Originally a guest appearance on Stitch, Read, Cook ... Aislynn was a very kind hostess during my recent blog tour promoting "Sound of the Heart"
Originally written as guest blog for In The Next Room book reviews on May 4 2012
There are almost 90,000 words in “Sound of the Heart”. Isn’t that wild? This blog post is less than 500. And yet as I was writing, there were so many more. I had to edit it back. So it kind of begs the question: Where do all those words come from?
Ah. I’m so glad you asked. Because that’s something I’d like to know as well!
It’s probably easiest to start with the physical. When I write, I head into my quiet office (which my husband assembled for me) with a cup of tea. I light a couple of candles … then stare at my computer screen.
Tour from left:
Right. Now onto the writing part. Like I said, I stare at the computer screen, and I kind of wait. I think, in a way, I meditate, though there are no ohms or soothing imaginings going on in my world.
Actually, my dog, Murphy, occasionally does ohms. Kind of like a “Poor me, what a hard life I lead” kind of a comment.
Then the words start flowing, and it’s absolute magic. Sometimes the pictures are so clear in my head, I feel like I’m channelling the stories. Words literally fly out of my fingers. It’s kind of interesting, because a few people have suggested I carry around a tape recorder kind of thing so I can just speak into it and type out stories later, but I’ve found I can’t do that. The words get stuck in my brain. So I have to type. Back in 1990 I bought one of those “Typing Tutor” programmes, then taught myself to type when I was applying for a job as a marketing assistant at a top advertising agency in Toronto. Seriously. In two weeks I went from 0 to 85 wpm. I have no idea how quickly I type now, but my fingers move more quickly than my brain most of the time. I can’t carry on much of a conversation with my voice, but if I could type it I’d be just fine!
So the question remains: where do all those words come from?
And the answer is still: “I don’t know.”
My favourite part about writing Historical Fiction is that no one can tell me what I’m writing didn’t actually happen. After all, no one alive today was alive then (unless you’re talking about reincarnation or something). The stories come to me from somewhere I’ve never been, giving me words I rarely use in my day to day life. Where do they come from? What if I am actually channelling them? What if the words come straight from the stories themselves because … maybe, just maybe, they really happened.
When I was growing up, I had no interest in history of any kind. Maybe I was just waiting for the right moment—or the right book—to strike me before I realized Historical Fiction was my favourite genre. Now I love to imagine myself faraway and long ago: castles and cloaks, heroes and ladies … hearing the clashing of swords and howling of dying men, hiding in darkened cottages that reek of pig, eating freshly killed meat, bathing once a month if I’m lucky …
Aye, as they say. There’s the rub.
The thing about historical fiction is that it’s based on fact, and the better the writing, the less appealing the time period can seem to be. I mean, back then folks didn’t change into a t-shirt when it was warm, didn’t programme their day around skyping relatives, didn’t check their daytimer to see if lunch would work that day. If they didn’t hunt they didn’t eat. If they didn’t defend their property they found themselves without a roof over their heads. If they didn’t have the stomach for killing, well, they’d fall first.
And yet ... it’s still romantic. Those were the days when men dueled to the death over a woman’s honour, when family was everything, when love was rare and precious, when people laboured over writing exactly the right handwritten note. And from that concept springs Historical Romance.
Technically, Historical Romance has what people call a HEA, or Happily Ever After. That, and it has to include romance. Fortunately for authors like me, those are the only rules, really. Lucky for me because my books don’t step carefully around distasteful subjects, avoiding ugly truths. I write about normal, everyday people who lived back then, the people who had never even felt the luxury of satin with their fingers, whose floors were dirt, who barely traveled farther than their traplines. Because now that I’ve learned so much about history and so many of its little details, I am loathe to hold back and miss out on so much of what made history real—and romantic.
I’m learning about the absence of any kind of rights for women. I’m learning that a child had to grow up awfully fast back then, and I’m learning about slavery—and not the kind of which you’re automatically thinking. Starting in the 17th century, did you know hundreds of thousands of white slaves were brought over to the colonies from Europe? I’m not referring to “indentured servants,” though that was no picnic either. I don’t know why that’s not more widely known fact, but I think it should be. So I include it.
Of course there’s also a point where you have to decide just how detailed you’re going to be. After all, it’s Fiction. Though actual 18th century Highlanders were more often five feet tall and clothed in hair, I’d rather fantasize that my hero is six feet tall, with clean locks flowing neatly by his muscled, hairless shoulders. Oh, and he bathes frequently. When prisoners were left for two days, alone and unfed because their captors doesn’t know what to do with them all (which did happen), how did they fare? Fortunately, my hero managed not only to survive, but to still have the strength to stand up for some of his weaker cellmates. And his heart is consumed with finding the woman he loves, not with the question of where he’s going to find his next meal. Yes, it’s fiction.
(don't worry - I used picture #1 in my mind)
So what is Historical Romance? I think it’s different things to different people. For many, it is the cleaner, “safer” stories told of lives lived in salons, featuring privileged dukes and duchesses and the like. To me it’s knowing history was unkind and only the strong survived. From those survivors, only a few could find love. But that love meant everything to them. It became their purpose, their destiny, and they are determined to beat the odds so they can have their HEA.
How do you look at Historical Romance? Do you prefer to get down and dirty with the common man and the realism of the times, or are you more comfortable with “court” romances?
Dougal is making his Grand Entry into society today, strolling into bookstores, sharing his adventures with anyone who will listen. I hope you'll go on over and let him introduce himself. Don't be shy. He's a lovable—if slightly intimidating—Highlander.
I thought about sending out a blog, talking all about what a wonderful experience it has been, working with Dougal, seeing his story put in to a real book and set on bookstore shelves, but instead I'd like to direct you to the MONSTER book blog/review tour I'm on right now. I'm going to be busy busybusyon the tour, doing interviews and guest blogs, as well as book giveaways* at some of the stops. I'm even having a Grand Prize giveaway* at the end of the tour:
A signed copy of Sound of the Heart PLUS a four cd set of relaxation cds created by my incredibly talented musical friends, Cori Ashley and Ed Franks.
I'll give you a little insight into why I chose these cds as my prize. First off, my friend Cori is incredibly talented, with a beautiful spirit, and I want to share her creativity with you.
Other than that, though, well, I'm NOT saying Sound of the Heart is about relaxing … considering the wild adventures Dougal's in for, I doubt he was too relaxed! But Dougal has a gift, similar to his brother's gift. He can relax his mind and hear the thoughts of other men, but he can also sink into his thoughts and hear the sounds and voices of his loved ones as if they were right there with him. These cds were created to help you escape the stress and craziness of your days. Grab a cup of tea or glass of wine (your preference!), light a candle, maybe slip in to a bubblebath, and listen to the sound of your heart.
So ... if you're interested in joining the blog tour, following the whole thing or even just peeking in now and then to see how we're doing, please click here and you'll see what's going on that day.
* All giveaways are restricted to Canadian or U.S. recipients (Sorry, but postage to anywhere else is prohibitive!).