For today’s Sunday Dinner, I invited Ann Elizabeth Fryer. Ann loves nothing more than using story and romance to relay the depths and graciousness of a Father who holds us securely in the palms of His hands. A Kentucky native, she grew up in and around historic homes, rolling hills, stone fences, ancient graveyards, and miles of dirt roads that transported her imagination to back-when. Ann, her husband, and three children now make their home in small-town Illinois where they can hear church bells keep time and tradition.
Sunday Dinner is a traditional (noon) meal served after church on Sundays. Whole families, including extended family, would gather over a large meal to celebrate a day of rest. Multiple cultures enjoy this Sunday Dinner tradition. In my experience, I know it from both my Midwestern farm family as well as my Italian-American family. Now, I’d like to bring Sunday Dinner virtually to you. So, pull up a chair as we invite various guests to join us each week!
Without further ado, please tell us something interesting readers would enjoy learning about you.
I absolutely love digging up treasures! In my backyard, no less. When we moved into this 1880’s house, things started washing up. Antique marbles, bits of broken china—odds and ends. Then my husband discovered a complete brick walkway hidden beneath several inches of dirt. That’s when we began to find the real treasures. In the five years we’ve lived at this residence, we’ve uncovered two silver spoons, three gemstones, tools, buttons galore, and even two inkwells! One of our most valuable finds is a copper bracelet from the 1933 Chicago World’s Fair.
Can you tell us about your latest novel?
I’m so excited to introduce a new book series set in Regency England: Butterton Brides. The first book is A Convenient Sacrifice.
After her family’s shipping business is ruined by wreckers, Elaina Dawes is forced into a marriage of convenience in order to save her family from poverty.
Did waves of evil carry her to the altar–or is there something else entirely at work?
As she begins to love the tall, mysterious baron that is now her husband, news of her family surfaces from the wreckage, leaving both lies and truth at stake. Will she decide to trust her husband? Or is he part of the evil that brought about her family’s demise?
From the delightful village of Butterton to Cornwall’s unforgiving coast, Elaina finds life and love.
Why did you choose to write a story set in Regency-Era England?
I’ve always loved stories set in this time period, especially after being exposed to Jane Austen as a teen. My father makes historic reproduction furniture so my appreciation for the era’s style came naturally. When I contemplated writing this series, I couldn’t resist dipping my quill into the year of our Lord, 1809. I’ve enjoyed it immensely!
Have you lived in or visited England? What research was required to set a book there in the early 1800s?
I’ve only spent a few hours in England, stuck in Heathrow Airport waiting to hop a plane to Scotland, where I travelled most of the time while in the UK. However, the views from the airplane window were incredible! Estates, castle ruins…villages. I am planning to return to the UK to explore England sometime next year.
As for research, most of my information came from a large stack of resource books I already owned, along with classics from that time. Because Regency romance is very popular right now, there’s also a ton of info available online.
Can you tell us more about the manners and customs you explore in your story?
I think what makes writing a Regency romance fascinating is that during that time, men were truly responsible for taking care of the family women. Older brothers and fathers were expected to care for single sisters, aunts, etc. unless or until they were married. Successful careers weren’t thought of. Successful marriages were. (Unless one can call the governess job a career …) Add in the slower pace of the time: candle glow, fireside chats, handwritten letters, and hand-sewn ball gowns, you get an intriguing story world where catching the eye of a gentleman could bring security … or be a trap…
How do these affect the plot of your story?
Marriages of convenience were common at the time. My character, Elaina Dawes, feels she has no choice. The marriage offer comes with the provision that her brother’s family won’t go hungry.
Were resources easy or difficult to find on these topics? Do you have a favorite resource?
I had to do some digging on marriage laws—it took a bit. Another difficult thing to research was weaponry—but thank goodness, one of my good friends is a historic weapons expert! He’s been a great help in that area. Most of the information was fairly easy to find.
A favorite resource for understanding both the time period and classics is What Jane Austen Ate and Charles Dickens Knew.
What is one piece of your research that you couldn’t include in the book, but wish readers could know?
This story takes place before the Industrial Revolution. Simply everything was made by hand or by simpler machines than what came later. I love the little details from what was contained in a sewing kit, to what was actually on a tea tray. I’m fascinated by how these items were made and then used to make other things. Annotating these facts within a story can distract, muddle, and slow the pace.
Do you have another book in the works? What can you tell us about that book?
I do! I have two more books already written to follow this one with plans to write two more. Book 2: A Favorable Match and Book 3: An Opportune Proposal. The series is connected by common threads but with a new hero and heroine. And of course, romance.
Is there anything else you’d like readers to know?
I have five other book titles available, most of which take place in historic Kentucky.
The afternoon is slipping away, so we have to draw the stories to an end. Ann, thank you for joining us today!
If readers would like to purchase a copy of A Convenient Sacrifice where might they be able to do so?
This book officially releases on September 21 and is available on Amazon, and happens to be free on Kindle Unlimited.
If readers would like to learn about you or your other books, how might they find you online?
Over Sunday Dinner next week, historical fiction author Jennifer Q. Hunt will be joining us. See you then!