I am so lucky to be able to host the lovely and oh, so talented fellow Crimson Romance author, Amanda L.V. Shalaby on my blog today. Her new book, Audra, is being released tomorrow, April 29, and she told me there was no place she'd rather be than right here today. She offered to explain her rationale for why she writes in the English time period that she does--or rather, between the time periods that she does. Take it away, Amanda!
As a fan of both the Regency (1811-1820) and Victorian (1837-1901) Eras, even I was surprised when the majority of the action in both of my English historical novels ended up taking place between 1832 and 1836. It certainly wasn’t my intention from the start. It took the accidental placing of a major plot point at the time of an incompatible historical event to shift both stories to the timeline they belonged.
There was a time – it seems so long ago now – that I was an English 19th century history virgin. As the story was coming together for my first book, Rhianna, I was ferociously devouring all things Jane Austen. The music, the hairstyles, the clothing, the etiquette, not to mention the ins and outs of daily life in the city, in the country, and the modes of travel. I read history books and traveled to England, examining every aspect of every corner of life during Jane Austen’s existence, determined to get my facts straight. Rhianna was going to be an historically accurate depiction of the time in which the story was set – Jane’s time!
Except I up and sent my heroine to school in France during the Napoleonic Wars (1803-1815).
Blast! After all that research and study, I thought you could have asked me anything! When did the Union Jack Flag come into existence? What popular drink rivaled beer? What card game is the ancestor of bridge? But apparently, you wouldn’t have been able to ask me if the country was at war, because I shipped homegirl off to Napoleon.
Are. You. Serious.
I learned a lot from that little discovery. First of all, my history lessons were clearly far from over (though, I have come a long way since then, I promise)! Secondly, you have to be flexible with your writing. Sometimes, you have to let the story tell itself – sometimes even when it takes place. In Rhianna’s case, her schooling in France was critical to the storyline, so the timeframe had to be pushed back (and subsequently, Audra, a follow-up which takes place four years following the end of Rhianna). I had to let Jane’s time go. I had to re-focus my research efforts (and had a blast doing it) on a new, in-between time – post-Regency, pre-Victorian – because that is when the stories happened.
And who’s going to fight that?
Thanks, Amanda, for explaining. Sometimes (often), you do have to let your characters hijack the story and let them tell it for you, research be damned.
Here's the teaser for Audra. Did I mention it's being released tomorrow?
Audra travels to London with her patroness, the eccentric Lady Sutherland, intending to return home as soon as she has curtseyed to the Queen. Unknown to her, Lady Sutherland is in no rush to leave London before the Season is over and intends to show Audra she has more options in the suitor department than Lord Crispin, a second son.
Audra finds herself surrounded by few friends and is forced to attend parties, balls, and operas - all while becoming the object of a secret admirer’s obsession. As Audra struggles to make her way home to her beloved, plans to compromise her into an unwanted marriage are underway.
You can buy it right now by going here: http://www.amazon.com/Audra-Crimson-Romance-ebook/dp/B00CA9DEUW/ref=sr_1_2?s=digital-text&ie=UTF8&qid=1365800160&sr=1-2&keywords=audra
News Flash: Amanda's first book, Rhianna, is up for an award by In'D Tale! She'd love to have your vote. Please go here to register and vote for Rhianna. http://www.indtale.com/2012-rone-awards