27 December 2009

Guest Authors: Jan Scarbrough and Magdalena Scott

This week on Unusual Historicals, we're welcoming authors Jan Scarbrough and Magdalena Scott as they celebrate the release of Three Decades of Love, A Legend Christmas Anthology. Here are the blurbs:

"The Christmas Heart" by Janet Eaves
Christmas, 1944: Mary Ellen Chambers has learned to appreciate simple comforts in the midst of war coffee rations, her job at the factory and the upcoming Christmas season in Legend, Tennessee. She's already lost one sweetheart to the war, and the last thing she wants is to get involved with another soldier. Could Captain Austin Watkins be the best Christmas gift she's ever received?

"A Groovy Christmas" by Jan Scarbrough
Christmas, 1968: A year where women are burning bras and men are burning draft cards. Can Kathleen Fields and Grant Winchester, from feuding families like the Hatfield's and the McCoy's, reconcile their differences and find love in Legend, Tennessee?

"Under the Mistletoe" by Magdalena Scott
Christmas, 1975: Dorothy Robbins is working hard to build up her Leaving Legend Fund. Charles McClain escaped the small town life years ago, but is home for the holidays. No way will either of them stay in Legend, Tennessee, and no way will a brief fling turn into something complicated...like love.

Note: Available as individual novellas: "The Christmas Heart," "A Groovy Christmas," and "Under the Mistletoe."


Can you tell us more about your 'Ladies of Legend' series?

We came up with the idea of Legend, Tennessee during back-and-forth chatter over e-mail. As critique partners, we already worked together on story ideas. Making up a fantasy community was a natural outcome. These stories come from that original idea. You can learn more about it at our Legend website.

Why did you decide to move away from your original 'Ladies of Legend' books?

We haven't completely. We still write romances with contemporary settings. However, we wrote our first Christmas anthology last year, A LEGENDARY CHRISTMAS. This year we wanted to do something different when our publisher asked for another Christmas book.

Magdalena, why did you pick 1975?

Seems to me, when we were choosing decades, I had the option of the 1950s or 1970s. At least I remember the 1970s! I thought it would be fun pulling recollections from my high school years to create some of the ambiance.

Why choose 1968, Jan?

Like Magdalena, I remembered the year well. It was pivotal for me because I graduated high school and went to college. I was in Washington DC with my band when Martin Luther King was killed. I traveled overseas for the first time and had my first kiss.

How hard was it to write a historical? Jan?

I've written a medieval and this was totally different, because I remembered the year. However, I did research 1968 to refresh my memory. I learned that 1968 was a tough year all around for many people--two national deaths, riots, a presidential election. The year ended with a bit of hope, astronauts flying around the moon and speaking to the American people on Christmas Eve. I tried to put the flavor of the times into my novella.


Well, since it is 1975, the worst part was afterward, when I realized OMIGOSH, this is set when I was a teenager, and it's an historical! Ouch! But the actual writing wasn't difficult, since I wasn't required to do what I would consider research. Between my memory, friends' memories, and Wikipedia, it came together rather easily.

Historicals are usually considered pre-20th Century, but the Depression and World War III are coming into their own as historical romance topics. Did you worry that 1968 and 1975 are too contemporary, Magdalena?

As I indicated earlier, for my own ego, I'd like to think of 1975 as contemporary, but there are masses of romance readers out there for whom 1975 probably seems like ancient history. They don't remember that we were in a recession then, that gas prices were high, that war veterans were coming home and trying to deal with their own set of problems in the midst of all that. There are a lot of similarities between what people were going through then and now. I think that's one of the things I like best about historicals. No matter the year, people and problems don't change that much.

Do you plan another Christmas anthology next year?

Yes! Right now it looks as if we'll all do follow-up stories to this year's. Our publisher and editors are wonderful, and so very supportive of the Legend series.


Thanks for stopping by, ladies!

If you'd like to win a copy of THREE DECADES OF LOVE, leave a comment or question for Jan and Magdalena. In particular, we'd like to know what you think of historicals set in the 50s, 60s, and 70s. Are these setting historical enough or too contemporary for your tastes? I'll draw a winner at random next Sunday. Void where prohibited. Best of luck, and happy holidays!