Regina Jeffers: "I Admit It!"

Coffee with Colette
Good morning!  My guest this week for Coffee with Colette is fellow Austen Author Regina Jeffers. She is one of the most popular and prolific authors of Pride and Prejudice variations I have ever met (and this JAFF fanatic is thrilled to say that I have had the pleasure of meeting her in the flesh!).  I must admit, the title of her new release - The Mysterious Death of Mr. Darcy - has had me worried, but she has certainly piqued my curiosity! Another one for the top of the TBR list!

I admit it! I am a historical junkie. In college, I was that girl sitting on the floor of the research area, surrounded by open books and making notes. Sometimes the information was for whatever research paper I had due. Sometimes I was on a self-imposed scavenger hunt. I would spend hours searching for nuggets of information. In those days, we went to the shelves for books. Now, with the Internet, the search is quicker, but not necessarily as accurate.

I recall as a reader of historical fiction, I was one of “those” readers who would rush off to find an encyclopedia to verify facts I found in my reading. Now, as an author, research is still my passion, as well as my curse. Those of us who write fiction based in history must check facts or have one of “those” readers call us on our mistakes. I thought today to share some of the more “unusual” facts I have discovered and have incorporated in my novels.

For example, Captain Sir Thomas, Lord Cochrane, detailed the Prince Regent (the future George IV) with two innovative weapons systems, the “temporary mortar,” or explosive ship, and the “sulphur ship” or stink vessel. This early plan for saturation bombing and chemical warfare plays a part of my Captain Wentworth’s Persuasion.

For my vampiric version of Pride and Prejudice, Vampire Darcy’s Desire, I used the legend of the Baobhan Sith, particularly evil and dangerous female vampires from the highlands of Scotland who prey on unwary travelers. A Baobhan Sith is the source of the curse upon the Darcy family. I also incorporated the Celtic tale of a Horned God named Cernunnos. Cernunnos is usually portrayed as carrying a torc and accompanied by a horned serpent. My vampire, George Wickham, worships Cernunnos.

One particular interesting tale I used in the book was of the Holy Island of Lindisfarne. The island is only accessible from the mainland at low tide by means of a causeway, an important fact if one wishes to stir up the tale of a vampire buried on the island. After all, vampire reportedly cannot cross running water. Sir Walter Scott described the “Pilgrim’s Way” as

For with the flow and ebb, its style
Varies from continent to isle;
Dry shood o’er sands, twice every day,
The pilgrims to the shrine find way;
Twice every day the waves efface
Of staves and sandelled feet the trace.

On Lindisfarne, one finds the site of an Anglo-Saxon monastery founded by St. Aidan in A.D. 635, on land granted by Oswald, King and Saint of Northumbria. Lindisfarne saw the first Viking raids on the coast of Britain. Those raids continued for two centuries. In 875 A.D., the monks of Lindisfarne fled their Holy Island with the body of Cuthbert. Eventually, they settled at Durham in 995 A.D. It is said St. Cuthbert’s body did not disintegrate until it was removed from the Holy Isle, another fact that plays into my tale.

Just offshore from Holy Island village, is the small Island of Hobthrush, or St Cuthbert's Isle, where the saint was said to have crafted the legendary beads described by Sir Walter Scott in “Marmion.”

But fain St Hilda's nuns would learn 

If on a rock by Lindisfarne 

St Cuthbert sits and toils to frame 

The sea borne beads that bear his name.

Such tales had Whitby's fishers told,

And said they might his shape behold,

And here his anvil sound: 

A deadened clang – a huge dim form 

Seen but and heart when gathering storm 

And night were closing round.

But this, a tale of idle fame, 

The nuns of Lindisfarne disclaim.

Cuthbert's or “Cuddy's Beads” can still sometimes be seen washed up on the shores of Holy Island. They are, in fact, the fossilized remains of tiny sea creatures of the Crinoid type, which inhabited the ocean depths in prehistoric times. Supposedly resembling the shape of the cross, they were once used as Rosary beads.

Dissociative Identity Disorder plays out in The Phantom of Pemberley. The case of Mary Reynolds and her many personalities were first published in 1816 in “Medical Repository” by Dr. Samuel Latham Mitchel. Accounts of the case appeared in an article in “Harper’s New Monthly Magazine in 1860 and in an autobiography by Mary Reynolds herself. I also used the legend of the Shadow Man in the same novel. Shadow people are supernatural figures often seen in a person’s peripheral vision. They are believed to be evil and aggressive in nature. Many cultures from around the world have always claimed to having seen shadowy beings lurking around. One variation of this type of entity is the hat man. This type of entity is mostly featureless, although they /he/it clearly have masculine forms and wear old-fashioned hats.

It is also been suggested that this strange entity is somewhat of an inspiration for Freddy Krueger. Wes Craven has talked about an experience he once had when he was a young boy, in which he saw a scary looking man walking down the street wearing a bowler hat. The man had scars all over his face and looked up at Craven through the window and gave off a sense of foreboding.

In Christmas at Pemberley, I used something less sinister. On Christmas Day, 1814, Princess Charlotte sought a reconciliation with her father, Prince George. In doing so, the princess admitted her recent relationship with Captain Hesse. Charlotte’s mother, Princess Caroline, had encouraged the connection between her daughter and the captain. Charlotte had previously requested the return of her love letters from Hesse, but the captain had made no move to respond to Charlotte’s demand. Blackmail seemed to be the captain’s motives. In my story, the letters are smuggled into Pemberley by a guest of the Colonel Fitzwilliam and the Darcys.

The Disappearance of Georgiana Darcy is loaded with special tidbits: the real-life direct descendants of Wentworth, Earl of Fitz William; the explosion of Mount Tambora and the Year Without Summer; the Kilmarnock and Troon Railway; and the legend of Sawney Bean. There is also the tale of the Murder Hole, which was made famous by Samuel Rutherford Crockett in his 1890’s novel “The Raiders.”  The legend has it that weary travelers and strangers to the Merrick Moor were caught, murdered, and dumped into the “Murder Hole.” Strangely, reeds reportedly grow around the hole’s perimeter but none grow within the poor of water. It is also rumored that even in the coldest winters, the water’s center never freezes.

So, what bits of history have I incorporated in my March 12 release of The Mysterious Death of Mr. Darcy? There is a rare medical condition known as atlanto-occiptial dislocation; a gypsy band; an unusual invention from a man named Thomas Howell; a real-life captain in the Dorset Rangers, Lewis Tregonwell, who was the founder of Bournemouth; a circle of Monoliths some 30 meters south of the River Stour, known as “Bearstone”; an ancient 17th Century grimoire known as The Lesser Key of Solomon or Lemegeton; arsenic poisoning; the forensics of drowning victims; and the practice of resurrectionists. I would love to tell you more, but the release is a mystery and what fun would it be if I shared all my secrets?

The Mysterious Death of Mr. Darcy

A thrilling story of murder and betrayal filled with the scandal, wit and intrigue characteristic of Austen’s classic novels

Fitzwilliam Darcy is devastated. The joy of his recent wedding has been cut short by the news of the sudden death of his father’s beloved cousin, Samuel Darcy. Elizabeth and Darcy travel to Dorset, a popular Regency resort area, to pay their respects to the well-traveled and eccentric Samuel. But this is no summer holiday. Danger bubbles beneath Dorset’s peaceful surface as strange and foreboding events begin to occur. Several of Samuel’s ancient treasures go missing, and then his body itself disappears. As Darcy and Elizabeth investigate this mystery and unravel its tangled ties to the haunting legends of Dark Dorset, the legendary couple’s love is put to the test when sinister forces strike close to home. Some secrets should remain secrets, but Darcy will do all he can to find answers—even if it means meeting his own end in the damp depths of a newly dug grave.

With malicious villains, dramatic revelations and heroic gestures, The Mysterious Death of Mr. Darcy will keep Austen fans turning the pages right up until its dramatic conclusion.

Regina Jeffers, a public classroom teacher for thirty-nine years, considers herself a Jane Austen enthusiast. She is the author of several Austen-inspired novels, including Darcy’s Passions, Darcy’s Temptation, Vampire Darcy’s Desire, Captain Wentworth’s Persuasion, The Phantom of Pemberley, Christmas at Pemberley, The Disappearance of Georgiana Darcy, Honor and Hope, and the upcoming The Mysterious Death of Mr. Darcy. She also writes Regency romances: The Scandal of Lady Eleanor, A Touch of Velvet, A Touch of Cashémere, A Touch of Grace, His: Two Regency Novellas and The First Wives’ Club. A Time Warner Star Teacher and Martha Holden Jennings Scholar, Jeffers often serves as a consultant in language arts and media literacy. Currently living outside Charlotte, North Carolina, she spends her time with her writing, gardening, and her adorable grandson.

Twitter – @reginajeffers
Facebook – Regina Jeffers
(Books available from Amazon, Barnes & Noble, Books-a-Million, Joseph Beth, and Ulysses Press.)

The Phantom of Pemberley – SOLA’s Fifth Annual Dixie Kane Memorial Awards – 3rd Place – Romantic Suspense
Darcy’s Temptation – 2009 Booksellers’ Best Award Finalist – Long Historical
The Scandal of Lady Eleanor – Write Touch Readers’ Award – 2nd Place – Historical Romance
A Touch of Grace – SOLA’s Seventh Annual Dixie Kane Memorial Awards – 3rd Place – Historical Romance
The First Wives’ Club – SOLA’s Seventh Annual Dixie Kane Memorial Awards – Honorable Mention – Historical Romance
Christmas at Pemberley – 2011 Booksellers’ Best Award Finalist – Inspirational Romance


  1. Whenever I finish one of Regina's novels, I always say to myself, 'Where did she come up with this?!?' It's amazing how she's able to weave it all together so well. Looking forward to the new novel - from both of you!

    1. Angie, I have a "twisted" mind. I never like the ordinary when I read the novels.

  2. Regina, I like that you use "unusual" facts in your stories! It makes them very interesting! It's even better knowing there's some truths mixed into these tales!

    I'm with Angie! I can't wait to read both of your new books!

    1. Candy, I try to place an Author Note or a list of resources at the end of each of my books in case someone is interested in where I came up with the ideas. I receive lots of comments from readers about being caught up in the story and not realizing the "unusual" is based in facts until the look at the End Notes.

  3. Knowing how much I have enjoyed your books that I have read to date, I have been anxiously awaiting the release of this one. It has piqued my interest from the beginning. I agree with Candy. I love all the unique and historical facts that you weave into your story line. They add a depth to the book that make it more than just good fiction.

    Thanks, Regina.

    1. I love to read books which make me say, "I didn't anticipate that one." I suppose it's all those years of reading mysteries. I recall the first time I read Agatha Christie. She always made me have that "aha" moment. I want the same for my readers.

  4. Like the other commenters, I enjoy the 'historical legend' element of your stories too. Good stuff!

    Congrats on your latest book release, Regina!

    1. Thank you for joining us, Sophia. Although I taught English, history is a big part of any literary period.

  5. You're college research habits, and reading habits sound like mine. I really need to learn to read a book witout the OED out. Great post. I tweeted.

    1. Thanks, Ella. The best thing about my trip to the Augusta Literary Festival last weekend was the event being housed at the Augusta Public Library, a great facility. I spent too much time roaming through the stacks. LOL!

  6. I'm another one who thinks, "Where did she get that??" I am amazed at your historical research. I'm just hoping that "The Mysterious Death of Mr. Darcy" is Samuel Darcy's, not Fitzwilliam's.

    1. Now, June, you know I can't tell you which one is to die. It would take the "mystery" out of the book. LOL! It is such a wonderful title, though.


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