Musical Inspiration for a Love Story
I've only recently been introduced to the concept of creating a playlist to go along with a book. I'd seen it done before, mind you, but I never really associated that idea with the way I write. Then my magnificent friend, Arlem Hawks, started asking our writing group what songs we thought matched up to our characters and their love stories. I happened to be starting work on Miss Devon's Choice at the time, and my hero in that novel is a musician. I was struggling to capture him on paper the way he was in my head, so I started listening to violin music. Suddenly, he came to life.
Every time I struggled with a scene in Miss Devon's Choice, I found a song I thought conveyed the emotion of a character or the overall feelings I was trying to create between the two of them. Before I knew it, I had a playlist I listened to every time I started to write about Christian and Rebecca.
Now that a few months have gone by since the book was published, I still find myself listening to that particular list. I'm going to share it here, and I think this will be part of my writing process for all future books, too.
For your reading AND listening pleasure, the Rebecca & Christian Playlist.
There are so many options now that we have the internet. But some sources are better than others!
I love the Regency time period. As I've taken my writing journey into this era, I've come across lots of authors who have said, "I'd love to write Regency, but the research scares me! I wouldn't know where to start." If the research is the only thing holding you back, you should know that there has never been a better time to write about the 19th century than in the 21st century. :-)
We have access to so many amazing documents and sources. I'm happy to share some of the best things I've found in my time writing. Keep in mind, though, that you need to do your best due-diligence. If your story hinges on a historical fact that a blogger mentions, dig a little deeper and confirm your source is correct.
Historical readers, yes, even those who read historical romance, have different expectations than people who read contemporary. They're reading historical for a reason, and one of those reasons is often the desire to know more about that time period and/or to immerse themselves in that period. You will often read, in negative reviews of historicals, that the readers hate it when something "pulls them out" of the story. This can be anything from using titles wrong (a sin of which I'm guilty, and repenting of), to having characters use modern language and slang, to having something show up in the story that hadn't been invented yet.
This isn't meant to scare you at all, but to reinforce how important it is for you to double-check your sources. Find beta-readers, or critique partners, or editors who are familiar with the genre and the time period. They'll help a lot. I can't tell you how many times my critique partners have helped me out by saying, "Um, that word wasn't actually used yet." Or the oh-so-helpful, "That weapon your bad guy is using? Yeah. That was invented forty years after your story."
Do. Your. Research. Please. Poorly researched stories get bad reviews. Simple as that.
One thing you might like to do is Follow my Regency Pinterest Board. I put lots of stuff up there as I find it for my own research, and I find following other authors helpful. Now, on to my list...
The Hero of Miss Devon's Choice Based On a Specific Person
You know, I very rarely cast my characters with actors. I just don't do it. I like them to exist in my head independently of a living person. I've never done it with a female character in any of my published work. Never. I've now done it with males TWICE.
I told lots of people about Lucas, from The Earl and His Lady, being modeled after a young Teddy Spears. That was fine, because I just came across a picture of the actor when he was in his early thirties. I've never even seen the man in anything, though I'm assured he's a lovely actor.
And then I started writing Miss Devon's Choice. This story is so special to me in many ways. It's hard to explain how hard I worked on it, how much I wanted my characters to be true to themselves. I mean, they're made-up people. It can't be THAT hard to make them do whatever I want!
But I struggled with getting Christian on the page. For those who have read the book, you know he's a man who's been deeply wounded in the past. His physical and emotional scars have made him into a man with rigid defenses. And it was just so hard to get in his head and keep the story moving. Honestly, he wanted to walk away from every scene in the book! That's how they all naturally ended the first time I wrote them, with Christian walking away in disgust/anger/defeat. You might be able to get away with that once or twice in a story, but then it just doesn't work! The plot dies!
So I needed help. I made a list of every "broken" male character I love, from books and movies.
Edmund Dantes, The Count of Monte Cristo
Sirius Black and Severus Snape, The Harry Potter Series
Kylo Ren, Star Wars
Joquin Phoenix's portrayal of Johnny Cash
Erik, The Phantom of the Opera
Gowan, When Calls the Heart
Captain Wentworth, Persuasion
Lord Death, Katurah and Lord Death
Alejandro Murrieta, The Mask of Zorro
Adam, AKA The Dangerous Duke, Seeking Persephone
My list was even longer with some pretty obscure people on it. So these are all male characters who were hurt or hurting in pretty significant ways. Their scars propelled their reactions to events unfolding around them. With these fictional men in my head, all dark and gloomy sorts, driven by negative emotions, I started figuring out how I could take a guy like that and make him my hero.
Of course, all these guys are also motivated by revenge at one time or another, and I didn't include any of that in Christian's character. :-) But I wanted you to feel like this guy could be dangerous if he chose to be, or tender and gentle.
I chased the tender and gentle aspect of these characters.
And I found Christian. But I really needed his face at this point. I had to figure out what he looked like. And I had these heroes/anti-heroes in my head still. So one day, scrolling through Pinterest, I saw this:
It's Adam Driver, folks, the actor playing Kylo Ren/BEN SOLO (may the Star Wars Storytellers hear my plea!), looking like he'd just stepped out of a historical drama. Look at those cheekbones. Those features that, really, are NOT classically attractive. And yet, that stare. Those eyes! From this image alone, you can believe this guy could play Edmund Dantes, Sirius Black, or Lord Death. You could see him being powerful and dangerous.
But...I wanted GENTLE. *sigh* And then this image showed up:
There you go. That's the money shot, right there. I don't even know what this image is from. But do you see how the hard looking, strangely attractive guy from the first image can melt into this gentle soul holding a baby? I had it. I couldn't unsee it. Christian suddenly had a face, and any time I wrote his scenes, I was picturing Adam Driver in the role.
I've only seen ONE Adam Driver role. His role in Star Wars. And yes. I'm a Star Wars geek. I love the novelizations, the movies, the toys, the metal lunch boxes, the whole of it. Honestly, the storytelling at work in the original trilogy is astounding. Hero cycle at its best. But I digress.
All this to say, if anyone wants to turn this book into a movie, please get Adam Driver to play my heroic lead. Because as soon as I cast him in my head, as soon as I could picture what Christian would look like and sound like when he spoke, how he would move, the words came so much easier. In fact, Christian's perspective makes up more of the story than Rebecca's because it became easy to live in his head.
Christian is one of my favorites. I adore him. And it helps that, in MY head at least, he's played by someone who also stars in one of my favorite movie franchises. ;-)
A Christmas Collection of Sweet Regency Romances
I have been waiting for this day for quite a while. I am honored, privileged, and excited to share the work of this very talented author with you. Heidi Kimball is a talented author, with incredible attention to detail and a gift for making the big picture a masterpiece.
I love Heidi’s work, and I love Heidi. She’s one of my critique partners, which means I owe some of the loveliest scenes in my stories to her suggestions.
We’re going to be asking Heidi about her newest release, Second Chance Christmas, is a novella in the holiday collection A Christmas Courting.
Heidi, your stories are always lovely. What can you tell us about this one?
I love this story, much more than I expected to. When my publisher reached out and asked me to write it, it was early February and my story was due in April. The thought of writing a Christmas regency story at that time of year was a little strange. Not only that, but at the time I was in the throes of terrible morning sickness and spending most of my time in bed. Happily, Francie and Gerard’s story served as a lovely escape. It’s the friends to lovers trope, and I loved how they had a history together, it made their relationship so much fun to write. But poor Gerard - he goes through quite the ride before he gets his happy ending.
Your heroine, Francie, is sweet and fun. Do you see any of yourself in her?
I just loved Francie from the very opening scene. She has just a bit of a passionate personality, has very strong emotions, and a strong competitive streak. It’s hard to say exactly how simliar we are, but I can confirm that I am a VERY competitive person. When my husband and I play games together . . . watch out! :)
What about Gerard? What inspired his character?
Gerard is handsome and sweet and hardly realizes how wonderful he is. One thing I really see in him that makes him so lovable is his loyalty. Once he falls in love with Francie, there was never anyone else for him. I think that’s what inspired his character - Francie really needed someone who would love her no matter what, who wouldn’t give up hope.
I really love a good Christmas story. During the Regency, Christmas celebrations were a little different from today. What can you tell us about Regency era holidays?
Regency era holidays are quite toned down from what we have today. Everything was on a much smaller scale. In my story I showcase two of them - one is the gathering of greenery to put around the house on Christmas Eve. This was usually a tradition that the entire household took part in. The other is the lighting of the yule log. My family celebrates with its more modern counterpart - making and eating chocolate roll. Yum!
This is your second published title. Your first, An Unlikely Courtship, was an independently published novella. It’s also set in the Regency. What draws you to that time period?
Oh my goodness, there is so much to love in the regency era! I love the strict parameters of society, because it makes for such an interesting story. Every little thing between the love interests has to mean so much. There’s something fun about telling a story under such stringent rules, yet still making readers feel the depth of the emotions as the characters fall in love.
What are your future plans? Do you have anything in the works?
My first full-length novel, A Guarded Heart, will be released on March 1st, 2019. And right now I am currently just a few thousand words away from finishing my second full-length book, I, Juliet. Of course there will be a whole lot of editing and a round of beta readers, but it’s an exciting feeling to finish a book! I’m hoping if I can get things rolling with my publisher, that it will be released Fall 2019.
We both know writing can be as difficult as it is exhilarating. What inspired you to take the step to publish your work?
You are right about that! For me, it was a bucket list item. I am an AVID reader and always have been. I love losing myself in a wonderful story and just forgetting everything going on around me. Publishing my books is my way of trying to provide that little escape for someone else <3
What would you like your readers to know about you?
I’m just a normal person. I’ve got a pile of laundry the size of Mount Everest, I eat my brownies straight from the pan, and there are trails of goldfish crackers all over my house. As a mom of four, I wouldn’t have it any other way.
Thank you, Sally! It is seriously my pleasure to work with you. I may be your critique partner, but I consider myself one of your biggest fans! And watch out everyone, because we’re attending a writer’s retreat together the first weekend in November, so there will be lots of regency nerdiness taking place . . . and there may be photo evidence. :)
Absolutely my pleasure. And I really, really can't wait for our retreat!
Heidi's Social Media Links
I think everyone needs this one from time to time.
Ever tried. Ever failed. No matter. Try again. Fail again. Fail better. You won't believe what you can accomplish by attempting the impossible with the courage to repeatedly fail better.
I write clean and sweet Historical Romance Novels, I live in the desert, I'm a mom of four, madly in love with my husband, and I love to read!