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Who Will Be My Valentine? Slow Start Did Not Discourage ‘Regency’ Writer

Joan Overfield decided in 1983 that she wanted to be a published author. But success didn’t come easily.

It took years to get a publisher’s attention. Her break came in 1987, when she won a national award for best romance by an unpublished writer.

That recognition helped Overfield get her foot in the door, and she hasn’t taken it out since.

Her 16th novel, due out in November, is titled appropriately “The Door Ajar.”

She also wrote today’s installment of “Who Will Be My Valentine?”

Overfield figures she’s sold 200,000 novels during the past eight years, most of them so-called “regencies” set in early 19th century England during the rule of George, Prince of Wales.

Though they all share a common historic element, each book requires fresh research, sometimes involving three-week (tax-deductible) excursions to London.

“The Door Ajar,” a time-travel romance, features a countess who, on the eve of her wedding in 1811, is transported to 1995 London.

Overfield’s next project, “The Learned Lady,” is about a woman experimenting with electrical conduction, “so I have to learn all about the science of the period.”

The regency genre has “a rabid readership,” Overfield says, “and they know the time period. If you make a historical mistake, they’ll tell you.”

Despite her success - including $15,000 book advances and occasional fan mail - the 42-yearold single writer still works part time as a hostess at downtown Spokane’s WestCoast Ridpath Hotel.

But maybe that has more to do with her personality that her bank account.

“I’m more cynical and cautious than my characters,” Overfield admits. “I don’t think I’d have the courage to make some of the decisions they make.”

MEMO: See Joan Overfield’s novel installment under the headline “The Date from Hell.”

See Joan Overfield’s novel installment under the headline “The Date from Hell.”

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