History Hoydens

Example

Historical Romance Writers Dishing the Dirt on Research

02 December 2008

Welcome, Carrie Lofty!

What a Scoundrel Wants
by Carrie Lofty
Available Now!

In Sherwood Forest, outcast warrior Will Scarlet rescues a blind woman who dreams of fire.

Now, to defeat the new Sheriff of Nottingham, he'll need to become a hero for the ages. It's amazing what a scoundrel will do for love...

"Readers will delight in this inventive foray into a legendary place, with characters both familiar and original. Carrie Lofty depicts Will Scarlet as a passionate adventurer, redeemed by the love of a good woman." ~ Susan WiggsNew York Times Bestselling Author


WHAT A SCOUNDREL WANTS is set in 1199. Is there a particular reason you chose that year?

I wanted Robin Hood to return from the Third Crusade during the course of the novel, so I decided to set it during the year King Richard of England died. His Crusaders straggled home throughout the year following his death in April of 1199.

How did you become interested in this time period? What you love about it?


To set a novel in the realm of Robin Hood basically required a medieval setting. I'd never studied medieval history before--my master's thesis was on outlaw legends of the American West--so I was quite intimidated while studying everything from chemistry to shoes. But research is a wonderful thing. I love immersing myself in a new time, a new place. Everything is exciting right from the outset.

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

Hygiene, education, and life expectancies were, naturally, quite a bit less appealing than we might hope, so I worked on balancing realism with the necessities of creating a romantic fantasy. Also, England was slow to emerge from the Dark Ages, and their understanding of science and medicine lagged behind Arab and even some Mediterranean societies. I worked to make sure my heroine had a legitimate reason to know more than her contemporaries with regard to these subjects (see my post on Meg and Adelard of Bath).

Anything you flat-out altered or “fudged”? If so, why?

Well, strictly speaking, long bows would not have been around in King Richard's day, and neither did the first mention of Robin Hood occur until well into the 13th century. With regard to instances such as these, I went with commonly held ideas about the Robin Hood legend rather than the facts. Dealing with a legendary character allowed a little more leeway than portraying a more factually grounded historical figure or time period.

Any gaffs or mea culpas you want to fess up to before readers get their hands on the book? I know I always seem to find one after the book has gone to press. *sigh*

As I was researching, I was unable to find detailed schematics of Nottingham Castle. I read descriptions of the market and how the Saxons and the Normans occupied opposing halves of the city, but no blueprints. Recently a friend of mine sent a blueprint of the castle and, well, it's almost what I described--if you pretend pretty hard! So I would change that if I could. Also, I think I use the word "fertilizer," which is majorly anachronistic. Granted, there are plenty of anachronistic words in the book, but that one stands out as being particularly modern-sounding. Science terms are hard because of the need to balance reader understanding with the terms available at that time.

Tell us a little about your hero. Something fun, like his favorite childhood pet, or his first kiss.

As a child, he was a brat and a loner--all mischievous pranks and spying on pretty girls. I imagine his first kiss would've been pretty early! He's vain, but he'd never want to be regarded as such, and if given the opportunity to eat a pear, he wouldn't care for the taste.

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

I talked about the inspiration for the book here, but the scene I couldn't get out of my head was when villagers try to burn Meg for witchcraft. The only problem is that I envisioned the scene as a sighted person: the black night sky, angered faces, and sparks from the bonfire shooting upward--all color and swirling fear. But Meg is blind. I had to work at re-imagining that scene (and many others) to reveal it through the other senses available to her. A tricky challenge!

What/Who do you like to read?

Historical romances, of course. My favorite authors are Penelope Williamson, Laura Kinsale, Candice Proctor, Megan Chance, Susan Wiggs, Lisa Kleypas, Loretta Chase, and Jo Goodman. For literary fiction, I love Ian McEwan, Helen Dunmore, Tracy Chevalier, Frank Herbert, and Charles Dickens. And I'm currently in my 15th year of working through the complete Shakespeare!

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 plot my characters but pants my stories. If I don't know who I'm writing about first, then the whole thing feels wrong and artificial. This way of working makes for some pretty terrible first drafts, but I allow myself a great deal of freedom--anything to get the basic bones of the story in place. I do major revisions on my second pass. After a third "tweaking" pass, where I incorporate my CPs' perspectives, then I call it good.

What are you planning to work on next?

SCOUNDREL'S KISS, the sequel to WHAT A SCOUNDREL WANTS, will be released in late 2009. In it, a Spanish warrior monk falls for the woman he’s sworn to protect, but she tempts him to abandon his vows of obedience, non-violence, and chastity. In addition, SERENADE, my first novel, will be released as a free serial on my web site beginning January 2009. Set in 1804 Salzburg, SERENADE is the story of a widowed violin prodigy and a composer who stole the symphony he’s famous for.

First chapters for all of my books, current and upcoming, are available on my website.

Thanks for having me!

6 Comments:

Blogger Amanda Elyot said...

Welcome, Carrie -- and congratulations on the new release! It sounds absolutely intriguing. My current historical fiction wip involves Maid Marian, so I'm very excited to read "What a Scoundrel Wants."

7:48 AM  
Blogger Kalen Hughes said...

Hi, Carrie. I always love seeing my fellow Zebra Debut authors over here. The books sounds amazing, totally off the map for romance right now, but in a cool way.

I love your idea about serializing your first book. That's a wonderful gift to readers.

10:27 AM  
Blogger Tracy Grant said...

Welcome, Carrie! This books sound fabulous. I love Robin Hood-themed stories, partly I think because there's so much scope for adventure.

And Amanda, I'm really excited to read your Maid Marian book!

12:50 PM  
Anonymous Lauren Willig said...

It sounds like so much fun, Carrie! Was it hard trying to get into the head of such a well-known character and make him your own creation?

2:50 PM  
Anonymous kathrynn.dennis@gmail.com said...

Hi Carrie! Glad to have you here! I love the post-third crusade time period. Gotta read this one. ;-)

Wishing you many sales! With a title like WASW, you've got a winner.

4:13 PM  
Blogger Carrie Lofty said...

Thanks for having me here, ladies, and to Kalen for hosting me. I'm excited about my debut, naturally, and glad to hear that others are too. As to your question, Lauren, I think I went into writing Will Scarlet knowing that although people may have heard of him in the context of Robin Hood legends, no one has ever seen him as a hero in his own right. That allowed me a certain flexibility in creating him anew, having him lead and make decisions (and mistakes!), so I felt comfortable from the start with claiming his as my own creation. He's been a lot of things to a lot of storytellers!

Tune in tomorrow when I talk a little more about the history behind Meg's knowledge of alchemy and the man who tied England to modern learning throughout Europe and the Arab world.

2:16 PM  

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