Back to Top

Tag Archives: india

I’ve been enjoying my research into India during the Regency for Wolfe’s story (Wolfe of the Ternion in The Marriage Bargain). The story will begin in India, assuming Warner’s approval of my next idea, but will mostly take place in England.

I’ve discovered some interesting things about the English in India. In the early years of the East India Company it was not uncommon for the English company men to adopt a native lifestyle, native dress, taking Indian wives. Such men were tolerated in the early years and not much was made about them, but later, closer to our time period, adopting native habits was beginning to be frowned upon or looked upon with suspicion. Typically, by the Victorian age, it was not tolerated at all, given the certain belief that the British were superior in all ways.

I’m reading White Mughals: Love and Betrayal in Eighteenth Century India by William Dalrymple, which tells the story of James Achilles Kirkpatrick, a Colonel and an Ambassador, who married Khairunnissa, the daughter of an Indian noble family. Kirkpatrick converted to Islam to marry her and—according to a web article—spied for the Nizam against the British. The marriage was a happy but brief one, lasting only four years. The couple produced two children who were sent to England. Shortly after, Kirkpatrick unexpectedly died. It was 1805. Their mother never saw them again. She was soon seduced by Kirkpatrick’s assistant and kept as his mistress until she died a few years later at age 27.

At the time of Kirkpatrick’s marriage, one of the British who expressed concern over Kirkpatrick’s allegiance to Britain was Colonel Arthur Wellesley, in India after vanquishing the Tipu Sultan.

In the book Original Letters from India by Eliza Fay there are interesting details about life in India, but also a great amount of detail about her travel to India. Across the Suez, her caravan was attacked. And later, finally in India, the ship was boarded by the local Indian governor’s soldiers and Eliza, her husband, and the other passengers and crew were taken prisoner. She hid their watches and other small treasures in her hair.


I may have mentioned recently finishing Warner book #3, untitled and awaiting a publication date. This is Blake’s story, one of the hero’s friends in The Marriage Bargain. Right when I was tearing out my hair and gnashing my teeth to finish Blake’s story, my copy edits came for Innocence & Impropriety, the story of Rose from A Reputable Rake. I finished those in a record (for me) two days, then had to jump in to the next Mills & Boon, following a character from Innocence & Impropriety. That done, I decided I ought to plot the next Warner book, too, because I’m going to NYC to see my editor this coming Friday (and to see Phantom of the Opera on Broadway and Beowulf & Grendel in the movie theatre). The next Warner book is Wolfe’s story.

I like to start my books off with something really exciting, a task that gets harder and harder to do, but sometimes turns out to spark ideas for the rest of the plot. I may also have mentioned that story ideas do not exactly flood my brain and keep me awake at night.

For my big bang openings for Harlequin/Mills & Boon I’ve done lovemaking in a gaming hell (hee hee, pardon the pun), a Gretna Green wedding, and an attack in Hyde Park. This time I decided it would be nice to put my hero and heroine in a shipwreck. So I did my usual thing and bought as many books on shipwrecks that I could find and afford.

I bought Shipwrecks of the Revolutionary & Napoleonic Eras by Terence Grocott (1197 Stackpole Books), and Life Before the Mast by Jon E. Lewis, ed.(2001, Castle Books). I already owned A Sea of Words by Dean King (1997, Henry Holt and Co., Inc). And, of course, I tore through whatever I could find on the internet. The shipwreck scene was a lot of fun to write and I hope it comes off sounding real. I also hope my editor approves the story, because now I am dying to write it.

For Warner my big openings have included childbirth, a duel in which the hero is slain, and a tryst with a mysterious French thief (Blake’s story), but I need something very exotic for Wolfe.
I want to begin Wolfe’s story in India, where he will travel to learn about his Indian roots–he’s one quarter Indian and his father is (gasp) in Trade. I’d already collected some books to help: The East India Company by Antony Wild (1999, Harper Collins); Begums, Thugs & White Mughals, the Journals of Fanny Parkes (2002, Eland Publishing); White Mughals: Love & Betrayal in Eighteenth Century India by William Dalrymple (2002, Penquin Books). I found Original Letters from India by Eliza Fay, EM Forster, ed, (1986, Hogarth Press) when I was in Alabama for my High School reunion, and I just bought Raj: The Making and Unmaking of British India by Lawrence James (1997, St. Martins Press). But none of these books were giving me my huge opening.

Scouring the internet about India in the nineteenth century, I came across several first hand accounts of sati (or suttee, as it is sometimes spelled), the practice of a wife throwing herself on the funeral pyre of her deceased husband and burning alive. Now that will make a bang up opening! The heroine being forced into the flames when the hero rides to the rescue, snatching her from the consuming fire. I hope my editor loves the idea, because I really am itching to write that scene!

Now, I don’t want you to think I will actually read all of the books I mentioned above. I must keep up my reputation as the world’s worst read romance author. I do read bits of the books, though, unless one really captures my interest and I read every word. I read enough to tell me if my story idea will work and to give me enough knowledge of the topic to at least take a stab at writing it. Then as I write, I go back to the books and the internet and research whatever I need to at that moment. This may not be the most efficient way to do it, but it has worked for me so far.

I keep all my notes on the computer. I copy information from the internet. I might even summarize something from a book. I don’t make a collage for the story, but I do have a page I always call “Names” where I put down the facts and backstory for the main characters. I find a photo to use for my hero and heroine. Quite by accident, the photo I chose for the hero of this next Mills & Boon was one of Gerard Butler, chosen before I became one of the converted and actually knew who he was. For the heroine, I chose Jennifer Connelly, because she looks vulnerable but has strength underneath. For the Warner book, Wolfe is an actor named Adrian Green and the heroine is a beautiful Indian actress named Bridget Monynahan. But forget these images if you prefer to visualize on your own. The books will not be out until 2007 so you have lots of time to forget.

I don’t know when I’ll get the go ahead for the Mills & Boon but I expect to find out about the Warner book and Wolfe this Friday. If my editor doesn’t like it, at least I’ll still get to feast my eyes on another fictional character that night – Beowulf, played by Gerard Butler!

I’ll let you know how it goes next week.

A great big Risky welcome today to debut author Lori Brighton who will give away two signed copies of her book today! Your comment or question enter you into the drawing.

Like a breath of fresh, rain-washed air after a thunderstorm, Wild Heart awakens the senses and speeds up the heart rate…. A great read! Long and Short Romance Reviews

Lori, tell us the story behind the story: what inspired this book?

This is going to sound odd, but the Disney Cartoon Tarzan. My son was watching the movie a few years back. Around the same time, I saw a documentary on Discovery or some equally educational channel about feral children. I’d seen them both rather close together and thought, hmm, what it would it be like if my hero had been lost in the wild during his childhood? I also tend to like more alpha males and you couldn’t get a male more alpha than one who had survived on his own in a foreign country.

How easy did you find it to build paranormal elements into your setting and what makes your paranormal elements stand out?

I didn’t set out to make it paranormal but it just kept bugging me, insisting to be let in. I’ve had reviewers say that the paranormal element is subtle and blends well, which is exactly what I wanted.

Leo, the hero, lived a sort of animalistic life in the wilds of India. At first Ella, my heroine, was merely going to be an animal lover, but then I realized, why not make it paranormal? What if Ella had powers to control and sense the feeling of animals? Since Leo is more animalistic than most humans, she would be able to sense his emotions. I thought it would make the story more unique and connect Leo and Ella in a way they wouldn’t have been.

I’ve started calling the book “Heroes set in the Victorian Era.”

Did you discover anything particularly unusual in your research that you’d like to share?

Hmmm, I wrote the book such a long time ago, it’s hard to remember! I’ve had to do a lot of research into the Indian culture and history for this first book and even more so for the second book. So the entire culture as a whole was interesting and new to me.

As for Wild Heart, the one thing that sticks out was how hard it was to take away a person’s title. Leo’s cousin is out to get Leo’s rightful title and the fortune that come with it. The problem was how to get that title from Leo without having him die. Come to find out, it was pretty much impossible to get a title taken away from someone, even if they’d done horrible things. The closest I came was my understanding that if someone was insane, a board might be appointed to take on the responsibilities.

Whom did you identify with most closely when you wrote this book–your hero or your heroine? Why?

Leo, my hero, is very alpha, very blunt very much a left brain sort of man and so very different from me. But I’ve also thrown in some unique qualities to soften him, such as his love of art. Art is definitely something I’ve always enjoyed.

But overall, Ella is more like me. I think in most instances the author associates with the same sex character. Not always, but in most instances. And so far I associate more with my heroines than heroes. Ella loves nature and travel, like me. And like most women, Ella is caring, often at the expense of herself.

What drew you to the Victorian era?

I’ve always loved the Victorian era, probably because it’s the era most noticeable in the United States, especially the Midwest where I grew up. Big, old Victorian homes and those gorgeous dresses and ornate furniture. It was a very elegant time period, but also an era when people were expanding on their knowledge and environment. It was a big era of travel, antiquities and natural science. It’s also the first time period in which you have women leaving the home to work, so in that way there’s more freedom. Everything about it intrigues me.

And as I said in another interview—corsets and tight riding breeches, can’t get much sexier than that!

(Mmmm. Ahem.) Is there anything about the Victorian era you don’t like or that you have trouble incorporating in your writing?

The truth about general hygiene at the time would certainly take the romance away from the story. So it’s always nice to leave out the fact that they probably only took a bath once a week. Let’s not even discuss women and their lack of shaving their legs and underarms. And can you imagine dental hygiene? Have I ruined it for you yet, because I can keep going…lol.

I think one of the most interesting aspects of the Victorian era is the fact that women were suddenly working outside the home, you have a rise of the middle class. There’s a lack of romances novels that focus upon these working women and the long hours and horrible jobs they had to do just to survive. Perhaps that will be my next heroine!

What is there in Wild Heart that you consider risky? (the Risky question!)

Definitely having the paranormal element is a little risky. I’ve tried combining two of the most popular genres- historical and paranormal. I know most readers want either straight historical, or straight paranormal but I had to take that risk because it felt right and I’m hoping it worked, that lovers of both genres will give their nod of approval.

As for the story itself…there’s also a rather risky scene in a Greek folly and then later in a carriage…but I won’t go into detail 😉

What’s next for you?

I have ideas for three new series that I can’t wait to get started on! The problem is deciding which to start first.

As for the next book that will be released, it will be a spin off of Wild Heart. The book isn’t titled yet but it will be out near the beginning of 2011 and will feature a secondary character from Wild Heart as the hero. It takes place in India; it’s very much an action adventure and still contains that paranormal and romance. I’m really excited about it.

Lori will drop by today to chat more about her book, the naughty Victorians, and paranormal romance, so please ask away and your comment or question will enter you into the drawing for a prize.

I have a confession to make. With the Sharpe series, I broke my own rule about reading the book before seeing the film adaptation. I started out by reading SHARPE’S RIFLES, saw the film and then just continued watching the series. Just couldn’t help myself, I guess! 🙂

Now I’m making reparation by reading all the books, starting with the earliest. I just finished the first three which are set in India: SHARPE’S TIGER, SHARPE’S TRIUMPH and SHARPE’S FORTRESS. I just loved these books. I find the military history fascinating and Cornwell does a brilliant job recreating scenes I’d read about in WELLINGTON IN INDIA by Jac Weller. But most of all I love the character development. Sharpe starts out as an ex-thief, pretty much a knuckle-dragging, musket-toting goon with few aspirations and even fewer morals. But you also see his potential. These books show the early stages of transformation from the sort of soldier Wellington called the scum of the earth into a hero. I also enjoyed the depictions of Wellington (which felt very real to me) and the fictional character of Colonel McCandless, a mentor in Sharpe’s “hero’s journey”, a grown-up version of Jiminy Cricket helping to keep Sharpe on the path of honor.

I also watched SHARPE’S CHALLENGE, the film in which Sharpe returns to India several years after Waterloo on a mission to find his missing buddy Sergeant Harper. Elements of the three India books were recast to fit the new time frame. For that very reason, I found the film disappointing. I missed the early character development and also didn’t appreciate that they killed off Lucille to allow Sharpe this last adventure. The romantic elements were scanty, after all. I don’t know why Sharpe could not have completed his mission and returned to Lucille. But that’s why I’m a romance writer, I guess!

Pluses of the film: evocative views of India, another chance to see Sharpe and Harper in action and a truly horrible villain played by Toby Stephens.

Has anyone read these books or seen the film? What did you think?

And if all this talk of India and Sharpe make you feel hot for any reason, do go ahead and refresh yourselves with a visit to Candice Hern’s new collection of Regency era fans. They are very lovely!


Posted in Uncategorized | Tagged , , , | 19 Replies
Get every new post delivered to your inbox
Join millions of other followers
Powered By