Talking About Unusual Historicals!

Sometimes here at Risky Regencies we like to talk about some Risky Non-Regencies, as well! Historical romance settings that are maybe a bit out of the mainstream, a bit harder to find, but well-worth the search. Today, Amanda will start off this Unusual Historicals discussion, and tomorrow two Harlequin Historicals authors, Michelle Styles and Michelle Willingham, will join us. Two lucky commenters this weekend will win autographed copies of either Michelle S’s Viking Warrior, Unwilling Wife or Michelle W’s Her Warrior Slave

Pirates, passion, and danger on the high seas!
Balthazar Grattiano, captain of the infamous ship Calypso and renowned seducer of women, has just walked into the one tavern in all of Hispaniola he should have avoided. For Bianca Simonetti, his sworn enemy, is the owner–and she has vengeance on her mind…

But before she can take her revenge, she is captured by this rogue’s kiss. Her only chance for retribution is to stow away on his ship for a passionate adventure that will either kill them–or bring them together once and for all!

“Smell the salt spray, feel the deck beneath your feet, and hoist the Jolly Roger as McCabe takes you on an entertaining, romantic ride!” –RT

So, Amanda! 🙂 Tell us what historical periods are the settings for your books? And what are some settings that interest you?

So far, I’ve written books with Regency settings, as well as the Renaissance (1520s Venice, the Court of Henry VIII, and the Spanish Caribbean in the 1530s, as well as a WIP set in Elizabethan England). And I will have a trilogy come out in (tentatively) 2010 from Grand Central Publishing, set in Ireland around the 1798 Rebellion.

As for settings that interest me–hmmm, where to start! I love 18th century France (both pre and during the Revolution), the English Civil War, 19th century Russia…

What draws you to “unusual” historicals? What are some advantages/disadvantages?

General history geek-dom is what draws me in, I think! I find the way people lived in the past, how they are different from us and yet also fundamentally the same, fascinating. I’ve always wondered–what would it be like to defend a castle from Cromwell’s army (as Lady Derby did in 1644), or dance at Almack’s, or sail the Atlantic in a carrack? The research and writing of these stories lets me do that, and helps me prevent “writer burn-out”. I’m never bored, or short of “what-if” ideas! Plus so many of these time periods have such great clothes.

One drawback is a smaller market, I think. Settings like the Regency or the American West can feel more iconic and “familiar”, maybe, easier to slip into the fantasy. (Though I have to say “unusual historicals” don’t necessarily have to also have an unusual setting. Writers like our own Risky Diane Gaston can bring in aspects of Regency life that aren’t so widely known or often seen in romance fiction! I’m always learning new things from her books)

Another drawback can sometimes be a shortage of useful research material. For some settings, like Elizabethan England, there is no lack at all! But I had more of a challenge with the early Spanish Caribbean. Hooray for inter-library loan!

Which leads me to…

Tell us about your research material! What are some favorite sources?

Like I said, I luv libraries! The people at my local public library are wonderful–they’re always asking me what I’m researching now and giving me great suggestions. I’ve also found a fun resource in online groups of reenactors and scholars (which can also work great for promo! I actually did a booksigning at a Renaissance faire last year, and had a fabulous time).

Travel is a great help, too. To see where the stories are set adds such a richness in my mind! After seeing Versailles, I’m determined to write a story set there! That’s not always feasible, though–sometimes I can only afford a book, LOL. And sometimes the places are simply no longer the same (like the Caribbean–huge difference between 2008 and 1535. Though it was tempting to claim I needed to research beaches and Mai Tais…)

What are some unusual historicals you would recommend to readers?

Michelle Willingham and Michelle Styles both do wonderful books with richly-drawn settings! I also enjoyed Hope Tarr’s book Enslaved. And Claire Thornton’s Restoration-set trilogy, and Mary Reed McCall’s Templar’s Seduction are all great romance choices! (I’m sure I will think of 50 others as soon as I finish this blog)

In historical fiction, I recently read Elizabeth Robards’ With Violets (about Berthe Morisot) and Christie Dickason’s Firemaster’s Mistress (about the Gunpowder Plot).

And I grew up on Victoria Holt books, as well as Barbara Cartlands that had a variety of settings–this was what got me started on reading non-fiction, wanting to know the story-behind-the-story of these novels.

What’s next for you?

I’m finishing up the Elizabethan story (set during the Christmas season of 1564, when the Thames froze through and there was a Frost Fair), the Ireland books, and possibly some stories set around the Elizabethan theater and the Court of Marie Antoinette. In May, there will also be my anthology with Diane and Deb Marlowe, The Diamonds of Welbourne Manor, about the Fitzmanning family–a very “unusual” family indeed! And in 2010, look for the US release of my Regency “Muses of Mayfair” trilogy with Harlequin Historicals.

Now it’s your turn! What are some interesting books you’ve read lately? Any settings you’d love to see out there? Any you’d like not to see???

About Amanda McCabe/Laurel McKee

Writer (as Amanda McCabe, Laurel McKee, Amanda Carmack), history geek, yoga enthusiast, pet owner!
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