I’m often asked why I write historical romances—specifically, books set in the Middle Ages. Quite simply, I love that historical era. I adore castles and the romanticism of chivalry. And, dare I say, I love bold, sexy, alpha male knights whose heroics make ladies swoon.
Is it any wonder that when my British husband and I married close to twenty years ago, our song was the theme to the movie Robin Hood; Prince of Thieves? My heart still flutters when I hear Bryan Adams singing “Everything I Do, I Do it For You.”
My love of all things medieval began as a child, when I listened to fairy tales. My dad, who is British, often took my sister and me to England during our summer vacations to visit relatives, and he took us to many historic sites. We visited awe-inspiring churches built centuries ago, ruins of Roman baths, Stonehenge, The British Museum, old graveyards, and other places that left upon me a lasting impression of how fascinating the past can be.
After graduating from university, I further enriched that fascination through a one-year course with Sotheby’s auctioneers in London, England, where I studied silver, glass, porcelain, furniture, jewelry, paintings, and more from the Middle Ages through the 20th century. It was an amazing year.
An added perk? I met the tall, dark-haired, charming Brit who became my husband. And yes, he loves castles, too.
When I started writing medieval romances, I wanted to bring the past I’d experienced to life in a way that was meaningful to me and hopefully other people, too. To do that, I had to make my characters and story settings three-dimensional. I needed vital emotional conflicts for my heroes and heroines to struggle to resolve. I needed to know what foods were cooked, what the different social classes wore, what weapons were used, how a man trained to become a knight, and how wounds were treated. More simply, I needed sounds, smells, tastes, and textures. Easy peasy, right?
I spent many, many hours doing research on the internet. I brought armloads of books home from the library and jotted pages of notes. I accumulated a small library of books on kings and armor and medieval recipes (one day, when I’m feeling really ambitious, I’m going to try making a few dishes).
I also bought CD’s of medieval-era music and listened to them while I cooked dinner. One of the songs started out slowly and then sped up to a vibrant melody accented by drums. I was captivated. Immediately I had an idea for the opening chapters of Dance of Desire, a fast-paced, emotional story of a proper noblewoman desperate to save her younger brother who is imprisoned as a traitor and the “barbarian” sheriff she is coerced into marrying to help rescue her sibling.
Dance of Desire was my first novel published in paperback and it won numerous awards. My daughter, in elementary school at the time, proudly announced to her teachers that her mom was “a published romance author.”
With each book I penned, my love of the Middle Ages grew. A Knight’s Vengeance, my very first medieval that I wrote when my daughter was a baby (and I revised from start to finish about seven times, because I was still learning how to craft a book) had several secondary male characters who deserved to be heroes of their own books. The idea of connected novels, all set in the fictional county of Moydenshire I’d created, took seed in my mind. The Knight’s Series was born.
Originally published in paperback, the first four books will be available again as eBooks on Kindle (A Knight’s Vengeance, Book One, and A Knight’s Reward, Book Two, are are up now, the other two will follow later this year). My goal for the next year is to write the fifth and final novel and to wrap up the series the way I always envisioned. And then… I already have ideas for more medievals.
On trips back to England, my husband and I have taken my daughter sightseeing at some of the historic sites, including ones I visited with my father. A few years ago we toured Warwick Castle, magnificent to this day. One of my clearest memories is of standing in an interior room, putting my hand on the smooth stone wall, and just listening, to the voices of modern-day visitors drifting in from outside, but also to the ancient pulse that still seemed to flow within the stone. It was an amazing moment that snatched my breath away.
When I sit down to write, I feel again that ancient pulse. It inspires me. It breathes new life into my words. And the writer in me is happy.
Do you read historical romances? What do you find inspiring about them? Is it the historical setting? The characters? I’d love to know!