Sunday, January 2, 2011

The Place in the Story, the Story in the Place

by Nancy

Sorry, everyone, about the delay. We had a little glitch this morning, but we're up and running now.

Every story takes place somewhere, and the "where" often influences the story. What would Wuthering Heights be without the windswept loneliness of the moors? Or LOTR, without the contrasts of the soft. green beauty of the Shire, the elven elegance of Lothlorien, and the arid hostility of Mordor? Or the Darkhunters, without the moody atmosphere of New Orleans?

Not as effective, I think. In each instance, the setting plays a role in the story. It reinforces mood and, at least in the case of Sauron's Mordor and Galadriel's Lothlorien, says something about those who inhabit it. (Notice how I resisted the urge to stick in a picture of Viggo Mortenson as Aragorn. But I thought about it.)

Historicals don't always take place in castles, of course. The post-medievals tend to involve manor houses and London townhouses. But each place says something about the people who inhabit it. And each era has its own conflicts and problems that can shape a story.

When I first started reading historical romance, there was much more variety in settings. The Caribbean was big. Pirates, y'know? Sabrina Jeffries' The Pirate Lord is a wonderful example. The first pirate romance I read was Shirley Busbee's The Spanish Rose, which is still on my keeper shelf. At the other end of the alphabet sits Kathleen Woodiwiss' Shanna, whose fabulous Ruark did a turn as a pirate. Claudia Dain's debut novel was a superb pirate book, Tell Me Lies.

Now that Pirates of the Caribbean has been so big, I wonder if pirates will enjoy a big resurgence. So far, that doesn't seem to be happening.

Elizabethan England used to pop up from time to time. So did Revolutionary America. Then Regency England exploded and shoved lots of other choices to the side. Medievals are still hanging in, but they're more or less a niche market. Victorian seems to have blossomed but only if they're set in England.

I once heard an editor say every period has its fans, but profitability depends on having most of the books in a line set in the most popular periods. Much as I wish it were otherwise, this makes a certain amount of sense. Science fiction, fantasy, and mystery novels tend to be less restricted in setting, but in romance, we want a comfort book, and maybe part of that is a desire for the familiar, which means periods readers already know.

My 2006 finalist and its sequel were set in the English Restoration (so named because Charles II's 1660 return from exile after Oliver Cromwell died "restored" the English monarchy). I once heard an author (not me, honestly and truly) ask an editor about that period in a Q&A. The editor wrinkled her nose. "Restoraaaation," she said, sort of in the same tone you might use if you said, "I smell rotten fish in the kitchen." After a moment, she said, "I don't think that period really keys into reader fantasies."

If you look at the wardrobe, you can understand why. I mean, seriously, can you see this guy buckling a swash? As Jayne Anne Krentz said in her wonderful book Dangerous Men, Adventurous Women, readers want to identify with the heroine and fall in love with the hero. Foppish heroes who dress kind of like we readers envision heroines don't really have that appeal. I love the period because it's so rich in conflict and tension and deprivation and decadence, but it's not big with most readers. There are a few authors out there dipping into it, but most of them tend not to stay there.

And just so we all know, my heroes avoided contemporary fashion, which they thought was impractical. One was a naval officer who wouldn't wear anything that made climbing the rigging more dangerous than it already was, and the other was an earl and ex-soldier who had no patience with frills and furbelows (I love that phrase, but I had to look up the latter word. A furbelow is a showy frill or pleating).

As I became more educated about the market, I put that period aside and moved to the medieval era instead. For pure flash and dash, I don't think any dynasty in the history of any country can beat England's Plantagenets, though the post-Conquest Normans offer a lot of conflict, as do the Dark Ages. The advantage of being a history geek is having a great many periods one loves.

Contemporaries also make great use of setting. Urban paranormals play off the shiny glass and steel and the gritty slums of cities. Small towns bring in the sense of community and the sometimes unfortunate awareness of everyone else's business.

What settings do you love, and why? What's your favorite book set in a historical time period or your favorite contemporary where setting plays a part? If you could read a book set anywhere and anywhen, from the dawn of time to the far future, what would you pick?

112 comments:

Margay said...

My all time favorite place and time is Regency England.

Donna MacMeans said...

Okay Margay - just curious...Why the regency period? I love Regency set books as well, but I love Victorian (obviously) and Medieval probably just as much. Of course, a good contemporary can get my heart thumping and I recall the settings vividly of Jayne Castle's futuristics which I loved.

In retrospect, it's the characters that I love, I guess, but I do like the contrast of strict social mores and really sensuous clothing of the Victorian era.

So I'm curious why you immediately went for the Regency?

Margay said...

I like the later Victorian period, too (1890s), but there is something about the Regency that gets me every time. I think it's a combination of the clothes, the social classes, what was happening in the world at the time. I don't know. I just read the books and watch movies like Pride and Prejudice and Emma et al and I feel like I have lived it. That doesn't really happen in other historical time periods for me.

Kim in Hawaii said...

I discovered "romance" when my hubby was assigned to NATO. So I was taking tea wtih the British ladies, living across from a castle, and shopping in a market square that dated back to the middle ages. But it was a Regency romance that captured my heart.

To answer Donna's question above, I offer you Mary Jo Putney's answer from several interviews:

"I think the Regency is the most popular time period, as well as my personal favorite, because so many interesting currents cross then. It was the dawn of the modern age, where revolutions and industrial change were creating the society we recognize now. The old regime was dead, and the people of that time period speak in voices we can recognize. They are accessible. It was also an age of wonderful writers, of Jane Austen and the Romantic poets.

At the same time, the Regency is distant enough to have glamour. The heaviness of the mid to late Victorian period was still in the future. No trains, only dashing carriages. No powdered wigs in general usage; rather, women wore graceful Empire styles and men were starting to wear clothing not that different from what is worn now. (The navy blazer and tan slacks that are a semi-casual business uniform today came in during the Regency, from what I've been able to determine.)

Finally, it was the Napoleonic period, where there was a Good War not unlike WW II. The territorial wars of earlier days are hard to care about, and the sordid imperialist skirmishes of the Victorian period are downright depressing, but fighting an egotistical, power-hungry conqueror who wanted to enslave everyone in sight, a man who didn't care how many of his countrymen lost their lives, was an honorable cause. And it gives the opportunity for wonderful, dashing soldier and spy heroes, and sometimes heroines, too.

But I enjoy exploring medievel ruins, the crumblier, the better. They spark one's imagination more than a restored manor house.

Helen said...

Well done Margay have fun with him

Nancy
Very thought provoking post I love medievals and regencys and as I have been reading romance for so long I remember all those pirate ones set in the Caribean and around New Orleans from long ago. I haven't read a lot of contemparies but the ones I have read I have really enjoyed I still favour historical whether they be medieval, regency or victorian and yes probably because I "know" that era. I also am loving the paranormals that I read now but I must admit I read the first couple of chapters slowly so as I can take in "that world" and get to know it. I don't think that I have read any urban fantasy yet I need to change that.
As for a favourite too hard for me to choose LOL and one I would like to read I guess I would pick any of the historical eras and anywhere wil do as long as the author takes me on an adventure to a HEA I am happy.

Have Fun
Helen

Kim in Hawaii said...

To correct the above comment, insert end quote after 5th paragraph. The last paragraph is my comments, not Mary Jo's.

Nancy said...

Margay, you got the rooster! Congrats.

The first Regency author I read was Georgette Heyer, who made the period come alive. I tend to gravitate toward the part of around the Napoleonic Wars.

BJ said...

I'm addicted to the Highlands...I love my men in their kilts...Yummy!!!! Old castles...Sword fights...Horse riding..sailing...yada yade...romance...ahhhh.
I totally enjoy them! I prefer them be base before modern times but Melissa Mayhue has made some that invole time travel from now to the past that are really good.

Jeanne (AKA The Duchesse) said...

Hey! Margay, you got the rooster! :>

Anna Campbell said...

Hey, Margay, the chook slept in! Hope you have fun with him.

Jeanne (AKA The Duchesse) said...

Margay, I love the regency too, but in small doses. grins. I have my favorites and I go for those, then leave the rest alone.

Donna, I love your Victorians and I'd love to see more written in that period because it's right there on the cusp of "now" in time. I know that doesn't make much sense, but I think it's why steampunk is popular too. It's beginning to be modern, and yet it's still got that antique sensibility.

Anna Campbell said...

Nancy, what a thought-provoking post. And please, any time you can put up a pic of Aragorn, don't be shy! ;-) Actually as most of you know, I've been reading historical romance since the 70s and I must say it was fun to play in some of those exotic locales. And I certainly learnt a lot of history that way. I can remember Russia and renaissance Italy being really popular. And one of my all-time faves (definitely a bodice ripper but a ripper of a bodice riper) is Teresa Denys's The Flesh and the Devil set in that popular locale for romance fiction, 17th century Spain. Seriously, still one of the best books I've ever read.

Anna Campbell said...

By the way, Nancy, I have a soft spot for those eras where the men were such peacocks. I think it was Anne Stuart who said something about loving the Georgian eras because those men in make-up and high heels were all carrying swords that they didn't hesitate to use. Sort of like a beautiful, flashy killing machine! Definitely love the edge of danger!

Jeanne (AKA The Duchesse) said...

Hi Kim! I loved your rationale for loving the regency, especially what you said about the wars. It's so true. I wish the WWII period would become popular as a romantic time period for just that very reason. :>

You also said: No powdered wigs in general usage; rather, women wore graceful Empire styles and men were starting to wear clothing not that different from what is worn now. (The navy blazer and tan slacks that are a semi-casual business uniform today came in during the Regency, from what I've been able to determine.)

You know, I hadn't thought about it, but the non-restrictive clothing and the "uniform of the day" for the men was pretty forward thinking for the times, wasn't it? Grins.

Loucinda McGary aka Aunty Cindy said...

Thanx for stepping into the breach for us today, Nancy!

As you know, I LURVE exotic settings. And just about any setting can be exotic if it is portrayed vividly enough, IMO.

I try hard to make my settings like another character in my stories, and the ultimate compliment for me is when a reader/reviewer says, "I felt like I was there."

I know what you mean about publishers wanting particular settings because of readership. I purposely set my book The Wild Sight in Ireland after many many rejections of my previous two manuscripts which were both set in Italy (a place I LOVE). One editor in particular said in her rejection, "We don't publish books unless they are set in England, Ireland, or Scotland." (No, I honestly don't think she read past the first page.) So I made up my mind to write about Ireland (a place near & dear to my heart), and off I went. ;-)

AC

Jeanne (AKA The Duchesse) said...

Helen, you're obviously an even more voracious reader that I had thought. Wow. I had to LOL about this comment:

I also am loving the paranormals that I read now but I must admit I read the first couple of chapters slowly so as I can take in "that world" and get to know it.

I do this very same thing. I like to imagine the world and get a handle on it, then dive into the rest of the book. I think paranormals can get away with more description in the first few chapters for just this very reason.

Nancy said...

Donna, your love of the Victorian period comes through in your books. I also love Jayne Castle's futuristics. I love the tech possibilities of future periods

Jeanne (AKA The Duchesse) said...

Hey BJ! I'm with you, I love me a good Scotsman in a kilt. Yuuuummmmmmy!

Loucinda McGary aka Aunty Cindy said...

Margay,
Congrats on capturing the chook! I have a feeling he may still be a bit hung-over from his world-wide partying on New Year's Eve.

AC

Nancy said...

Kim, I envy you getting to live across from a castle! When the dh and I were first married, we had a chance to do a year's exchange program at a university in England. However, we already had a dog, and at that point, she would've had to go into quarantine for six months or else stay here, and neither of those ideas worked for us.

That's a great answer of Mary Jo's about the Regency period. All those factors offer a lot of opportunities for conflict, too.

Jeanne (AKA The Duchesse) said...

Hey Anna! Anna said: I must say it was fun to play in some of those exotic locales. And I certainly learnt a lot of history that way.

I did too! I loved that about all those "different" locales. Spain, Russia, France in different time periods, Italy. Ohhhh, Italy! Love me some Italy. grins.

I didn't go for the pirates as much as the Continent, but I can pull of one heck of a game of Team Trivia just because I read Romance!

Nancy said...

Helen, thanks! Your point about paranormals taking time to get into underscores, I think, the importance of not hitting readers with too much worldbuilding off the bat. The stranger something is, the more time absorbing it takes.

Jeanne (AKA The Duchesse) said...

Anna said: I think it was Anne Stuart who said something about loving the Georgian eras because those men in make-up and high heels were all carrying swords that they didn't hesitate to use. Sort of like a beautiful, flashy killing machine! Definitely love the edge of danger!

Hahahah! I love Georgian era too, for this very reason. Pretty on the outside, verrrrry dangerous on the inside. Grins. I think that's why people like the modern "kick-ass" woman heroines. Beautiful and take charge is a good, sexy thing. Grins.

Nancy said...

BJ, lots of people here love the Highlands. I enjoy them, too, but I gravitate more toward England than Scotland. (no Plantagenets in Scotland *g*)

Nancy said...

Jeanne, I like steampunk, too, but it seems to be popping up more in SFF than in romance.

Jeanne (AKA The Duchesse) said...

Hey AC! I loved what you said: I try hard to make my settings like another character in my stories, and the ultimate compliment for me is when a reader/reviewer says, "I felt like I was there."

And I would have to say you succeeded in ALL your books. I DID feel "like I was there." You have a beautifully vivide capacity for setting a scene, and giving a sense of place and time. Yummy.

And I also agree with you that any setting can be exotic and intense and wonderful. Even DC. SNORK!

Deb said...

Hmm, my post disappeared, so hope this doesn't repeat twice.

I enjoy reading about Regency England, the medieval era, and Highlander romances. (Gotta love a man in a kilt.)

I would be interested in reading some stories involving more Nordic or Scandia settings, just because that's my background. But, I think my reading heart will always go back to either Regency or Highland romances.

When I did read contemps, I always enjoyed Australian and NZ settings. Essie Summers wrote some fun and light-hearted romances set in NZ.

Nancy said...

Anna, thanks. The Georgian men knew how to move in those heels, for sure. Those clothes were more fitted, though, with less excess fabric flapping around to catch on an opponent's blade.

By the end of Charles II's reign, the long, fitted vests popular with the Georgians had come into vogue, and breeches had become close-fitting again. Much better for swordplay, I think.

We were the Liberty Island ferry some years back with a high school group. Several of the boys were wearing wide-legged jeans that stopped just below the kneecap (no elegant silk hose below, those, of course). It suddenly struck me that those denims were not unlike the petticoat breeches of the Regency.

You know, some styles go out of fashion for a really good reason. *sigh*

Jeanne (AKA The Duchesse) said...

*bats eyes at Nancy* You said: I gravitate more toward England than Scotland. (no Plantagenets in Scotland *g*)

Reaaaaaly? Seriously? I never knew this....heeheehee.

For those who don't know, Nancy is a walking expert on the Plantagenets. For instance, I once said something about the broom plant - what they used to make actual brooms with - and she gave me the latin name and told me how it was related to the Plantagenets and why it was on their coat of arms. Grins. Fascinating stuff.

Nancy can 7 degrees of seperation from the Plantagenets on virtually any subject....

Snork.

(Just teasin' you, girlfriend.)

Loucinda McGary aka Aunty Cindy said...

Why thank you, Duchesse! (Aunty blushes daintily)

And yes, DC CAN be exotic. I think Pamela Palmer proved that very well in her paranormals The Dark Gate and Dark Deceiver! ;-)

AC

Nancy said...

AC, I also love exotic settings and wish they were more popular. Your trip to Ireland, though, paid off. The Wild Sight is a fabulous book!

Jeanne (AKA The Duchesse) said...

Nancy said: and breeches had become close-fitting again. Much better for swordplay, I think.

Close fitting breeches and swordplay.

Oh. My.

Sign me up.

Jeanne (AKA The Duchesse) said...

AC said: And yes, DC CAN be exotic. I think Pamela Palmer proved that very well in her paranormals The Dark Gate and Dark Deceiver! ;-)

Totally true! *shivers* I still think about those books and now avoid the fountain in Adams Morgan.

*shiver*

Nancy said...

Deb, sorry Blogger is jerking you around! Thanks for persisting.

Have you noticed that Harlequin Intrigue tends to go outside this country more than most other lines?

Yeah, there's something about those guys in kilts. . . .

Nancy said...

Duchesse wrote: Nancy can 7 degrees of seperation from the Plantagenets on virtually any subject....

Bwahahahaha!

What's the good of being a fanatic if you can't plague your friends with it? *VBEG*

I can do it with the Superman universe, too. . . .

Jeanne (AKA The Duchesse) said...

Deb, I double posted twice yesterday and it's eaten my post once already today.

Blogger. Urg.

Hey Nancy, I had noticed some new locales cropping up at Harlequin. I loike it!

And you can bet if they're doing it, others will follow. They're kinda like California, willing to try new things that then become trends. Grins.

Jeanne (AKA The Duchesse) said...

I guess I never did say what time periods were my favs.

I love medievals. I love the Elizabethan time period, with all it's change, intrigue and treachery. LOVE WWII and would love to see it come to the forefront. (South Pacific anyone? Sound of Music? Bridge over the river Kwai?)

And best last, I love fantasies and futuristics - totally new worlds either based on ours (McCaffrey) or brand new (Tolkein, Lackey, etc.

Nancy said...

Jeanne wrote: They're kinda like California, willing to try new things that then become trends.

Yes, and I think they deserve credit for that. On the other hand, one of my law professors, a CA native, opined that many of the law's weird trends also began there.

Jeanne (AKA The Duchesse) said...

Nancy said: What's the good of being a fanatic if you can't plague your friends with it? *VBEG*

I can do it with the Superman universe, too. . . .


Ohhhh nooooooooo! Snork.

And since plaguing my friends with bizarre funerary rites and stories seems to be my niche of expertise, I'll shut up.

Besides, its never a plague to me, it just adds to my store of trivia for Team Trivia.

bwah-ha-ha-ha!

Nancy said...

Jeanne, you know I love Pern and various fantastic lands, too.

You (and Trish) would LOVE Lois McMaster Bujold, and if y'all don't read those books soon, I may just knock you over and sit on you until you do.

Really. ;-)

Deb said...

You guys are so fun! Love coming here. SNORK! :)

Nancy said...

Deb, thank you. We love having you!

Jeanne (AKA The Duchesse) said...

Deb said: You guys are so fun! Love coming here. SNORK! :)

*Blushing, bowing in Deb's direction*

Why thank you, Deb! We loving being here and having you here too!

Grins.

Jeanne (AKA The Duchesse) said...

BTW, Nancy, I'm with Anna. Any time anyone wants to post a pic of Aragorn or anything related to LOTR, I'm good with that.

Grins.

What a beautiful series of lush or desolate landscapes Tolkien painted. Amazing.

Nancy said...

Jeanne, if you think you and I are bad, you should've seen the boy during his Pokemon period. There are even more pokemon than DC Comics super-heroes, and each little goomer has not one but three incarnations. He knew them all.

Of course, Pokemon is no longer the done thing in his age group, so he downplays that part of his past.

With Thor and Green Lantern (terrible CGI Lantern suit, imho, but oh, well!) coming out, we're hoping to do a one-two punch for my birthday and Mothers Day the way we did when Wolverine and Star Trek came out within a week or so of each other.

Nancy said...

Jeanne, I know Viggo and his alter ego are really popular around here. I just figured I would keep the illos on topic. Sorta. Just couldn't resist mentioning him, though. *g*

I mean, without a good Aragorn, LOTR just flops.

And getting back to the topic--wasn't New Zealand a superb embodiment of Middle Earth?

Susan Sey said...

Hey, Nancy, great topic! I adore paranormals just because they're so good at taking the world we live in & giving it a tweak that makes everything unexpected & fresh. JD Robb does this wonderfully in her In Death series--it's NYC, just...not. I love that it's familiar & fresh at the same time.

I also love historicals for the sense of otherness. Things you couldn't get away with in a contemporary--the marriage of convenience, for example, and the uber alpha male--work beautifully when you suspend modern sensibilities. It's fun to get away from the here & now.

That said? I write contemporaries. :-) Because I blow at world building. So I love exactly that which I can't do. Le sigh. Huge props to authors who do paranormal & historicals, though. Because I love them.

Nancy said...

Susan, thank you. I also love J. D. Robb's NYC (new Eve Dallas in Feb, ya know *g*). She also does a great uber alpha male, I think, in Roarke, but I agree they're much harder to pull off in a contemporary. If the reader wants to drive her fist into the hero's gut, she probably isn't going to finish the book.

One of the things I like about paranormals, which is even more intense in science fiction and fantasy, is that sense of being somewhere else. As you say, we can step outside the conventions of our society when we're in another time or place.

I bet you would do better than you think at worldbuilding. I've sat next to you at dinner while you were telling stories and describing places. I love your contemporary voice, though, and see no reason you should dive into other worlds if you're not inclined.

Trish Milburn (Tricia Mills) said...

Very nice post, Nancy. I'm a big believer in making setting a character in and of itself. It can add so much to a story, make it three-dimensional and feel real.

I like a wide variety of settings, depends on the story.

Nancy said...

Hi, Trish. Thanks.

Have you read my comment to Jeanne re: Bujold yet? Forewarned . . .

*G*

jo robertson said...

Great post, Nancy! Thanks for stepping up to fill in at the last minute.

Congrats, Margay. You're in good company with the Regency Period; so many romance readers adore that setting.

jo robertson said...

I have to confess being partial to the American Civil War period. It's such an untapped source of angst and agony, lots of fodder for tortured heroes. I'm surprised more people aren't drawn to that time period.

I just discovered a "new to me" writer, P.B. Ryan who writes the Nell Sweeney series, much in the vein of Deanna Raybourne's Julia Gray series, only less sophisticated and perhaps a bit more accessible.

I finished the first one really fast and am reading the second on my Kindle.

Anna Campbell said...

Nancy, they had a tour of the sites used in the LOTR from the cruise ship but sadly, it booked out in the blink of an eye so I didn't get to see Middle Earth in reality. Next time! I did however get to see the places where they shot the Narnia movies. Seriously impressive!

Carol L. said...

I too love the Regency Era. But my #1 love are the Highlanders in Scotland. Even the Time Travel romances where the heroine travels back to medieval Scotland. Just love a man in a kilt. I also love reading about The Old West during the 1800's. I love so many eras. I think what it comes down to is if I'm loving the Hero I don't care where he's at. lol
Carol L
Lucky4750@aol.com

Nancy said...

Thanks, Jo. I also love the Civil War period (American as well as British). I discovered Heather Graham because of her Civil War trilogy, One Wore Blue, One Wore Gray, and One Rode West.

Nancy said...

Anna, what a bummer that you didn't get to see! The dh's sister and her husband went to NZ a few years ago, but they aren't LOTR fans and didn't visit any of the film sites.

Nancy said...

Carol, I also like the Old West. Leigh Greenwood's Seven Brides series really sucked me in.

Nancy said...

Jo, forgot to say those mysteries sound interesting. I'll have to check them out. ('Cause y'know, there just are NO unread books in this house. *sigh* If only!)

Donna MacMeans said...

Well said, Kim. I was just curious as technically the Regency period only lasted for nine years (1811-1820) though in a broader sense it extends to 1837 when Victoria took the throne. It's a relatively short period of time, yet it has captured the hearts of so many - so I was just curious why (grin). Gotta love Mary Jo.

I wish the publishers were more open to other settings for historicals - or contemporaries for that matter. I do enjoy learning about another country by living in it vicariously through a good book. Kudos to those writers who push the envelope and succeed.

Janga said...

Nancy, I'd love to read a romance set in the Restoration. I'm a big fan of Susan Holloway Scott's historical fiction of thar era. I've never been fond of Medieval romances, although Kris Kennedy is changing my mind, but I read Georgian, Regency, and Victorian and enjoy them all. And I rejoiced to learn that Laura Lee Guhrke's new series is set in early 20th century. As much as I love the Regency period, my vote is for greater variety in period--and place.

Sense of place is important to me as a reader. Barbara O'Neal/Barbara Samuel/ Ruth Wind is among the best at giving me the sense not only that I've been to a place but also that I want to go again. I think part of the success of Robyn Carr's long-running Virgin River series is due to the author's skill in making Virgin River a specific place rather than generic smalltown. My favorite mystery writers share this skill--whether they're writing about 21st-century Colleton County, North Carolina (Margaret Maron), 21st-century Miller's Kill, New York (Julia Spencer-Fleming), or Regency England (C. S. Harris). I think place is important in both historical and contemporary.

Nancy said...

Donna, I like other settings for contemporary tales, too. Thrillers abound with them, but romance seems to stick pretty much to the US except for some RS.

Nancy said...

Janga, what a fabulous list! I'm nott familiar with Susan Holloway Scott. I'll have to check those out.

You know we love C. S. Harris here in the Lair. I just gave What Angels Fear to a friend for her December b'day. I don't think she has read it yet, though.

I also like Margaret Maron. She lives somewhere in the Raleigh, NC, area, I think.

Suzanne Ferrell said...

Happy Second day of 2011, y'all!

Nancy, I always think setting is important, as well as time period. There are things in modern times you can't do in historical times and vice versa.

Historical Scotland and England are always a great time period to read about. I also think early America is intriguing and would love to read more romances set back then. Medieval Europe or England or Scotland, too.

Nancy said...

Hi, Suz--

Happy Day 2 to you also!

Technology and its absence, I think, play a big role in the way a society functions. Of course, customs change as ways of life, do. Like, y'know, you and I get to vote, which we couldn't a hundred years ago.

Suzanne Ferrell said...

Jo: I have to confess being partial to the American Civil War period. It's such an untapped source of angst and agony, lots of fodder for tortured heroes. I'm surprised more people aren't drawn to that time period.

Me too!

I would love to read more from this time period and for the first 10-20 years after the war...oh wait...I write that time period., hehehe

Caren Crane said...

Margay, the first commentor and the first to pick my favorite - Regency England! I also love Victorians, though, especially early ones. Later ones have their own appeal, though, as I found out when watching Miss Potter this weekend!

I also just finished reading Vampire Empire, Book 1: The Greyfriar by Clay Griffith and Susan Griffith. It is an alternate history and a very different take on vampires. It's also kind of steam punk, since the takeover of the colder parts of the world by vampires happened in the late 1800s, which sort of froze technology. It was another example of loving Victorian stories, though a very different sort!

Caren Crane said...

You know, having read Kim's post with the comments by both her and MJP, I tend to like even stories from WWI and WWII. Anytime, really before the advent of too much modern technology.

Even though I grew up in the 70s, it was like prehistoric times to my kids, who have never known (or don't recall) life without cell phones and personal computers. All the connectedness we now take for granted really changes the tenor of a story. I tend to like ones where people had to wait for letters or telegraphs. For people to come in by train or boat. Victorian novels work for me because there was still "down time", when people weren't on and connected 24/7.

I am old-fashioned at heart and love that in my stories!

Anna Campbell said...

Caren, isn't Miss Potter a lovely movie? And isn't Ewan McG gorgeous in it? They showed it on our ABC (government) network here on Christmas night. Thought it was a lovely choice!

jo robertson said...

I enjoy Victorian novels too, Caren, especially Anne Perry's WILLIAM MONK series. She's so good with her Victorian setting. I like that era because it's closer to modernity (the Industrial Revolution and all), but still has that old-fashioned flavor to it.

I'd like to see more novels set between the World Wars too. I think that period's rich with change and cultural revolution.

jo robertson said...

The Griffiths' book sounds verrra interesting, Caren. I'll have to try it. I'm still trying to get a handle on steam punk and all it entails LOL.

jo robertson said...

Hehehehe, indeed, Suzanne. Can't wait for YOUR book's release.

That period is so exciting, all those Civil War vets returning home, some to . . . nothing, actually, all to some sort of upheaval of the social and political orders. No wonder so many went west! I'm sure their travails would rival Vietnam experiences.

My SIL's doctoral dissertation was on a Civil War surgeon whose horse fell on him and left him in agony, nearly disemboweled him. Anyway, he returned home to find his wife had taken up with another man and he killed the man. Was acquitted, too. I find these real life accounts fascinating.

Who was it who said the difference between fiction and history is that in fiction what you write has to be possible; in real life, it doesn't!

Jeanne (AKA The Duchesse) said...

Nancy said: mean, without a good Aragorn, LOTR just flops.

And getting back to the topic--wasn't New Zealand a superb embodiment of Middle Earth?


No, LOTR would be bad with a floppy Aragorn. Snork.

And yes, I wanted to see NZ BEFORE LOTR, now I want to see it even MORE.

Nancy said...

Suz, the period after the Civil War has a lot of conflict and upheaval, and the West avoids some of the stickier wickets of Reconstruction.

There are plenty of sticky wickets in westward expansion, too, but they're avoidable.

jo robertson said...

Janga, great list! I'm always amazed at your wide and varied reading habits. I tend to get stuck in a specific genre until I'm sick of it and then move to something else.

Jeanne (AKA The Duchesse) said...

Susan said: That said? I write contemporaries. :-) Because I blow at world building.

Snork. Yeah, right. I don't believe that for a minute, you're so clever. However, that said, I'm glad you write contemps because you write them SUPERBLY!

Grins.

Nancy said...

Caren, I saw that vampire book. It looked interesting. Pyr is a small press, but they had a booth at DragonCon, and I'm seeing their books in the chain stores. I may have to overcome my dislike of vampires and read that. I do like steampunk. So far.

Nancy said...

Anna, Ewan McG has been gorgeous in everything I've seen him in. Except this weird movie I watched for maybe 3 minutes where he was some kind of junkie.

Jeanne (AKA The Duchesse) said...

Jo said: I have to confess being partial to the American Civil War period. It's such an untapped source of angst and agony, lots of fodder for tortured heroes. I'm surprised more people aren't drawn to that time period.


I know! Jo, I love this period as well. Perhaps it's so divisive... I don't know, but I think its such a rich, untapped vein of storytelling deliciousness. Grins.

Nancy said...

Jo, I read the early books in the Monk series, and then, as my reading time waned and I focused more on romance, those and many others dropped off the radar. I like that period, though, post-Crimean War England. Am noodling around with some ideas for it.

jo robertson said...

LOL, Nancy on the "no unread books" comment. If only! Purchasing the Kindle has only whetted my addiction for books. It's sooooo easy to buy them.

I also like that Amazon allows you to read a sample of some of their books without cost. If you like it, you can purchase the book. I did that recently with Suzanne Collins' YA novel The Hunger Games.

Jeanne (AKA The Duchesse) said...

Hi Janga! Happy New Year! You said: As much as I love the Regency period, my vote is for greater variety in period--and place.

Thank you! Me too! :> Liked your list of mystery series as well.

*making notes*

Nancy said...

Jeanne wrote: No, LOTR would be bad with a floppy Aragorn. Snork.

Really? You think so, Duchesse? I bet a certain elven--ya know, I'm just not going there. Tempting, but no.

*VBEG*

Nancy said...

Jo, the dh got The Hunger Games trilogy for Christmas. Handy for me, and they will live in his office, not atop my TBR pile (which nothing is "atop" for long because it grows from the top UP).

jo robertson said...

Excellent ideas, Kim, from both you and Putney LOL.

I think the distance is time is one of the reasons earlier periods appeal to readers. If it's too close to our generation, it's like wearing your mom's fashion styles, but given enough time, everything comes back around.

Nancy said...

Jo wrote: Who was it who said the difference between fiction and history is that in fiction what you write has to be possible; in real life, it doesn't!

I haven't heard that, but I think it was Dorothy L. Sayers (whose Lord Peter I love, especially in the later books) who said that you have to tell the truth in writing fiction, or no one will believe it.

Jeanne (AKA The Duchesse) said...

Nancy and Anna, I like Ewan McGregor as well. He's in a movie with Jim Carry where they're both gay, I'm not sure I'd like that one. Grins. He's a fab actor, however.

jo robertson said...

Oh, good on your husband getting the Hunger Games trilogy, Nancy. Let me know what he thinks. They are YA, so lack the intensity I usually like in a romance, but the premise for the stories is very intriguing and the heroine is a spitfire of a young girl!

Nancy said...

Jo, it will probably the summer before the dh actually reads The Hunger Games. I may read them first, and I'll let you know if I do.

Jeanne (AKA The Duchesse) said...

Nancy said: Really? You think so, Duchesse? I bet a certain elven--ya know, I'm just not going there. Tempting, but no.

*VBEG*


SNORK! Well, that "certain elven..." wouldn't be disappointed if she was the reason he was...

Okay, we won't go there.

SNORK!!!

Nancy said...

Jeanne, for somewhere we're not going, we've spent a fair amount of time on the subject. *g*

Suzanne Ferrell said...

Jo,

There is a book and for the life of me the title escapes me, but the premise was based on a real life occurrence during Sherman's march to the sea. (I think it was titled The Roswell Women.)

Anyways this town was where all the mills for making the material for the Confederates' gray uniforms was located, just outside of Atlanta. Sherman marched through town, burned all the mills and shipped all the women who worked in the mills on box cars out of town. No one ever knew what happened to the women.

The book is a "what if" tale where the women and their children arrive in Kansas and are taken as mail order brides and farm hands.

Very interesting look at how Sherman made sure war was hell.

Laurie Faelan said...

One of my favorite historicals was set in Georgian France and England. The title of the book is These Old Shades by Georgette Heyer. The author had the challenge of making this hero manly despite his wardrobe of silks and satins of rainbow colors and jewel encrusted shoe heels and snuff boxes. She did a fabulous job. His masculinity could not be disputed. Maybe that was due to the sword he carried in his walking stick and his ability to use it or his prowess with women. But I think what made him truly desirable was his protectiveness of his enemy's daughter. *Sigh*

A favorite historical time period and setting is late 19th/early 20th century Egypt. That's a fascinating time!

Nancy said...

Suz, what a fascinating story! I had no idea about that.

Nancy said...

Laurie, I love Heyer. A contemporary hero who used to carry a swordstick cane is Melrose Plant, Martha Grimes's aristocratic detective. For a while I coveted one, but they're expensive, and it's not like I have any real need for it.

Joan said...

What's REALLY scary is Nancy can seven degree the Plantagenets with Star Trek!!!

:D

I'm coming in late as my friend's mission to get me out after surgery kept me out a lot today. I enjoy Regency and Victorian and Scotsmen but to me a good story fits in anywhere.

Rome, anyone?

Nancy said...

Joan, you know I love Rome!

Funny you should mention Star Trek. I was thinking of popping that in the DVD player. I decided to save it as a reward for when I finish revising this proposal.

jo robertson said...

Glad you're getting out and about, Joanie, but don't overdo it!

And yes, Nancy's seven degrees with quite a number of topics is verrrryyy scary LOL.

jo robertson said...

Hi, Laurie F! I ashamedly admit I haven't read that Georgette Heyer book (hanging head), but based on your description, I'll see if I can find it. It's probably OOP, huh?

Thanks for the recommendation.

Suzanne Ferrell said...

Okay, since I was talking about The Roswell Women from memory, I had to look it up. Apparently the women ended up in Illinois and Indiana and there is a non fiction book that tells some of their hardships after they arrived in the North. Still a great peice of American history that was made into a good read!

jo robertson said...

Suzanne, very interesting story premise. We'll have to track that one down. Sherman's march through Georgia and Andersonville were not the proudest moments in a devastating war.

jo robertson said...

I'll let you know what I think of The Hunger Games, too, Nancy. I'm about 1/3 of the way through. Those YA's are quick reads.

LOL, Nancy, I think my quote was a contemporary one, probably Uncle Stevie's (Stephen King) article in E.W.

Nancy said...

Jo, I love scaring my friends. *G*

Sourcebooks has brought a lot of the Heyer canon back into print. I just bought The Nonesuch. I suspect you can get it for your Kindle.

Speaking of Stephen King, I assume you've read On Writing? Isn't it great? The boy read it in creative writing class and was very impressed with it.

Nancy said...

Suz, thanks for the end of that story. I suspect most of those women never made it home. Traveling such a distance was no mean feat in those days.

Nancy said...

Um, glancing back over the comments, I noticed I had put petticoat breeches in the Regency. I meant Restoration. *sigh* I really do know the difference.

Virginia said...

I have always been very fond of the Civil War settings for some reason.

Nancy said...

Virginia, several people have mentioned the Civil War today. It's too bad the publishing industry doesn't love it.

Nancy said...

Well, the boy goes back to school tomorrow. That means alarm clocks start going off early again, so I'm bagging it.

Thanks to everyone who stopped by and made our late start day so much fun.

hrdwrkdmom aka Dianna said...

Definitely late to this party, I truly love the historicals, Regency in particular is my favorite. Not to say a contemporary can't get my attention quite well.

It is hard to put into words for me but Regency England seemed like a very exciting time in England's history.

petite said...

My favorite era would have to be England during the 1920's. The Lake District in England is a lovely setting.

traveler said...

I like this post topic which is appealing. Anything concerning A locale in England during the Victorian era is attractive and captivating.

catslady said...

I have to say Medievals such as Scottland and kilts and a lot of bare chests and swords lol.

I really enjoyed The Hunger Games!

article said...

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