Thursday, March 26, 2009

Historical Reader, Contemporary Writer

Wowsers. I can't believe Margaret let me guest post here today. ME on Margaret Moore's blog. Too freaky for words. I've read every book she's ever published and I'm counting down the days until The Viscount's Kiss and Buggy's story. How Margaret will top that potato-throwing scene in A Lover's Kiss, I don't rightly know. It was a classic romance moment.


So what is a Margaret Moore reader doing writing contemporary romance?

I tried writing historical romances. My first venture into serious romance writing was a 400 page plus monster of a Regency called The Dragon's Protector. I sent it to a former Harlequin editor ('cause I admired Margaret Moore and she writes for Harlequin). The editor was kind. He sent it back with a short, terse note saying I didn't have a historical 'voice.'

I didn't know what that meant. So I asked around. A literary friend read my first page (that was all I allowed her to see). She then held it up to the first page of a published historical novel and asked me if I saw a difference.

You mean besides the total lack of description in my novel (yes, those 400 plus pages were all action and dialogue)? The shorter sentences? The modern slang? The casual dialogue? The missing verbs? The flow of thought writing?

Ummm… yes, all that. And that's the thing, ALL that. There are historical writers (including Margaret) incorporating contemporary elements in their novels. However, they tweak one or two areas, not all. The bare bones are still a historical romance. That's what readers expect.

The process of writing a contemporary romance is also different.
How we do research is a prime example.

A historical writer pores over books and documentaries and talks to academics. Margaret has some great posts on her process. I won't duplicate that good thinking.

Me? I touch and feel and talk to my research. When writing about Maeve, my heroine in Invisible, I emailed one of the top skip tracers on the planet and asked him questions directly. I needed to describe the Wynn Casino in Vegas so I went to the Wynn Casino in Vegas. It is important that I get these details right as many of my readers have also been to the Wynn. They'll know if Maeve's heels click on the tile floor or are muffled by carpet (and they'll email me 'cause I have the best readers in the world).

Some writers can write both contemporary and historical romances well. Those writers are rare. Many can only write (well) one or the other. A turning point in my writing 'career' was discovering which one I was meant to write.

And no, I'm not posting an excerpt from The Dragon's Protector.


Kimber Chin writes contemporary romances set in the sexy world of business. Her latest release, Invisible, is a contemporary treasure hunt romance through the world of hidden identities. A world where loyalty and love can be found in the most unexpected places. You can track her down on where she gives away her favorite eBooks, shares short stories, and posts photos of good looking men in business suits.



Kaye Manro said...

Great post, Kimber! I love reading Margaret Moore too.

I love the way you explained your first attempt at submitting. It echoes the same thing so many of us newbie writers end up doing.
We surely have to find our true nitch first.

And then there is the research. I know exactly what you mean. When I needed to know about chain mail, I found a guy who actually still makes it the same way it was done in the 12th century. We emailed back and forth for quite a while so I could learn and yes, feel exactly how it was done in that time period. And he turned out to be an historical expert on the same era I was writing. Research is the glue that hold our work together, don't you think?

Oh and then we have to go and learn how to actually write! Again, great post!

Kimber Chin said...

Thanks Kaye!

I thought talking about voice was a brilliant idea until I actually wrote the post. Then I kept saying 'she's an exception' and 'she's an exception.'

Ohhh... SO cool about the chain mail maker. I'd love to see how that was done. Better yet, I'd love to hear how someone becomes a chain mail maker. Why that career choice?

Kaye Manro said...

Kimber-- to answer your question, there's a big following from SGA, folks who re-enact the past, and a lot of medieval re-enacting goes on. This guy recreates chain mail and other medieval articles-- such as weapons, clothing, etc. for people involved in such Ren and Medieval re-enactment Fairs.

Big Mike said...


I agree with your assessment of the difficulty in jumping between worlds. To write both historical and modern stories is a true talent. I write romantic suspense and thrillers and it works for my mindset. I lock myself away in a room and live the world I write. Being able to immense ones self in a world of different standards, morals, customs then you actually live in, that must truly be difficult.

Michael Davis

laughingwolf said...

hey kimber, great thoughts...

still have eye probs, but to be expected

will get into reading soon, i hope :)

hiya margaret, ye feller canuckistanian ye ;) lol