Sunday, January 22, 2012
Other countries' histories and cultures are far different than the United States'. Particularly, our social structure is quite fluid and has been for the most part of our history, so someone from the lower classes could conceivably be with someone from the upper classes, even in our earlier days. This is not the case of England in centuries past. A woman of the nobility would never be with someone who is employed as a house servant in any capacity, except for stolen, secret moments. A man who held no title would not be an appropriate suitor for a lady. This is a huge research mistake.
I admit historical gaffes may be easier for me to see because I have a background in the subject, but a mistake on that level makes me think amateur. For me, research is one of the most enjoyable parts of writing, but again, this may be because of my background. I spent a good portion of Saturday making sure my details were correct concerning the Battle of the Somme. And what is that doing in my erotic paranormal romance, Blood Betrayed? A lot and not much at all.
The main character, Saint, and his brother Teagan were made vampires by their sires Kir and Vasilije on the battlefield after the British attack on the German lines in the Battle of the Somme, which began on July 1, 1916. As is my habit, I researched everything from what the battlefield looked like, to the division the Irish brothers would have belonged to (the Ulster 36th Division), to the towns around the river. This takes time, and if you aren't interested in the First World War, it can get quite dreary. I'm a fan of that time period, so for me it was quite enthralling.
I won't include much of what I learned in my research, but it will flavor Saint's past and give readers more subtle clues to who he is. So readers won't get to know all that I know about the Battle of the Somme, but they will know how it felt for him to lie there for hours as he waited to die alongside his injured younger brother, who he'd promised his mother he'd look after. They'll get a sense of what it was like to listen to others dying around him and then be offered the chance for a new life by two strangers who appear out of the night air. In the end, the Battle of the Somme will be just one episode in a long life for Saint, but the scene's symbolic value will be quite important to understanding who he is and why he behaves as he does.
No matter what type of romance I write, research into the various facets of the characters' pasts, the locations of the setting, the clothes of the time, and especially the social mores are steps in the process that can't be missed. When they're missed or done incorrectly, the result is a story that strikes out when it could have hit it out of the park. (Sorry for the baseball reference, but I just heard it's 5 weeks until pitchers and catchers report to Spring Training! Happy, warmer days!)
at 11:15 AM