Over the last wee while I've re-read quite a few Regency romances by contemporary authors and thoroughly enjoyed them and I've toyed with the idea of attempting to write my own. However, writing historical romance has always terrified me. There is just so much that you can get wrong and there is so much out there to research that I could get bogged down in the amount of information available. Despite the fact that I have a degree which includes history subjects and I should have an idea of how to go about checking my sources it is still a frightening thing to attempt.
One of my writers' groups set a challenge of writing 5k a week during January just to get us writing after the Christmas slump. It was a challenge that I accepted all too eagerly, and have failed spectacularly - in production terms, at least. In my first week I produced the awesome total of 182 words. BUT these 182 words were of a genre that is completely new to me as a writer. They came at me out of nowhere. I have no idea about the characters or even how the story will progress, but the beginning, those measly 182 words surprised me. My fellow writers were very encouraging and I thought perhaps I should take it further. The story I began is a Regency romance. I've only ever written contemporary romance so attempting to write Regency is way out of my comfort zone.
I've spent the last week researching on-line and discovering that sub-consciously at least I do know more than I credited myself with. A writer friend also suggested a book entitled "Georgette Heyer's Regency World" by Jennifer Kloester. It arrived through my letterbox yesterday morning and I've already read quite a chunk of it. It is an excellent read, very readable, and a superb reference source for anyone interested in the period.
Another suggestion to get into the period was to read Georgette Heyer's books. I have a boxful of romances that have the princely sum of 2'6 marked on the covers. They are quite old and the pages are yellowed with age. I've started reading "These Old Shades". I'm about to start reading chapter 5. I can't say that I love this book or its characters at the moment. The hero, a Duke, is about 40 years old by my calculations and the heroine just 19 - it's a huge age gap. There's nothing wrong with that in the scheme of things, but I do feel a little uncomfortable with it at the moment. The hero himself dresses quite flamboyantly, sniffs snuff, has a quizzing glass, and so far, apart from rescuing the heroine (who he thinks is a boy) is not very nice. The heroine, who I think believes herself to be a boy, has a severe case of hero worship to the point of abasement. I know there are class distinctions in the period and that the lower classes are expected to fall over themselves to serve their masters in the higher echelons of society, but again, the heroine's behaviour leaves me feeling a little uncomfortable. The only decent character so far is a chap named Hugh. At the moment I have no idea what his role is or even why he is friends with the Duke as he appears to disapprove of the Duke's behaviour. I can only think that at the moment Hugh is a means to an end for the author to show the Duke's character development.
I hope my impression improves as I read through the book. Georgette Heyer is a much loved author of Regency novels and for that alone I really want to enjoy her work.