I’m pleased to introduce my Aussie friend, Carolyn Miller, who has a debut releasing February 27 with Kregel Publications!! If you like Victorian Regency, you’ll enjoy her novel, The Elusive Miss Ellison!
Tell us why you wrote The Elusive Miss Ellison.
I wrote ‘The Elusive Miss Ellison’ because I’ve always enjoyed reading Regency romance (thank you, Jane Austen) and wanted to create something with the wit of Georgette Heyer, yet with a heart of grace and redemption. The tagline I’ve used is ‘Pride, prejudice and forgiveness…’ (Hopefully that’s not too presumptuous!) I hope readers feel I’ve written something that entertains and gives hope.
I love your tagline — it’s perfect! Who doesn’t love a Darcy feel and a novel that offers hope? I know I do!
What do you love best about your novel?
I love that Lavinia Ellison is the smart ‘Bluestocking’ character, whose compassion for the less fortunate intrigues the haughty new arrival, the Earl of Hawkesbury. I think she is relate-able – she’s not perfect (but who is?), not particularly beautiful (hello?!), and although she gets things wrong at times, she’s aware of her faults and working to get better. She is certainly a very different young lady to those he’s met before!
Oh my. I’ve got excited jitters already. 🙂 Love that you’ve given us an imperfect character that we can learn with.
What was the most work for you during the process?
As this novel concerns a number of titled characters (Earls, Countesses, Baronets, etc), I found it a challenge to learn about the precise nature of social address. It can get confusing at times who is addressed as a ‘Lord’ or ‘Lady’ or who is merely a ‘Sir’, so there were many consultations with debretts.com for matters of etiquette.
As a writer of historical fiction, I can relate! Research is always fun, though! What was your research path?
Thank God for the Internet – it’s amazing how much research can take place from my desk in my little country town. In 2015 I was very fortunate to visit my sister who was living in London at that time. My husband looked after our children for three weeks while I visited Bath, the Cotswolds, Ireland, Brighton, Scotland and Derbyshire – where the two ‘Pride and Prejudice’ films were set. Visiting places I had only imagined (or ‘visited’ via Google Earth), such as North Nibley where I had set a key scene, was really humbling. I LOVED it!
Sounds so exciting, Carolyn! A London trip was perfectly timed!
What kept you going?
Apart from the contract? I’m fascinated by the era, this amazing time of manners and social decorum, ideas and industrialization, a polite veneer that couldn’t always hide a darker underbelly of poverty and social upheaval. Despite the differences to contemporary life, I believe many issues remain the same. For example, while attending church was the norm, active relationship with God might have seen a Christian labeled unkindly – which is not so different to parts of our culture today.
Who was an influential person who helped you along the way?
Tamela was obviously instrumental. As an Aussie trying to crack the US market, I’ve needed to find those willing to help spread the love about Miss Ellison. Through writing connections in Australia I was able to connect with Kara Isaac (who wrote the excellent New Zealand-based ‘Close to You’) who connected me with Dawn Crandall (author of the Everstone Chronicles) who opened up her list of influencers, without reading more than the blurb! Their encouragement, along with that of Carrie Turansky, has really helped me feel like I’ve at least a toe in the door. God is very good!
Being from Australia, how did you tap into the US market?
After writing my first novel back in 2010 I entered a number of online writing contests to determine if my work was any good. Several manuscripts down, having started to final in contests, I entered the American Christian Fiction Writer’s ‘First Impressions’ contest, with my Romantic Suspense novel – which I won. The same work made the finals in the ‘Genesis’ contest, where one of the judges was Tamela Hancock Murray, who became my agent. Discussions about what genre to write made me veer towards the Regency time period – partly because of my love for Jane and Georgette, and partly because as an Australian, I had some qualms about writing about US settings for a US audience who would know such settings far better than I would! Tamela showed my work to a number of Christian publishers; Kregel Publications were looking to add the Regency genre to their catalogue, so it was timing made in heaven.
What is inspiring to you?
All sorts of things inspire me: art, nature, music, travel, people whose hearts are bigger than their wallets. I remember Becky Wade, an author I admire, discussing writing, and how she likes to distill the theme into one word. The word I’ve tried to centre my writing around is grace – God’s undeserved favour, and His enabling to do His will on this planet. My husband and I pastored a church for ten years, and through that time came to see how much God loves people, and that His plans are for restoration of relationships, and to bring hope to this world. Knowing this means I can take a big breath and relax, trusting that God is in control, that His love is real, and His plans are good.
Thanks for sharing your novel journey with us, Carolyn! I’m excited for you!
You can pre-order The Elusive Miss Ellison on Amazon.com.
Carolyn Miller lives in the beautiful Southern Highlands of New South Wales, Australia, with her husband and four children. A longtime lover of romance, especially that of the Regency era, Carolyn holds a BA in English Literature, and loves drawing readers into fictional worlds that show the truth of God’s grace in our lives. She is represented by Tamela Hancock Murray of the Steve Laube Agency.