How I Research Historical Romance Novels, Guest Post by Syrie James

 

Madeleine Atherton is no typical American heiress, sent to England to marry an English lord. A brilliant college graduate who secretly dreams of becoming a published author, she wants to marry for love. After receiving a proposal from a future duke, Madeleine flees the London Season for Cornwall to seek her sister’s advice, never expecting her decision to be complicated by a charming, handsome earl she’s certain she dislikes—even though his every touch sets her blood on fire.

Charles Grayson, the Earl of Saunders, has secrets and ambitions of his own. Although under pressure from his mother and gravely ill father to marry his cousin, Charles cannot find the words to propose. But this fascinating American visitor does not figure into his plans, either.

Thrown together unexpectedly at Trevelyan Manor, Madeleine and Charles struggle to rise above their intense attraction. But as things heat up between them over a summer that becomes increasingly scandalous, Madeleine and Charles will both be forced to make a difficult choice. Can two dreamers dare to defy convention and find their own happily ever after?

 

About the Book

Summer of Scandal
by Syrie James

Series
Dare to Defy Series
*Each novel is a standalone story.

Genre
Adult
Historical Romance

Publisher
Avon Impulse

Publication Date
September 11, 2018

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How I Research Historical Romance Novels

By Syrie James 

I love writing novels, and one of my favorite parts of the process is the research phase. Historical novels are particularly challenging. Every book needs a great hook, an inventive and compelling plot, sympathetic and believable characters with motivations and conflicts, and a vibrant setting. But with historical fiction, intense research is also required. Before I begin working on my plot, I dive into research. My goal is to immerse the reader in the setting, to make him or her feel as if they’ve traveled back in time and are experiencing the era and the place first hand.

I start by doing a lot of reading, both primary sources (memoirs, diaries, and novels written by people who lived at that time) and secondary sources (anything written about that time period after that time period—including reference books, biographies, and novels by contemporary authors.)

When I was researching my novels about Jane Austen and Charlotte Bronte, I found a wealth of details about daily life in their era by reading their published letters. To research the Victorian setting of my new Dare to Defy series for Avon, one of my primary resources was The Shuttle, a 1906 novel by Frances Hodgson Burnett (famous for writing The Secret Garden), who lived and wrote in the era I was writing about.

I also read tons of biographies, history books, historical romance, and historical fiction. Whenever I’m not sure about a fact, I double check it with a trusted reference. I scour the internet as well. For Summer of Scandal, I needed to know what people wore to a costume ball in the Victorian era. For Runaway Heiress, I wondered how long it would take to travel by train from London to Cornwall in 1888—and later on, how many layers of undergarments the hero had to get through to undress her. All the answers I needed were online, with handy images on websites devoted to the subject.

I love researching the clothing and hairstyles of the time. Sometimes I create a collage of images for my writing desk to inspire me. I also watch movies, mini-series, and plays set in the era I’m writing about. When I was writing Runaway Heiress and Summer of Scandal, I started every day on the treadmill watching a segment of a Sherlock Holmes TV series starring Jeremy Brett, not only because it was fabulous—but because it was set in the same era as my novels. So at the same time that I was keeping fit and being entertained, I was soaking up visual cues about life in that time and place.

When I can’t find a piece of necessary information, I interview researchers and historians who are experts in my subject or time period. For my novel The Missing Manuscript of Jane Austen, I needed to know how much it would cost to manufacture a church bell in England in 1805, and I located an expert at Oxford University who figured it out for me.

Whenever possible, I visit the country or location where my novel takes place. I recently traveled to Cornwall in southern England where I found the perfect manor home and gardens for Runaway Heiress, and the beaches and fishing villages that inspired the setting of Summer of Scandal.

When I start writing the novel, I strive to avoid anachronisms, weave historical detail into the story, and make my book as accurate as possible. But sometimes I have to cheat a little. Let’s face it, hygiene was very different in the past. And how many readers will want to be reminded about the necessity of using a chamber pot before sex?

Finally, I remind myself that I’m creating a work of fiction, not writing a dissertation. Historical accuracy is very important; but the most important thing is to have fun during the writing journey … and to write a novel that readers will hopefully enjoy as they lose themselves within its pages!

Tour Wide Giveaway

To celebrate the release of SUMMER OF SCANDAL by Syrie James, we’re giving away one paperback copy of Runaway Heiress!

GIVEAWAY TERMS & CONDITIONS:  Open to US shipping addresses only. One winner will receive a paperback copy of Runaway Heiress by Syrie James. This giveaway is administered by Pure Textuality PR on behalf of Avon Romance.  Giveaway ends 9/24/2018 @ 11:59pm EST. Avon Romance will send the winning copies out to the winner directly. Limit one entry per reader and mailing address. Duplicates will be deleted.  CLICK HERE TO ENTER!

About the Author

SYRIE JAMES is the bestselling author of the critically acclaimed Nocturne; Dracula, My Love; The Secret Diaries of Charlotte Bronte (Great Group Read, Women’s National Book Association; Audie Romance Award, 2011), and the international bestseller The Lost Memoirs of Jane Austen (Best First Novel 2008, Library Journal.) An admitted Anglophile, Syrie loves paranormal romance and all things 19th century. She lives in Los Angeles and is a member of the Writer’s Guild of America.

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