Why do historical romance writers select certain periods in which to set their novels? What drives them to choose the dangers of the Wild West, the adventures of the Medieval era, or the elegance of the Regency Period? Three authors in the new anthology, An Invitation To Sin, talk about their chosen historical settings and why they love them.
Sally MacKenzie says:
I think we can safely blame a librarian for my fascination with the Regency. Growing up I read a lot of science fiction and what I guess might be called fantasy--Lloyd Alexander, P.L. Travers, Edward Eager, E. Nesbit, Andre Norton. When I reached about middle school age, I must have been casting around for something new, because a friendly librarian introduced me to Georgette Heyer. It was love at first page. What’s not to like about rich, handsome, nobles with grand estates looking for marriage? But it was more than that with Georgette. I loved her humor, the way she had the hero and heroine match wits, her use of language. My husband, even back when we were dating as law students, accused me of using Regency-isms in conversation. (Doesn’t everyone know the word “brangle”? And don’t you just love the sound of it...or the sound of balderdash, rapscallion, bamboozle, namby-pamby, shilly-shally?)
Now that I’m writing and researching for my books, I realize how much the world was changing during the Regency with the end of the Napoleonic Wars, the spread of industrialization, and the migration of people from country to city, but it wasn’t history that pulled me into the era. It was Georgette Heyer and that helpful librarian.
Vanessa Kelly says:
I became interested in the Regency period in the same way many historical romance writers did – through the novels of Georgette Heyer. From there I moved on to Jane Austen, which pretty much sealed my fate as far determining my favorite period of history. In graduate school I studied British women writers of the Georgian and Regency era, especially Fanny Burney. Her diaries are a detailed and riveting account of life in artistic circles and at the court of George III and, boy, did those real-life accounts ever suck me in further!
I guess what I love most about the period is that fascinating combination of glamour, glitter, and wit exemplified by London’s elite society, co-existing alongside a truly gritty and widespread underworld. The beauty and culture of the Mayfair mansions were only a few blocks away from the worst stews of London. But those worlds often intersected in a strangely democratic way in places like Covent Garden and Vauxhall. Talk about lots of opportunities for conflict, drama, and adventure!
When you throw in the danger and intrigue of the Napoleonic Wars, you have a killer combination for setting a historical romance.
Kaitlin O’Riley says:
I have always loved the Victorian era, ever since I was a little girl and wanted to wear a big hoop skirt like Scarlett O’Hara and carry a dance card tied with a ribbon. Although I’ve since realized that hoop skirts are an entirely impractical and most uncomfortable contraption, I still love the Victorian era. I tend to write stories that take place toward the later end of Queen Victoria’s reign, from about1870 to 1880, well past the fashion of the hoop skirts and more along the lines of the bustle gown.
Quite simply, the past has always intrigued me. Somehow it seems less complicated and more romantic than the present day. I know that was not always the case, but you have to admit that flickering candle light is far more romantic (and flattering!) than florescent bulbs. There were no telephones, no email, no text messaging. If you wanted to contact someone, you had to extend the effort to put pen to paper and actually wait for a response. And there’s something infinitely charming about handwritten notes. Although I am the biggest fan of electricity and air-conditioning there is, the past still calls to me. The overall slower and calmer pace of life without all the 24/7 pressure we have now seems luxurious! I also find the manners, the customs, and the fashion of the Victorian era inspiring. The idea of that era is old enough to be quaint and familiar, yet recent enough to not be ancient history, which is why I set my novels during that time.
Today we live in an era where anything goes, so it’s nice to slip back in time once in a while to when there were very strict social standards and have my characters break the rules a little. In “A Summer Love Affair,” my hero and heroine do just that…
USA Today bestselling author Sally MacKenzie writes the Naked nobility series--funny, hot Regency-set historicals--for Kensington Zebra. Her sixth Naked book, The Naked Viscount, arrived on bookstore shelves June 1, 2010, and the seventh, The Naked King, will be out in June 2011. You can reach her on the web at: www.sallymackenzie.net
Called one of the new stars of historical romance by Booklist, Vanessa Kelly writes Regencies with sizzle for Kensington Zebra. Her latest book, Sex And The Single Earl, is on shelves now. My Favorite Countess, her next Regency-set historical romance, will be released in May, 2011. You can reach her on the web at: www.vanessakellyauthor.com
Acclaimed author Kaitlin O’Riley writes historical romance for Kensington Zebra. Desire In His Eyes and Yours For Eternity, a vampire anthology with Hannah Howell and Alexandra Ivy, are her latest releases. You can reach Kaitlin on the web at: www.kaitlinoriley.com
What time period do you enjoy reading about the most? If you could go back in time, would you? If so, what time period would you choose?
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