Today I’m hosting author Rachel Brimble, whose historical romance THE MISTRESS OF PENNINGTON’S is now available. She shares a bit about the challenges of writing both contemporary and historical romances. Read on!
Challenges of Writing Historical Romance for Modern Readers
I’m often asked how I manage to write both contemporary and historical romances – do I approach each project in the same way? How much research goes into my historicals compared to my contemporaries? Which sub-genre do I prefer?
These are all valid questions, but the most important thing for me is that my lovely readers love every one of my books, whether contemporary or historical!
When I’m starting a new book of any sub-genre, I begin by focusing on the emotions of the protagonists. What do they want? Why? What happened in their past to make them the people they are today? What’s their biggest fear? They’re biggest life wish?
It’s by focusing on these things that the lines between writing contemporary fiction and historical fiction blur.
Once I’d decided on a department store setting for The Mistress of Pennington’s, I began researching the beginnings of these new, mammoth stores, the people who worked and shopped at them, the retail processes and every other detail I could uncover. Accurately portraying a bygone era is definitely the biggest challenge when writing historical romance for modern readers.
Why? Because readers READ!
It’s inevitable that, one day, a reader will know more about a subject than you. They might have an avid interest in the period. Might know more about the social climate at the time or be an expert in (help!) retail history. A writer cannot allow the prospect of a reader telling the world about an inaccuracy in your work to scare them away from writing the story bursting to be told. All they can ensure is that they do all they can to avoid making a huge, jarring mistake. Research is paramount.
Once I’ve done my research (and any that might arise as I’m writing), I embark on my historical novels in the same way I do my contemporary work. For me, it’s about the story unfolding, the development and changes in the characters, that all-important emotion and bringing the tale to a satisfactory ending that leaves my readers with a clear feeling of the period and an empathy for all that the characters have endured.
If I achieve that, I’m happy and, hopefully, I’ve overcome the challenge of writing historical fiction for the modern reader. 🙂
Elizabeth Pennington should be the rightful heir of Bath’s premier department store through her enterprising schemes and dogged hard work. Her father, Edward Pennington, believes his daughter lacks the business acumen to run his empire and is resolute a man will succeed him.
Determined to break from her father’s iron-clad hold and prove she is worthy of inheriting the store, Elizabeth forms an unlikely alliance with ambitious and charismatic master glove-maker Joseph Carter. United they forge forward to bring Pennington’s into a new decade, embracing woman’s equality and progression whilst trying not to mix business and pleasure.
Can this dream team thwart Edward Pennington’s plans for the store? Or will Edward prove himself an unshakeable force who will ultimately ruin both Elizabeth and Joseph?
Read an Excerpt
He moved to walk away, and she reached for his arm before she could think just how dangerous such contact could be. He halted, and even when he looked at her fingers clutched on his forearm, she did not remove them. It suddenly felt important she touch him; that he understood she had care for what he said or asked her.
Even though the physical contact set her heart racing, she held her grasp. ‘Why do you ask me about your family?’
He closed his eyes and dropped his chin to his chest.
Disquiet whispered through her. What had caused such uncharacteristic hesitation in him?
‘Joseph…’ She slid her hand from his arm, ignoring the pang of loss that the break of contact brought. ‘If there’s something bothering you, please, share it with me.’
He slowly raised his head, his blue eyes full of irritation once more. ‘I will, but not here. Not on the street. I’d prefer to come to your office tomorrow.’
How was she supposed to wait until tomorrow? Her curiosity was rife. It was clear something had changed between them. Something, it seemed, of which she was the cause.
She nodded. ‘I’ll send a message to you first thing in the morning.’
‘Thank you. Until then, I bid you good day.’
He walked away, leaving Elizabeth with questions and words flailing on her tongue. She stared after him, fearful of the pull deep in her chest that Joseph’s concerns had somehow become hers. No good could come of such caring. Her only goal should be proving her worth and capability in Pennington’s and beyond. She could not allow one man, any man, to have such an effect on her.
She inhaled a long breath and walked towards Pennington’s doors.
About Rachel Brimble
Rachel lives with her husband and two teenage daughters in a small town near Bath in the UK. Since 2007, she has had several novels published by small US presses, eight books published by Harlequin Superromance (Templeton Cove Stories) and four Victorian romances with eKensington/Lyrical.
In January 2018, she signed a four-book deal with Aria Fiction for a brand new Edwardian series set in Bath’s finest department store. The first book, The Mistress of Pennington’s, will release in July 2018.
Rachel is a member of the Romantic Novelists Association and Romance Write
you’ll find Rachel with her head in a book or walking the beautiful English countryside with her family. Her dream place to live is Bourton-on-the-Water in South West England.
rs of America, and was selected to mentor the Superromance finalist of So You Think You Can Write 2014 contest. When she isn’t writing,
She likes nothing more than connecting and chatting with her readers and fellow romance writers. Rachel would love to hear from you!
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