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Historical Romance Writers Dishing the Dirt on Research

17 October 2006

Welcome Margo Maguire!

THE PERFECT SEDUCTION

by Margo Maguire
Avon
Books–September 2006.

Romance Junkies:
Margo Maguire has given readers of historical romance a brilliant book. The Perfect Seduction has a brave heroine who yearns for a passionate destiny, and a broken hero who is redeemed by love. Which is why I am giving it the highest rating of 5 blue ribbons. I enjoyed a daily escape into this lush historical, the setting of which is perfection. I just couldn’t get enough of The Perfect Seduction."

Romance Reviews Today:
Their romance, combined with other features in the story, such as the suspense of what will happen when Kathryn’s true identity is inevitably discovered, and the intrigue concerning Edric’s continuing problems with disgruntled Saxons, make THE PERFECT SEDUCTION almost impossible to put down. It’s got it all, immensely likable characters, an entertaining story, passion and romance. Read it and see if you aren’t perfectly seduced by Edric, Kathryn, and their tale.

All About Romance:
Grade B

The rich historical setting that evokes the politics of the time without dragging the story into history-lecture territory, together with Maguire's vivid storytelling, really make this book…

THE PERFECT SEDUCTION has a Medieval setting. How did you become interested in this time period? What you love about it?

The Perfect Seduction is set in the year 1072 and it’s a follow-up book (although it stands alone) to The Bride Hunt, which came out in January 2006.

My interest in the Medieval period came about after I’d been a nurse for several years and needed a break (due to burn-out). So I went back to school and got another degree in history. During that time, I took several Medieval courses and found myself thinking that some of the stuff I was studying was truly stranger than fiction, and way more interesting. The day-to-day life of the people, life inside a castle, transportation, plumbing, clothing, attitudes … it’s all fascinating, at least it is to me J.

Something sparked my interest in the Norman Conquest (I can’t remember what it was) and I picked up William the Conqueror by William C. Davis. This is how I usually get ideas for my books – by reading history texts. The Davis book gave me a lot of insights into the period and the events of 1066 and beyond. It made me antsy to write about ‘real’ people of the times – how the conquest affected the lives of the people, both Norman and Saxon.

I came up with three books, meant to be in a series, but I switched publishers after the first book. So only the second two are connected, but I really loved writing in this period.

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

One of the things I love about writing Medievals is that although there is a lot of information about certain events, the details are often lacking. Many of the true historical sites are long lost. It gives me, as an author, a lot of leeway for making up details. For example, in The Bride Hunt, my hero goes off to the site where King Malcolm of Scotland is getting ready to do battle with King William. History tells us that there was no battle, but that Malcolm ‘became William’s man’ and gave him some sort of allegiance (short-lived as it was). Why was there no battle? We don’t know. I – me!— I decided that it was because of my hero.

This is also why I don’t like this period. A lot of times I search and search for details that I need, but I can’t find them anywhere. It’s frustrating!

Have you ever gone to any reenactment events to conduct research?

No, but I’ve visited sites that interest me. Castle ruins, mostly.

What/Who do you like to read?

I read all kinds of different things, a lot of thrillers (I really like Lee Child’s series) and some contemporary literature. I loved Reading Lolita in Tehran, and The Jane Austen Book Club, among others. Last summer when I visited the UK, I picked up a number of texts that I’m looking forward to reading, as soon as I meet my current deadline. But then, of course, I’ve got another deadline, but at least it’s a ways off J.

I think the first Medieval romance that I read was by Judith McNaught – A Kingdom of Dreams. Then one of Julie Garwood’s, I think it was The Gift. These are the books that made me a lover of Medieval romance novels.

Care to share a bit about your writing process? Are you a pantser or a plotter? Do you write multiple drafts or clean up as you go?

I would say I’m a hybrid!

I work from a synopsis. The one I send to my editor is about 10 pages long. The one I keep for myself is more like 20 pages long. So even though I have a good bit of detail to work from, I feel like a pantster.

Even with a synopsis, there are an awful lot of details to fill in, and I want some freedom to play with the characters or the plot. Sometimes I get going and things start happening (because they work) and I see I need to deviate from the synopsis. So I do. (And hope that my editor is ok with it!)

I write what I consider ‘good’ pages every day. That amounts to 5-10 pages that I don’t feel compelled to rewrite the next day when I skim over them. I do this pretty much every day until I reach page 200 or 250 of the manuscript. Then I do a printout and read the whole thing through for continuity, flow, pacing, characterizations. Not only do I correct problems at this point, but I regain my momentum (which usually gets lost somewhere in the middle).

From that point, I write the rest of the book, then do another printout and reread. Then it’s bye-bye manuscript, hello revisions.

What are you planning to work on next?

My current contract is for two paranormal 19th century stories. Some of my past historicals have had paranormal elements, and I’ve written a couple of Victorians, so this isn’t entirely new to me. It’s fun, and challenging.

These two books are about a couple of Celtic-style sorcerer-warriors (two sons of the high chieftain), who live in an island kingdom. When their peaceful world is threatened by an evil sorceress, the brothers must leave their place and time to go into the ‘plain,’ non-magical world. Each brother has to find a particular item of power that will help them combat the evil sorceress.

Sheesh – I’m no good at blurbs! No wonder my publisher has someone who does this full time. I figure if you just think “Lord of the Rings” meets “Harry Potter” and add a lot of romance, you’ve got the gist.

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

I’m not sure what sparked this book. I’ve had some of the characters in mind for awhile, and I guess I just developed a story around them. It’s been so long since I’ve had these people in my head, I can’t even remember where they came from!

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

Oh yeah. I did a lot of background reading on the period, since I’m not as familiar with it (I mean the day-to-day stuff) as I am with the Medieval period. For example, it’s important to know that the first book occurs during the Napoleonic Wars, because it will have a peripheral impact on the plot and characters. But it’s not a major point to the story. The kitchen and its equipment, the carriages, the clothing, the money, the towns – these are the things that are crucial to the kind of book I write.

Any historical mea culpas to fess up?

ABSOLUTELY NOT! Er, I mean – I don’t think so. Actually, I think my earlier books had a couple of faux pas, but I can’t remember what they were or how I learned about them. I will say that I never knowingly use anything anachronistic when I write. It seems more of a challenge to go with what was real, and not make changes that make a book easier to write.

There is something that I like to do, that probably drives serious historians nuts – I enjoy taking unknowns and making stories out of them. For example, in my first book, (The Bride of Windermere, March 1999), the heroine was the illegitimate daughter of Henry IV. Who knows whether Henry had an illegitimate daughter? Who knows if he didn’t?

And then there was my Mandylion series (Scoundrel’s Daughter, 2004, The Virtuous Knight, 2004). These two books took the premise that the cloth used to wipe Jesus’s face during his walk to the crucifixion (the mandylion) was hidden away by the Templar Knights. Actually, no one knows if this cloth really existed or if it’s actually the shroud of Turin. There are references to it being owned by the king of Constantinople, and that it was lost during the Crusaders’ raid. In any event, I decided to make them two separate cloths, and put it in two books. These books are both a bit paranormal, too.

So, even though I try to get the facts right – if there’s any possibility that I’m dealing with an unknown, I take full license to turn it into anything I like!


5 Comments:

Blogger Eseebee said...

Hi Margo,
Hello Ladies,

I read The Bride Hunt while vacationing in Hawaii earlier this year and after I read it, I had to know what happened to Kathryn. Margo, I love Kathryn's story, like so many of your readers have already said, TPS was hard to put down. It's such a sweet love story, Kathryn like Isabel is a wonderful heroine. I'm still hunting down your ealier works and hope that I find them soon because your writing style and story telling are superb.

Ladies, thanks so much for adding Romantically Inclined to your list of favorite sites. I've never been here before, but now that I've discovered site I will come back often :)

Isabel
Romantically Inclined

7:59 PM  
Blogger ShanaGalen said...

Love reading about your research and how you get ideas. Thanks for sharing!

7:09 AM  
Blogger Kalen Hughes said...

I gotta say, Margo, the kind of liberties you take with history are the kind I like (inventing people, not changing the way inheritance laws worked or having your characters eat potatoes way before they were introduce to Europe).

Thanks so much for joining us!

7:19 AM  
Blogger Kathrynn Dennis said...

Thanks, Margo! I love reading how other writers do it...the writing process I mean. ;-) History gives us great stories, doesn't it?

Thank you for joining us!

Kathrynn

7:46 AM  
Blogger Victoria Dahl said...

Welcome, Margo! Sorry I'm late to the game. I'm adrift in a storm-tossed world of stomach flu and two small children. Hey, that almost sounds romantic!

I loooove writing and reading interconnected stories. It looks from the descriptions of your books that you love to write series too. Is that true? Do you purposefully use secondary characters who will have their own story or do you just fall in love with them? Or do you PLAN all the books beforehand? *gasp*

-Victoria, the ultimate pantser

8:28 AM  

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