Meara Platt

Wednesday, December 10, 2014

Historical Novel Blog Tour: Stop Two – England, 19th Century

Dear Readers and Fans, today I am a part of the wonderful Historical Novel Blog Tour! Every week you can follow the tour to various historical fiction author's blogs and get to know their time periods and the authors behind the pages! 

A special thanks to author Tiffani Burnett-Velez for putting this on. You can go back to stop one and visit Berlin, 1945 on Tiffani's blog. So, let's jump right in! Off to 19th Century England we go. 

Who are you, where you’re from, your writing credits:
I’m managing partner in a New York City law firm and a practicing lawyer for many years.  I met my husband in law school and we’ve been married 30+ years.  We have two great kids that I get to see fairly often because they work in NYC near my office.  I live on Long Island, New York, so the Long Island Railroad is my friend most days of the week since I am one of many thousands of commuters.  I am a member of Romance Writers of America (RWA) and have also been active for many years in our local Long Island, New York chapter of RWA. I’ve learned so much from the members of our chapter and our local sister chapters – we’re all very supportive of each other, which is vital to writers since writing is a very lonely undertaking.  I’m an RWA Golden Heart winner in short historical romance (ie – books under 375 pages) and that winning story will be Book 3 of my paranormal romance series (also set in Regency period) – that series is due out in mid/late 2015.

What is your latest historical fiction piece:
My debut novel, My Fair Lily, which is Book #1 of the Farthingale Series is out now and seems to be doing quite nicely on Amazon.  It’s a light-hearted Regency historical romance that I hope fans find funny and romantic.  Lily is an English bluestocking who knows everything about books and nothing about men, except that her legs turn to pudding whenever she encounters Ewan, the rugged Scottish hero who tries very hard not to fall in love with her.  The Farthingale’s are a large and boisterous family and Lily Farthingale is but one of their daughters about to make her entrance into Society.  Lily has an identical twin sister, Daffodil, whose story will be coming out in January 2015 called The Duke I’m Going To Marry.  Each of the five Farthingale girls will have their own story – they each have distinct personalities, and manage to add gray hairs on their father’s head in very different ways.

Why did you choose to write it:
Really Lily and Daffodil (known to her friends as Dillie) made me write their stories.  I had no choice – they basically hijacked my mind, put me down in that chair in front of my computer and told me what to write.  But seriously, I knew that I wanted to write a series involving a large and boisterous Regency-era family.  Since I’m a twin myself, I thought it would be great fun to have two of the daughters be identical twins, so close in looks that not even their parents can tell them apart.  Of course, the hero destined for each daughter never has a problem telling them apart, because (mawkish moment here) their hearts just know.

What about that era appeals to you:
Everything!  I love England and its history.  I love Shakespeare’s depictions of the English kings, and his comedies such as Much Ado About Nothing and Twelfth Night.  I love the Regency gowns, the carriages, the stately homes and gardens.  I love the English sense of humor.  In fact, whenever I try to write something contemporary, my characters seem to take over and toss me back a couple of hundred years!  What can I say?  I must be an old soul.

Are your characters real or fictional?  If they’re real, how did you fictionalize them:
My main characters are fictional, but at times I’ll mention a person or event that actually happened in that time period, usually to add a little flavor to the story, but these real life characters are never the main focus.  Obviously, since Lily and Daffodil Farthingale are twins, as am I, there is also that connection to real life.  However, my twin and I are not identical in anything other than that we’re both avid couch potatoes.

What kind of research is involved in writing your novel:
I have books on costumes of the period, jewelry, carriages, heraldry, peerage, etc.  I have books on British expressions, Scottish clan maps, etc.  I’ve traveled to England and Scotland, so I’ve seen just about all the places I write about – it really helps.  But I also have lots of picture books, and of course, I go on line as well to search for particular information.  Since none of us lived in the Regency time period, or any historical period for that matter, trying to understand what life might have been like in that time is important.  We might not get all the details right, but we try our best to capture the flavor of that time. 

How do you organize the fictional aspects of your writing vs. the historical facts: 
First, I come up with a basic story idea, and then before I start writing, I research that specific month or year to make sure that what I write will also coincide with the historical facts of that time.  For example, in Book 3 of the Farthingale series, a significant moment in the story is the hero and heroine being separated because Napoleon has escaped Elba.  Of course, I can’t just ignore that historical fact – so my story has to be sensitive to the dates surrounding his escape and ultimate defeat at Waterloo. 

How does the historical timeline move your plot along or influence the actions of your characters: 
The personality of each character, especially in the Farthingale series since that book is written in Regency-era England, is shaped by the actual historical events.  So the hero might have come back from fighting Napoleon on the Peninsula and lost soldiers, siblings, or dear friends in battle.  Or the heroine may feel frustrated that she can’t do more to help in the war effort.  What each character experiences in their backstory will shape how they respond in the story that I write.  Whether the plot involves the Napoleonic wars or simply a young lady’s debut at a ball, the events of the day, the sad moments as well as the good events, all shape the character and drive the story forward. 

How do you feel about writers taking creative license with historical facts?  Or, does it bother you when facts are changed to fit the story in a movie or a book: 
I’m for writers taking creative license within certain guidelines.  As writers, we’re catering to modern day readers, so our stories have to connect with those readers.  For example, in Regency stories, I have no problem with writers who make their heroines more active and engaged in business affairs, or who might have their heroines go out on their own, stand up to men, insist on finding love rather than marry for convenience or out of necessity.  Modern readers won’t respond to wimpy heroines.  When a movie like The Scarlet Letter (the one starring Demi Moore) changes the original story so dramatically, that galls me.  That film studio took a great book and used it to forward their agenda.  They were too lazy to write their own original story, so they purposely took advantage of a classic to butcher it into the story they wanted to tell. However, that creative license can also be well done.  I can’t recall the particular author’s name, but he wrote a series that imagined the Nazis winning World War II – that was a great idea.  He changed historical facts, but for a creative purpose, and made a great story out of it.  I believe it was also turned into a very successful television miniseries. 

What’s next for you after this present work: 
My Fair Lily is Book 1 in the Farthingale series and will be followed in late January 2015 by The Duke I’m Going To Marry which is Book 2 in the series.  The Duke I’m Going To Marry is Daffodil’s story, and as you may have guessed by the title, there is a duke involved.  However, as far as Daffodil is concerned, this duke is the last person on earth she wishes to marry.  First of all, he purposely calls her Daffy, a name she detests, and he’s a notorious rakehell who has declared that he will never marry.  I’ve just gotten the cover design and am thrilled with it.  Greg Simanson is a cover designer extraordinaire!  I can’t wait for my readers to see the beautiful cover and I hope they love it AND the story as much as I do.

Thank you, Tiffani, for allowing me to share my thoughts and stories! Up next is a terrific writer and fellow Booktrope author, Eleanor Parker. Next stop - Latin America!

Eleanor Parker Sapia, a Puerto Rican-born novelist, was raised in the US, Europe and the colonial city of Ponce, Puerto Rico where she got the idea for her debut novel, A Decent Woman. She has lived in France, Greece, Austria and in Brussels, Belgium, where she spent 13 years. Ellie has degrees from Marymount University in Virginia and Philippi Trust Counseling and Training Center, Blackpool, UK. She makes her home in West Virginia.

Her debut novel, A Decent Woman, will be published with Booktrope in Winter 2015. She is currently writing her second novel, Finding Gracia, inspired by her journey on the medieval pilgrimage walk of El Camino in Spain. She focuses on writing stories that introduce the reader to Latin American and Spanish characters.

Ellie was an exhibiting fine artist for 20 years. Her watercolor portraits, collages, and multimedia paintings have garnered awards nationally and internationally and are included in private collections and government buildings in the United States, Europe and Japan. She is one of the founding members of Art Perspectives International in Brussels, Belgium and an exhibiting member of the Race Street Artist’s Coop in Martinsburg, West Virginia. She is a member of two writing groups in Maryland. Ellie has worked social services and education as a creative writing and art teacher for adults and children, a counselor, Spanish language Family Support Worker, Spanish language Refugee Case Worker, and a staff member of a private Residential Treatment Center for children.

Ellie writes at The Writing Life blog where she offers book reviews, author interviews, and shares snippets of her journey as a writer. She has facilitated eight, The Artist’s Way, creativity groups and mentors women in finding their passion in life.


At January 28, 2015 at 11:26 AM , Blogger Gwendolyn Petarch said...

Beautiful Meara! I love the ones who aren't husband material but then again I'm prone to crushes on alphas in books and your duke sounds delicious!


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