30 Days 30 Knights: Devoted to more than one time periodSaturday, June 7, 2008 11:00
Some writers just write about one time period – whether it is the Regency, the American west or even in the case of contemporary writers – the eternal present. Some readers are eternally faithful to their chosen period. They will not read anything outside of that period, or even sometimes that setting. They are monogamous readers and writers. I am not.
I write in a number of time periods – from Romans to Vikings to Regency and Victorian. And my reading habits are all over the place. I simply can’t stay faithful. There are just too many places to go out and explore.
There are pros and cons to both approaches. My big problem is that I love too many time periods. I have always read historical novels set in a wide range of periods, and would hate to think that historical romance is confined only to a narrow set of dates and locations, even though the late Regency/early Victorian period is one of my own personal favorites.
As a writer, I have been encouraged to experiment. Generally, I agree a time period and possibly a location, then I am free to create the sort of story I want to tell. The time period always puts certain restrictions on the story. For example, a story that would be appropriate for the early Viking period would probably not be appropriate for the more staid early Victorian period. The Romans are a far more urban based culture in many respect than say even the Regency period. And what I love to do is to see echoes and connections. To figure out why certain things evolved in certain ways. No time period is an island sort of thing. Basically for me, it is a chance to indulge my love of research. What is really great is when a new time period also allows me a chance to travel. For example, I was able to go to Iceland and Norway to do research on the Vikings.
HH has a policy of publishing at least one Unusual Historical – i.e. not one set in the Georgian/Regency/Victorian or rural American West per month. This means that readers can visit medieval Europe or ancient civilization or even the early 20th century. Recent locations include: Bohemia (Joanne Rock‘s A Knight Most Wicked ), Edwardian England (Nicola Cornick‘s Last Rake in London), the Scottish Highlands (Terri Brisbin‘s Surrender to the Highlander), the fall of the Roman Empire ( Louise Allen‘s Barbarian King, Virgin Slave) and Viking Scandinavia (my Taken by the Viking and in the UK Viking Warrior, Unwilling Wife). And even within the Georgian/Regency/Victorian slots, the editors encourage books set outside the London drawing room as well as the perhaps more traditional story.
From what I understand, the editors plan to keep offering unusual locations and time periods in the mix. The one constant is the focus on the romance as the central spine. It is probably the reason why I love Harlequin Historical so much – no matter which time period, or which setting, you know the core of the book is going to be a satisfying romance. And ultimately that is what I crave — a satisfying romance in a vivid setting.
So what about you? Are you faithful to just one time period? Or do you like to jump around? Is there any time period that you would like to see more of?