Over on the UK Regency Authors blog today I am talking about two of the houses that are serving as inspiration for my new book (and for once I’m not talking about Ashdown House!) I love visiting the site of lost mansions. They are so evocative and inspirational and their histories provide so many ideas for a writer. To read about Coleshill House and Hamstead Marshall, visit the blog here!
I’ve now written ten thousand words of my new book, two chapters set in the present, two chapters set in the 17th century and an extract from a diary set in the 19th century. It’s the first time that I have written a parallel time or “time slip” type of book and it’s proving to be a challenge.
The first big question I came up against was whether I should write all the 17th century chapters at the same time then do all the 19th century diary entries and finally write all the contemporary chapters. Then, when I had all the component parts I could sort them into the right order and slot the story together. Aspects of this appealed to me. When I am in a seventeenth century mindset it’s difficult to stop and change to a modern one. The writing is different; different vocabulary, different construction. The characters think and speak differently. So to leap backwards and forwards across those four centuries is precisely that – a huge leap. It makes sense to write those sections of the book at the same time, to develop those characters’ stories, to write in that style.
But… writing a book isn’t as simple as assembling a series of chapters. The book changes and grows as it develops. The three time periods are intertwined. Ideas and images seeded in one chapter connect to the others. So although the story spans four centuries it is actually one whole, not three novellas. In order to write all the 17th century scenes at the same time, all the 19th century ones etc I would need to be more of a planner than I am. I would need to have each link, each development, planned out in advance, so that when I came to assemble the whole it would fit like a beautiful jigsaw. I’m not a great planner. I don’t yet know what all those connections will be. So for now at least I’m going to be travelling back and forwards through different time zones, inhabiting the roles of a 17th century queen, a 19th century courtesan and a 21st century photographer. And it’s going to be a lot of fun.
Today is launch day for the new Romantic Novelists’ Association anthology Truly, Madly, Deeply. With a selection of short stories from across the romance genre it has something wonderful for every reader!
I’m blogging about the background to my Regency short story, The Marriage Bargain, over on the Word Wench blog and offering a copy of the anthology to one commenter. Come and join us for a chat about your favourite places to visit and stay. The link is here!
Congratulations to all the contributors to Truly, Madly, Deeply and many, many thanks to the RNA and to Sue Moorcroft, the editor, and to Mills & Boon!
Today it is my very great pleasure to interview author Christina Courtenay on the Word Wench blog. Christina is talking about her latest book, The Secret Kiss of Darkness, and we are chatting about history, writing, and all things romantic! Come and join us for some time slip talk and a giveaway!
Last weekend I was in Dorset and dropped by for a look at two historic buildings that once belonged to the Bankes family. The first was Corfe Castle. Sir John Bankes bought Corfe in 1632. Even then it was hundreds of years old. There had been a Saxon hall at Corfe, the site of the murder of King Edward in 978 AD. During the following centuries the castle was a royal residence as well as a military garrison.
During the English Civil War Corfe was held for King Charles I by the Bankes family. It was besieged twice by the Parliamentarians and finally fell in 1646 through the treachery of one of the garrison who let the enemy in. It was then that Corfe was blown up and left as the ruin you see today.
Despite being on the losing side during the Civil War, the Bankes family survived to have their estates restored to the when Charles II became king. Between 1663 and 1665 they built a grand house on their estate at Kingston Lacy to replace Corfe. Kingston Lacy may look familiar to those of you who have seen my many pictures of Ashdown House. It was built by Sir Roger Pratt at exactly the same time and in the same style as Ashdown. John Webb worked on the interior. Some historians attribute Ashdown to Webb although it is far more likely that Ashdown was the work of William Winde.
What fascinates me is the contrast between Corfe and Kingston Lacy. Until the mid 17th century the Bankes family had an old medieval building as their family seat, a castle specifically designed for warfare. The Civil War, whilst devastating in its consequences, gave them the opportunity to built a fashionable mansion with no pretensions to a military purpose.
Over the last couple of weeks I’ve been having strange dreams. In one there was a crowd of people waiting to watch me walk a tightrope across a canyon. In another I was supposed to be Dj-ing in a club. In a third I was arranging a competition for racing pigeons (yes, really.) I don’t know how to do any of those things and at least two of them terrify me. But I did wonder if my dreams were trying to tell me something.
When I sat down at my desk to plan my new book I felt scared. I had doubts. Fears. Maybe deep down I was thinking “I don’t know how to do this.” A book that intertwines three different time periods is completely new to me. Plus I feel as though I have slipped my moorings, like a balloon sailing off into the blue sky; I could go anywhere, do anything, and it’s very exciting but do I really know what to do? For years I’ve told myself that this is the book of my heart. Now I have called my own bluff because the time has come to write it.
I’d planned to give myself lots of time before I started, time to read and research and think. Then I remembered that I’m not a planner. I never have been; I just don’t write that way. I wish I did but I believe when it comes to writing you find your own process. There’s no right or wrong way. And mine has always been to dive straight into the story and see what happens. Sitting and thinking about it was actually making me more nervous.
So even though I didn’t really know where I was going I jumped straight in and wrote the first chapter. I guess it’s similar with any new project. You just have to take the plunge and see what happens. And at least I’ve stopped dreaming about tightropes and pigeons.
Today on the Word Wench blog I am talking about one of my traditional Regencies, Miss Verey’s Proposal, and the ancient legend that inspired it. I love writing stories that incorporate old traditions and customs and I’m asking readers what sort of themes and traditions they enjoy reading about. Come and chat with us on the Word Wenches!
First, news of a new short story! I am thrilled to be part of the Romantic Novelists’ Association anthology, Truly Madly Deeply, a collection of short stories that will be published this spring in both digital and print edition. The first RNA anthology, Loves Me, Loves Me Not, was a huge success and featured a variety of stories across the whole romantic spectrum. This book is equally exciting and varied with contemporary, historical and paranormal short stories.
My own story, The Marriage Bargain, is a Regency-set tale that I’ve wanted to tell for a long time. Years ago my then editor commented that one of the most difficult ideas to present in a new and fresh way was the story of the hero or heroine who finds themselves in the wrong bed. Naturally I saw this as a challenge and was determined to write a short story with that very theme. Here is a little bit about The Marriage Bargain:
Justin and Paullina Blake made a marriage of convenience and parted on their wedding day. Can a romantic encounter in a Bath hotel save a marriage that had seemed over before it had barely begun?
I’ll be posting up a cover, extract and more details soon! The anthology also contains a story by fabulous Regency author Louise Allen.
Now to the big news…
Claimed By the Laird, book 3 in my Scottish Brides series, will be out in August 2014. It is my last book for HQN Books and also my last Regency historical for a little while. This has been a very difficult decision to make. Mills & Boon published my first Regency, True Colours, back in 1998 and since then I have written more than forty historical romances in the form of full-length books and short stories. I love the Regency period. I will always love it. Along the way I have also written a couple of books set in other eras but the Regency has always been special to me. So has Harlequin; they gave me my big chance to be a professional writer and when I wanted to spread my wings they offered me the opportunity to write bigger stories for HQN Books. When I came up with ideas for unusual settings within the Regency time frame, such as the Arctic background for Whisper of Scandal, they were right behind my suggestions. When I wanted to bring in some of the more obscure elements of my historical research, such as the London Beer Flood in Mistress by Midnight, they encouraged me. So did my readers, who have been completely wonderful over the years, writing to tell me when they have enjoyed my books and to chat about writing and history and lots of other things as well.
Now, though, I’d like to try my hand at something a little bit different. I say a little bit different because I will still be writing novels that are both historical and romantic. I’m planning a book set in three different time periods, the present, the 19th century and the 17th century. The story threads will be intertwined; a mystery that starts during the English Civil War will be continued in the Regency period and resolved in the present. I can’t wait to get started! It’s exciting and daunting as well; exciting to be trying something a bit different, daunting because I have never written a book like this before. I will be blogging about my experience of doing something new and also about the research I uncover along the way.
For Regency fans, there are some new short stories in the works and I will let you know details as soon as they are sorted out. I’m not abandoning the Regency, of course. I enjoy it far too much for that! This new book has a Regency thread to it and I have other plans for Regency historical romance in the future. But right now I’m immersing myself in the 17th century. Please wish me luck, and if you would like to follow how the new project is going and to read about my books and research, join me here on the blog. Thank you!
The blog has had a revamp and it is lovely to be able to relaunch it with the news of the most recent prizewinner, Caroline, in the UK, who has won the Men in Kilts calendar and a copy of The Lady and the Laird and One Night with the Laird. Congratulations, Caroline! This month’s contest is offering a set of the award-winning Brides of Fortune trilogy. Check out the contest here.
I’ll be announcing some big news for 2014 shortly – please stay tuned!
Over on the Word Wench Blog today I am sharing some more of my research into Gretna Green and elopement. Do you have a favourite elopement story? Click here to share it with us at the Wenches!