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Friday, June 29, 2012

Guest Post/Giveaway w/ Carrie Lofty "Starlight"

Wherein a Historian Talks Research…
By Carrie Lofty

Book Lovin’ Mamas said to me: I'd love to know about the research process for the Christies series or any of my series.

Now you’ve done it! You’ve asked a historian to talk research!

I have a master’s in history, so the research has never been a problem. Initially, for my debut medievals and for SONG OF SEDUCTION , I swear I spent more time researching that I did writing. There was such an imbalance. SONG, in particular was my first romance (although it was not my debut). The first draft read more like a tour conducted by two amiable lead characters. Where was the romance?

Since then, because of a better understanding of craft and because of increasingly tight deadlines, I needed to streamline my research process. In no way did I was to skimp out on the factual worldbuilding required of an enthralling historical romance—especially when I chose unusual settings—but the romance had to come first.

Now, I head to the library and make the absolute most out of interlibrary loans! I submerge myself in a half dozen books and, if possible, raw data or personal letters to give me two essentials. First, I need a sense of feeling from the place and time I’m writing. Second, I ask myself whether the plot I have in mind historically possible.

After establishing that roughly two-week base, I start writing! Go for it!

Only afterward, during revisions, do I weave back the details that make a story more atmospheric. That’s when a story becomes grander, more epic. Romance truly becomes historical romance.

For STARLIGHT , I consulted a number of books on industrial and Victorian Glasgow, particularly accounts of women. I learned how women accused of prostitution were sent to mental hospitals, in an attempt to keep the streets clean of unwanted filth. How life for women in a tenement and having married at a young, young age was tantamount to prison. And yet…how since the late 17th century, both boys and girls were permitted access to elementary school education. That meant even an ordinary girl from the worst neighborhood could, with the right parental support and personal drive, could forge a better life.

For my heroine, Polly Gowan, I wanted details about women’s involvement in union politics. In studying the community, I sought information about how men and women interacted, their social customs, their occupations. And regarding the romance, I needed to know how self-made and new money men such as the hero, Alex Christie, were regarded, and how much of a class barrier that would be to overcome.

Beyond facts, I wanted what I mentioned above: atmosphere. For me that meant a playlist comprised almost entirely of Scottish and Irish bands, particularly Simple Minds, Big Country, and U2. They sang of the feeling of living in that place, if not the era. That also meant visual impressions of Glasgow in the 1880s. The paintings of John Atkinson Grimshaw made a huge impression on me. Shipping on the Clyde and GourockNear the Clyde Shipping Docks evoked a mist-shrouded, intriguing, urban setting that is very different from our picture of Scotland with its Highlander freedoms. And yet cities like Glasgow are as important to Scottish history as warring clans.

So, with regard to research… A little bit of this, a little bit of that. And a time limit! Otherwise I’d be stuck forever in medieval Spain or Napoleonic Austria or England in WWII—just a few of the many places I’ve set my romances. For me, history is just that seductive!

What’s next for me:

After RT BookReviews 4½ Star Top Pick  STARLIGHT hits the shelves, I'll be looking forward to the release of HIS VERY OWN GIRL, a historical romance set in World War II. It's not women's fiction. It's not literary fiction. It's a genuine romance, complete with sexy times and a happy ending. Look for it September 4th as a Pocket Star digital original novel. I cannot wait to see how readers respond!

I'll also be launching a new co-written pseudonym, Katie Porter, with my long-time friend and critique partner, Lorelie Brown. Our "Vegas Top Guns" series of contemporary erotic romances will launch from Samhain on July 31 with the release of DOUBLE DOWN, which is also a RT BookReviews 4½ Star Top Pick. Two more from the series, INSIDE BET and HOLD 'EM, will follow in August and September. You can learn more about these and future books at our website

Where to find me:
Twitter: @carrielofty

I'd like to give away a copy of STARLIGHT, and I'll ship anywhere. Just answer the question: If you had the time to learn more about any era or location, what would it be?

Thanks again to Book Lovin’ Mamas for having me!xx

To enter for a chance to win a copy of Starlight please fill out the rafflecopter below. This contest is for everyone!

You can read my 5 Moon review of Starlight here.

a Rafflecopter giveaway


Audra said...

the Era of Mary Queen of Scots

ClaudiaGC said...

I love your love of history, Carrie! (That sounded weird, I know. lol) It's just that as a history teacher I get often asked why did I ever study something that boring? History is so not boring! And it's great to "meet" like-minded people.
As I'm in Europe one of my favourite timeperiods is the time of the Napoleonic Wars and the rearrangement of Europe afterwards. But I seriously would love to learn more about the French-Indian War.

claudigc at msn dot com

Gisele said...

The times of the young Queen Victoria!

Barbara E. said...

I've always loved history, and I'd love to learn more about the time of the Druids, in the area of Stonehenge.

as im welsh, i would like to meet queen boudica and see what it was like to live in that time. it was a very hard time for a woman, so it would be interesting to see how they coped

Melody May said...

I think I would love to learn about the other countries during the French revolution and how they were impacted.

that's a tough question. i think i would have to split that into 2 and learn about ancient jeruselem and the surrounding areas and also i have always been fascinated by the dark ages.

thank you for the chance at such a great giveaway, enjoy your 4th.

tammy ramey

@Audra: It was a bloody time in British history, wasn't it? I don't know that I'd want to live it, but learning more about it would certainly be a thrill!

@Claudia: for my SONG OF SEDUCTION and particularly for PORTRAIT OF SEDUCTION, I liked researching how people in the path of Napoleon's armies would've reacted. Most Regency references to the war is from the relative safety of London! And yes, the French and Indian War (Seven Years War) was a huge conflict, and not just because of what happened in the Colonies. That territory was a mere backdrop for Britain and France to continue beating each other up *g*

@Gisele: I think cause Victoria was queen for so long, we get comfortable with the idea that she was always going to be queen. Not even close! That era was fraught with confusion and fear.

@Barbara: The rock that makes up Stonehenge came from Wales. How did they get it to Salisbury Plain??? It's still the gorgeous human mystery. Love it!

@Julie: Yes! The queens who stood out against the backdrop of (mostly male) history are fascinating. The rather do-or-die savagery of that era made her even more unique.

@Melody: Don't know if you realized, but in 1848, when Britain was going through terribly internal strife, Charles Dickens used the French Revolution as the backdrop for A TALE OF TWO CITIES intentionally. He wanted to draw attention to how close Britain was edging toward the same sort of violence. So its impact, as a revolution, spread across decades and longer, even.

@Tammy: Both of those would be new subjects for me. My knowledge of history drops off with Caesar and picks up with William the Conquerer. So unfortunate! Not enough hours, I believe.

So glad that everyone stopped by. Good luck with the drawing!

I would want to learn more about the US during the 1800's.

I loved watching Little House on the Prarie growing up, so I would love to learn more about life back then


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