Previously, I explored a couple of the ways in which setting is crucially important when writing fiction in general. For this blog post, I’m going to be looking at its uses in the historical romance genre in particular.
The Regency period has been an ever-popular staple – particularly among American readers – of the historical romance genre since its first inception, no doubt because of the Jane Austen effect and more recently the books of Georgette Heyer. Such stories utilise bustling ballrooms, expansive country piles, landscaped parks, promenades along beachfronts, run-down slums and rattling stagecoaches to grand effect.
I’ve deliberately chosen to avoid writing stories set during the Regency era. That’s not because I don’t like it, but because I feel like I can add little that hasn’t already been done in an over-populated genre. I’ve gone out of my way to research an era we still know relatively little about – the Dark Ages of Britain, aka the Anglo-Saxon period – to allow me extra freedom in creating my own worldscapes.
Other consistently favourite eras include medieval Scotland – the Braveheart effect, perhaps – and Ireland, along with the Norman era of jousting knights and hulking stone castles, of whom Elizabeth Chadwick is one of the hardest-working authors. I also find stories set during siege warfare to be particularly intriguing; one I once read took place during the English Civil War and was very inventive.
For the latest historical romance we’re working on, Sue and I are concocting a wild and bleak landscape in which the story will play out. I’m talking wide, desolate marshland and storm-wracked coastal landscapes. The idea is that the harsher the elements, the warmer the love and the more heated the passion.
Time will only tell if it works out that way…