Monday, July 30, 2012
My Guest Today...favorite author Shirlee Busbee, telling us about her favorite time period in which to set her Historical Romances!
I've often been asked, "What's your favorite time period?" followed by "Why?" To answer those questions I have to go back thirty-five years when I first decided to write a Historical Romance. In the beginning I had no idea in which period I would set my book. (I also didn't have a plot in mind either.) I did know that I didn't want to go too far back in history (although I love the Norman invasion period), and that I wanted to stay pre-Civil War. I also was pretty sure that I wanted my eventual story to take place in England or America, maybe France.
Using those parameters I decided that I'd simply start at 1700 and research forward until I found an era or an incident that caught my attention and that I thought I could weave a story around. Obviously, in my research I covered a lot of ground, passing by the War of Jenkins Ear (between Great Britain and Spain from 1739 to 1748), The Seven Years War, the Revolutionary War, The French and Indian Wars, and the Affair of the Diamond Necklace of Marie Antoinette, to name a few. Why none of those eras or time frames really held my attention I can't tell you, but onward I plunged. Believe me, I read a ton of books and researched my little heart out.
It wasn't until I reached, oh, about the 1790's that I started getting deeply interested in what was going on in the world. I slowed when I reached the French Revolution and as I continued to research, ideas (none clear) began to form in my head. When I started reading about the Louisiana Purchase then I really slowed down. I lingered over that period for awhile, but then I pushed onward, loving the Beau Brummell era, the Regency Era and the War of 1812 and doggedly continued to research for my era until I came up against 1815 or so, and realized I didn't want to go any further.
It dawned on me that somewhere in that vast number of books I'd consumed was the setting for my book. I just had to find it. The Louisiana Purchase kept coming back to me and since my father's family is located in Louisiana, I decided that's where I would center my book and use the Louisiana Purchase as the backbone. Of course, I had to come up with a plot. Gee, how hard can that be? Ha! A segment I'd read somewhere (don't ask me where) that there had been a secret emissary that had carried the offer of the Americans to France stuck in my mind. That, and the fact that this same unknown person also carried the information that a English banking firm would finance the purchase, set the light bulb off in my brain and GYPSY LADY was born. Jason Savage, my hero, would be that secret emissary. As they say, the rest is, well, history.
Okay, I haven't answered the question yet, but I've hit you over the head with lots of clues. My favorite time period is from 1790 give or take a year and 1815. Why?
Well, stop and think about what occurred during that twenty-five years: The French Revolution; the execution of the King and Queen of France; the Rise of Napoleon; the Napoleonic Wars; the Louisiana Purchase; Beau Brummell; Prinny and his Regency; the War of 1812; the Barbary Coast Pirates (don't forget about them). A lot of events that spring immediately to mind. It was a period of time that's chock full of exciting events just begging for a book. Or books. Lots of books. I'm sure there are other time periods that are full of stirring events, but to me those twenty-five years or so are a writer's dream.
And so, some thirty-five years later, I'm still writing in that time period and have only strayed from it a couple of times. For RAPTURE BECOMES HER (July 2011) and DESIRE BECOMES HER (July 2012), I settled in the 1790's and it made a nice change from the Regency.
RAPTURE BECOMES HER introduces the Joslyn Family. The first of the fascinating men of the family that you meet is Barnaby Joslyn, an American, and the unexpected heir to a title long expected to go to his English cousin, Mathew. In England, adjusting to his new responsibilities, Barnaby is assisted by his illegitimate uncle, John Lamb, and in time his, also illegitimate, half-brother, Luc. You'll meet feisty Emily Townsend, fighting to save her family and village from the greedy clutches of her cousin. Desperate for money, she turns to the risky work of smuggling as a means of gaining money. Emily has at her side her indomitable great aunt Cornelia (the lady I want to be when I grow up), and half the village. Against a backdrop of attempted murder, kidnappings, smugglers and secrets, Emily and Barnaby find love—and as always, live happily every after. RAPTURE BECOMES HER was great fun to write and I loved the characters -- I hope they find favor with you, too.
DESIRE BECOMES HER, my latest book, picks up a few months after RAPTURE ends and reveals Luc's story and quest for love. Luc has adjusted well to living in England. A gambler by trade, he has amassed enough money to live as a gentleman (with a bit of help now and then from Barnaby). The lady who captures his heart, Gillian Dashwood, is a notorious widow, suspected to have murdered her husband. Old Silas Ordway, Gillian's uncle, is a great friend of Luc's and when Gillian shows up on Silas's doorstep, Luc is suspicious of her motives. Of course, she thinks he's taking advantage of her uncle. Barnaby, Emily, Cornelia and Lamb play their parts, as does the head of the rival smuggling gang, Will Nolles.
As Luc and Gillian stumble their way into each other's arms, new villains appear, endangering the lives of Luc and Gillian, all before (yep, you guessed it), they learn what is in their hearts. It was a pleasure for me to return to the lives of these characters and to introduce Gillian and her family. I particularly liked dealing with Lamb...he reminds me of Blood Drinker from GYPSY LADY, but perhaps less dark. I enjoyed watching Luc interact with the Ordway family as he pursues Gillian and it was wonderful to see how Barnaby, Emily and Cornelia—and yes, Lamb—are dealing with the changes in the lives. I even enjoyed meeting up with Will Nolles—the bastard! I hope you will enjoy both books -- I sure enjoyed writing them.