feelings with the readers, which is not what I directly aim for in those books. I sometimes need to describe adult situations and I must say I like to do it as 'businesslike' as possible, but it cannot be avoided.
If people get unduly excited with those texts, well good for them, but that is not a main purpose in my books.
I try to write those scenes as truthfully as possible as well and I had to think hard of the psychological part of them. I am happy to say that I have high hopes of succeeding in the end.
Tell me your personal view on your heroes? Which one do you like most?
Of course I must say that I like them all, but some I like better than others.
Lochiel was created in those years that it was unduly fashionable to write about muscled Highlanders. Although Lochiel is an officer in the famous 42nd Highlander Regiment he is actually not born in the Highlands.
His men think he is a bit foolish to marry a clan chief's daughter, a decade his senior, while he has so much going for him.
Although Lochiel might have had some thoughts on the subject he does not know that he is actually a son of Jonathan Montgomery, Duke of Rothford. That is saved for the last (9th) novel.
I see Lochiel as a (young) man who doggedly tries to do his duty and to please quite a lot of people without really regarding himself. His 'honor comes first' ideal is greatly disturbed by Lizzie and then it turns out there is no way back. What you will see in Novel 1 - 'A Lieutenant at Large' is that things just seem to happen to Lochiel. He is mostly a victim of circumstances. The story is archetypical and refers to Tristan and Iseuth.
Hengist is a totally different person from Lochiel which may be entirely due to his mother's fondness (the Countess of Loghaire : Audrey Agnew) for him. Hengist knows what he is worth and acts upon it. He dislikes as a matter of course his brother's homosexuality. In those days (1809 etc.) there is no understanding for such behavior, you were just deemed deviant.
As Hengist does not expect ever to become the Earl he chooses for a career in the army. Hengist is not born with a title as his father only obtains the earldom when Hengist is already born, and the hereditaty Viscount's title passes on to his older brother Philip.
When Hengist is fed up with army life he guides Wellington into giving granting him a leave for three months.
When he comes back in London to notice that his homosexual brother has married his adolescence sweetheart, he decides to do what it takes at the time. He faces enormous difficulties, but does the right thing at the right time, even if things can be called wrong from other points of view.
In the rest of the series he is always the helping protective earl which makes him a great person to love. If you ask me who my favorite is, I must admit it is Hengist, even if he has to break the law a few times to put things straight for himself and his family.
Kit Andover in volume 4 and 5 is an entirely different cup of tea than Lochiel and Hengist. Kit is used to live the debauched life in the circles of the Regency Quality.
Although his family is aristocratic he has to face the fact: that his father has incurred so many debts that it is hardly possible to maintain the family within the Regency Ton. He and his brother Tony opt for the easiest way out of this: Kit marries Anthea Fairfax, a blemished bride, but very rich, by proxy.
Kit really does not suppose he will discontinue his debaucheries after his marriage, until he meets his wife. As a confident male chauvinist he insists on consummating the marriage on the first day they meet in their London house, where he suddenly turns out to be a victim of his own double standards.
Anthea is the one who needs to re-educate her errant husband and Kit rises as a Phoenix out of the ashes of his 'former' life.
Lionel Armstrong in volume 6 is a man who knows his responsibilities as the oldest son of an earl. He is serious and reasonable. Contrary to most first-born noble young men he decides to buy his colors in the most prestigious regiment: the King's Cavalry and actually goes to war where he is badly wounded, several times.
When he travels home he mistakes a girl who nurtures him back to health for a servant, instead to see what stares him in the face: a baron's daughter. He has himself caught and abducted when he is dressed up like a footman at a costumed ball to marry the girl he thinks is a servant.
He does not shun his responsibilities towards the 'servant girl' although he is glad she turns out to be a baron's offspring. Their escape from Gretna Green is full of adventures in which he shows himself ever the responsible gentleman even when he loses his memory. I started the book on the Cinderella archetype.
Lord John Montgomery in volume 7 is an altogether different person from all the others. From a lonely boy in a ducal household he becomes a rake and a gambler. He hates beforehand the girl his mother, the duchess, chose for him as a bride. He refuses to take his responsibilities regarding his marriage and will not see Lizzie again until she comes to London, about six years after their nuptials.
Lord John is first and foremost a confused person. In 1809 he starts to take his responsibilities in the House of Lords, but thinks nothing of only visiting the most degraded friends and parties. He falls in lust and maybe even in love with a charming stranger who turns out to be his own neglected bride. John's world is turned upside down by the situation and he is forceful and jealous about everything that is Lizzie. He manages to enforce another estrangement that is three years later hard to overcome. John Montgomery turns out to be a tortured person. At least he is not too proud to take good advice from his old friend Kit Andover.
Devon Broadhurst in volume 4 and 8 is 'only' an earl's third son. He is quite modest and although already a major in volume 4 he does not have Hengist's, Lochiel's or Kit's legendary personality. He has been married at an earlier age but after his wife's death he bought his colors. He could have lived a quiet existence if it wasn't for the army nurse Cordelia Williams with whom he has a one night love affair and then is not able to forget her anymore. When he comes back to London he gets into a racy set and a very rich, but 'fast' woman Cornelia Grange, chooses him to be her new partner, but Cordelia Williams is always on his mind.
When the war starts again after Napoleon's escape from Elba he is chosen to be the liaison officer between the Prince of Orange and Wellington. Devon feels his duty toward his family keenly to marry the rich Cornelia Grange, but he always has his Cordelia in the back of his head.
Jeffrey Burroughs in volume 4, 7 and 8 is the youngest 'warrior' at about 25 years old. In volume 8 he is promoted to the rank of captain in the King's Cavalry after his colors have been bought by the Earl of Rotherham.
He has been Anthea Fairfax' 'boy next-door' and adolescence sweetheart, but has to move on from his love for her because there are suspicions that he might be her brother by Cyril Fairfax, Earl of Rotherham.
When both his brothers Nigel and Evan die of a contagious disease he becomes the new baron of Caversham.
Cyril Fairfax dictates from the grave that he is to marry a girl from the nobility in order to receive a huge inheritance, just when he has fallen in love with a prostitute.
Jeffrey leaves to fight at the battle of Waterloo. In Brussels he
sees the beautiful prostitute again who has become a governess in Lady Aubrey's household.
Jeffrey is a lot less snooty than f.e. Kit Andover. He grew up as a baron's third son and when the Earl of Rotherham Cyril Fairfax offers him the chance to buy his colors with the prestigious King's Cavalry (under the condition that he will go away from Caversham and Cyril's daughter Anthea) he accepts the offer gladly. Jeffrey may seem the least social intelligent of the warriors, but that may be mainly due to his age and experience.
When Jeffrey returns to his home in 1815 it is a a dump. By that time Jeffrey notices those things: that his father was a 'scumbag' who abused Jeffrey's mother.
The wars in which he fought have made him grown up and have given him feelings of responsability he never used to have before.His new problem goes one step further: how will he be able to fit Bertha Dunstead in his life, the girl that was presented to him as a whore?