History Hoydens


Historical Romance Writers Dishing the Dirt on Research

12 February 2007

Doreen's new release

I have a new book out this week!
Bedding the Beast
I hope you all love the cover as much as I do. Loose Id has some of the classiest covers. Full disclosure: I own part of Loose Id. But we still have great covers!

Back to my book, Bedding the Beast. It's an historical with paranormal elements set in the 1880s in Pennsylvania. The characters live on a small farm, the kind with one room and a stove used for heating. It's far removed from my usual Regency realm, but I had a great time writing it -- even though I had to do research on what kind of soap they were likely to use to do laundry. That's probably as close as I've come to actually doing laundry in years (sometimes it's nice to have a house husband).

As you can probably guess from the title, the story is loosely based on Beauty and the Beast. But my real inspiration for the book was a true story about my great-grandparents.

My great-grandfather, Giuseppe Sciullo (ironically, that name translates to Joseph Smith), paid a man in a small village in Italy to give him one of their daughters, Maria Suzio. Giuseppe and Maria came to the United States and settled in Pennsylvania. Within a year, Maria died in childbirth.

Always a frugal man, Giuseppe went back to Italy and told her parents that the wife they'd given him was defective. He wanted his money back. Maria's father, who could trade horses with the best of them, refused to give Giuseppe a refund. Instead, he forced another daughter, Pasqua (Esther), to marry Giuseppe.

Pasqua had a life in Italy, and had no desire to come to the United States. She hated Giuseppe and never got over her bitterness, despite raising her sister's child and four of her own. I remember thinking, as a child, how different her life could have been if she had been a little more forgiving, and a little more accepting of her life. She could have been a relatively happy woman, if she hadn't focused on the bitterness of how she came to be married to this stranger.

I gave her a new personality, changed a few aspects of the real story, added a ghost and a ton of hot sex, and Bedding the Beast was born. I have to say that this is one of my favorite stories I've written. It's the book that convinced me I could write historicals.

Comments, anyone? I'd love to hear from other authors who based a book on a true story. History is full of great plots. Know of any that are ripe for a good fictionalizing?

Cheers to all,

P.S. - You'll be able to purchase Bedding the Beast on Tuesday, February 13, at Loose Id. Just in time for that big Hallmark Holiday.


Blogger treva said...

And, what Doreen modestly doesn't say in all the history and cover talk, is that it's a really good story. But then she doesn't turn out bad ones.

Treva Harte

1:06 PM  
Blogger Doreen DeSalvo said...

Aww...I'm blushing here! Thanks, Treva, and back at ya.


1:30 PM  
Blogger Unknown said...

I can't wait to buy this. I tried to grab it for my 28 hour trip home from Morocco, but it wasn't available yet (did you hear my indignant squawk half-way around the planet?).

I love the fact that it’s a reworking of a real story (esp a real story from your own family). I find lots of famous and not so famous people inspirational. The proposal I’m working on right now got its start with the famous Regency courtesan Harriette Wilson and her infamous memoir (“Published and be damned.”—apocryphally—quoth the Duke of Wellington).

1:58 PM  
Blogger Doreen DeSalvo said...

Thanks, Tonda! I hope you enjoy the book. It should be released by midnight tonight.

I've been musing on a proposal about a famous courtesan, too. Not much of it will be drawn from Hariette Wilson's life, but she definitely is an interesting character.

Cheers, Doreen

2:59 PM  
Blogger Kathrynn Dennis said...

Wow, what a great story, Doreen. And when it comes from the heart, like this one does, the book is bound to be wonderful.

On my TO BE READ list! Thanks for the heads up!

4:06 PM  
Blogger Pam Rosenthal said...

I loved the earlier version -- looking forward to how you do the ghost. Congrats, Doreen, and Happy Hallmark Holiday.

7:29 PM  
Blogger Doreen DeSalvo said...

Thanks, Kathryn! You're right, it does show when a book comes from the heart. I hope you enjoy this one.

Pam, thanks again for your kind words on the previous version. Adding the ghost was fun. It was one of those revisions where you think, "This fits so well...why didn't I think of it from the very beginning?"


9:57 PM  
Blogger Karin Tabke said...

great story, Doreen, and quite eerily, my husband's maternal side of the family (Italian) has a very similar story. This one unfolded in Vacaville. In hubby's family's case, when the chosen sister came from Italy to meet the man she was to wed, he was so ugly she rejectd him. There was a great controversy. The inteneded groom was older and a wealthy land owner. He could not bear the disrespect. But the girl stood firm. To save face for both families, her baby sister (13) who had traveled with her, stepped up and said she'd marry him. She had her first of many children the next year. But it was never a love match.
It's on my long list of stories to write.

1:16 PM  
Blogger Doreen DeSalvo said...

Ooh, what a sad story, Karin. I hope you do write it someday -- with a happier ending, just like I did.

There's a long, sad tradition in Italy of selling off daughters. I remember when I saw the Fellini film "La Strada," how sad it was when the heroine is forced to leave her family. And come to think of it, she's sold to the man as a replacement for her sister, who died under unexplained circumstances.

Hope you all are having a blissful day.


3:18 PM  
Blogger Jeanne said...

Great story, Doreen!
Although it's not a personal one, I found out a whole different person when I was researching the life of Lucrezia Borgia for my upcoming release for Loose Id. She has such a bad rep, but in truth, she was used as a pawn by her family. Her third and last spouse, the Duke of d'Este, must have loved her. It took more than 7 years for her to bear him an heir. By the end of her 2nd year of marriage, her brother Cesare was out of power, her father, Pope Alexander VI, was dead. She could have been tossed aside, but they had a long marriage. It was said, at her funeral, he fainted away from grief. And in Ferrara, they still revere her memory.
I focused a lot of my story on what *might* have been between the two of them.
I *love* research!

8:06 PM  
Blogger Doreen DeSalvo said...

Thanks, Jeanne, and welcome to the Hoydens' sandbox.

One thing I love about history is that even historians don't always agree on what happened. There are so many interesting and varied accounts of the Borgias. I love the notion that she finally found some happiness with her third husband. Thanks for sharing that story.


10:56 AM  

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