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Historical Romance Writers Dishing the Dirt on Research

21 November 2006

Welcome, Elizabeth Hoyt

The Raven Prince
by Elizabeth Hoyt

THERE COMES A TIME IN A LADY'S LIFE...

Widowed Anna Wren is having a wretched day. After an arrogant male on horseback nearly squashes her, she arrives home to learn that she is in dire financial straits. What is a gently bred lady to do?

WHEN SHE MUST DO THE UNTHINKABLE...

The Earl of Swartingham is in a quandary. Having frightened off two secretaries, Edward de Raaf needs someone who can withstand his bad temper and boorish behavior. Dammit! How hard can it be to find a decent secretary?

AND FIND EMPLOYMENT.

When Anna becomes the earl’s secretary, both their problems are solved. Then she discovers he plans to visit the most notorious brothel in London for his “manly” needs. Well! Anna sees red—and decides to assuage her “womanly” desires . . . with the earl as her unknowing lover.

Two Copies will be given away to lucky posters! One will be randomly drawn and the other awarded to the reader who can correctly answer Elizabeth's MEA CULPA question in the interview below.

THE RAVEN PRINCE is set in Georgian England (my own obsession). How did you become interested in this time period? What you love about it?

Georgian is so sexy, don’t you think? Come on! Guys in powdered wigs and heels, wearing skirted coats and swords? Everyone was wearing swords! Think of the phallic symbolism. Oh, yeah, and there’s that Age of Enlightenment stuff, and things being invented right and left, and Dr. Johnson, and Hogarth, and London, which was becoming this great center of trade and culture and fashion. But mostly, I think it’s the swords.

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

Nah.

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

Okay, aside from the swords, I liked the idea of an aristocrat who was also a man of learning. Here’s where the Age of Enlightenment comes in. My hero, Edward de Raaf, the Earl of Swartingham, is interested in agricultural innovation and belongs to the Agrarian Club which meets in a disreputable London coffeehouse.

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

Well, I did a lot of research into smallpox. Edward’s entire family has died of the disease and he survived with scars. I had to figure out what smallpox scars looked like (kind of like acne scars but wider) and how the disease progressed (you don’t want to know.) Also, I found out about Lady Mary Montagu, who brought a primitive (but effective) form of smallpox innoculation to England seventy years before Edward Jenner. Actually I’ve got a whole section on my website devoted to cool things I found while doing historical research but never got to use. Lady M is there if you’d like to look: http://www.elizabethhoyt.com/extras/research/smallpox.html

Any historical mea culpas to fess up? (things you found out were wrong when it was too late to change the book or things that you used knowing they were wrong or anachronistic)

You want me to confess to getting my research wrong?! *sigh* Okay, there’s this small, really tiny, little thing that isn’t altogether . . . correct. I’ll give you two hints: macaroni and the fact that The Raven Prince is set in spring of 1760. Post to this blog with the reason why those two facts in conjunction might be a problem for someone who’s a real historical stickler. I’ll draw a name from among the right answers and send that person an autographed copy of The Raven Prince. Jeez.

What/Who do you like to read?

The usual rollcall of great historical romance authors—Lisa Kleypas, Julia Quinn, Stephanie Laurens, etc. Right now, though, I’m reading Jonathan Strange & Mr. Norrell by Susanna Clarke. Clarke’s use of Regency language is just spectacular. I’m hoping to finish the book by Christmas. Maybe.

How did your writing carreer take off? Was it a Zero-to-Published kind of thing? Or did you have ten finished books under the bed before you sold?

It was kind of in-between those extremes. I had four books under the bed, so it wasn’t zero-to-published. On the other hand, considering that everyone was telling me that the historical was dead (DEAD, I tell you!) I sold in a respectable amount of time. So neener neener to the historical-is-dead people.

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?

The Raven Prince was my very first book. I wrote it without plotting and was anxious the entire time. Plotting is my writing security blanket. I do pretty thorough character sketches, backstories, and scene by scene outlines now. Having said that, though, I always find that the characters are their own people once I start writing and sometimes they just don’t want to go down the path I’ve set for them. I write a complete first draft and then clean it up . . . and clean it up . . . and clean it up.

What are you planning to work on next?

Ooo! I’m writing the first book in a four book trilogy. I think that’s a quadrilogy. Or maybe a trilogy plus one. In any case it’s about these four guys who are veterans of the French and Indian war in the colonies. Their entire regiment was destroyed in a bloody massacre and in the first book, the hero finds out that the regiment was BETRAYED! Think Daniel Day Lewis in LAST OF THE MOHICANS (wearing those sexy buckskin breeches and armed with a really long rifle) traveling to Georgian England to find the man who betrayed him. That’s what I’m thinking about anyway.

17 Comments:

Blogger Kalen Hughes said...

The book sounds fab, Elizabeth. I'm tempted to keep the copy I bought to give away for myself (tee-hee). But I'll be strong (and go buy myself my own copy).

You want me to confess to getting my research wrong?!

Maybe I'm the only one that thinks confession is good for the soul?

I've already found 3 things wrong with my book since I sent it in (luckily I'll be able to fix them in copy edits) but I'm sure there are more (non-period words and such) that will slip by. And at least one (mount) I’m not going to change.

I research the hell out of stuff, but sometimes things get past us, and we can't know everything about everything. Kind of like your macaroni quandary . . . anyone got that answer yet?

8:21 AM  
Blogger Kathrynn Dennis said...

Hi Elizabeth,

Wonderful cover! And the title The Raven Prince conjures up the image of a very sexy hero!

Will add him, er, the book to my Xmas list...!

Kathrynn

9:18 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Hi Elizabeth,

Congratulations on your debut. I've heard so many good things about TRP and it comes highly recommended by many of my friends :)
I loved the interview. I'm always interested in learning about the writing process, plotting, research and overall behind the scenes look of a book.
I'll give your question a shot. *crosses fingers*
Macaroni refers to a person of questionable sexuality or fashion style. Macaronis were often ridiculed/insulted. Elizabeth, could it be that one of your characters is referred to as macaroni when he/she is not? Or you be using the term Macaroni before it was officially known?

Thanks,
Isabel

11:06 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I'm guessing on Isabel's answer. But don't put me in the drawing--I already have TRP in my hot little hands! It's at the top of my list. A friend wants to discuss, discuss, discuss!

-Lacey

11:35 AM  
Blogger Jennifer Y. said...

Great interview and the book sounds great.

I'll give the macaroni question a shot...did you perhaps use it as a food when it wasn't supposed to?

There was also a group of fashion extremists who worn a small tricorn hat called a macaroni...they were called the Macaroni Club of London, started in 1760 and were Italian-traveled young men (and apparently scandalous). Did it perhaps have something to do with that? The word when used to call someone a "fop" or describe their fashion is derived from this club. But that didn't really start being used until after 1760. Did you mistakenly refer to someone as a macaroni before it became used as an insult or description?

11:41 AM  
Blogger Lois said...

Hi!! :) I can't wait to get this book, I've had it on my list since I first saw it on the upcoming historical lists. . . I just love the sound of it!! :)

And the thing I tried with macaroni is the food. . . but it sounds like it could have been in the country by then seeing the page I found was talking about the hundreds or something with Greeks or Etruscans or Arabs or someone who invented it, but then somehow in the much later years I guess that's where the number 1400 comes to mind where it finally made it to Italy or something like that. In any case, I'm guessing the food would have made it to all corners of Europe and such. So not quite sure. :)

Lois, who has such a wonderful photographic memory. *snort*

2:18 PM  
Blogger Pam P. said...

I've been waiting to read The Raven Prince, Elizabeth.

Guessing on the Macaroni error - either a reference to the Macaroni Club which wasn't until a few years later, 1764 I think, or the type of coat they wore, tight-fitting?

Anyway, anticpating enjoying the book!

Have a Happy Thanksgiving!

4:21 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Hello Kalen. Elizabeth.

Wonderful interview. Very fun. And TRP sounds fabulous.

Here's my shot at the 'macaroni' question.

The use of the word did not come into vogue until several years later.

If memory serves correctly, the term macaroni was coined in the early 1770's by two caricature artists whose work portrayed effeminate men enamored with foreign fashions.

NinaP

4:39 PM  
Blogger Darcy Burke said...

Great interview and so timely as I just started reading TRP last week. I'm really enjoying it and look forward to your next book!

Darcy

9:50 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

TRP sounds wonderful and I can't wait to read it.

I loved the interview. I'm always interested in how a writer comes up with ideas.

Mea culpa:
I think it had something to do with the Macaroni Club. It was because of when it opened or the scandals associated with it, or someone was labled a Macaroni before it was used.

12:34 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

In The Raven Prince, I think that macaroni refers to the sense of fashion--either a fashionable fellow who dressed and even spoke in an outlandishly affected manner in mid-18th-century England, or to the description of anything that was fashionable.

Jenilee :D

5:51 AM  
Blogger Diane Perkins said...

Hi, Elizabeth!
I'm not even trying your historical question and am biting nails at what I'm missing in my WIP.
I'm delighted to see your book in print! You've defied the odds by proving Historical is NOT dead!
Your Warner pal,
Diane

8:50 AM  
Blogger Manuelita said...

Hi Elizabeth! My guess about the mea culpa is that you used “macaroni” in 1760, before the term actually existed.

I loved THE RAVEN PRINCE and how you developed the characters of Edward and Anna. I thought it was interesting how the hero and heroine were initially described as ugly and plain, respectively, but the reader eventually forgets about their physical descriptions and comes to see them as beautiful, just as the h/h begin to see each other as beautiful. I also enjoyed the fairy tale of The Raven Prince at the beginning of each chapter. Did you make that up?

Congratulations on a great debut novel! I can’t wait to read THE LEOPARD PRINCE and your new series.

10:40 AM  
Blogger Sandy Blair said...

Great interview, Elizabeth. Can't wait to get my hands on this book!!
(FAB cover,too.)

11:02 AM  
Anonymous Elizabeth Hoyt said...

Ack! Sorry for posting so late! I finally got out of the car after driving all day to relatives for Thanksgiving . . .

Several of you got my "mea culpa" right--I've got a macaroni gentleman in THE RAVEN PRINCE and although I've seen a ref. to the macaronis in 1760, it's skating kinda close to think that everyone would know what one was in Spring of 1760. As Nina P. pointed out, I don't think they were really ridiculed until the 1770s. *sigh*

But my mistake is a poster's gain! My assistant has pulled PAM P's name out of the hat to win a copy of TRP. Pam, contact me via my website with your snail mail and I'll put the autographed book in the mail on Monday!

Happy Turkey (or Tofurkey) Day, everyone!

8:47 PM  
Blogger Pam P. said...

Thanks, Elizabeth! I loved the excerpts and sure to love the whole story.

Glad you made it safely to your relatives. Have a Happy Thanksgiving everone!

9:49 PM  
Blogger Kalen Hughes said...

Don't forget we have one more copy to giva away! I'll be mailing it off to a randomly selected poster from Tues-Fri.

There's a whole new blog from Elizabeth due today, so be sure to check it out when you're done eating and feel like a bit of a rest.

*GRIN*

10:45 AM  

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