SATURDAY SPOTLIGHT: Historical Romance and Me: a guest blog by Hazel Statham

stathamWriting in the Regency period has always appeared natural to me. It has often been joked that I was born in the wrong century as my writing voice is of that period.

However, in writing Regency it’s important to get it ‘right’. It’s the author’s responsibility to create an authentic feel of the early nineteenth century. If I state facts, they are as accurate as I can make them and the use of traditional speech patterns also helps to create the correct atmosphere. Over the years, many words have changed their meaning and usage, so it’s important not to give a modern day feel to the dialogue.

Romance itself has changed very little but one must observe the mores of the day. I feel it is wrong to transpose the morals of today’s world onto earlier eras.

I am fascinated by the romance and elegance of the Regency and Georgian periods and this is what I hope to recreate in my work.

Despite today’s trend to produce ‘hotter’ novels, I write ‘traditional’ Regency Romance and close the door on my characters when they retire. So much emotion can be conveyed by a mere glance or a single word that I don’t feel it necessary to leave the metaphorical door open to convey the emotions of the moment. The merest hint is often sufficient to stimulate the reader’s imagination and to go into intimate detail is totally unnecessary. I aim to produce a romantic novel where the heart and emotions are truly engaged and we share the joys and heartaches of our protagonists

Romance does not rely on sex alone but on a series of emotions which, when portrayed, can seize and hold the reader, providing a satisfying and lasting impression.

I am not averse to more intimate works, indeed, there are many authors I admire who produce more sensual books than I, but I write within my comfort zone and, hopefully, portray the mores of the era, which were not as Statham-MyDearestFriendlicentious as we are sometimes led to believe. Purity was a much desired quality in a wife and great lengths were taken to preserve it. In some cases, a woman’s reputation was all she could offer in the marriage mart. My heroines are pure and my heroes are noble and strong, and although their lives may be fraught with danger and misunderstandings, I can guarantee a satisfying and happy conclusion.

Authors are divided into two groups, the planners and the pansters. Me? I’m definitely a panster. Of course, I know in which direction I want the story to go but, apart from a vague idea, I just go with the flow. For me, it’s like listening in on private conversations and just watching as the story unfolds before me. Quite often, I hear words coming out of my characters’ mouths that I never even dreamed of and frequently the story takes a completely different direction. This doesn’t cause a problem, and, on the whole, usually enriches the plot.

An example of this is that I never knew Stephan, a character in My Dearest Friend, had an illegitimate daughter until another character confided it to Stephan’s brother. It came as quite a surprise, but added yet another element to the story. I don’t write to a formula so my characters are allowed to do or say anything they wish. Luckily, this usually works and adds to the enjoyment of writing the book.

The first draft is where I develop the story and characters. Refinement comes later. I am never completely satisfied with the first, second or indeed, third draft, but there has to come a point when you let it go and, for good or bad, allow it to fly.

Dominic coverartIf anyone had told me that a character could take over a book and make it his own, I would not have believed them. However, I would now have to admit that this did indeed happen. Dominic, Earl of Vale was a very strong character who just strode onto the page and more or less wrote the book himself. He was a fun character to write and I thoroughly enjoyed the experience.

Dominic was so determined to tell his story that, even though we vacationed in Orlando, he insisted I paid attention and continued with his story. It was hurricane season, the rain came in torrents and the trees outside our hotel room were horizontal. My husband slept and I wrote.

His is a fun story about an unconventional courtship and – unbelievably – needed little more than tweaking after the first draft, taking me only six weeks from start to finish. I have never been so fortunate again. The Portrait came very close to it however, and again, the first draft proved quite satisfying with only minor changes being made thereafter.

I have been lucky and the stories continue to come. Inspiration comes from many different sources; with My Dearest Friend it came from a dream, and with a song from the film ‘Hawks’ providing me with my hero for The Portrait. It really takes very little to stimulate my imagination and I am always happy to take on board any suggestions my characters care to make. All my characters are dear to me and I have great pleasure in telling their stories, If some never get past the first draft, then so be it, they have been a joy to write.

I have two published Georgians, Consequence, and Dominic, and five Regencies, My Dearest Friend, His Shadowed Heart, For Love of Sarah, The Portrait and Lizzie’s Rake. I currently have two works in progress (a little ambitious on my part but, as I was writing one, the hero from the other insisted on making an appearance and would not wait. As with many of my stories, he is a wounded hero returned from the Napoleonic Wars).

If I succeed in bringing these eras alive in my readers imagination and, even for only a moment, transport them into this wonderful time in history, then I am delighted to share my historical world with them.

I am always happy to hear from my readers and can be easily contacted through my website www.hazel-statham.co.uk.

FOR A CHANCE TO EXPERIENCE THE WORLD OF HAZEL STATHAM’S REGENCY ROMANCES, WE’RE OFFERING TWO READERS THE CHANCE TO WIN A COPY OF THE PORTRAIT

THE PORTRAIT: England 1812 – Severely injured at the battle of Salamanca, Edward Thurston, the new Earl of Sinclair, returns home to his beloved Fly Hall. Determined not to present his prospective bride with the wreck he believes himself to have become, he decides to end his betrothal, unaware that Lady Jennifer, for vastly differing reasons, has reached the selfsame decision. Throughout the campaigns, Edward was often seen relying greatly on a miniature he carried, and it is to this token he clings upon his return. Will he eventually find happiness with the girl in the portrait, or will he remain firm in his resolve not to wed? Reason dictates one course, his heart another.

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11 thoughts on “SATURDAY SPOTLIGHT: Historical Romance and Me: a guest blog by Hazel Statham

    • As courtship was so formal and couples were watched with a gimlet eye, their relationship progressed on a completely different level than today. By necessity, emotions were conveyed by a mere glance, word or a lingering kiss of the hand. There was also the language of the fan where hearts could be won or broken by a movement of the wielder’s hand. Flowers too had a language all of their own plus class and breeding also entered into the mix, thus, at times, making courtship a complicated matter. Things have changed so much over the years that we sometimes forget the elegance of years gone by.

  1. This is the first time I’ve popped over to you blog Hazel and I’m so glad that I did. I haven’t read any of your work, but absolutely love reading in the Regency era. War heroes are so vulnerable and yet so alpha. They make for a good story. Shall enjoy reading you.

    • Thank you, Alison. A change of publishers means that they have all been republished over the past eighteen months. Avalon sold out to Amazon’s Montlake and I changed from Wings to Books We Love – a good move on both counts.

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