History Hoydens


Historical Romance Writers Dishing the Dirt on Research

09 September 2013

Welcome, Elena Greene!

by Elena Greene

Having fallen on hard times, Emma Westfield provides for herself and her young brother by teaching at the school in their village. Life has taught her to hide her passionate nature, but her resolution wavers when a handsome aeronaut crashes his balloon nearby and is brought to her cottage.

Estranged from his family, Captain Gilbert Manning has spent most of his life in the British army, campaigning from India to Waterloo. Now that the war is over, he supports himself and veterans of his company by giving balloon exhibitions.

Emma learns that the outwardly devil-may-care rogue recovering on her sofa bears inner scars as grim as those on his body. Gil knows he’s not an eligible suitor, but he longs to teach Emma to embrace life despite all its tragedies. Although they struggle against it, their passion sweeps them along, taking them on a scandalous flight across the English countryside.

They must marry, but can they make a life together?

I fully admit that I'm filled with glee and envy that Elena has written a book with a balloonist hero.  I've had an opening scene for just such a book stuck in my head for years now, but have yet to find the book it belongs to. Elena has generously agreed to give away a copy of FLY WITH A ROGUE today, so please remember to leave your email in the comments so we can contact you!

Fly with a Rogue  is set in 1817. Is there a particular reason you chose that year?

I wanted it to be about two years after Waterloo, time for my hero to recover from his wounds and start his new endeavor, giving balloon ascensions.

How did you become interested in this time period? What you love about it?

My mother loved Georgette Heyer’s novels and traditional Regency romances. They were all over the house and, as a child, I devoured them. In third grade, I got in trouble with a nun at school for having Venetia in my bookbag. I don’t think she realized how much vocabulary I learned from Heyer’s books and that’s why I won all the spelling contests! Later, in my teens, I learned to appreciate Jane Austen and I also started reading Regency-set historical romances by favorite authors including Jo Beverley and Mary Jo Putney. Now that I’m writing in the period, I particularly love reading Regency era letters, diaries and memoirs. What do I love about the Regency? The visual beauty of clothes, architecture, and the landscape. The history: the Napoleonic Wars, the changes going on in society, how these things affected people as individuals.

What do you like least about this period? Anything that constrained you or that you had to plot carefully around?

There are things I wouldn’t like to live with: limitations on women’s opportunities for education and public life, for instance. But these constraints in the period can contribute to story conflict, so I don’t plot around them. I strive to write heroines who are strong, or who come into their strength in the course of the story, despite the challenges posed by their position in society. That’s a tension that’s still relevant now.

Anything you flat-out altered or “fudged”? If so, why?

To set up my hero’s backstory, I changed what happened in one part of the Battle of Waterloo, replacing two real captains of the Rifle Brigade with my hero and another character. It’s at the level of detail many people wouldn’t notice, but Sharpe fans might. I included an Author’s Note because of that, also because I like to keep the record straight when real people were involved.

Any gaffs or mea culpas you want to fess up to before readers get their hands on the book? I know I always seem to find one after the book has gone to press. *sigh*

None that I know of at this point, but I always worry! It’s the things you think you know that bite you.

Tell us a little about your hero. Something fun, like his favorite childhood pet, or his first kiss. 

Not only does Gil know how to pilot a hydrogen balloon, he also juggles. Though not as well as he pilots the balloon, or he and my heroine, Emma, wouldn’t have had a happy ending.

What sparked this book? Was it a character? An historical event? A scene you just couldn’t get out of your head?

I’ve had the idea of a balloonist hero since I started going to the local Balloon Rally and Spiediefest (in upstate New York we have a festival to celebrate grilled meat on a stick). At first I pictured a hero who was very fun,  the right sort of man to shake up a heroine who takes things too seriously. By the time I got to work on the story, years later, Gil had taken on more depth, but there’s still a lot that’s fun about this story.

Did you have to do any major research for this book? Did you stumble across anything really interesting that you didn’t already know?

This is the most research-intensive book I’ve written so far, between the military backstory and the ballooning. The stories of the early aeronauts were sometimes amusing, sometimes tragic.  People who’ve read about the first crossing of the English Channel by balloon may know that the two aeronauts, Blanchard and Jeffries, had to strip off most of their clothing to avoid landing in the water. I didn’t know until I’d delved further that they also relieved themselves over the side to lighten the load. Sadder was the story of Madame Blanchard, who gave balloon ascensions after her husband’s death but tragically died after setting off fireworks from her balloon.

What are you planning to work on next?

I’m still thinking about it. One idea is to do stories about the four foundlings in an earlier release,  Lady Dearing’s Masquerade. As adults, they would face interesting challenges, since society held a stigma against foundlings.

Thanks for this opportunity, Hoydens!


Blogger Unknown said...

Good interview, thanks for posting! Heard about you from Diane @ Risky Regencies. :)

12:51 PM  
Blogger Elena Greene said...

Thanks for stopping by, Clara. I'm one of the Riskies along with Diane, but as it was her day to blog she kindly did the shout-out. :)

1:29 PM  
Blogger Cara King said...

Now I picture the hero in the balloon juggling his clothes to impress the heroine, and the clothes accidentally going over the side...and of course he tells her it was on purpose (to lighten the load!) :-)

By the way, I love ballooning Regencies, and am looking forward to reading this one!

9:57 PM  
Blogger Elena Greene said...

Nice condensed version, Cara!

3:29 AM  

Post a Comment

<< Home

Free Web Site Counter
Kennedy Western University Online