09 December 2006

It's Great To Be Here!

Thank you, Carrie, for the invitation! I'm so happy to be here.

By way of introduction, I write historical romances that vary in setting. While my latest WIP is set in 1870s Mongolia, I like to think that the definition of "unusual historicals" can mean books that are set in England, but with a twist on the usual spying duke and spirited bluestocking that has become so prevalent. My characters often come from varied backgrounds and have unique professions, so that what had been a familiar setting is now made fresh.

For example, Sophie, the heroine in my latest book, Love In a Bottle, is a botanist in a time when women did not seriously pursue careers in the sciences. Botany for women was usually limited to dabbling in gardening and a genteel interest in the field, but not as a profession. But Sophie is very dedicated to her science. The hero is a mountebank, which is a person who sells quack medicines from a portable stage. In the case of my hero, Ian, he sells a potion with the promise of "love in a bottle" throughout the English countryside. He is also a traveler, having been to the Near East and India. So all of his international experiences are used in the creation of his potion. This book is set in the 18th century, one of my absolute favorite time periods.

In Lady X's Cowboy, the setting is Victorian London, and, yes, the heroine, Olivia, is a lady, but through wealth, not rank. She also isn't a typical society widow. Instead, Olivia owns and runs a successful brewery. The hero, Will, is a real Colorado cowboy who has traveled to England to find the family he never knew.

So I feel that what can make a book unusual or different is all a matter of perspective. I love taking something we're all well-acquainted with, and finding a new way of approaching it. That's part of the fun and challenge of writing romances.

Thanks again for having me on the board! I'd love to hear your opinions about what constitues "unusual" when you read, and write, romance.


Anonymous said...

Hmm...unusual to me in romance? The plethora of dukes, rakes, bluestockings, and spies running around Regency England. *GGG* I just want good characters and a convincing love story, and it's disappointing that the so-called setting is more important than the actual love story these days.

carrie_lofty said...

You're right, Cam -- if the historical romance genre determined history, London would have a been a very different place. Like a latter-day Sodom and Gomorrah, except with lots of monogamous marriages and dead villains at the end.

However, I do find setting very important. The conventions of romance can be so repetitive that even any variation -- the man is self-made rather than well-born or, heaven forbid, she's not gasping in orgasm when she loses her virginity -- I sit up and take notice. However, because my free time is so limited and I have little opportunity to appreciate the nuance between countless Regency variations, I go big. I look for significant plot differences, (relatively) unique settings, and time periods that interest me. Whether the story or characters prove as interesting as the concept -- well, that's taking a chance on my part. But I find the process of looking, finding, and experiencing these new things much of the fun.

As for writing, I did American history for my master's degree, and for about the first 12 years of my interest in history. When I discovered a world of research waiting for me outside of the boundaries of the USA, I went nuts and wanted to learn it all. I will eventually, using my books as an excuse to remain a perpetual student! :)

Thanks for stopping by, Cam.

Vicki Gaia said...

I agree that I need to love the characters first. I also like to read stories set in the 'typical' historical settings if the hero/heroine grab my attention and I can root for them.

Zoe Archer said...

I definitely agree. First and foremost is character. That's what holds me to a story, regardless of setting or other external factors. But, I figure, if I'm living out a bit of wish fulfilment, why not take it that extra step and go somewhere beyond my familiar boundaries.