After her graduate education at the University of California Irvine and Caltech, Sally worked for thirty years as a Ph.D. scientist specializing in the discovery of gene function. Several years ago, she joined an English message board, where she posted many, many examples of absolute tomfoolery. As a result, a cyber-friend challenged her to write a novel. Since she’s a hopeless Anglophile, it’s not surprising that her first book is a Regency-era romance. Today she’s writing three novels for Sourcebooks. The first one, The Rake’s Handbook: Including Field Guide, was published on November 4, 2014. The second, When a Rake Falls, will be published on April 7, 2015. She lives with her husband in San Diego, surrounded by too many books and not enough old English cars.
What do you love best/interests you most about the Regency Era?
My stories are not technically set during the Regency. Instead, they fall under what historians call the Regency-era (1795-1837). The Wikipedia entry describes this as a distinct time in British culture and civilization. I find this era exciting, because it falls within the industrial revolution (approx. 1760-1840). A time of progress in transportation, steam power, chemicals, gas lighting, manufacture, and standards of living.
Many Regency romances have titled characters for the hero, like a duke. Our romances also celebrate a time of simple living, balls, carriages, and proper manners. Most of us enjoy the dream of finding true love with a hero who is a wealthy, powerful individual with a grand estate, so it’s no surprise that aristocrats are the most popular heroes in romance.
But if I had the choice to fall in love with either a Regency duke or a man who would invent/discover something significant that laid the foundation of our modern world, I’d choose the inventor.
Three years ago, my husband and I took our Airstream to Las Vegas. One day we toured the Hoover dam. I distinctly remember turning the corner in the visitor center and coming face-to-face with a handsome Regency-era portrait of a man wearing a cravat—Michael Faraday. Michael was the greatest empirical scientist and has been my personal muse for decades. Michael’s portrait was at the Hoover dam because he invented the dynamo (the bases for power generators) in his basement laboratory at the Royal Institute of Great Britain on London’s Albemarle Street starting in 1831. So in a sense, Michael Faraday’s work during the Regency-era led to Las Vegas!
Thankfully, there are lots of fabulous Regency romances with these types of heroes. Lisa Kleypas’ Simon Hunt from her first Wallflower book, Secrets of a Summer Night, comes to mind, but there are many others. My hero in The Rake’s Handbook: Including Field Guide wants to build a foundry to manufacture small steam engines. It is these engines that will revolutionize the production of small consumer goods and help build the middle class in the next couple of decades. So successful men that achieved their own wealth or power are my favorite type of heroes.
What do you like the most about the Beau Monde Chapter?
I have been a member since 2007. I have to give special thanks to BM member Delle Jacobs for her kind words of support at a time when I wanted to quit. Today I’m a member because when my hero finds himself sitting at the table with three forks above his plate and a servant holds a plate of oysters under his nose, I can shout out to the loop, “Help, the three forks are the cheese, fish, and . . .?” Then some gracious, knowledgeable person will kindly tell me I’m misinformed and post the real answer. Okay, I’m exaggerating, but I really do value the Beau Monde’s collective expertise. I don’t think I have ever seen a question unanswered. So a big heartfelt “thank you” to all of the members.