A few years ago, a friend of mine gave me a CD with a mix of music that turned out to be just perfect for listening to while writing Regency-set historicals. Over the years, I’ve listened to it so many times that now I only need to put it on to sink into Regencyland. (Thanks, Gideon! That was a truly AWESOME present!!!!)
But, alas, it’s definitely Regency. With lots of light, fluffy dance pieces. Not exactly the kind of thing you need for writing an edgy Victorian historical.
So I looked around for better writing inspiration and finally came back to the music I first used for writing: John Denver. Indeed, I wrote the whole of CASTLE OF THE WOLF listening to John Denver.
Country music for a novel set in 1827?!?!
Yes. And it totally worked. 🙂
And I’m counting on it working again!
On one of the John Denver albums I lately bought is the song “Stonehaven Sunset,” and it’s wonderfully gloomy and edgy — just perfect for a story set in the bleak winter of 1844.
PS: I wanted to insert a YouTube video in this post. Didn’t work. Grrrrrr!
Well, when one book ends, a new book starts. 🙂 It didn’t take me terribly long to dive into a new story — not only because I, well, wanted to, but also because I realised that there should be another story between Novella #1 and Novella #2 in that series I sent to my editor on Thursday.
So this morning, right after breakfast, I spent an hour putting together the first chapter (or perhaps it’s going to be a prologue). One of the underlying themes in all three of the other novellas is the restrictions women had to deal with in their everyday lives. Thus two of my heroines are dependent on the charity of their relatives; one is a poor widow, the other an old maid, who has been relegated to the role of nursemaid to ailing family members. Both of them are painfully aware how disadvantaged they are, but they also know that they have little other choice than to submit to their fate. The heroine of The Bride Prize is in a much better position as her father’s adored only daughter. Yet even she is aware that she doesn’t have a free choice in certain matters; for example, she cannot freely choose whom to marry. Moreover, in The Bride Prize the heroine’s aunt is a poor widow who is dependent on the charity of her brother.
So when it came to plot the new novella, Falling for a Scoundrel, I wanted to use this theme as well, but in a slightly different way. Lady Sophia is a typical pampered young woman of the upper class, who has led a very blessed, very easy life. She lives on her father’s beautiful country estate and since she was fifteen she has been engaged to marry the handsome (and rich!!) Lord Manton, who is always very courteous to her and compliments her on her singing and her skill at the piano. Sophia isn’t even aware what a restricted life she leads and how little she knows of the world. This whole premise was inspired by one of the literary fairy tales I taught last term, namely by Anne Thackeray Richtie’s “The Sleeping Beauty in the Wood.” So yes, there are probably going to be references to Sleeping Beauty in my novella, and Sophia is rather rudely wakened from her sleep right at the beginning of the story.
Here’s the first sentence, which you can just see on the AlphaSmart in the picture above:
Up until that cold day in January, when Death presented to her his cruelest face, Lady Sophia had led a truly charmed life.
Under Little Miss Chicken’s watchful eye I made the last few edits in the manuscript and then I finally sent the whole thing to my editor. Wooohooo!
(Please keep your fingers crossed that she’ll survive the experience of reading the manuscript! 🙂 )
This morning, the final battle was wrought (and from the pictures on the covers of those books you can tell how fierce the battle was), and eventually, Sandy emerged victorious:
By now I even think the story doesn’t suck (which I find slightly worrying). All that remains to be done now is to insert the changes into the other two stories, throw everything together, and then send it to my editor. (At this point feel free to imagine me clapping my hands together like a maniac Duracell bunny.)
In the morning, all was still fine.
By 4 p.m. things were getting desperate.
By 6 p.m. things were getting really desperate and a little Kindle Magic was called for.
By now, the book is still not finished, and I’m ready to just roll up and cry. Gargh! I hate deadlines!
Also, do you know that thing you do when you’re attracted to somebody whom you’ve only just met and you look at them and then you look away and then you look at them again and then away and… Well, you know what I mean. Describing something like that? Pure hell! There are, after all, only so many ways you can say: “She looked at him.” *sigh*
With shifting piles of books.
And my hero and heroine have finally met! Woohooo! And they’re already very much smitten with each other. 🙂
The gentleman with the sketchbook chuckled.
Flo glanced at him and found herself looking into a round, homely face with warm, brown eyes alight with humour. His mouth stretched into a broad, slightly lop-sided smile, so infectious and endearing she couldn’t help smiling back.
“There’s also a Knight of the Swan,” he told her. “The Honourable Mr. Jerningham. He can fly.”
Today’s research involves medieval costumes. And my PhD thesis (the published version is just visible in the upper left corner of the picture). And a long article from Tait’s Edinburgh Magazine.
The eagle-eyed among you might be just able to make out the three lines shown on the AlphaSmart. They’re from a scene between my hero, Robbie Beaton, and his (grumpy) friend William MacNeil:
They were surrounded on all sides by people in costumes, a motely crew indeed, and the colourful procession extended along the shaded avenue leading to the castle.
“I’m already quite overcome by the chivalric atmosphere,” Robbie said cheerfully, knowing full well his remark would needle Mac to no end. To heighten the effect, he closed his eyes and inhaled noisily. “Oh yes, I can feel it penetrating my whole body… It’s most wonderful!” He chanced a glance at his friend.
Mac, looking up from the guide to the tournament he had purchased at the gate, stared at him for a few moments, his copper brows drawn together. “I think,” he finally said, “I’m going to be sick.”
Today I’m also blogging on Risky Regencies about carnival in Mainz. Helau! 🙂
The pet dragon is watching the AlphaSmart magic happening at this very moment in my study.
So far, we have a beginning and an ending for this story, but the whole middle part is still missing. *sigh* Wish me luck!
Already filled one notebook this morning and will now start on the second notebook for the day. In the course of several hours of writing, more and more books and papers tend to migrate onto my desk until I’m surrounded by piles of notes, print-outs, research books, dictionaries, and what not. I have to tidy everything up and clear my desk in the evening, or I won’t be able to write the next day.
And, of course, I need tea. Everything is better with a nice cup of tea.
For today’s writing spring I’ve chosen a very special mug: my Pride & Prejudice mug, which is modelled on the design of the old Penguin books (old, that is, in the context of the British market; in Australia, they still have these classic covers on the Popular Penguins series)