Sunday, November 16, 2008

'Before the Season Ends' by Linore Rose Burkard -- A book Review

Ms. Burkard knows what makes a true Regency novel so that you’ll no longer be dependent on your local Jane Austen book club. This author portrays everything from the snobbery towards those of ‘shabby gentility’ to those ever-so-important connexions that one needs in that world. It’s an old world, with the speech patterns of that era, and all the foibles that can trip one up and bring ruin so that one may not put one’s face in polite society ever again.

Yet I felt the characters—Miss Ariana Forsythe and Mr. Phillip Mornay—to be as alive as my family sitting in my living room. From the moment of their first awkward meeting—her stuck in a tree—to his anger and her embarrassment much later on when she wears too sophisticated a gown for his tastes, you can’t help but long for them to be together. But not too quickly, because their adventures along the perilous road to steadfast love made me smile, and even laugh. I was certainly not the least out of countenance!

The conversation in this Regency novel speeds along like an open curricle led by a pair of dappled grays in Hyde Park, so that for a few days I felt as though I lived in that world. Each character’s speech sparkles and scintillates so much, I daresay even Mr. Bennet of Pride and Prejudice would be exceedingly diverted. As for me, I was delighted.

It’s been a long time in coming—an author with NEW Regency stories that will entertain and gently affirm us in our Christian faith in a way that Jane Austen would be proud. This is a book you’ll share with your mother, your aunt, your daughter, your best friend.

Check out my interview of Linore Rose Burkard, below. You can purchase this book at Christian or on Amazon

Interview with author Linore Rose Burkard

Christine - So, Linore, how does it feel to have Harvest House publish ‘Before the Season Ends’?

Linore Rose Burkard - I'm very blessed. Harvest House is able to get BTSE before a broad audience, and they've been wonderful about creating great promotional materials and opportunities for me. They are an organization of super people! For readers who'd like to see the book trailer they made for Before the Season Ends, it's on my website

C - How long have you been writing?

LRB - Since about the age of nine. I wrote my own version of "My Side of the Mountain," with chapter breaks and all! After that, I got into poetry writing throughout my teens and an occasional short story. After college I started out editing and doing columns for church newsletters and I loved sending letters to the editor of my daily paper (no shortage of opinions here!). Then I branched out by writing homeschooling vignettes for my Homeschool co-op. But I also started to read more Christian fiction, only I couldn't find a book like BTSE. A Christian regency that was well-researched and true to the genre. That was what I really wanted to read, so I began writing regencies myself, at night, when the kids were asleep.

C - This is your first contract with a major publishing house, and yours is a road to publication that is round-about and very exciting. Why did you choose to self publish BTSE before this?

LRB - I had queried two publishers, one of which expressed interest, but then later backed away. I was confident about my book, and I'm a self-starter (that's a nice way of saying, a free spirit!) so it was sort of natural for me to do my own thing. I'm also a type A personality, I think--I like results, fast!

C - How did Harvest House come to notice your novel?

LRB - Once I self-published, I spent over two years studying marketing and promotion. I was constantly doing something to create a platform for myself and establish a readership. Then the Lord blessed me through my editor who just happened to be looking for what was out there in terms of Christian regencies, so he found me and contacted me. That initial contact resulted in two contracts; one for BTSE, and one for the sequel, The House in Grosvenor Square, which will be out in April, '09.

C - Tell us about your unique story-style—what do you believe defines a 'true' Regency novel?

LRB - There definitely are "benchmarks" of what makes a true regency. Authors are always trying to stretch the boundaries of genre fiction, which is fine, but in my opinion, a good Regency needs to include certain features and follow certain rules. For instance, the regency heroine needs to be sexually pure. Even if she is widowed, her character is still pure, though not ignorant or unintelligent. Historic facts regarding everyday life need to be as accurate as possible, and the same goes for descriptions of clothing, manners and customs. These are things that make the Regency so beloved, the special attire, implements of life, and customs and so forth. Supporting the realism, dialogue must be witty, especially between hero and heroine, and should try to mimic the speech patterns of the day.

C - I love the Regency style, and hope there are a lot more books coming from you, but do you think you would ever write a different style of novel—say a historical but not with that specific Regency flair which you do so well?

LRB - The Regency is my "first love," for settings, but I do hope to be published in more than regency fiction, eventually. I've written other stories, already, and I enjoy other settings.

C - Now that God has swung wide this door for your stories to touch other people, what is it that you hope God will do?

LRB - My hope is that God will reach readers with the understanding that He is real, first of all, and involved in our everyday lives. From my fiction, readers can also know that God is never more than an earnest prayer away, and especially that happy endings are possible for everyone. I also give readers the sense that they've visited Regency, England, and have had a wonderful time doing so! They've met a great man to "swoon" for, and got to know a heroine they can love and respect. I love that my books can be passed around among women. Lots of readers write and tell me they loved it so much that they gave it to their mother-in-law, who read it and gave it to her daughter, who gave it to her cousin.....etc.

C - What advice do you have for aspiring writers?

LRB - Don't despise the day of small beginnings. Every novel starts out as a scene, and then grows out, like a web, with plots and ideas getting stuck to the web as it grows. I recommend really determining, if you can, that you are called to write. And if so, give it all you've got. That's what it will take to succeed--and then some. But if it's a calling, He'll make a way.

Thank you, Christine~! This was fun.