Thursday, September 19, 2013

Embracing My Dark Side

You might want to sit down. I have a shocking confession to make. I’m a Regency Romance writer who can’t seem to keep my Regency Romances light and fluffy. I start to write with a witty, romp-around-the ballroom plot in mind, and I end up with complex characters facing problems that force them to confront their past and overcome whatever is holding them back from revealing their souls, offering their hearts and falling in love.

After years of trying to force my voice and my plots to something lighter that it truly wasn’t, I got brave and accepted the fact I’m never going to be a wallpaper Regency writer. Not that there is a thing wrong with lighter Regencies, I’m just not the gal to deliver them.

I need conflict, angst, torturous emotions, turbulent times, and heart-wrenching sacrifices. Did I mention I also love to kill people? Who needs therapy when you’re a writer! I have to admit I was a bit scared to unleash my Regencies that contained mayhem, murder and mischievous heroines and heroes determined to do anything to get what they wanted.

In the critique group I dwell in and love, most of my partners write much lighter Regencies than I do, so I spent a long time fretting over what was wrong with my books. I can’t point to one moment of epiphany where I realized my voice was darker and I needed to accept and treasure it. I will say, I read several amazing, very successful Regency authors who wrote darker Regencies and I do believe finding these authors helped me to realize what was holding back my success was, well, me. I also had/have two particularly wonderful critique partners who pushed and prodded me to go with my gut and stay true to my story.

I’ve been thrilled beyond words that the Regency readers out there have accepted my stories with enthusiasm. I now know when I sit down to write my books that one―no matter what I think, something dark is always going to happen, and two―you can bet the bank that someone is going to die.
My favorite hero I’ve created to date is Gray Adlard from What A Rogue Wants. He’s a spy for King George III who is burdened with the guilt of having purposely rebelled against every wish his father had for him because Gray thought his father didn’t love him. The problem is that Gray doesn’t realize, until his father is dead, what drove his father to act the way he did. Gray’s determined to make amends to a ghost by being the best damned spy possible, even if it means tracking the woman he loves for treason.
Here is a little snippet from my guilt-laden hero’s point of view.

Gray didn’t know where he intended to go until he was halfway up the hill to the orchard where Edward had buried their parents. He stopped in front of the fresh graves, the dark dirt dusted with white snow. His lungs burned with each ragged inhalation of breath. He dropped to his knees in front of the graves, the snow instantly seeping through the wool of his trousers. After a moment, the lower half of his body was numb.
He wanted to be numb and forget his parents were dead. He’d not been close to Mother in years. His father never. The weight of his fault sunk him all the way to the ground. A violent trembling shook his body, and his teeth chattered, until he clamped his jaw shut. He’d missed the chance to tell his parents he was sorry for the pain and worry he’d caused them. He’d missed the chance to show his father that his trust had not been misplaced.
What could he do now? He let out a breath he hadn’t realized he was holding, a white ring against the dark night. The thoughts he’d pushed away earlier when speaking with Edward came to the surface. He winced, reality setting in. He had to give up the one thing he had come to want more than anything in his life. Madelaine. He didn’t want to endanger her, and he could never turn his back on what his father had expected him to do. It seemed what he wanted and what life gave him would forever be at cross purposes. Leaning over, he lay his hand first on his mother’s cold headstone and then on his father’s. “I’ll make you proud.”

Being a lover of the dark and dangerous, it’s only natural that I stumbled across Jeaniene Frost and fell absolutely in love with her stories. You can’t ask for more complex, angst ridden characters than Bones and Cat! I’m so excited that Ms. Frost is the keynote speaker at my local RWA chapter, Southern Magic’s, annual Reader Luncheon.

To celebrate the Luncheon on November 2nd Southern Magic is giving away a Kindle HD Fire. Winner announced Sept 30. The more comments you leave throughout the month the better your chances of winning.
And I’m celebrating the luncheon by hosting a table there and by giving away a copy of my book What A Rogue Wants. The winner can pick between an ebook copy or a hard copy! Simply comment on this blog and leave your name and your email. Sorry, but I cannot mail books outside of the United States, but I will be more than happy to send the ebook anywhere your little old heart desires!
Find out about the luncheon here.

Location: The Harbert Center, 2019 4th Ave. N., Birmingham, AL 35203

Doors open at 11 AM. Handicap accessible and Parking is Free (across from the center)

TICKETS: $31.50 for non-members, $25.50 for members of Southern Magic. Please fill out the form and pay via PAYPAL (click on the link here to find all of these:  Southern Magic Readers Luncheon) and remember to direct it to

Now go cuddle up with a twisting, turning Regency that sports a soul baring hero and heroine!

Julie Johnstone


Tin said...

Hi, Julie!

You are a new-to-me author and I'm so glad to have discovered you! The premise of What a Rogue Wants sounds very intersting -- I'm adding it to my TBR. ^_^

Thank you, as well, for sharing this insight into your writing style -- I'd like to think there's room for individual voices in the historical romance genre -- ^_^

Julie Johnstone said...

I'm so glad you have discovered me! I too believe there is room for individual voices in the historical romance genre. In fact, I'll be so bold as to say readers hunger for something different to go along with the tried and true. Thanks for stopping by!

amemailname said...

I love the idea of a darker Regency romance! I have not read any of your work (Yet) but look forward to doing so, it sounds like my kind of thing. I enjoy a good frivolous love sotry too, but sometime you want a little more "grit" if that makes sense! I think that is why I gravitate to paranormal books as well, just more fun and dark in them. I do think I will enjoy your style!! Thank you!
Will be adding What a Rogue Wants to my TBR pile as well!

Julie Johnstone said...

I'm so gals you stopped by and that you're adding me to your TBR pile! I too love a lighter romance I just can't seem to write them!

Linda said...

Let me guess you're the one behind A Game of Thrones killing off all the characters! LOL!

Julie Johnstone said...

Ha! I love that! I was seriously shocked when that he opened! But it will keep me reading and watching!

Naima Simone said...

Julie, I'm so with you! I love dark, angsty, tortured, conflicted stories--especially if the hero or heroine are all of these, too! :-D And killing off people beats sitting on someone's couch anyday! LOL!!

Awesome post, and Gray killed me in the excerpt. Oh. I love tortured heroes. *hand over heart*

Julie Johnstone said...

Thanks, Naima!

bn100 said...

This sounds intriguing

bn100candg at hotmail dot com

Julie Johnstone said...


Thanks and thanks for stopping by! Hope to see you at the reader's luncheon!

Nancy S. Goodman said...

And here i thought you were such a laid back person, doing yoga and the Mommy thing! LOL!! I knew that's why I liked you! I love a darker more intense Regency (hey they had problems too). That's what I've been told I write so embrace it. your books are fabulous!

Julie Johnstone said...

You are so sweet! Thanks for the lovely comment! I'm looking forward to reading your work! We can compare our dark heroes!

clementsjessie said...

Hey there, Julie!
I have read quite a bit of Regency Era romance novels and I have to say the ones that have a darker note to them appeal to my darker side. I, myself, write American Civil War era books with a wee bit of the dark side to them. Write what you are meant to write!

Julie Johnstone said...


I'm going to have to check out your books! Thanks for stopping by!

Shadow said...

Sounds so good! I gotta admit, i love books with that. Especially ones that make me feel like ive been through a whirl wind of emotions. Who needs therapy? lol I get all my emotions out, get a happy ending and fall in love with a new man. lol And woman. lol Thanks for sharing! So looking forward to checking out your books! :D Excited! If you could recommend one of your books for us to start with, which one would you recommend? Thank you! :)

Julie Johnstone said...

Hey, Shadow!
Thanks so much for stopping by and commenting. I have two series out. There is the Whisper of Scandal Series and the Lords Of Deception series. Every book can be read alone, but I personally recommend starting with book one in each series. For the Lords of Deception series that would be What A Rogue Wants. For the Whisper of Scandal Series that would be Bargaining with a Rake. Thanks! Hope you enjoy!

Julie Johnstone said...

Congratulations to!!!! You are the winner of WHAT A ROGUE WANTS! I'll contact you shortly!