The “Accidental” Historical Romance Writer

Originally posted to the Romance Writers of America’s Hearts through History forum.

When you think about it, I’m a strange choice for a Historical Romance writer. I’ve never picked up a Harlequin in my life. I generally don’t read Historical Romances (a few of my favorite paranormal romances have time-travel elements though). I live in Virginia, in the heart of Civil War country, and I have no plans to write in that period, at least not set in the US. I know, it makes no sense, since all the research materials I need are close. (Perhaps that past is too close here.)

When I was growing up, I read Barbara Cartland, a few other “sweet” romances and that was about it. I’ve always been a historical fiction junkie, however. Growing up, I read Sherlock Holmes, Dorothy L. Sayers and Robert Louis Stevenson. I enjoyed Baroness Orczy. I’ve read a little Charlotte Bronte and a few Jane Austen novels in my time.

My book, “Unexpected Danger” started out as a pastiche on a particular fairy tale set in 1920’s England. Through suggestions from my writers’ group, it grew into a legitimate story. I’m currently working on a sequel.

I chose the 1920’s precisely because it’s an odd time for a romance (not the traditional Regency or Medieval time periods), yet it has a certain mystique to me. I was also influenced by my fondness for Sayers (adore Lord Peter), and I suspect her “voice” can be heard there occasionally.

I wrote my first published story on a lark. I set it in an unusual time period “to be different”. I didn’t want to write a traditional story. Now that it’s become part of my job, I wonder if not going more “mainstream” was a mistake. Only time will tell… which is appropriate for historical fiction!


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