Sunday, July 27, 2014

Historical Research -- Politics

Good Morning. As we all know, one cannot write a period novel without doing research. Throughout my series, I've needed to delve into the politics of the time.

First of all, let me say, I am an American. I have a hard enough time keeping track of my own country's political history. Second of all, I'm a genre writer, not an historian, so if I decide to use political aspects in my books, it had better be for a good reason.

I've found there are two trains of thought to using politics -- the first, as a decided focus of the main plot. And second, as an added layer to the general background of the setting.

For example:

In ROMANCING LADY RYDER, I focused on one particular point in the Napoleonic Wars -- the negotiations between Russia and England. In a nutshell, my main character the Earl of Greenleigh is a spy. He leads a double life -- in Society he is known as a lover of art. In reality, he works for the Foreign Office gaining secrets. We start out in France, but then because of Illora Ryder, we are enmeshed in the political dealings between Russia and England. (Russia's leader Czar Alexander finally realized Bonaparte was a maniac and even though he had made an agreement with him, he decided to hedge his bets and stay on the good side of England just in case.)

I used several key figures from Russian history as well as England and although 99% of it is not true, the 1% I did use, worked. Well, it worked for me anyway.

In THE LADY'S FATE, the Marquess of Haverlane and Duke of Cantin, are with Prince George as advisers to get him seated as the Prince Regent. I did not say specifically what they were advising George on, but it got them out of the house.

With each of my books, I have looked at certain aspects of British political history, but I have never done a comprehensive "lesson" as it were. Truthfully, there was so much going on, I can't wrap my head around it as a "whole", which is why I've tended to break it into smaller palpable pieces.

In LADY OLIVIA'S UNDOING, I dove into the East India Trading Company a
well as a few particular battles in Spain and Portugal. In THE CAPTAIN'S COINCIDENCE I used the alliance between France and America as a backdrop. Somewhat. (There's so much there I didn't want to get bogged down -- which I did, and then cut it all out.)

In using politics for background, I feel it is better to give a general overall feeling to the plot rather than a history lesson. Unless, as I said previously, you're writing a TRUE HISTORICAL novel. Which I'm not.

Tell me -- How do you feel about using historical information?

Anne Gallagher (c) 2014

Sunday, July 13, 2014

Writing While on Vacation

Good morning. Yes, I know the last couple of months have been fraught with indecision on this blog; first I'm here, then I'm gone, then I'm posting once every six weeks, then I post two weeks in a row. I've been trying to find a balance in there somewhere, and it doesn't seem to be working. I finally get a schedule and then it blows up in my face.

However, I knew a long time ago when I started planning my vacation this summer, that I would have to work. (Unless I actually finished the two novellas I needed to finish before June 14.  That didn't happen, but I tried really hard.) So here I am, on vacation, writing this blog.

Right now we're in Carlisle PA with my brother and sister-in-law. (Well, technically we saw my brother for just the first afternoon -- he's been working at the Naval Base Fire Station ever since. Yes, they do have Naval Support in Pennsylvania.)

Anyway, I decided to bring along two laptops so I would be able to write anyplace, any time. So far I have only broken out one to check email and post on Twitter. (Which I'm kind of liking. I haven' been Tweeting in a long time.  You can find me there @gallagher_anne)

Before I left NC, I worked like a maniac on THE LADY'S SECRET, another prequel to the last novel in the Reluctant Grooms series. It was coming along nicely (at 25k) and I know what I have to do to finish it. It should only be a matter of weeks.

And now that LADY OLIVIA'S UNDOING  is up for pre-order (across all major etailers, except Amazon) I'm giving that room to rest before I have to tackle those revisions. (Back from my critique partner with just a couple of blips to fix.) All in all, I'd say it received some pretty high marks from my beta readers.

We're heading to RI in a couple of days (a couple of days because of impending storms) and when we get there we're beaching it until August 19. Yay. I haven't been to the beach in a couple of year so this will hopefully revive my creative juices.

It's hard work trying to write and keep house, and keep a kid happy. When it all gets too much something has to give, and 9 times out of 10, it's this blog. But I hope you'll stick around. I'll try and be better at posting.

I should take a lesson from the turtle above -- slow and steady wins the race.

Anne Gallagher (c) 2014