Thursday, September 16, 2010

Why I read Historical Romance by Michelle Styles

I will be the first to admit it. I love historical romance. It is my favourite genre and has been for a very long time. I first cut my teeth on Victoria Holt, Georgette Heyer and Barbara Michaels aka Elizabeth Peters. My earliest literary crush was on Rab from Esther Forbes Johnny Tremain. I wept buckets when he died. Sir Percy Blakeney in the Scarlet Pimpernel beat all the boys I knew hands down when I was *forced* to read him in 8th grade English. So it went. Then when I discovered Johanna Lindsey, Jennifer Blake and La Vryle Spencer, the deal was totally sealed.

I suppose it was inevitable that I became a historical novelist. I love history and want others to develop a love of history. I started off trying to write contemporary and hoped that some day I could write historical. The HMB editor I was working with suggested that I might be really good at writing ancient historical and the rest as they say is history. Thankfully the editors have agreed to indulge my love of history and let me write in different time periods.

A historical romance can be a way into history. But the primary reason I read historical is to escape into another world. They are fun page turning reads.

In a good historical read, no prior knowledge of the period is required. Just as you don’t have to know how the police run an investigation to enjoy romantic suspense or how corporate finance works to enjoy an office romance, you don’t have to know history to enjoy historical romance. Sometimes when I want to know about a new period or place, I read historical romance. Historical romance is also a broad church. Lots of periods, settings and story types. From romantic suspense to straight romance. From super sexy to sweet and every flavour in between.

As you can see from other blogs on the Harlequin Historical blog, the authors take their research very seriously. Actually for me, research is not a hard slog but the fun bit. Recently I’ve had to reread about Lord Hardwicke’s Marriage Act, and in pursuit of knowing more have read the earliest English travel guide to Egypt. Along the way I have also read about two bible hunting sisters from Glasgow whose adventure you couldn’t make up and how Florence Nightengale and Gustav Flaubert before they began their life’s work were both on the Nile in the winter of 1849 and how the experience shaped their lives. But the research only underpins the story. It is the growing relationship between the two main characters that drives the story. The history adds the flavouring. Of the research I do, maybe 10% gets in the book.

So what got you into reading historical? And if you haven’t tried one recently, why not?

Michelle Styles is the author of over 16 Historical Romances for Harlequin Mills & Boon Historical. Her next release in the UK will be The Viking's Captive Princess (Dec 10) and in US, A Question of Impropriety (Dec 10). She will also have an Online reading on e-harlequin starting 15 Nov. You can read more about her books on her website.

Wednesday, September 15, 2010

Hougoumont and Chivalrous Captain, Rebel Mistress

Diane Gaston here. In Chivalrous Captain, Rebel Mistress, my September release, Captain Allan Landon rescues Marian Pallant as the Battle of Waterloo is about to commence. He takes her to Hougoumont farm for safe keeping. It is rather like taking her from the frying pan into the fire.

Hougoumont was pivotal in the battle. It was essential to Wellington that the Hougoumont farm not be taken by the French, leaving Wellington’s entire right flank unprotected. British Foot Guards, a Netherlands Nassau battalion and German soldiers defended the walled in group of farm buildings. The Waterloo battle began with an attack on Hougoumont and the fighting there lasted all day. Before the battle was over Prince Jerome, Napoleon’s brother, had sent over 15,000 troops to the attack Hougoumont. Throughout it all, the Allies held.

One of the most enjoyable parts of writing historical romance is trying to fit the real history into the story. It is fun to insert real people into the story, like Colonel MacDonnell commanding Hougoumont’s defense. Or the huge ax-wielding French soldier who is one of the few enemy to break through the gates. When Marian helps to push the gates to Hougoumont closed, she is participating in a real event. When Allan looks out from where his Royal Scots regiment is fighting and sees the Hougoumont chateau burning, the timing was as exact as I could get it.

After the battle, Wellington said, “The success of the Battle of Waterloo turned on the closing of the gates (at Hougoumont).” It was my pleasure to place my characters exactly at that important event, that pivotal place in history.

Chivalrous Captain, Rebel Mistress is available for sale, both the paperback and the ebook. It is book #2 of my Three Soldiers Series, following Gallant Officer, Forbidden Lady. Next is Gabriel’s story. I’ll announce that book title and release date as soon as they are set.

I’ll be posting on this blog every third Wednesday of the month. For more from me, see my Risky Regencies blog every Monday or my Diane’s Blog every Thursday.

And now a question. Do you like to see real historical events threaded in to historical romances or are you content to have your historical built entirely on fictitious events?

*This blog also appears every third Wednesday on eHarlquin's Harlequin Historical Blog.

Wednesday, September 08, 2010

A fun little news article

Just wanted to share that the local paper in my neck of the woods, the Pierce County Herald, did a nice feature on me this week. I've included the link below for anyone who wants to check it out. They got most of it righ, although some of the numbers are a bit off in places (like the contract wasn't for 5 books, it was for 3 and an undone or maybe two.) But we'll live with that.