Tuesday, January 13, 2009

Pamela Clare is in The Lair

Wow, the intro rhymes :-)

I'm pleased to host historical and romantic suspense author Pamela Clare. Pamela is the author of a fantastic series of Colonial American historicals. Her latest in her Rangers series, UNTAMED is a not to be missed read.

Welcome to the Lair Pamela !

Thanks! I’m happy to be here.

You have a degree in the Classics….Latin, ancient history, archeology yet your MacKinnon Brothers trilogy is set during the French and Indian wars. What drew you to this exciting time period?

I love history. In particular, I love the ancient world, medieval

Europe/Ireland/Scotland/England/Wales, and then the 18th Century and the American West. I’m not terribly interest in Europe in the 1800s or anyplace in the world after 1900. I’m not sure why that is... I’ve never considered writing a story set in the ancient world despite the fact that I have more than the necessary background to do that quite well. I studied Latin for 10 years and focused on ancient Rome, Egypt, and Greece, as well as the Minoan and Cycladic cultures, which I loved. But I was told early on that no one buys romances set in the ancient world — not sure that’s true, but whatever — and I intend to write straight historical fiction when I finally take up the ancient world.With those periods and cultures put aside, I turned to one of my favorite periods of American history — pre-Revolutionary Colonial America.

I love this period because of the fusion of cultures and because there’s such a vast frontier. The American continent itself can almost be another character in the story. Everything about that time period is so huge and so epic and so rich with conflict. When I started to write, I wanted to find a period of time in American history that no one knew about and really master that. By the end of my first trilogy, I had discovered an incredible love of the French and Indian War. It started with writing RIDE THE FIRE, which was set just as the war was ending and Pontiac’s Rebellion had taken off. While researching RIDE THE FIRE, I came across many references to “Rangers” and found myself curious about these men, who were referred to with worshipful tones by the military men of the day. That led me to Major Robert Rogers, the real father of the Colonial Army Ranger unit. I studied his diaries and books about his lives and the military exploits of Colonial Army Rangers, and I knew that my next series HAD to be about Rangers and would be set during the climax of the French and Indian War.I’ve loved every moment of the research and love writing this time period. I recently visited the places in my stories, and that was a mind-blowing experience for me, every bit as exciting for me as visiting the Roman Forum or Pompeii or the Great Pyramids or the Acropolis.
More exciting than the Forum? IS there any place more exciting? (Says the Roman author :-) So Major Rogers was the inspiration for the Ranger books. How much did he influence the development of your sexy, MacKinnon brothers?

I’ve actually been to the Forum and loved it, though I admit that I was rather seriously drunk most of the time I was in Rome. Still, it was incredibly exciting to stand where so many of the people I’d studied had lived out their lives. And, yes, Rogers Island and Fort Edward, Lake George and Fort Ticonderoga were just as exciting for me, even though I was sober the entire time. Maj. Rogers’s deeds provided much of the inspiration, but not his personality. He had amazing physical stamina and was a military genius and did things that would be difficult for modern Army Rangers to duplicate.

But his personality as it comes through in his diaries wasn’t anything like the MacKinnon Brothers. For one, he was a bit of a doofus at times. But he was also staunchly loyal to Britain, and he ended up fighting with the British and against the Colonists during the Revolutionary War. Reading about the battles he and his men fought and the things they were able to do in the wilderness is really where the inspiration came from for MacKinnon’s Rangers. I cannot fathom finding my way through endless reaches of forest in the dead of winter through deep snow wearing wool garments and buckskin moccasins and using only a compass to guide me. Thanks, but no thanks! :-)

LOL. No, there is no WAY Iain or Morgan MacKinnon could be described as doofus’ (doofi?) Not those hot, sexy Scotsmen. So, where did you get your inspiration for your Rangers?

I’m not sure which declension “doofus” is. LOL! I would have to say that the inspiration for the MacKinnon Brothers as sexy Highland Scots who were equally at home as Indians probably was a coming together of several things. I knew there were Scotsmen among the Rangers from my research. Some of it probably came from the film The Last of the Mohicans, which came out in the early 90s but which was no doubt sleeping in my brain. And part of it might have been my own ancestry, which includes both Scottish and Cherokee. It came to me in one of those “Yes!” moments after doing a ton of research — sons of Culloden who were in part raised by the Mahicans (same as Mohicans). To me, it offered the best of both worlds in a hero — big Celts with some Viking blood who knew the forest as well as any Indian. It just felt right to me.The whole conflict between the MacKinnon Brothers and their British commander was purely my invention, my answer to the question, “Why would Scottish Highlanders ever fight for the British!?!?” That’s one of the big, unanswered questions of history, as so many Scots fought with the British against Colonists and their traditional Catholic allies, the French, in the Revolutionary War.

SURRENDER was a RITA nominee in 2007. What did it mean to you to receive this coveted honor?

I was utterly astonished and very excited. I screamed and jumped up and down when I got the call. I’d forgotten all about it, actually, and I certainly wasn’t expecting to be a finalist. Being a finalist gave me hope. Writing is such a hard way to make a living. Anyone who’s even tried to write a book knows that writing is very hard. At times, it’s been difficult for me to feel that I’m making progress in my writing career. There are times I’ve felt invisible. As an author who sets my books in an unusual place and time, I’ve felt that much of my career has been an uphill struggle. So to have one of my books final in the RITAs felt to me like affirmation that all of this hard work is beginning to pay off.

Everyone has a different idea of what success means to them. Everyone who writes has different notions of what it means to be a successful author. I haven’t reached that place yet, but finaling in the RITAs helped renew my faith that I CAN reach that place. It also was very gratifying to know that the judges enjoyed the story so much and appreciated the writing. The quality of the writing is the most important thing to me. It’s something I struggle with on each and every page. It’s very hard for me to feel satisfied with anything I’ve written, but when I finaled for SURRENDER, it made me take another look at the story — yes, I actually read it — and I was able to give myself credit for having told a good story.

Thank you Pamela for visiting us today.

Thanks for having me!

As you can tell from Pamela’s answers, the depth of historical research was impressive. I’m gloaming onto a question she asked her readers on her own blog recently. How much does historical accuracy/detail mean to you as a reader? One lucky poster today will win a copy of UNTAMED but be forewarned….Morgan is MINE!


Louisa Cornell said...

I love historical detail, especially if it is something unique, some little gem I've never heard before!

Louisa Cornell said...

SQUEEEE! I got the GR!!! Come to Mama, my fine feathered friend!! NO! You canNOT have the keys to the car!

I am a big history buff and I love to do research. A bit too much at times. It is so easy to get lost in those research books.

Now, that doesn't mean I want to drown in historical information. I want it to grow out of the story organically and when it does I want it to be accurate!

What are your favorite research books and/or sources, Pamela? By the way, I LOVE your name. VBG

Louisa Cornell said...

Oh and one more thing! I just found out that The Raven's Heart is a finalist in the Hook, Line and Sinker Contest!!!! To quote my Aussie buddies. I AM CHUFFED!!

limecello said...

Whee! Hi Pamela - thanks for visiting with us today!

(Congrats on the GR, Louisa!!)

As for the importance of historical detail... I have a mixed answer. If I know about it - and its wrong... we have problems. I love history - but I'm not obsessive about dates, etc. (I like remembering the weird/random facts, not that traditionally important ones :X) So... I guess it's easier to get things by me.
But... if it's something that is wrong/I know is wrong - and a fact that could have been written correctly with minimal research, e.g. [even] wikipedia has it right... I'm bothered.

Or if it's clear the author just didn't care about any facts while pretending s/he did... that *really* gets me.

But as for word usage etc - I'm pretty ok with that. (Unless say a Victorian novel has characters strolling around with ipods.)

lol - ok so this comment makes me sound anal/angry about facts - but honestly! I think I'm pretty ok with things, and most things don't bother me. :X Honest!

jo robertson said...

A hearty welcome to the Lair, Pamela. I love the idea of your historicals. We really need to see more books written outside the more common Regency period. Good on you! Can't wait to read about the MacKinnon Rangers.

I certainly don't like historical detail to bog down the story, but I do enjoy the accurate portrayals of the time period. I like to feel like I'm really there, and hate to get jarred by an inaccurate detail.

I minored in history in college, most of which I've forgotten LOL. I wonder if many writers are also lovers of history. It seems that way.

Yay, Louisa, good on you! It's been some time, hasn't it?

jo robertson said...

OMG, Louisa, congratulations on the HL&S finaling. You must be stoked!

Leslie said...

Hello Pamela - nice to see you here. :-)

One of the things I love about your books is the historical accuracy. It really makes me feel like I'm there.

Louisa - congrats on the contest and getting the GR!

*please don't add my name to the drawing as I have Untamed and loved it!*

flchen1 said...

Hi, Pamela! I've been hearing good stuff about your books EVERYWHERE lately! Must add them to Mt. TBR ;) As for historical detail, ditto what Limecello said--if I know about it, it'll bug me if it's obvious that it's wrong. That said, I'm not much of a history buff, so you can probably sell me a bridge ;) Also, if your story and characters have me hooked, I'm willing to overlook many things, including some historical inaccuracy, so I can be an easy sell :) Congrats on all your books!

BTW, what was your first book? Could you share your "call" story? And what are you working on now? :)

Congrats on the GR AND on finaling, Louisa!! Hooray! (Yep, keep your keys away from that bird!)

Virginia said...

Louisa congrats on nabbing that rooster! He seems to be going from house to house lately. I think he wants to visit with everyone.

Minna said...

Language: I've read couple of books written around 1600-1700 and some short texts written in old English -which is more Swedish than English- and I really don't want to see quite that much accuracy. Otherwise, also I enjoy the accurate portrayals of the time period.

Minna said...

All this talk about history reminds me: I just saw this interesting series about barbarians -or peoples who Romans saw as barberians. But who were the real barbarians?



Helen said...

Congrats on the GR Louisa and huge congrats on finaling in the contest I am jumping up and down for you good luck.

Welcome Pamela great interview Ladies I am going to add these books to my must get list and get them asap they sound great.

I love reading historical romance I love the different time frames and the different countries I never even did history at school although I really wished I had now but I learn a lot from the books I read and although I don't do research I think I have learn't a lot over the years but to be truthful if I am enjoying the book then I am not always noticing if the historical facts are totally correct.

Congrats on the release Pamela.

Have Fun

Christine Wells said...

Hi Pamela, welcome to the lair! Thanks for the great interview, Joanie.

Wow, those are some impressive credentials! I feel your pain over striving to get it right and always being harshly judgmental of your own work. I do think, though, that if we were all self-satisfied and writing was easy, it wouldn't be half so interesting!

As for historical detail, I'm pretty rigorous about it for my own novels (I try, anyway) and I certainly appreciate it in other people's, but I must be mellowing in my old age because there've been many inaccurate historicals I've thoroughly enjoyed. The most important thing to me is the story. If you can give me a thumping good yarn as WELL as historical accuracy (sans info dumps!), I'm yours:) Can't wait to try your books, Pamela!

Louisa, m'dear, congrats on winning the rooster!

Christine Wells said...

Hi Pamela, welcome to the lair! Thanks for the great interview, Joanie.

Wow, those are some impressive credentials! I feel your pain over striving to get it right and always being harshly judgmental of your own work. I do think, though, that if we were all self-satisfied and writing was easy, it wouldn't be half so interesting!

As for historical detail, I'm pretty rigorous about it for my own novels (I try, anyway) and I certainly appreciate it in other people's, but I must be mellowing in my old age because there've been many inaccurate historicals I've thoroughly enjoyed. The most important thing to me is the story. If you can give me a thumping good yarn as WELL as historical accuracy (sans info dumps!), I'm yours:) Can't wait to try your books, Pamela!

Louisa, m'dear, congrats on winning the rooster!

Laurie said...

I loved "Surrender"!! I should note that Braveheart is my favorite movie. There's something about those huge, brave, honorable Scotsmen!!

This period of history was really unknown to me. My education really started with the Revolutionary War forward.

I like the rich, colorful historical detail. I want enough to set the scene but it doesn't have to get bogged down in minutia.

As for acuracy, I'm not going to check. In fiction, I believe in authoric license...to change little things that make the story work.

I'd love to read Morgan's story "Untamed"!

Laurie said...

I loved "Surrender"!! I should note that Braveheart is my favorite movie. There's something about those huge, brave, honorable Scotsmen!!

This period of history was really unknown to me. My education really started with the Revolutionary War forward.

I like the rich, colorful historical detail. I want enough to set the scene but it doesn't have to get bogged down in minutia.

As for acuracy, I'm not going to check. In fiction, I believe in authoric license...to change little things that make the story work.

I'd love to read Morgan's story "Untamed"!

Anna Sugden said...

Welcome Pamela - it's great to have you in the Lair!

What a cool interview (thanks, Joan!) - I'm always fascinated by people who have studied Latin too (even though mine was a long time ago and at school girl level) and who have an interest in the Classics.

Your McKinnon Rangers sound intriguing and so unusal - another series to add to my TBR mountain!

I'm like the others - I like the historical detail to be accurate, but not overwhelming. Being English, I can become irritated easily if facts about us and are history are wrong *g* - especially, as Limecello says, if it's easy enough to check. [Don't get me started on incorrect language!]

It's easy to tell who is interested by their research too - the way it is woven into the story as opposed to plonked in for the sake of it - so, that is important to me.

Anna Sugden said...

Wooohooo Louisa on the HLS final!! That's awesome, love!

And congrats on the GR too - does he herd your critters or do they herdhim?

Joan said...

Congrats on the chook, Louisa! AND the final in the contest! Girl, you've been tearing those up this past year!

Great questions for Pameal ya'll. She'll be along this morning and flchen there is good reason to hear about her books...they are FABULOUS!

Laurie, if you loved SURRENDER, you'll go nuts for UNTAMED....but remember...Morgan is MINE (Not unlike the Chico's jacket Caren is holding for me :-)

I'll check in with ya'll when I get home from work. Party on and don't be shy about having some braw Scots Rangers help out the cabana boys....

hrdwrkdmom aka Dianna said...

I love the detail too and I have been known to look something up if I am not familiar with a term. I like for the information to be accurate but I have read some that aren't that accurate but I still enjoyed the story. That actually happens quite a bit since I read historials primarily. Oh, I have got to have this book, I love me some Scots, ask anybody.

Congrats on the GR Louisa, don't let him get BB again, you almost didn't get him back the last time.

hrdwrkdmom aka Dianna said...

Woot! congrats on being a finalist Louisa!

Beth said...

Welcome to the lair, Pamela! Your books sound wonderful *g*

If I can lose myself in a wonderful story, I'm not as worried about historical detail. But if the story drags, I might be more prone to nitpick or at least question those details as I'm far from an expert :-)

Beth said...

I just found out that The Raven's Heart is a finalist in the Hook, Line and Sinker Contest!!!!

Fantastic news, Louisa!! Congrats :-)

Gannon Carr said...

Hi, Pamela! Your books sound so interesting--give me a sexy Scot and I'm hooked. Must add your books to my teetering TBR mountain. *g*

As for historical detail, I appreciate accuracy and if it's obvious, I want it to be correct. Obviously, I don't know everything so some details could get by me. But I admit, if I spot a glaring error, it pulls me out of the story.

Congrats, Louisa, on nabbing the GR and on being a finalist in the Hook, Line and Sinker contest. w00t!

Gannon Carr said...

Hi, Pamela! Your books sound so interesting--give me a sexy Scot and I'm hooked. Must add your books to my teetering TBR mountain. *g*

As for historical detail, I appreciate accuracy and if it's obvious, I want it to be correct. Obviously, I don't know everything so some details could get by me. But I admit, if I spot a glaring error, it pulls me out of the story.

Congrats, Louisa, on nabbing the GR and on being a finalist in the Hook, Line and Sinker contest. w00t!

Terry Odell said...

Accuracy is important to me. BUT -- I know next to nothing about history, so I wouldn't know a blunder if it was printed in all caps, bold, italics.

However, if someone thumbs a safety off a Glock, I'll scream, so I'd say I hope the author's done her homework. But in the end, it's a story, and I'll overlook some cop inaccuracies if I like the writing and the characters, so I'd probably not mind a few historical hiccups either.

p226 said...

Historical (and technical) accuracy means EVERYTHING to me as a reader. What happens to me when I come across a blatant technical or historical error is that it absolutely RIPS me out of the story. Suddenly, I'm keenly aware that I'm reading a book. Suspension of disbelief is badly damaged and can take several chapters to repair. And what's worse, is that when reading those chapters, my eye is now critical. I'm looking for MORE inaccuracy instead of trying to get myself back into the story.

I realize a lot of folks can just let little errors like that go. I just can't. It only takes two or three of them to completely shut me down. I'll close the book and make toss that author into the "don't bother with this one again" column.

I realize this is unreasonably critical of me. But a technical or historical inaccuracy just does so much damage to my enjoyment of a book, that it honestly angers me. Why does it anger me? I can't quite say. Probably because it rips me out of the story so violently.

So for those of you wondering if the research pays off, the answer is YES. Or at least "maybe." I say "yes" because I have to assume I'm not the only person out here that has this issue with inaccuracies.

I'm not a romance reader. But I remember picking one up years and years ago out of sheer boredom. By the second chapter, I'd run across so many weapons related technical inaccuracies that I literally threw the book in the trash. And for me, that's blasphemy. I NEVER throw books away. Ever. Except that one.

Anna Sugden said...

I agree with you, P226 - historical or technical inaccuracies do pull me out of a story. Just like people who write the Brits incorrectly;) Repeated mistakes become more than an irritation and I'll stop reading.

That said, overabundance of historical/technical facts bugs me too.

Karen H in NC said...

I love the historical detail in the books I read and I believe it should be as acurate as possible. I don't mind if an author takes creative license to make some minor changes in historical facts to fit her story as long as a disclaimer is placed at the end of the book.

As long as the story runs fairly true to its time period and the characters are written in keeping with the time period and story theme, minor flaws won't bother me. I have actually stopped reading a book because the author depicted her heroine as an illiterate with a cockney accent but her conversation in the book sounded as if she were a highly educated lady born to the manor. That just didn't fit the character description.

Another thing that bothers me is having characters acting and speaking like 21st century people in a story set in the 1800's. Just doesn't fit.

CrystalGB said...

I like books to be historically accurate but I don't get upset if there is a detail that isn't right. I am more into the characters story than the history.

Pamela Clare said...

OMG! A girl oversleeps, is an hour late to work (still haven't left home) and wakes up to find a lot of really wonderful questions! I canNOT wait to begin chatting with you all, but if I don't make my 45-minute commute and get to the newspaper, my head will be put on a spike! Can you forgive me if I'm absent for another hour? I promise I'll be back!

And thanks for the excellent questions!


Jeanne (AKA The Duchesse) said...

Hey Louisa! You got the bird! Congrats. :> (And congrats on Hook, line and Sinker!)

Welcome to the lair, Pamela! We're so glad you're here. Great interview, JT. But I have to put in a *heavy sgh* here because you two have just tortured my Visa some more. These sound like delicious books that I'm just going to HAVE to buy. (Fedora I love your designation of the pile as Mt. TBR. Snork) I adore this time period too, thanks to James Fennimore Cooper and Daniel Day Lewis. Grins.

We went up to Cooperstown, NY - I live with the Baseball maniacs - and I was able to see this area of the country for the first time last summer. Gawgeous! What a great area and arena to set wonderful stories.

As to the question, I really like historical accuracy, but if there's a note in the preface or Authors notes saying something's been shifted in tme for the sake of the story, I'm okay with it. But I like to KNOW that its shifted. For some reason these historical "facts" used in fiction book tend to stick with me, so I like to have it right if I get it. Again, though, I'll totally go for the ride on a change as long as the author tells me what the change is so I know the "real fact" Grins.

How's that for flexible?

p226 said...

That said, overabundance of historical/technical facts bugs me too.

One of my favorite books was almost ruined by a constant deluge of technical facts. They were inescapable. And they were technical facts on a subject in which I have a great deal of interest. They just slowed everything down, making it a chore to get through some chapters. Ugh.

Jane said...

Hi Pamela,
I think historical accuracy is important, but like many others I don't want the book to be so overloaded with historical detail that it becomes tedious. I'm a big fan of your I Team series and know you're working on Kat's story right now. Are there plans for more books? I would like to see Holly and Natalie get their own story. We don't know much about Natalie at this point, but I think her story would be interesting( I think I remember she's from New Orleans.)

Pamela Clare said...

Hi, Louisa — I like your name, too. It's considered to be a very beautiful name in Denmark, where I lived for a time. My favorite research books... Well, I devour books, so I don't have a favorite. Anything that offers me a shred of insight into the minds of people of the time is a favorite. I will say that I especially like reading diaries, collections of letters and lyrics to folk songs from the period. Anything that's a primary source (from that time period) as opposed to a secondary source (written later about that time period) is preferred. Then I don't get the historian's analysis; I get the people's point of view. I try to create characters that have the POV of their own time period. That's what the research is for. The little details — what they wore, what happened historically — are important, but what's most important is capturing the historical world view of your characters. That way you can WEAVE the history into the story by seeing it, not as history, but as the world in which your characters live. And CONGRATS on being a finalist! Good luck!

Hi, Limecello! I run into you everywhere! I hear what you're saying. For me, I can tolerate some mistakes on the part of the author unless it's something really obvious. However, word use can really get me. I use a dictionary that offers the etymology of words so that I can be sure that word was in usage during the time period of my books. I really feel pulled out of a story if an 18th century heroine says, "OK," or something that she never would have said.

Hi, Jo — thanks so much for the welcome! I can't believe how many posts there are already! I totally agree with you, by the way. There used to be much more variety among historical romances. You could read all kinds of periods, many different countries, many cultures. The choices readers have are dramatically reduced from, say, the 80s and even the 90s. When they say historicals aren't as popular, I sometimes wonder if that's the result of readers having fewer choices. I think any writer who writes historicals must be a lover of history because writing historicals is much more difficult, IMHO, than writing contemporaries.

I'm going to do these answers in clumps, so I'll be right back...

Pamela Clare said...

Hi, Leslie — Wonderful to see you here! Thanks so much for your kind words. I'm so excited that you enjoyed the story! I read your review more than once, I must admit. :-)

Flchen — Really? Wow! That makes my day! You touch on something really important — characterization. CHARACTERS ARE EVERYTHING! I put that in caps because if I were to give anyone writing advice, that would be it. You can get away with a lot, I'm sure, if people love your characters and are able to empathize with them.

My first book was Sweet Release, set in 1730 Colonial Virginia. It took me SEVEN years to write. As a single mom working full time and raising two little boys, I didn't get much writing time. But I loved the characters so I kept going, even when I wanted to quit. I was at work at the newspaper when my agent left a message on my voice mail telling me that SR had sold to Dorchester and to please call her back if I wanted to know the details. OF COURSE, I wanted to know the details, but I was SO excited (it took about nine months to sell) that I couldn't figure out how to use the phone. I just sort of gibbered and fumbled with it, till I managed to dial the numbers. LOL!

Hi, Virginia!

Hi, Minna — And you're right about the language. If you go back to the Medieval period, people spoke a language that was heavily Germanic, one that we wouldn't recognize. Modern English, however, wasn't spoken in England in 1100, as so many Medieval books have it. But then for us to read it we have to have it in a language we understand. :-)

A funny thing about barbarians — the Greeks believed anyone who wasn't Greek, i.e., who didn't speak Greek, was a barbarian. The word comes from their impression of a foreigner speaking a non-Greek language "barbarbarbar." That's what they taught us in Ancient Greek class, anyway.

Hi, Helen! I think a lot of readers would agree with you. They've learned or enjoyed history much more reading it in romance novels than in textbooks in school. That's one problem with the way history is taught in schools. They really make it a collection of facts and events, rather than showing it as a tapestry of human lives and human decisions. I love connecting with the past and think of it very much as real people living in conditions that are very different from mine.

Suzanne Welsh said...

Oh congrats Louisa on grabbing the GR this morning!

Hello Pamela, and welcometo the lair. Joanie's been so excited to have you visit us!

I adore historicals with unusual time periods and one of my favorite places is America, pre-colonial, colonial, revolutionary war, expansion, ante-bellum, pre-civil war, civil war, post civil war...etc...

Will be looking for Untamed on my next expedition to the bookstore.

Suzanne Welsh said...

Pemela, do you think it's difficult to rein in the historical accuracy, especially if a topic like military stategy is of great interest to you, and still tell a great story?

Pamela Clare said...

Hi, Christine — Writers are such self-critical people, aren't they? I think part of it is that we do our work in a vacuum and don't get the feedback that all other kinds of artists get. By the time anyone reads what we wrote, we've been done with it for nine months to a year or so.

As for info-dumps — I try very hard to really fold the history into the people and see the world as they see it. When I turn on my laptop, for example, I don't think to myself, "She turned on her laptop, a small portable computing device." I just turn on my laptop. So that's how it has to be with their world. The trick then, as you know, is to try to tell what a tumpline pack or salt horn is without really telling it. Maybe that's why writers are all crazy... :-)

Hi, Laurie — I'm so glad you enjoyed Surrender! I hope Morgan's story is just as enjoyable for you. I think that the pre-Revolutionary period is unknown to a lot of people. We all kind of think America started with July 4, 1776. But the events that created America came earlier, and that's what's fascinating about it — to watch Englishmen and women come to see themselves not as British but as Americans. All that cultural fusion and conflict... It's just a really juicy period!

Salve, Anna! My staff at the newspaper call me a nerd because I'm always jabbering about some minute historical fact regarding Rome. I'd love to know more about what you see while reading books with an English perspective. One thing I dislike is copy editors making things wrong when they're right. For example, the phrase "at university." An American copy editor would think the word "the" is missing, but if the character is British, it's not. That sort of thing. I'm always having to fix things that copy editors want to change. LOL!

Hi, Joan — I hope you're having a good day at work. Thanks again for inviting me. These are good questions. :-)

Pamela Clare said...

Hi, Diana — there's just something about Scotsmen, isn't there? You know the issue of how to write Scots dialect comes up a lot, and that's something that I gave a lot of thought to before I started the series. I ended up turning to 16th-18th century Scottish folk songs to see how they spoke and how they wrote their own language. I derived my dialect from that, toning it down enough so that people could understand it but holding onto the key parts that I felt defined that oh-so-sexy Scottish accent. Not sure if I succeeded, but I tried. :-)

Hi, Beth — thanks for the welcome! And I agree. If a story gets bogged down in detail and begins to drag because we're discussing wigs or hairstyles or Parliament... Well, that's boring. LOL!

Hi, Gannon — You've put your finger on it. If an error pulls you out of the story — if it breaks that feeling of being lost in the characters and their experiences — then it ruins the story. If it's something the reader can gloss over, or if they're really caught up in the characters and don't care, then it's okay. It's hard to tell what will or won't pull people out of a story, so that's why I try to be accurate, except when I'm totally bending history. For example, Lord William Wentworth, the anti-hero of the series, is a grandson of King George. Well, there was no such grandson. But I needed characters, so I made one up... ;-)

Hi, Terry — A safety on a Glock! Heaven forfend! LOL! I write contemporary RS, too, so I have to do that kind of research also. And that's the tough part about writing contemps. If I put a safety on my Glock, ten trillion people will jump on me. If I get the details of a bayonet wrong, perhaps one person in a million will know it. And none of them will probably read the book. :-)

Hi, P226 — I feel the same way. If I've taken time to read a story and I'm enjoying it, historical language errors or blatant historical mistakes irritate me because it ruins something I was enjoying. I don't know that I'm quite as particular as you in terms of accurate detail, but accuracy is important. I try not to cut corners in my own research, and yet I know I've no doubt made mistakes in ways I hadn't imagined.

I threw a romance in the trash once, but that had to do with the hero truly raping the heroine. And my one rule for heroes is that they can NEVER do anything deliberately to harm the heroine. Ever. That's why I couldn't finish OUTLANDER, too.

And as Anna implies here, the issue is how the history is placed in the story. Accurate and seamless. Those are the key words.

Pamela Clare said...

Hi, Karen — I think language and characterization errors are what bother me most. I see a lot of proto-feminists running around during times in history when a woman raised in a convent, for example, wouldn't even think that way. And language errors as well... A historical heroine who says, "Give me a break!" or something like that. Huh? What do you want me to break?

Women and men were different 100, 200, 300 years ago, and getting that mindset right is as important to me as getting the language as correct as I possibly can.

Virginia said...

Hi Pamela, I have been hearing a lot of wonderful things about your books lately. If they have highlanders in them they have to be good because I love me some highlanders. The cover of your book is awesome. If I could visit anywhere in the world it would be Ireland and Scotland.

I think historical books should be somewhat accurate but they don't have to be right on. I do love history but I am not going to go check to see if the facts are accurate. I think if the book is well written then the historical facts don't have to be so accurate. I have read a lot of books over the years that were not accurate but enjoyed them just the same, that why its called historical fiction.

Pamela Clare said...

Hi, Crystal — Yes, characters are the most important thing in a story. They should tell the story. Readers should be able to love them. In romance, that's especially true of the hero. I think the hero makes the story. :-)

Hi, Jeanne (or should I say, "Greetings, Your Grace"?) — Isn't upstate NY beautiful? It blew me away! I could have melted into the trees and stayed there forever! Sorry to have tortured your Visa! Mine's pretty stretched on the rack right now, too! As for author's notes and such... I wanted to include those in both MacKinnon's Rangers books but there wasn't room. In these stories, though, I haven't shifted things so much as completely made up a troop of Rangers. In Ride the Fire, I did include an author's note because I shifted the Paxton Boys' Rebellion forward by a few months, and I knew history buffs would recognize that. I wanted to confess upfront. LOL!

P226, I agree. Too much is too much. It's really the craft of the storyteller to have it in the story without having it weigh down the story.

Pamela Clare said...

Hi, Jane — I'm so glad you like the I-Team books. Yes, I'm very busy with Kat's story these days. I just posted my first excerpt from it on my re-vamped blog this past weekend. I, too, want Holly and Natalie to get their own books. I have plans for Matt (of the rumpled tie), but he'll probably get a story in the background. Natalie will come first, because my editor thinks Holly sleeps around too much. However, I personally LOVE Horny Holly and her story is already written in my head. Kat and Gabe's story is taking a while because I've had so many interruptions. Why doesn't the world realize that writers need to write, not pay bills or clean houses or shop for groceries???

Hi, Suzanne — Thanks for the welcome! Joanie is a sweetheart to have me here. If you love Colonial America, the MacKinnon's Rangers series ought to be right up your alley. It might be worth starting with Surrender because you'll get more payoff in Untamed, though both books stand alone, I think. (Leslie, what do you think?)

Good question about military strategy... The funny thing I discovered while writing this series as well as my I-Team series, is how much I love writing action scenes or battle-related scenes. The trick, I think, to making them interesting is to filter them through the characters' emotions. How the troops line up at Ticonderoga is really BORING, unless the hero is thinking of keeping his men alive or returning to his pregnant wife alive or something like that. Characterization truly is the key to everything. It's the magic wand that makes even the most tedious details come alive. Everything in our lives is filtered through our own experience. So how would I feel if I had a vulnerable pregnant wife and knew my men and I were going to be in the forefront of the battle?

Hi, Virginia — I, too, would love to visit Ireland and Scotland. My heritage is largely Scottish and Irish (with English and Cherokee and, oddly, Portuguese thrown in). I lived in Europe for three years and for some reason never made it there. Unbelievable!

OK, I'm going to work for a while and will check back on my lunch break. Thanks, everyone! This has been lots of fun for me. I hope you're enjoying it, too!


MsHellion said...

OMG, historical accuracy is important. It's important in the technical stuff and it's important for characterization. I have trouble absorbing myself into a book where I think the character is completely behaving out-of-time for that period. I feel like I'm just reading modern actors playing the part of Eliza and Darcy. DRIVES ME INSANE.

I don't think there should be so many details that we get bogged down. Just enough to make setting very...immersed. And get the details right.

I'm like P226: I do not toss books in the trash, but there was one I read and I swore never to read the woman again. She had a book set in 1305 Wales (okay, know the period) but had a heroine who was living by herself on a piece of property that was her own (um, UNLIKELY) and she was posing as the mother of a "bastard child" much to the scandal of her uncle and the like (um, VERY UNLIKELY. This is a rough time period; if the uncle is that dastardly as she says, he would have taken her by force, locked her up, never dealt with her again...I mean, you just don't DO that. This is a period of witch burning, people...) and then the reason why I tossed the book? The bastard child was eating chocolate. Like a candy bar chocolate. Chocolate wasn't even brought to England until like the 1600s; it wasn't even brought to Spain until the 1550s or so. How in the world does a child from 1305 get his hands on chocolate bar chocolate which won't even be made until the mid-1800s?

Now, I describe this book to friends of mine and none of them care about this historical tidbit. They would have kept reading.

MsHellion said...

I'm sorry for my chocolate rant. I bring it up every time I get to discuss historical accuracy...I'm sorry.

Pam, it's so great to see you over here!!!! Your stuff is so awesome!!!

Pamela Clare said...

Hi, Hellion — Great to see you here! I think you put it all very colorfully. And I enjoyed the chocolate rant. It's just one of those things that's painfully obvious and shows that an author really didn't do her research at all. And thanks! I'm so glad you've enjoyed my stories. :-)

Minna said...

If you go back to the Medieval period, people spoke a language that was heavily Germanic, one that we wouldn't recognize.

Well, as I have studied Swedish, for me, it's not impossible to understand old English.

The word comes from their impression of a foreigner speaking a non-Greek language "barbarbarbar." That's what they taught us in Ancient Greek class, anyway.

Well, this book I have about the history of habits, says pretty much the same thing. To the Greek the speech of foreigners sounded like the barking of a dog, barbar. And they figured that foreigners also have about as little inteligence as dogs.

Sin said...


UNTAMED was a fabulous read! I had NO idea you were blogging here today! Shame on you for not telling me ;)


PS. If you haven't read UNTAMED yet (or any other Pamela Clare novel- get thee to the nearest book store!)

Pamela Clare said...

Hi, Minna — I speak fluent Danish so that's of great help to me in understanding older English, as well as Scots. My sister lives in Stockholm and is Swedish, and she and I are able to converse in dansk/svensk to each other because the languages are so similar (though pronounced very differently.

Those Greeks had a really high opinion of themselves, didn't they? LOL!

Hi, Christie, darling! I'm very bad about letting people know things, obviously. I should post to the loop when I get a chance. :-)

And thanks for your sweet words! I still remember my first email from you. I believe you'd just read Hard Evidence. I have a poll on my blog about favorite heroes right now...

Sin said...

LOL. Pam, I think at that point when I emailed you, I'd read Hard Evidence at least 50 times.

*hopping over to PC blog* You mention Julian and I'm all over it!

Pat Cochran said...

Congratulations to Louisa on nabbing
the golden one and also on finaling
in the contest!

I greatly appreciate detail accuracy
in my reading, but if the flow of the
story is impeded by the amount of
detail provided - that is even worse
for me!

Pat Cochran

Susan Sey said...

Welcome to the Lair, Pamela!

Your books sound really delicious! I'm exciting to dig in. I love historicals--no ability at all to write them, the research terrifies me--but I do love to read them.

And part of that is because it's the only way I really pick up on historical informations. Turns out I need a character to care about before it matters to me what the French strategy in the battle of whatever was.

Looking forward to reading your work!

Suzanne Welsh said...

Susan, you should've seen me reading The Scarlett Pimpernel to my daughter in the 8th grade. She wasn't a big reader then, all she'd read was the few regency romances I'd preread and given to her. Her English teacher gave them all assignments to read a classic book, no romances or horror books. So I had her ask about The SP.

Then she didn't understand the first chapter or two. Turns out she had no idea about the French Revolution.

So I'd read a paragraph, (with either a french or english accent), then stop and explain what the heck was going on. After about four chapters, she took the book and we didn't see her the rest of the weekend except for food.

She LOVED the story, and ended up getting to tell the teacher at the end of the report...."and it's a romance". hehehe

Trish Milburn said...

Sorry I'm so late to the party, especially since I've been waiting for this interview. Just been one of those hair-on-fire busy days.

Pamela, I feel like we're kindred spirits. I LOVE, LOVE, LOVE American-set historicals, particularly Colonials and Westerns. I have several of your books on my shelf waiting for me, and I've heard wonderful things about them from lots of people, including a mutual friend (Norah Wilson). I'm really looking forward to reading them.

While most of our historic war sites in Tennessee tend to focus on the Civil War, we do have some interesting French and Indian War reconstructed forts in the eastern part of the state. Two of my favorite state parks are Sycamore Shoals and Fort Loudoun, both highlighting that era.

Trish Milburn said...

Congrats on the GR and the contest final, Louisa!

Oh, and Pamela, Last of the Mohicans is one of my all-time favorite movies. It came out when I was in college, and I interviewed a student and a professor who were extras for the college paper.

Pamela Clare said...

Hi, Pat — Well said! If a person doesn't care at all about historical detail, then why do they read historicals? But you're right — it can't impede the story. I think that's the consensus here in The Lair. :-)

Hi, Susan — Thanks! I know a lot of people feel intimidated by the research. My college years were so full of research, though, that researching for novels is fun by comparison. I remember having to research all known archaeological evidence for human uses of turkey ulna. No kidding. Bleh. And I'm guessing a lot of people agree with you -- having history come alive through a character is different than having a bunch of dry facts in front of you.

The fun thing is that when I do research, I'm "feeling" it through characters, so it never seems dry to me (except for the bleepin' turkey ulna!).

Hi, Trish! I do adore Norah. She has wonderful things to say about you and your writing, too. :-)
So not only are we kindred spirits, we're friends once removed (or maybe friends independently now). I've very excited to know what you think of the stories. I hope I can keep writing the time period because I just love it.

It must be really wonderful to live in a part of the country that's so rich in history. (Fort Loudon! Wow!) In Colorado, a building that's 100 years old is considered history. There's Mesa Verde, of course, but mostly the attraction here isn't history; it's nature. I've always wanted to take my kids on a tour of Civil War sites.

Cool that you got to interview people who were extras in LOTM! That must have been fun. I've met Russell Means a few times (and interviewed him for the paper), so it's fun to see him in the film.

catslady said...

I loved Surrender! I've always enjoyed historicals the most and to answer the question - accuracy is very important to me. I like to think that with every book I read that I am learning something. As a reader I really appreciate all the reserach that has gone into a book and historical authors usually have gone that extra mile. Thanks for that!!!

Joan said...

A funny thing about barbarians — the Greeks believed anyone who wasn't Greek, i.e., who didn't speak Greek, was a barbarian.

The Greek guy I know still does...

Wow, great discussions! I'll throw in that for me as both an historical reader AND writer I want the historical details woven into the story, the lives of the characters. Nothing heavy handed just that this and that and Emperor so and so and his policies impact someone or something.

That said, I guess I'll need to take out the scene where Damon is offered a chocolate covered dour mouse :-)

Joan said...

you'll get more payoff in Untamed,

Yes, but remember one thing......

Morgan is MINE!!!!


Trish Milburn said...

We certainly do have a lot of Civil War battlefields in this neck of the woods. Shiloh, Stones River, Chickamauga/Chattanooga.

I e-mailed Russell Means one time and was totally shocked when he e-mailed back.

Pamela Clare said...

Hi, Catslady! How are you? I'm so glad you enjoyed Surrender. And you're welcome! I try very hard to write a story that a reader can sink into, a story into which she can vanish and be so lost that when she's finished reading it, she feels like she's been away from home. That's the kind of story I enjoy reading, so that's what I try to write.

Hi, Joan! I hope you had a good work day. How funny about that Greek guy you know. I knew a lot of Greek people when I was in grad school, and there was no lack of ego there, I might say. :-)

Chocolate-covered mouse. EW! Yeah, not likely in ancient Rome. LOL!

Hi, Trish — Cool that he wrote back. I interviewed him about some really controversial stuff, and he spent a bit of time bashing reporters, but took a reconciliatory tone later in the interview.

Another question: Who here in the Lair is going to be in DC at RWA this summer? Joan, will I see you again? Trish, will we meet?

Joan said...

Hey Pamela, right back at you for the wish for an easy work day. (Mine was ok until the last 30 min)

Yes, I'm going to DC. The Bandits will be there in force and rumor has it the Golden Rooster will make a return appearance.

I know that name Russell Means...is he that Native American actor????

Nancy said...

Louisa! You got him again! The car keys grab is a very bad sign. I hope your day with him went smoothly.

Congratulations on Hook, Line, and Sinker, too! Good luck in the finals.

Pamela, and Joan, thanks for the fun interview! I love historical accuracy and depth. With books getting shorter, there may not be as much room for it as there once was, but I think it adds a lot of texture that makes the setting more real--not just a fancy-dress version of today.

Nancy said...

Joan wrote: Morgan is MINE

Yeah. I got that--like, the eleventy-seventh tie you said it. *g*

Does Demetrius know about this? ;-)

Joan said...

Does Demetrius know about this? ;-)

He does NOW...... :-0

Cassondra said...

I'm late to the party, but hopefully Pamela is still up and about--or will check back in..

Pamela, thanks so much for being here, and I am SO glad you take the research portion of your books so seriously. The truth is that the historical inacuracies would, quite likely, go right by me, because I'm NOT a history major, and am sorely lacking in some parts of it. But I also recognize that almost nobody can be an expert on all areas of history.

That said, I see a lot of bad stuff in books--specifically really bad writing when it comes to weapons--and I hear a lot of romance authors saying, "what difference does it make? Our readers don't know either." Uh...Not true. Some of them do. And I'd say a lot more romance readers know history than know weapons, so good on you for doing the work and getting it right.

We don't have to be Tom Clancy-esque in our details in order to get the facts we DO use straight. So thank you. I admire your level of study. I have put off writing a couple of historicals that are beating at the back of my brain, specifically because the fear of the research is overwhelming.

All that said, my heritage is also Scot and Cherokee, so Pleased to meet you, Sister ;0)

My question for you is, how can a non-history person get schooled enough on a time period to successfully set a book there without going through a doctoral program in that time period? It scares the bejeebers out of me actually. It's what's put a couple of my best ideas on hold. Time is so scarce for reading, market research, BOOK research, and..oh yes, there's...uh..WRITING...that we need to do if we wish to sell a book.....any thoughts on how to begin or proceed?

Joanie, what a great blog and wonderful guest you've brought to us! Thank you!

Cassondra said...

Congrats Louisa on the bird! I hope you've had a good day with him and he hasn't caused too awfully much trouble. I'm sure he's in a rough mood after spending a day with p226 this week. That always gets his feathers in a twist....gets him thinking he's all big and bad and all that rot.

Pamela Clare said...

Hi, Joan — Oooh, I'm so glad I'll get to see you again! I hope I can meet up with you and the other Bandits at some point. Sorry for those last 30 minutes at work. I know from my mom's work as a nurse that it can sometimes be harrowing and heartbreaking. Yes, Russell Means plays the "last Mohican," so to speak. He was also in the film "Black Robe" and is an AIM member.

Hi, Nancy — You bring up something interesting, and that's shrinking book size. Publishing houses are decreasing the size of books, while increasing prices. I'm not disclosing an industry secret here; it's obvious. Remember the huge novels of the 80s and 90s? Now it's very hard to find a book over 400 pages. Two of my historicals have been cut to make them comply with a maximum page count — Carnal Gift, which lost 100 pages, and Untamed, which lost about 25.

They wanted to cut 100 but I told them to shrink the font, decrease margins and do all they could to save space without cutting. It was very frustrating to think that what I'd written was being cut, not to improve the writing, but to make more books fit in a box and protect profit margins. From my POV as the writer, the story comes first. But publishers have to be economically viable or there are no books. So it's a tough thing to balance. And I like that — "fancy-dress version of today." :-)

Hi, Cassondra — Nice to meet you, too, sister! :-)

You ask a really, really big question... But here's the good news: you don't have to do a PhD on any topic to learn lots about it. If I were you I would:

* Read a couple of general histories of the period and make a timeline. Try your best to memorize the events that are relevant to your book.

* Read some diaries or collections of letters from that time period to get down patterns of speech an some specialized vocabulary.

* Get specific books on topics that impact daily life: garments, food, agriculture, transportation, how the government worked, the monetary system, weaponry, etc. so that you can understand those tidbits of daily life.

* Look for music from that culture and period so that you can familiarize yourself with vocabulary.

* Keep notes on all of it and read through your notes before you start to plot/write.

The more vocabulary you have in your head, the more naturally it will fall into your story. The more historical data you have, the more naturally it will mold itself into your characters' minds. Then as you go along do specific research as needed.

I can whittle research down to about a month of heavy reading/note-taking now, but then again, I've written five books set in the 18th century in North America. If I were to switch to England, I'd have to start over. And -- this was total overkill --I did 2.5 years (totally nuts!) of research before I started plotting my first book. I wanted to be able to see/feel/taste/hear the 18th century in 3D before I started. But that's utterly absurd. Don't waste time doing that!

However, I DO believe research comes first. If you research before you write, the research flows seamlessly into the story. If you write first, then you have all kinds of assumptions based on your perspective as a modern person woven into your story and you won't know to get them out because you'll only be researching the stuff you KNOW you don't know. Does that make sense?

Thanks to all of you for having me here! I had great fun! I will check back tomorrow. Also, you're all welcome to email me at pamelaclare@earthlink.net.

Treethyme said...

My critique partner and I have voted this cover our Hottest Chest Award. Zounds!

Pamela Clare said...

Hi, Treethyme — Wow! What an honor! And I'm sure it Morgan's Highlander pride will be greatly satisfied to hear it. It's been my wallpaper for six months, so I definitely think it's drool-worthy. Thanks so much!

danie88 said...

Wow... so I am really late today :P

oh well... better late then never i guess :D

History was one of my favorite subjects in school so I do enjoy historical accuracy, but I don't make a big deal out of it. As long as its not way off and it makes sense then it's fine I don't obsess over it.

by the way... nice seeing you here Pamela! I have both your books "Surrender" and "Untamed" on my wishlist! Looking forward to reading them soon! :D

Trish Milburn said...

Pamela, yes, I'll be at National. Looking forward to it.

Joanie, Russell Means played Chingachgook in Last of the Mohicans.

Anna Campbell said...

Pamela, sorry I'm so late. Had to be elsewhere all day. Which is a pity because I would have loved to discuss all the history with you. I found your post absolutely fascinating (thanks, Joan, on another great interview). I must admit my knowledge of the French-Indian War is largely predicated on Last of the Mohicans (the film, not the book - couldn't manage the book although I tried). And then it's largely how gorgeous DDL was in it!

Anyway, I hope you'll come back and see us soon. And congratulations on all the buzz on the MacKinnon books. I've heard nothing but good stuff about them!

Pamela Clare said...

Hi, Dani — Glad you could make it. :-)
I hope you enjoy the stories!

Hi, Trish — See you in D.C.!

I'm off to bed, but I'll check back in the A.M. Thanks so much to all of you for making me feel so welcome. Tomorrow I'll pick a winner for that copy of Untamed.

Pamela Clare said...

Hi, Anna — I caught your post just before turning off the computer. We'll just have to find another way to chat! Good to see you. I've been seeing good buzz on your new release, too. I'd love to chat about history some time. Soon!

Anna Campbell said...

Pamela, I'd love that. Seriously I can talk for hours about history (rather a tragic and I love finding out about eras I don't know much about). So sadly, I've pegged you for a LONG chat!!! I'll be at Nationals so hopefully we can catch up there. Hey, SOOO looking forward to seeing Washington and all the historical stuff. It's just so exciting for a history nerd like me! And I'm guessing you're excited too ;-) Especially as I'm sure you know way more detail about American history than I do.

ddurance said...

I have to say that it's pretty important. If you're going to include aspects of history, be sure that they are accurate. Otherwise be vague about your time period, clothing, etc.


Pamela Clare said...

Hi, Anna — I'm excited about that chat. I, too, can go on and on... as my poor staff at the newspaper can probably tell you. You know it's bad when your own staff openly call you — their boss — a nerd. I was in Washington, D.C., for the National Journalism Awards in 2000 (we won one), so I got to see all the high-profile stuff. It is pretty exciting. Maybe we can wander through the town together. I covered a big protest there, as well, and that was a riot. Literally. (OK, really bad joke.)

Hi, Deirdre — I think that's a good way to handle gaps in research. If you know you don't know write around it or leave it out! LOL!

Thanks everyone!

shirley said...

hi can you tell me how I can get information on the places you write about in Untamed Id love to go there

Pamela Clare said...

Hi, Shirley — You can find them online. Google "Rogers Island" or "Fort Ticonderoga" and you'll find information on how to get there, when they're open and such, as well as historical information. I hope you do get to visit! I loved my time there! It felt so wonderful to visit places where my characters had been so long ago.