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Lady be Bad: Interview with Candice Hern

Sometimes I think the coolest part of being an author is getting to meet so many other authors–and one of my favorite writers around is Candice Hern. I simply adore her books and the best part is, she’s a very smart lady, with a love of history that I admire, and best of all, she’s become a good friend. And she let’s me hunt through her Regency closets of prints periodically when I need to dress a heroine. I mean, what is better than a great friend with an excellent closet— who shares?

Being someone who believes heartily in sharing, I asked her to drop by and visit with me (and all of you) in a selfish hope that she would share some of her Regency collections (which she did) and we’d get to hear a little bit about her new book, Lady Be Bad, which is even better.

Q. Candice, your Collections are wonderful! I spend way too much time looking over them and quite frankly, drooling! So what are you currently on the hunt for? Anything specifically you are looking to add to your collections?

There are some gaps in my fashion print collection that need filling in. I’m planning a trip to England in the fall and I will have a small notebook in my purse with a list of all the prints from La Belle Assemblée and Ackermann’s Repository that I’m missing. Hopefully I will find a few. And I’m always searching for prints from the more obscure publications. I’d love to find more prints from Madame Lanchester’s short-lived magazine, Le Miroir de la Mode, for example, and maybe a good one from Heideloff’s Gallery of Fashion (those are less scarce but usually very expensive). I’m also always on the lookout for bound volumes of the various ladies’ magazines. I hit a gold mine last year when I stumbled across 5 volumes of La Belle Assemblée at a reasonable price, which I managed to bargain down even lower. Let’s hope I am as lucky this year.

And, of course, if I happen to see a fabulous piece of Georgian sentimental jewelry, or a pair of paste shoe buckles, I may be tempted. Or a Regency fan. I’ve been bitten by the fan bug lately.

Q. I am in awe. How do you find all these treasures?

I get a lot of stuff in England. There are specific dealers I visit every time. There is also a particular antique fair that we always schedule our trips around. It’s a funky little fair that always has the most fabulous stuff, especially Georgian jewelry, and often at bargain prices. In fact, we have frequently seen some of our favorite dealers shopping at this fair, so we figure we’re in the right place.

I have a couple of dealers here in the U.S. who are also favorites, and who specialize in some of the things I collect. Plus, I go to a lot of auctions, here at home and in the UK. In general antique fairs, antiquarian book fairs, and auctions are my most common venues for buying antiques. I will occasionally buy a fashion print on eBay, where I am familiar with several reputable dealers. But that’s about all I will buy online. For the more expensive items, I want to see them in person before forking over good money.

Q. Okay, who doesn’t want to go with Candice to England? I think you would make a remarkable tour guide! One of the things I love about your Collections are the purses– especially the ones that are knit, since I am a knitter. Can youshare a picture of a favorite purse and why you love it and where you found it?

Well, I’m afraid it’s not a knitted purse, but I’ll share it anyway. It’s an embroidered silk envelope purse — in fact, it is the first type of purse actually called a pocketbook. (It’s shaped like a book and was meant to be slipped inside a pocket.) This is my oldest purse, from about 1740. It’s embroidered on both sides, opens up like a little accordion file with dividers, and the name “Emily” is written inside. It’s about the size of a paperback book, though not as thick. I purchased it years ago from an antique textiles dealer in Bath, who always has wonderful things. I’m planning to visit her again this fall, and hopefully will come back with a new treasure or two.

Q. No, I don’t mind that it isn’t knit, because it is gorgeous. And hard to believe it is over 250 years old–and you have to wonder who was Emily and how her purse lasted so long. But that’s the fun part of your collection, like when I used your prints to help dress Charlotte in His Mistress by Morning. Were there any particular dresses that you used to gown Grace Marlowe
from Lady Be Bad that you’d be willing to share with us?

Yes, I used this print of an Opera Dress from February 1813 for a scene when Grace attends the opera. The only difference is that I made Grace’s cloak scarlet. Otherwise, she is wearing this exact dress.

Q. Speaking of Lady Be Bad (which is a title I love!) tell us about bringing nice and proper Grace into the path of the notorious Viscount Rochdale. I’ve so enjoyed the other Merry Widows books, but I’ve always thought there was more to Grace and especially, Rochdale. Anything in Rochdale’s closets that would surprise the reader? I mean, how do you tame a rake like that?

I don’t do Alpha Bad Boys very well (since in real life I don’t especially like them), and even when I try to write them they end end being a little beta around the edges. So you can be sure that Rochdale has more to him than a penchant for pleasure. And I always figure when a person lives recklessly there is usually some sort of psychological pain driving that behavior. Suffice it to say that Rochdale has some baggage.

But so does Grace. In fact, hers is the more significant character arc in the story, I think. She starts out very rigid and strait-laced, but once she finally loosens those laces, she comes into her own.

Though it was a tough book to write, I ended up liking this story a lot. I hope readers will, too.

Thanks for dropping by, Candice! I will be line tomorrow at my local Borders waiting for my copy of Lady Be Bad! In the meantime, I’m off to read the excerpt. Again. And do a little Collection surfing. Sigh. I’m hopeless.

Questions for Candice? Post away! And don’t miss my Candice Hern Contest! Post to win!

10 comments to “Lady be Bad: Interview with Candice Hern”

  1. AndreaW
    August 6th, 2007 at 5:28 am · Link

    I could spend ALL DAY at Candice’s site! I just love it. And, I’ll be in line tomorrow to buy my copies of Lady Be Bad. Rochdale = yummy!

    Candice, what started your love of collecting pieces of history?

  2. gillian
    August 6th, 2007 at 5:54 am · Link

    Candice, I loved your presentation at the beau monde conference, and it was wonderful to see those publications in person.

    How do you store your collections, in order to keep them safe from dust, light, etc?

    Thanks so much for all the great info!

  3. Steph
    August 6th, 2007 at 11:33 am · Link

    Candice, that purse is absolutely beautiful. Can’t wait to read Lady Be Bad!

  4. KeiraSoleore
    August 6th, 2007 at 2:24 pm · Link

    Candice and Elizbo, what a fabulous interview. It was fun to read how Candice came about her famed collection. Though there are sigh-worthy things on her site, I’m sure she has treasures that we haven’t seen it. That means, that her web collection is going to continue to grow and grow. Yay!

    Elizbo, maybe I’ll see you at the Borders. I’ll be going to the Redmond one.

  5. KeiraSoleore
    August 6th, 2007 at 2:26 pm · Link

    Questions for Candice: Are some of these antiquarian fairs by invitation only? Do you get a catalog beforehand so you can plan or only when you go there. Do you prefer fairs or auctions?

  6. Candice Hern
    August 6th, 2007 at 7:05 pm · Link

    Hi everyone! Thanks for having me, ElizBo.

    Gillian, I store my fashion prints in binders with plastic sleeves and acid-free paper. Except for the 60 that are framed and hanging on my bedroom walls!

    As for the purses, I have lots of them in these big shadowbox frames hanging on my walls … where they do NOT get sunlight. Some are pretty fragile, including the one shown here. The ones not on display are kept in satin lingerie bags.

    Keira, no the fairs are open to the public. Some are very lah-di-dah with high-end dealers and expensive stuff that no one I know could ever afford. (We have one of those every October here in San Francisco. I go just to look and dream. There is also a very high-end show in London in November that I will be attending, though I will again probably only be looking.) Then there are the more funky fairs where you can really find treasures. The one I plan my UK trips around is one of these. It’s not a well-advertised fair and you see more dealers shopping than regular people like me. Those are my favorite fairs. We have some of those here in the Bay Area, too, several times a year. But nothing beats that funky little UK fair at the Royal Horticulrual Halls for the best bargains.

  7. gillian
    August 6th, 2007 at 7:56 pm · Link

    Thanks, Candice! I bet your bedroom walls are gorgeous….:)

  8. Helen
    August 7th, 2007 at 3:43 pm · Link

    Candice your collections are beautiful and your books are wonderful to read. Thanks for showing us.
    Have Fun

  9. Dena
    August 7th, 2007 at 7:25 pm · Link

    Hi Elizabeth, great interview.
    Hi Candace, I fell in love with your writing with the first cabinet book and have read every book of yours since.I think your collection is extroadinary and am very impressed. What gives you inspiration for your characters?

  10. Haven Rich
    August 8th, 2007 at 3:12 am · Link

    *drools like mad*

    Oh I think Candice should charge admission to her house…she’d make a fortune!!

    *slightly stalking Candice around the net hehe*

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