Thursday, 11 April 2013

My Contribution - Historical Book Fair

Welcome to Regency England. I’m Edwin Brockenbury, and it seems I am your host for the moment. Where Francine has scuttled off to I know not, so let me begin by telling you a little about my childhood home, the place you have now entered at your peril.

Beyond dutiful attendance at family gatherings or when I am summoned back to the family fold to appraise legal documentation on behalf of pater, my life remains relatively detached from Monkton Abbeyfields. I grieve not in absence from its dark and forbidding walls, and well remember how my elder brothers and I were left to indulge whatever youthful vices we chose to wile away our time.
James the eldest finally chose soldiering before the mantle of lord and master of the Brockenbury Estate would fall to his shoulders. Adam chose hedonism, and I chose books and learning. Then at age ten and eight I astounded my father by announcing I had a serious inclination to carve a career out of law and the courts of justice. Such news immediately drew momentary resistance from father, for he had thought I would follow the family tradition of a third son duly dispatched to ecclesiastical cloisters for enlightenment and knowledge all things Heavenly pastoral delights, but not I. Such was my determination to fulfil my dreams I rebelled in no uncertain terms and rode away from the house one dark night and found lodgings in London.

My present sojourn to Monkton Abbeyfields is entirely due to my literary creator who sought to intervene and set me on a homeward path. Though I readily confess I am most grateful on this occasion, for a pleasant encounter along the way has left me reeling in thoughts of what-if. Nonetheless, I suspect I have already slipped from Georgette Lady Beaumont’s mind, albeit we indulged a fleeting engagement of the flirtatious variety en route from London to Bath.

Having now retreated to my younger brother’s chambers, a portrait of a beautiful young woman thus stands before me. Ranulph’s artistic abilities are no mystery to me, for a distant memory steals forth and I see my mother young and beautiful and full of life; a child asleep on a chaise before her. But of course, she is sketching a charcoal portrait of her slumbering crippled infant: the one so heartlessly abandoned by our father. To mother's chagrin Ranulph was banned from the rest of the house and confined to his chambers and to the care of specially selected servants.
Dear God, how precious the memory of mother has become to me. Her death albeit far from a mystery the perpetrator of her fatal fall has forever escaped justice due to lack of proof of a child’s guilt in wishing his mother dead. Like father like son, Adam treats Ranulph no better than a dog to be kicked and bullied with a stick. And James, my eldest brother dead by his own hand some two years past, I still cannot believe there was ever reason enough for the taking of his own life.
Over the years little at Monkton Abbyfields changed for young Ranulph, though against all odds he determined he would learn to walk. Albeit with great difficulty and much pain suffered in the learning he mastered that which we take for granted, and today he still harbours dreams of a romantic nature, but little does he know that a murder committed this very night will provide the wherewithal for that dream to become reality.
Adam is, from that death forward, now lord and master of the Brockenbury Estate, though a rude awakening awaits on the reading of father’s will. Sadly, I have never felt anything for Adam, neither love nor friendship, yet he plagues my mind as though clues to all the deaths that have occurred here at Monkton Abbeyfields are emblazoned on his brow. Alas, I cannot read what is written. And Cousin Eliza, my father’s ward, is a Dark Miss if ever such could be tagged to her collar, and the damnably unpleasant madam already despises Georgette Lady Beaumont. Worse, Adam has long since coveted Georgette as he once coveted Monkton Abbeyfields.
What lies ahead I know not, but gut instinct tells me danger is lurking in dark corners and will strike not only at Ranulph and I, but at Georgette as well, more especially should my feelings for her become common knowledge. How am I then to unravel mysterious deaths from the past, solve the reason for my father’s untimely death and keep safe those whom my heart abides with? I fear a murder most foul is yet to be committed and perhaps more than one man must die if truths are to remain shrouded beneath lies.

Although duty to family has been part of life, I fear dreadful happenings have passed me by. Therefore I must cast selfish indulgence aside, and duty to loved ones must again take precedence.  

Edwin Brockenbury is the hero within the Regency Murder Mystery:
“Infamous Rival”

Book blurb:

Once the darling of the beau monde, Georgette Lady Beaumont’s reputation lies in tatters after the apparent suicide of Lord Brockenbury’s heir. Shunned by society she embraces a secretive lifestyle in which she endeavours to evade Adam Brockenbury, whom she loathes as much as he desires her. Believing him capable of murder to gain his heart’s desire, she is not alone in thinking his elder brother’s death as somewhat suspicious, and whilst on a clandestine visit to her dearest friends she encounters a stranger of note.

Her travelling companion, although of charming disposition and of considerable handsomeness, something about him errs dark and secretive but unmitigated mutual attraction exists that neither can deny. Unfortunately he’s a Brockebury too, and as love, jealousy and hate take precedence, three murders are committed and Georgette quite believes she will be the murderer’s next victim, but who is the real murderer?

Should you wish to read more inclusive images of places featured within Infamous Rival, the  opening chapter is here.

Author note:
I make no apology for writing historical romances, for love and lust can drive both men and women to fits of jealous rage and to the committing of crimes of passion.    


Tuesday, 2 April 2013

“Romantic Fiction Versus Historical Fiction.”

Stepping back in time is a relatively easy thing to achieve for a novelist, is it not? After all, we need only select a chosen period, preferably an era in which something dramatic occurred, and Lo and Behold we have a ready-made plot, or do we?
   Let us now pause for breath. Who or what shall we write about?

What about this flamboyant warrior prince?
Handsome devil, ain't he, and how much do you really know about him, or think you do?

   But of course, (metaphorically speaking) as historical writers we’re setting off along corridors where candles or flaming torches light our path (cough). The winds of time all the while whisper through loose windows and howl from the dark labyrinths our ancestors knew so well. We may even start and falter in step at hearing a worn latch rasping metal-to-metal in gentle lamentation for the passing of the ages, for that is how we immerse ourselves in the chronicled atmosphere of history. And onward we tread in hunger and thirst for historical intrigue, political shenanigans, royal murder mysteries, and a fair bit of mayhem and a touch of romance along the way.
   We may happen upon a battle or become involved in a minor skirmish. We will no doubt pay witness to abhorrent acts of brutality and sexual violence. But all this is happening in the past, and if we adhere to 21st century thinking on morality we’d best not venture back in time.
   Now let’s imagine resting a tome of historical fact on one’s knee and a sudden gasp escapes into the silence of the ether: Gosh, did he really do that? Oh lordy, but that missive I put aside declares otherwise. Oh crikey.
   More tomes and pigeon-holed parchments must yet be browsed and what a daunting prospect, whilst copious notes already penned add to the accumulation of bewildering information. But, even well documented historical events may differ between penned personal accounts to that of state, court or ecclesiastical papers. When omissions occur and details of an event are vague or at odds in conclusion and, from differing sources, detective work is necessary in order to adhere to fact rather than fiction.
   Hmmm. So how do we set about filtering assumptions that might have paid court to individual chroniclers’ imaginations when they themselves penned accounts of events that occurred before their own lifetimes, or were influenced by allegiance to others? The inevitability of envy, revenge and all manner of political and courtly power struggles manifest often as calumnies set against rival factions. Worse, how much imagination is now going to play a part in how our chosen persons of note are going retell their story?

   Did I hear a titter from the back of the room expressing thoughts in the vein of, “but it is us the author who will retell the story!”

  Well let me tell you, there are different ways of conveying stories.
Straight Historical Biographies are prime examples of the much talked about tell-don’t-show style of writing = the detached narrative style, which reads more akin to a factual reference book. Rarely are authors of these kinds of novel able to impart any sense of the notable person’s personality beyond that of “this is how s/he was, this is what happened”. Hence this particular narrative style best suits straight telling biographies of historical celebrities. We get the basics, we get some finer detail, and we know when that person lived and what they did: presupposing we didn’t know all this beforehand. What else have we gained from this book? We’ve gained the author’s perspective on whomever/whatever the subject matter is. So, all in all it’s pretty damn easy to determine what is purely a straight historical biography, right? NO, is the answer, because Historical Biographies of late have become Pseudo Historical Biographies, which reflect more than mere author perspective on a time past, persons and events unfolding.

In Pseudo Historical Biographies an author will step beyond the detached narrative and in part become the historical celebrity and often as not adopt their own perceived mindset of their chosen subject matter: plus that of other key players. Once the mantle is donned the author then conveys thoughts, words, and actions, which in turn hopefully will bring the characters to life. We get to know their innermost thoughts, (or do we?), we feel their anger, joy, love, and we experience their anguish, their fears, and all the physical aspects of brutality and sexual depravity they may witness or experience for self.

The author’s aim within a Psuedo Historical Biography is to transport a reader back in time where senses are set alight and minds left reeling in the atmosphere of the author’s creation. Creation being the optimum word, for the author can only surmise what a person thought, felt and said, except in rare cases of documented quotes. And here the The Thin Line Wavers on the very edge of Fiction and Non-Fiction, and from The Thin Line Historical Romance & Historical Fiction banners stream and billow in the breeze because these two are the middle ground historical novels, the more popular sub genres of the historical fleet of books that inevitably sail on to the bookstands.

Who is this young woman? Does it matter that she became a fictitious character in one of my books and, that she met Prince Rupert, and when a child cavorted around the royal court with the Prince of Wales who later became Charles II. 

Authors of Historical Romance & Historical Fiction tend toward creation of worlds within worlds, where fictitious characters are creations of the author’s imagination. The characters might mingle with historical persons of note and pass the time of the day with them, dine with them and perhaps fight alongside them. Whatever happens, these individual stories although set within a noteworthy historical period, event or periphery of some great turning point in history, the true events are adhered to by sensible authors. Readers will either love the characters or hate them. In these kinds of novels a balance of narrative, dialogue and action are vital, because readers want to be thrilled, given to sighs in a romantic moment and left in awe as the book reaches its finale. What are your thoughts on the The Thin Line?

What do I write? In the historical genre I pen historical romances and historical series novels in which persons of historical note have walk-on parts. If you don’t like steamy and risqué sex, nor soldiers of fortune and strong heroines then my novels are not for you…

So where does your story telling fit in the historical genre?