Many thanks to the lovely and uber-talented Libi Astaire for inviting me to join her on this blog tour. If you’re unfamiliar with her work, please visit her website and take a peek at her wonderful Regency Era mysteries. They are utterly delightful!
My assignment for this blog tour is to answer the four questions below, and then to choose two or three other authors with whom I am proud to be acquainted. There’s a reward for your participation, too! All you have to do is comment on my blog post and one other of the authors I’ve selected and your name will be entered to win a signed copy of my short story collection, Sixteen Seasons. Ready?
1) What am I working on now?
My third full length novel is entitled Gods and Monsters. The culture and social atmosphere of bygone eras often inspires me to examine our own. I’m constantly amazed by how little—despite technology and ever evolving fashions—things have changed. And yet there are some things which have changed entirely. Thank heaven!
Take the disparagement in practical education between the sexes in the Victorian era. A woman was raised to be naive and innocent, knowing little if anything about the seedier sides of life, while men were encouraged to display their virility and masculine power. Thus they often had experiences which far outdid those of their fairer counterparts. Such was all well and good as long he was discreet and no inconvenient consequences resulted.
But what of those consequences? Certainly there would be consequences of one type or another. What might happen were a “gentleman” of considerable worldly experience to find that his past has inextricably entangled him with a woman he might love—who might inspire him to a better and greater purpose—had he not a past to answer to that must prevent her from trusting or even respecting him? And how does he explain such a past to satisfaction? If he means to do it honestly, such might prove his destruction. But sometimes our destruction is also our salvation.
My chiefest complaint with modern Historical Fiction is that it isn’t historical enough. Things seem to be getting better as readers demand more attention to research and historical detail, but for a long time historical novels—even bestselling ones—were really modern stories set against a backdrop of lavish costume and stilted manners (and sometimes dialog). My aim is not only to paint a story that is painstakingly accurate in historical detail, but to give it life and atmosphere and flavor as well. I want my readers’ experience to be that of walking into history, rich with the sites and sounds and smells of it all.
I’ve also found that there is a lot of misunderstanding about how these people really lived. We have our hackneyed and cliched ideas of what etiquette did and did not allow for. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve been surprised to find that their lives were not quite as tightly laced as one might think. Naughty parlor games, cyphered want adds for marriage and dating and help when one has found themselves in the family way, herbal and natural remedies, and the bearing of various body parts without the threat of impending matrimony are all addressed in Gods and Monsters with what some might find dubious accuracy. But it’s all true, I assure you! *snickers wickedly*
To be honest I don’t like to answer this question. I guess I fear people are less likely to read my work if they know I have an agenda. But then, for each of my books the answer is slightly different.
In my first novel, Of Moths and Butterflies, I felt a need to explore some of my own past experiences, and to come to terms with them if I could. My hope was that my journey would help others. But I also wanted to show what the long-lasting effects of abuse are, and how, despite our desire to overcome, or our impatience with loved ones whom we feel ought to just “get over it” sometimes healing takes a very, very long time. It will and can happen, however. And in Moths, I wished to show what happiness can come by leaving the past behind and having the courage to love and trust again.
In Cry of the Peacock—which was actually the first book I wrote—my purpose was somewhat different. I really only wanted to see if I could actually write a book. I wanted to attempt to recreate a classic, if I could. I’m not sure I quite accomplished that, and while it does deal with honesty and secrets and lies and pride…it is not meant to have a strong didactic theme to it.
Gods is different. As I’ve found some considerable success in my writing, I’ve felt compelled to use my talent to try, if I could, to better the world. I want to use Gods not only to show how much things have changed—for both good and bad—but also to point out the chaos we create in society and in our relationships when we do not treat those relationships—sexual relationships in particular—with the sanctity they deserve. It is meant to show the consequences of unwise actions. But it’s also meant to show that wrongs can be righted, that hearts can be changed, that forgiveness can be found and honor recovered. My purpose is never to lecture, only to inspire and uplift—and to give hope, as those writing and performing with similar purpose have done for me.
I try to write every day, but it doesn’t always happen. We’re remodeling a Victorian house at the moment, and it’s lately been taking all the spare time I have. Ordinarily I devote four hours a day to my writing. I typically start a work with a theme I want to address and a few key characters, then I outline. Then I research. And then I write. I may not outline the entire thing before I begin, but I’ll have a general idea of where I need to start and end, and what it’s going to take to fill in the dots to get me there. Each day I read what I wrote the day before, and so long as everything continues to gel, then that usually primes me to write on from there. If, however, things aren’t working, if I can’t come up with the words, then I know I have to go back and figure out what I’ve done wrong. And that can sometimes take weeks! Which I really hate. I do have an amazing editor who helps me through it all. From beginning to end she ‘s there to support me and help me and guide me. I think she’s really more of a personal writing trainer than just an editor. I’m pretty sure you couldn’t hire the kind of service and support she provides for me.
And that’s me explained in a nutshell! Or my writing life, at least. Now it’s time to pass the baton over to three wonderful and amazing authors whose work I would love for you to become more familiar with. Remember, comment on my post and on one of the other two, and I’ll enter you to win a copy of my recently published short story collection, Sixteen Seasons! It’s a perfect sampling of what I do and where my writing might yet take me. (hint, hint, and wink) Don’t like short stories? Well, then. Think of them as sixteen tiny novels. (They really are very good.)
Jenny Baxter was born and raised in a small town in western Washington, where she now resides with her husband and four kids. She is a substitute teacher at her local high school, and somehow manages to write around all the work, children, and laundry. She is the author of the Chronicles of Nequam series and a wonderful blog on the art and craft of writing.
Gev Sweeney lives with her guinea pig, Auden Baby-Boar, in a tiny cottage in an old Methodist Camp Meeting town at the Jersey Shore. She holds an M.A. in communication from Monmouth University and an M.A. in the history and theory of music from Rutgers University. Once upon a time, she traded her master’s thesis about the Berlioz opera les Troyens for tickets to a sold-out performance of Candide at New York City Opera. Her first book, a historical (The Scattered Proud), was followed by a contemporary (Mount Can’t) followed by a Regency (Acquaintance) followed by a paranormal (Salutaris). Not one to stick to any particular genre, Gev writes about schemers and denialists, the loved lost and the detested found–characters shaped by fear, freed by obsession, and carved by the quest to understand people and worlds that defy analysis. She also maintains a blog, where she highlights her work as well as the work of other authors.
With the screaming success of my Amazon promotion (a week and a half later, it’s still a bestseller!), I’ve very nearly forgotten about my giveaway. But how could I? EBooks are one thing, a revolution in progress and all that, but PHYSICAL COPIES? How could anyone resist? I still prefer good ol’ hardcovers, but you know how old fashioned I am.
So here it is, the Rafflecopter giveaway. It looks complicated, but it’s really not. Just enter, click the buttons, do what it says and that’s it! You collect points for everything you do. Do one thing, do them all and increase your chances! If I get fifty entries, I’ll double the prize! How’s that? So please participate. And while’s you’re here, why not stay a while? There’s exciting stuff happening all the time.