Tag Archives: Falling for a Scoundrel

Writing, Music, & All That

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!

Murder, Mayhem, & Earl Grey

Today I’ve been hunting down murderers (in between supervising language tests). Historical murderers, that is. Those who killed gamekeepers in the mid-1840s (the tensions in rural communities over the strict enforcement of the Game Laws and the ensuing murders of several gamekeepers form the background to “Falling for a Scoundrel”). As I was scanning several old newspapers, I was struck by the peculiar selection of news they were reporting.

There were short snippets on dreadful accidents, horrid murders, and grisly suicides — and I couldn’t help thinking that even respectable looking newspapers rather relished the gruesome details, as this bit from the Bristol Mercury (30 December 1844) shows:

DETERMINED SUICIDE AT CHISWICK — On Christmas day, the following determined act of suicide was committed at Chiswick. About a quarter past one o’clock, a man, named Hugh Griffith, a grocer, carrying on busieness in the Devonshire-road, Chiswick, cut his throat with a razor, and nearly severed his head from his body. Medical assistance was immediately sent for, and several surgeons were promptly in attendance, but life was quite extinct before they could arrive.

The sheer number of suicides I found mentioned across several newspapers in the months between September 1843 and January 1844 is quite chilling, especially since I was not looking for that particular kind of news. Together with the many reports on poaching (poaching was met with drastic punishments) and on the murders of several gamekeepers, the snippets on suicides tell of the desperation of the poor in rural areas and paint a chilling picture of their situation.

The juxtaposition of these kind of news items with other local news is rather curious, to say the least. In columns on “Local Intelligence” you can find news about murders and suicides right next to things like this:

A Rev. Tractarian at Oxford has married — to the consternation of his co-celibiates.

(Bristol Mercury, 30 Dec. 1844)

or like this:

The Earl of Yarborough has returned from Town to Brocklesby Hall for the season. The noble lord’s fox hounds had a splendid run on Tuesday morning: it lasted an hour and forty-five minutes, and was pronounced the finest of the season.

(Hull Packet and East Riding Times, 29 Dec. 1843)

or like this:

FIRST FRUIT FROM SEVILLE. — The swift sailing vessel Waterwitch, Grant, arrived at this port yesterday in seventeen days, from Seville, with a cargo of fine Seville China Oranges, imported by Mr. Sprait, and which, as appears by advertisement, will be sold by Mr. Stamp, on Tuesday next.

(Hull Packet and East Riding Times, 29 Dec. 1843)

And whole column ends with:

HEALTH OF EARL GREY. — We are glad to learn (December 25) from our Alnwick correspondent that Earl Grey continues no worse, his lordship had passed a good night, and upon the whole continues rather better.

(Hull Packet and East Riding Times, 29 Dec. 1843)

Let’s Talk Covers!

One of the truly nice things about indie publishing is that you have complete control over your covers. You can pick a design, make sure that the people on the cover match the characters’ descriptions in your story, and you can brand a series whichever way you like.

One of the major elements of branding for the covers of the new series will be a blue background. Originally, I thought I’d just use the same sky picture for all covers, but not only would this look boring, but that one picture also doesn’t suit all the people I’ve chosen to go onto the covers.

Sooo, today during my lunch break I went hunting for blue backgrounds. I’ve already found some nice matches for some covers, but there is one picture of a woman that, as it turns out, is rather difficult to match with a blue background. Hmmmm. Clearly, further experiments are called for!

New Beginnings….

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.