History Hoydens


Historical Romance Writers Dishing the Dirt on Research

25 September 2006

Off & Running

History Hoydens . . . we’re Plethoras of Useless—but interesting!—facts (as my best friend likes to say). As writers of historical fiction we do a lot of research. Very little of this research actually ends up on the pages of our novels, though. Which seems a waste. Readers also frequently email us, questioning the accuracy of something, inquiring about a source, or just wanting to know more. This is the place for us to offer that “more”.

What goes into all those historical romances you see on the shelves? What kind of research do we do? How much research do we do? What kind of crazy adventures do we undertake in pursuit of? What crazy real events inspire our stories? What truths are too strange for fiction and must be abandoned?

We have a great bunch of Hoydens here who write romances in a wide variety of settings (they’ll introduce themselves with their first posts). Please join us as we explore the eras we love and discuss the research that obsesses us.



Blogger Megan Frampton said...

Welcome, Hoydens!

Looking forward to reading your useless information.

7:38 AM  
Blogger Victoria Dahl said...

Thanks, Megan!

I'll go ahead and introduce myself. . . I'm Victoria Dahl, one of the Hoydens. I've been writing historical fiction for six years and my Zebra Debut romance, TO TEMPT A SCOTSMAN, will be out in August 2007!

TO TEMPT A SCOTSMAN won the 2005 Golden Heart for Best Long Historical Manuscript, as well as the 2005 Between the Sheets Love Scene Contest, and I am equally proud of both awards.

I'm honored to be a part of this group. Honestly, I'm surprised to be a part of this group, because I'm not an expert in anything! I do love talking about word origins though, so I guess that makes me an Official Writing Nerd. Oh, and I have a dirty historical mind. I hope that will interest some of you. *g*

Welcome everybody!

8:07 AM  
Blogger Kate said...

Dudes, can we pick your brains?

I mean here's the deal: I have an ocean voyage in 1880s. I want descriptions of first class travel. I can find articles about steerage. I got loads of descriptions from the golden age (about 20 years later). I've checked Harpers online, ellis island, the ships log site. Any other suggestions?

In exchange, I can tell you all about my days of searching for camera information and the ever popular birth control through the ages!!

Hey Hi Jes! Hi Pam Rosenthal! I look forward to reading more.

9:12 AM  
Blogger Alice V said...

Welcome Hoydens. Nice to see a blog for history buffs. I'm also a writer of historical fiction. My latest release is HER ONE AND ONLY from Zebra Historicals. One of my favourite research sites is ourfuture/ourpast -- an archive of early newspapers from Alberta. They offer a fascinating insight into the day to day lives of pioneers.

Alice Valdal

9:32 AM  
Blogger Unknown said...

Vicki: We're still gonna make you introduce yourself with your first post. *insert sound of raspberry here*

Oooooo, Kate R. What a great question. I don't "do" Victorian but I'll poke around a bit (searching for journals and travelogues on Project Gutenberg is a great way to waste time *GRIN*).

HEY ALICE! Another Zebra Deb in the house. Great to see you over here. Your blogger profile doesn’t have your website link on it! I had to track you down old school (aka I Googled you). Your cover is fab and the book looks great.

10:08 AM  
Blogger Delle Jacobs said...

Hi all- I recognize a bunch of you, and I'll be looking forward to your blog. Looks like a great site!

Delle Jacobs
coming December 2006

10:12 AM  
Blogger Delle Jacobs said...

This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

10:13 AM  
Blogger Victoria Dahl said...

Kalen, my post is already too long! I can't fit my intro in there, which is why I cheated and put if here. But thanks for seeing right through me. *sigh*

Kate and Alice, please jump in with your interesting-to-us historical facts anytime!

And Kate, the only thing I have is a book called From Beacon Hill to the Crystal Palace, a diary of a servant on a first class trip with her employer in 1851. Wrong time period and she doesn't dwell much on the voyage itself, save some comments about being seasick (and still having to work, of course). I'll poke around this afternoon also, but Kalen can find anything if it's out there.

10:13 AM  
Blogger Pam Rosenthal said...

Another hoyden checking in with her intro:

As Pam Rosenthal, I’ve got 3 erotic historical romances in print. The latest is THE SLIGHTEST PROVOCATION. Most of my romance writing is set during the English Regency. But THE BOOKSELLER’S DAUGHTER was set in 1780s France, just prior to the Revolution, and I’d love to do another French one sometime.

When it comes to historical research, I’m a passionate amateur, fascinated by the quality of everyday life when so much was done by hand or hand-machines. Gorgeous (handmade) clothes for the rich, but an upper-class woman couldn’t get dressed (or for my purposes, undressed) without help. Servants everywhere—which meant an entirely different sense of space and privacy. A rigidly stratified society, the upper classes enamored of difference and distinction.

What did all or any of this mean for love, intimacy, or the achievement of selfhood? I love bringing my questions and answers to life in my books.

I’ve also got another writing personality: As Molly Weatherfield, I’m the author of two contemporary erotic novels. CARRIE’S STORY has been in print since 1995, and Playboy.com recently called it one of the “25 sexiest novels ever written.”

Thanks to Tonda/Kalen for putting this thing together. It's gonna be fun!

10:47 AM  
Blogger Mary Blayney said...

Kate -- I just spent the last twenty minutes looking for a book that is hiding somewhere: Victorians Abroad (Goodall) -- a 5x7 64 page book of color sketches of wealthy Victorians traveling. It is on Alibris which might be a better bet than waiting for me to find my copy. It is purely visual but, I think, useful. It was first published in the early 80's and I do not know how much research Goodall did but it certainly has the feel of the era.

Mary Blayney

10:52 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

How fun! Can't wait to read all the posts!

10:56 AM  
Blogger Pam Rosenthal said...

And as for Kate R's question: I did a quick check of Mark Twain's THE INNOCENTS ABROAD (via Project Gutenberg). And there's definitely lots of shipboard info.

INNOCENTS ABROAD was late 1860s, however. Might Henry James or Edith Wharton have any such information anywhere, from a little later in the century? (Which plunges us, I know, into the perils and pitfalls of using fiction as source material -- though I'd count the Twain more as journalism -- perhaps of the Tomn Wolfe/Hunter Thompson variety.)

10:57 AM  
Blogger Unknown said...

If you search Project Gutenberg for the subject "travel" you get all kinds of Victorian stuff. All I can suggest is that you search through it (the documents can be downloaded as searchable text docs which makes this easy).


11:15 AM  
Blogger Unknown said...

I’m a past Golden Heart finalist (2005, which is how I met Vicki!), and an unrepentant history junky. My main hobby is historical costuming. Seriously, I’m a total junkie. I made my Regency stays entirely by hand. Every freaken stitch.

My first book, Lord Sin, will be out from Zebra Debut in May (yeah, the sister thing goes on and on for Vicki and me). I’m a passionate researcher, and love doing hands-on stuff (like reenacting) and looking at primary source documents (extant letters and journals, costumes, etc.). I also write the eNotes Research column for RWA and am always looking for good topics.

I’ll show you some of my favorite sites for finding these extant documents next week . . .

11:46 AM  
Blogger Victoria Dahl said...

(yeah, the sister thing goes on and on for Vicki and me)

Yes, and I'd like to point out that Kalen is CLEARLY the crazy sister. And I am the slightly less responsible one?

12:12 PM  
Blogger Unknown said...

Working the kinks out . . . my friend Monica emailed me to say that Blogger was only allowing members of the blog to post.


I love when things morph for no reason. Hopefully it's all fixed now and anyone can post again.

12:59 PM  
Blogger Doreen DeSalvo said...

Hi everyone,

New hoyden Doreen DeSalvo reporting in for duty. Great to see y'all here.

I've have several contemporary and futuristic erotica books in print, but after I wrote one historical erotica novella I got bit by the historical bug. Now I have a Regency manuscript in search of a publisher.

I'm looking forward to learning more from my sister hoydens. Kalen, weren't you working on a list of Regency facts & fallacies? Share!


3:05 PM  
Blogger Karin Tabke said...

fab idea!!!
I'll visit regularly.

12:06 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Hello Hoydens!

If you haven't already, flock to Victoria's site and, like me, vote her for Best Smirk on a Pro Photo! I've been waiting for *ages* for Victoria's To Tempt a Scotsman...does that make me ill?

Hey, during my hours...nay...years spent consulting The Oracle (the Net), I came across some pretty funky stuff. For example, the most excellent site "A Compendium of Elizabethan England" has stuff you wouldn't believe.

While I was writing a novel set in late middle ages France, I came to an abrupt halt and wondered...

Did folks have pockets in their clothes at that time?!

The chick on the Compendium had the answer! (yes, some of them did have pockets)

Another GREAT site is "The Costumer's Manifesto", which has all the info you'll never need on period clothing, by geographical region, era, etc.

Back to you!

3:14 AM  
Blogger Mary Blayney said...

Mary Blayney here and delighted to be a history hoyden. We are a diverse group, aren’t we? It’s a great change of pace for me since I’ve never been called a hoyden before. Is that good or bad? They do make such appealing heroines. But in the real world they’re not always comfortable to be around.

History seems a natural field of study for a writer. There are so many stories waiting to be told as Vicki proved in her wonderfully scandalous post. My research goes in all directions and I do occasionally find myself (happily) lost in it. For the current work in progress I have researched: the London School of Economics, the paintings of Guardi and Canaletto, Britain’s National Trust, Einstein’s theory of relativity (idiots version) and the history of a certain coin. I suspect Guardi and Canaletto will make there way into the blog. So if you are as interested in art history as I am, please come back soon.

My “work in progress” is a novella in the second anthology with JD Robb, Mary Kay McComas and Ruth Langan. Like Bump in the Night, our first anthology, it is a romance sampler, each with a paranormal element. Mine is (no surprise) a Regency set story.

For now, I am heading back to the National Gallery of Art and more research (and lunch with a friend). There is a wireless connection nearby so I can stay in touch.

6:23 AM  
Blogger Beth Barany said...

Hi Hoydens, Congratulations for getting this blog off the ground. I'm a closet historical writer, really taking historical information and twisting for my own needs in the fantasy worlds I create. Eh, eh! Go Hoydens!
~Beth Barany, writing as Dora Wolfe

9:31 AM  
Blogger Victoria Dahl said...

Jeez, Mary is posting from the thick of it! The National Gallery of Art?! Woo-hoo!

Nathalie, thanks for the smirk shout-out! And thanks for filling us in on those great sites. I've never been to either of them, but I'm adding them to my Favorites right now. I can't haunt the net for cool sites because I'm on dial-up here in the mountains. But I don't want to talk about that. Too painful.

10:31 AM  
Blogger Unknown said...

But the view, Vicki. The view . . .

10:36 AM  
Blogger Victoria Dahl said...

Wait, are we talking about Lord Sin again? Ooooh, I get it. The mountains. Yeah, I wouldn't give up my view for anything!

And there's nothing better than being a writer in a warm, cozy house while that fluffy snow is falling. Mmm.

11:16 AM  
Blogger Kate said...

you guys are the business!

that's a lot to go with. The ship I've found had electricity on it. How Futuristic!

(another z deb)

9:19 AM  
Blogger Unknown said...

This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

10:00 AM  

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