History Hoydens

Example

Historical Romance Writers Dishing the Dirt on Research

14 November 2006

Welcome, Allison Knight!

Allison Knight
Too Late To Scream
Coming from Wings Press in November 2006

Outside New Orleans, convent-raised orphan Libby Sutton arrives to care for a little girl, only to discover that the child cannot, or will no, speak. Things are terribly wrong at Les Chenes. The first nanny disappeared without a trace and servants are now being murdered.

Is her life at risk like the child for whom she cares? Alex, the father, may be responsible, and if he is, is he a threat to Libby? And why does he stir such feelings in her?


TOO LATE TO SCREAM is set in the mid 1800's - pre civil war, or the war between the states, along the River Road west of New Orleans, LA.

You asked how did I become interested in this time period, and I’d have to say that I just love history. The way the people lived, what they had to put up with, the clothes, they wore, the houses in which they lived all intrigue me.

As far as constraints go, I think the most difficult thing in writing in this time period is trying to figure out how fast boats or horses could go and as far the horses are concerned, how long. I’ve had to spend hours on line and in books trying to figure out how long it would take, and sometimes, how many horses it would take to get from point A to point B. Believe me, it can be frustrating if you don’t know much about horses.

The idea for this book and most of my gothics come from a house or a location. In fact, my next Gothic was inspired by a house I saw in Tennessee on the way home from a relative’s funeral. “Too Late To Scream” developed from a sighting seeing trip to the New Orleans area. Pieces started falling into place with first, then house and the Ursuline Convent we toured.

I always end up doing a lot of research for my books. Also, I go off on tangents. Something strikes me as odd or different and I’m off to another section of a book, or the internet. I’ll spend hours researching and then grit my teeth, because I haven’t written a word on the novel. I also discovered doing this book what an important part of New Orleans the Ursuline Convent and Orphanage played in the eighteen hundreds.

Fortunately for me, the historical mistakes I’ve made, I’ve been able to catch before the book when to print. Oh, but the problems they can create! With my very first book, I had the turning point of the whole book, a civil war battle scene all wrong. I had to rewrite a whole two chapters as a result. More recently, I blew the way a horse would have reacted in a given situation. Lucky for me, my editor knew something about horses and I got a “you have to change this ASAP” from her.

I love writing period. Historicals are great fun (I think I really enjoy the research) and Gothics mean I get to put a lot of mystery into the book. Killing off characters in different ways can also be intriguing. You can’t kill them the same way all the time and I don’t do gross, so it’s a challenge.

After I made all the usual mistakes, and learned something about submitting, agents, etc. I sent a proposal to Kensington for the Heartfire line. When I didn’t hear anything, I sent a second proposal and then a third. First sale was for those three books. It was great. I now have a half dozen books under my bed that haven’t seen the light of day. They need massive rewrites. The more you write, the more you learn and I’ve learned a great deal since I started this business.

I definitely am a plotter. I might not start at the beginning, but before I begin to write I have a detailed outline drawn up. Oh, it may change, but I have the essential plot and I know where the story is going. Things change along the way, but I usually follow the outline. Things often get added. There are three instances in “Too Late To Scream” where I added something, because the characters demanded it. . They do talk to you. I hate to admit that I usually clean up as I go. Then my critique partners take a lot and more cleaning. Finally, my harshest critic reads the work and there is usually a lot more cleaning up to do. By the way, that critic is my husband. On occasion, he can blow a whole scene, pointing out that something isn’t right, won’t work, or is out of character for the individual involved. And, yes he is very supportive.

As always, I have a half dozen characters running around in my head demanding I tell their stories. I have another Gothic, as I mentioned, and one of the sisters in “Simon’s Brides”, a historical also from Wings Press, just won’t be quiet. I have a final rewrite for a historical set in Alaska that must be done, oh and I have two great characters for a Regency time period romance . . .

That’s what I mean about the characters. They can be very demanding.

3 Comments:

Blogger Kalen Hughes said...

Hey Allison!

I find it really interesting that Gothics might be making a comeback. Maybe it has something to do with how hot paranormals are? What do you think?

1:16 PM  
Blogger Kathrynn Dennis said...

Cool, Allison. I love the setting of your book. I went to school in Baton Rouge and New Orleans enchanted me. I visit whenever I can find an excuse to go.

And as for writing about horses, Julia Ross has a website with a great link for romance writers on horse facts---she even has a post called "How fast, how far?" where you can find quick answers to horse "travel" questions!

Kathrynn

2:18 PM  
Blogger Kalen Hughes said...

I think Julia's site was one of the first things I ever ran into as an aspiring romance writer. LONG before I discovered RWA or even finished a book.

3:44 PM  

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