Monday, January 18, 2016

Blog Tour: Guest Post + Giveaway: The Dark Days Club by Alison Goodman

The Dark Days Club

The Dark Days Club (Lady Helen, #1)THE DARK DAYS CLUB
Published: January 26th, 2016
Genres: YA, Historical Fiction, Fantasy
London, April 1812. On the eve of eighteen-year-old Lady Helen Wrexhall’s presentation to the queen, one of her family’s housemaids disappears-and Helen is drawn into the shadows of Regency London. There, she meets Lord Carlston, one of the few who can stop the perpetrators: a cabal of demons infiltrating every level of society. Dare she ask for his help, when his reputation is almost as black as his lingering eyes? And will her intelligence and headstrong curiosity wind up leading them into a death trap?

I have been to a Regency ball and danced all night in a gold and rose striped gown with feathers in my hair and long gloves on my hands. I have fluttered my fan, curtsied to a new gentleman acquaintance, and supped on champagne poached salmon. I have, for five or so hours, been a Regency lady. No, I’m not imagining it. I did actually attend a Regency ball in Bath as research for my new novel The Dark Days Club, and for one night, I lived and danced in 1812.

It was glorious fun—you can see how much fun in the photo of me below––but more importantly, it allowed me to experience the sights, smells, sounds, tastes and textures of a ball. It also gave me a glimpse of why these dances were so important to the young women and men in Regency England.

I discovered that contra-dancing—the kind of country dancing you see in the Jane Austen movies—has a special sense of community about it that brings a warm joy and exhilaration. I learned that the brief touch of a gloved hand upon another can be charged with meaning, and that two pairs of eyes connecting for a second during a quadrille can be beyond thrilling. I felt the fatigue of a set—two dances that could last for up to an hour—and the burn of sore feet in my flat dancing slippers. And I felt the extraordinary energy in the room: a magic mix of physical exertion, excitement, and possibility.

This kind of research is called immersive research and I know, for certain, that it adds another layer of depth to my writing, and enables me to bring much more understanding of the Regency world to the page.


Of course, my research always starts with reading books and viewing documentaries about my subject, and if you visit my website at you can see a list of the many books and films I’ve studied for the Lady Helen series. However, as well as that solid foundation of book research, I also try to immerse myself in some of the experiences that my characters would encounter. My mission on these research forays is to gather as much sensory information as possible so that I can bring that knowledge to my descriptions of the world and make them vivid and visceral for the reader.

For instance, here is a detail from a ball scene in The Dark Days Club that was directly taken from my own physical reaction at the ball in Bath:

Helen understood the excitement. There was a thrum of energy in the room that quickened her heart and pushed her onto the balls of her feet.

Not all of the little details I discover on these research trips will find their way into my novels, but they all build up inside me so that when I am alone in my writing room and reach for a description of dancing or walking down a street or eating poached salmon, it will be there, waiting for me in all its vivid sensation; a pathway to another time and place.

Alison Goodman
Alison is the author of the upcoming Lady Helen series, a trilogy of historical supernatural adventures set in the Regency. The first book–The Dark Days Club–is due for release in January 2016. Alison is best known for her New York Times bestselling fantasy duololgy EON and EONA, and her ability to dance a mean English contra-dance. She also writes award winning science fiction and crime fiction, and lives with her lovely husband and their machiavellian Jack Russell Terrier in Melbourne, Australia.

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