14 November 2010

Guest Author: Kristi Astor

This week on Unusual Historicals we're welcoming Zebra author Kristi Astor as she takes us to the Edwardian era with her latest release, A MIDNIGHT CLEAR, set in England in 1909. Here's the blurb:

He Was Her Forbidden Fantasy...

Miranda Granger arrives at the spectacular seaside resort The Grandview Hotel to spend the Christmas holidays, hoping it will be just the tonic she needs to forget her scandalous past. But when she crosses paths with Troy Davenport, the alluring stranger she met aboard an ocean liner, Miranda fears she will repeat the mistake that almost ruined her reputation many years ago.

She Was His Greatest Muse...

Troy Davenport has been struggling to paint the stunning woman he encountered by moonlight on the ship's deck. If only he could meet his muse again. When he learns she's staying at The Grandview, it takes a great deal of convincing to let him paint her. But once he begins he realizes he wants more than to capture her unique beauty on canvas. When they surrender to an all-consuming passion, Troy's past threatens to tear them apart--unless a Christmas miracle can save their love...

"Kristi Astor transports you to a sensual past filled with intense and passionate characters. Put her on your 'must read' list today!" ~ USA Today bestselling author, Sally MacKenzie

"...An elegantly written, richly sensual historical romance with a fascinating, refreshingly different Edwardian setting." ~ ALA Booklist


Your first four books, written as Kristina Cook, were all set in the Regency period, whereas A MIDNIGHT CLEAR, written as Kristi Astor, is set in the Edwardian era--why the change?

Honestly, I got tired of the Regency period and wanted to do something different. I've always been particularly fascinated with the Edwardian era--I'm a huge fan of E.M. Forster's novels (especially A Room with a View and Howard's End), and the movie Somewhere in Time with Jane Seymour and Christopher Reeve is one of my guilty pleasures. The period is marked by such elegance and glamour, and it seemed like a perfect fit for romance. I was almost afraid to broach the change with my editor, but she was very enthusiastic, right from the get-go!

How does the Edwardian era differ from the Regency era?

Well, first and foremost are the obvious things like clothing--suits that resemble more modern three-piece ensembles were in vogue for men, along with bowler hats and Norfolk tweed coats, and women's fashions changed rather dramatically from the bustle skirts and mutton-chop sleeves that were popular during the Victorian age. For the well-dressed Edwardian woman, think less structured gowns instead, in softer fabrics and colors, paired with enormous hats and strings of pearls. Fashionable women also had a full range of clothing designed especially for cycling, golfing, motoring, and playing tennis.

There were also drastic changes in technology, with things like motorcars, electric lights, and telephones becoming part of everyday life, as well as other modern conveniences.

And yet despite all this change, a lot stayed the same, particularly for women of the upper classes who were still often educated at home, and then perhaps sent off to finishing school. Their primary goal remained to marry well, bear children, and serve as hostesses--and not much more.

Have you encountered any particular challenges writing about the Edwardian era?

The biggest challenge for me as a writer is that, in my mind, World War I is looming off on the horizon, just past my characters' happy endings. I’m always very aware of this fact, particularly as I'm writing my heroes. Maybe this is one reason that not a lot of romance fiction is set during the era? I don't know. But in my head, I'm always trying to come to terms with it. In my first Edwardian-set novella, "Swept Away" in LORDS OF DESIRE, I actually went so far as to give my hero a limp, thinking that maybe it would keep him out the army during his post-book life. Yes, I know he's a fictional character...but still!

Troy Davenport, the hero of A MIDNIGHT CLEAR, is American rather than British. Since something like 885,000 British soldiers died in WWI compared to approximately 115,000 American soldiers, I figured that gave him better odds.


Thanks for stopping by today, Kristi! Readers, what do you think about the Edwardian Era? Are you a huge fan, like I am, of A Room with a View and that nearly-modern glamor? Or does the looming shadow of WWI and the vast changes of the 20th century put you off. We're curious! Leave a comment or question for Kristi for your chance to win a copy of A MIDNIGHT CLEAR. I'll draw the winner at random next Sunday. Void where prohibited. Best of luck!