History Hoydens


Historical Romance Writers Dishing the Dirt on Research

12 June 2007

Courting Trouble with Deeanne Gist!

Courting Trouble

by Deeanne Gist

June 2007, available now!

It’s 1894, the year of Essie Spreckelmeyer’s thirtieth birthday, and she decides the Lord has more important things to do than provide her a husband. So, she writes down the names of all the eligible bachelors in her small Texas town, makes a list of their attributes and drawbacks, closes her eyes, twirls her finger, and ... picks one.

But convincing the lucky “husband-to-be” is going to a bit more of a problem.

RT - 4 Stars! ****
“Readers will hold their breath as passions are flared, limits are crossed and secrets are revealed. Aside from a great storyline, highlighted with humor, readers will appreciate the insights that are revealed as we follow Essie on her journey toward love and acceptance."

Reviewers International Organization (RIO) - 5 Stars! *****
"From the very first pages the reader will find this one hard to set down. Essie is — in a word – spectacular! ... I was most impressed with this newer author’s previous novels A BRIDE MOST BEGRUDGING and THE MEASURE OF A LADY. But with this latest book positively sparkling with vitality and uplifting entertainment, I can emphatically state Gist has won me over completely."

Library Journal, June 2007 - Recommended
“Essie's journey is touching, funny, and refreshingly atypical of the romance genre. Her faith and fearless determination will warm the hearts of readers who enjoy gentle historicals. This delightful follow-up to the 2006 Christy Award-winning A Bride Most Begrudging and The Measure of a Lady is recommended for historical fiction collections and readers wanting a different, spiritual twist to the traditional romantic tale.”

Courting Trouble is set in turn-of-the-century Texas. How did you become interested in this setting?
My husband and I lived in Corsicana for a short time when we were first married. It was then that I learned oil was first discovered in Texas right there in Corsicana by accident while they were drilling water wells. I’d always assumed Spindletop was where it all started. So I decided it might be fun to explore Corsicana’s role in the oil industry and set a book around that.

Is there anything about this period that constrained your story? What do you like least about it?
Oh, quite the contrary. There were so many things about this time period that I wanted to include and just wasn’t able to work it in with everything else. Our country was on the precipice of big changes. Electricity was gaining momentum. Telephones were starting to pop up in homes of the affluent. Cars were just making an appearance. And women were breaking out of their mold (thus the bloomers and bikes and a new-found independence). I was able to work in some of the women’s emancipation, but none of the rest. (Maybe I’ll manage that in the sequel? We’ll see.)

I’ve noticed that each of your books is set in a different time/place. The Measure of a Lady is about a woman living through the gold-rush era in California. A Bride Most Begrudging takes place in seventeenth-century Virginia. Courting Trouble is turn-of-the-century Texas. Deeanne, are you a research slut?
Actually, I have found that by the time I spend an entire year in one particular time period, I’m ready for something new and different. Also, the premises in my books are driven by something intriguing that happens in our history. Unfortunately, those don’t always occur in the same time and location. So, that’s why I jump around so much.

I will confess, though, I can get caught up in the research and have to make myself stop and just get on with the story!

So what sparked the story idea for Courting Trouble? A character? An historical event? A scene that kept haunting you?
I’ve always been amazed that in the “olden days” a woman was considered to be an “old maid” at the age of 24 and completely out of the marriage market by age 30. That’s so young! Even today, we have a culture that goes two-by-two and many women believe they aren’t a “whole person” without a man. I think that’s so not true. So, I decided to explore that in this book.

What kind of major research did you have to do for this book?
So far, I’ve always visited the actual locale of my story. Description and scene setting are my biggest challenges, so going to the actual sight where I can see, taste, touch, feel and hear the location really, really helps. While there, I collect as many local history books as I can and start reading one after the other. (Museum book stores are a great place to find these.)

Another big help is if I know someone who lives there. They can, then, give me the skinny on the best places to go see and where to find the most accurate information. For Courting Trouble, I started at the Corsicana Historical Society. The gal who runs it was wonderful and a tremendous help to me.

You describe your books as “Edgy Inspirational,” inspirational romances that are steeped in the gritty reality of the settings of your novels. Is there any additional research that goes into the religious/spiritual aspects of your stories?
I, of course, study what doctrines were prevalent in the time period I’m writing about (i.e. in LADY, girls were taught “good” women did not experience sexual desire--and if they did, they could end up damaging themselves and their spouses. Yikes!). Other than that kind of thing, the spirituality aspect is finely woven into the story. My protagonists are Christian before the stories ever start, so there is no big evangelical message throughout where someone is “saved” in the end. They are simply stories about two people who happen to be Christian, who face challenges and often fall short of the mark.

Any favorite research tidbits you had to leave out of the finished novel?
There were bunches of anecdotes in LADY that I simply didn’t have room to include. The gold rush was filled with extraordinary people in extraordinary circumstances. The research was fascinating. There was one account where some native American men wandered through San Francisco. It was clear they’d acquired a typical miner’s outfit from someone and divided it up amongst themselves. One wore the trousers and suspenders; one wore the flannel shirt; one the hat; one the scarf; one the boots ... but that was *all* they wore--nothing else!! Can you just picture the guy in the scarf and the guy in the boots? Ha!

In Courting Trouble, it was more of what I mentioned before--I wish I could have given someone a telephone. I mean, what if you were the first person in town to get one and no one else had one? Who would you call? Hmmmm. Maybe I’ll do that in the sequel (Deep in the Heart of Trouble)!

So you're working on the sequel next? Do tell!
Most sequels are about the brother or the daughter that grows up or something like that. Deep in the Heart of Trouble is actually about the same heroine we saw in Courting Trouble. And that’s been a tremendous challenge because she already had this big character arc in the first book. To give her another flaw and another (believable) character arc has really tested my mettle!

Thank you, Deeanne. Personally, I read The Measure of a Lady and fell in love with your work, and I wish you all the best with Courting Trouble and the sequel! Please visit Deeanne's website for more about her books.

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Blogger Unknown said...

You sure scored with the cover gods! But then all your covers have been just lovely . . . I've got The Measure of a Lady in my TBR pile (it seems to have grown exponentially since I got published and much of my time became specifically devoted to writing). I can’t resist a good romance set where I live. *grin* This latest book sounds wonderful too, I’m pretty sure it will soon be “keeping company” with TMOAL. LOL!

8:36 AM  
Blogger Deeanne Gist said...

Thanks, Kalen. I've definitely been blessed in the book covers department. I keep thinking "No way will my next cover ever be as good as this last one." Then ... I am sent the new cover and am overwhelmed at my good fortune!

9:57 AM  
Blogger Kathrynn Dennis said...

Ditto on the covers, deeanne. They are beautiful.

And I love the "Courting" premise! Great stories I have to pick up for summer reading (while I am baking in the heat and Texas and Arkansas-the family homesteads).

11:31 AM  
Blogger Victoria Dahl said...

I lurved the cover of The Measure of a Lady. LURVED it. It's why I read the book even though I'd never have thought to read an inspy otherwise. And I'm so happy I did! Great stuff. You can really feel your love of history in your writing, Deeanne.

Are you going to be at RWA this year?

12:19 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...


I've read a few historical inspirationals - mostly based on their setting. It's one of the few places where I can still find have any idea why so many inspirational historical romances are set in the United States but so few non-inspirational historical romances are?
American-set historicals. Do you

1:47 PM  
Blogger Deeanne Gist said...

Yes, Victoria, I'll be at RWA. Can't wait!

Kathrynn, Courting Trouble is set in Corsicana, Texas. Where in Texas will you be?

And, I think that is a great question, Michelle, although I don't know the answer to it. Pamela Morsi wrote great American historicals before she switched to contemporary. LaVryle Spencer wrote some great American historicals also.

5:57 PM  
Blogger Victoria Dahl said...

So are you home free on research now, with the sequel?

6:26 PM  
Blogger Deeanne Gist said...

More or less. There are still supplemental things I need to research more specifically, but at least I'm in the same town, same era, same industry. That has made it very nice in a lot of ways!

7:24 PM  
Blogger Evangeline Holland said...

I love Deanne Gist's novels. Not full of "perfect" Christians at all(which is why I only read inspirationals if they're recommended).

To supplement Michelle's comment, I wonder why Inspirational Historical Romances are able to set in a variety of settings when mainstream Historical Romances are stuck in such a tiny window of history.

10:24 PM  
Blogger Elizabeth Kerri Mahon said...

Sounds like a great book. I've never read an inspirational before, but I'm intrigued by the story and the characters. Plus I love historicals. I will definitely be picking up Courting Trouble.

6:50 AM  

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