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Thursday, July 7, 2011


Thank you for having me as a guest at The Long and Short of It!

Writing any romance novel is a big challenge. Whether the story is long or short, whether the conflict is light or complex, whether the characters are tortured souls or the people next door, getting from Chapter 1 to The End is a huge undertaking. So which do I like better, historicals or contemporaries?

Six Reasons I Prefer Writing Historicals

1. The dresses. Don’t we all like to pretend sometimes that we’re princesses going to a ball? Writing about fancy-dress costumes is a whole lot more comfy than actually putting on that corset and lacing it up.

2. The social network and rules. There are a thousand storylines which work in historicals but just don’t in contemporary settings. Because a woman in the Regency had few choices other than marriage, the possibilities for a marriage-of-convenience story are much more convincing than in today’s society.

3. The houses. I can have all the fun of living in a manor house or a castle, without having to actually cope with having no hot water on tap and no central heating.

4. The language. I love the formal way people used to speak, because much of their everyday conversation was like poetry on the fly. It’s fun to let my heroes and heroines talk in that elegant style, instead of today’s Tweetspeak.

5. The technology – or I should say the lack of it. No instant communication; no easy way to send messages; long delays in travel – offering interesting twists and believable misunderstandings.

6. The research. It’s fun to curl up with a good book about Regency England and tell my husband I’m working and can’t possibly stop to cook dinner. Plus, writing historicals makes the trip to poke around Windsor Castle and Kensington Palace and Hampton Court tax-deductible. :-)

Six Reasons I Prefer Writing Contemporaries

1. The language. Though I still have to think about how a character would express himself (my macho tycoon hero isn’t going to talk about recipes for success!), I don’t have to check every word to see whether it was actually in use in 1815.

2. The opportunities for interaction. Co-workers, neighbors, business rivals – there are so many creative, convincing, and innovative ways for a man and a woman to meet, compete, and interact these days.

3. The technology. Stories speed up remarkably when the heroine can check her facts with Google or pick up her cell phone and deal with a problem.

4. The communication. Modern heroes and heroines can say pretty much anything to each other – openly expressing anger, depression, sadness, glee, lust – where old-style characters were much more reserved until they knew each other quite well.

5. The hygiene. Life (to say nothing of lovemaking) is so much more romantic when everyone’s clean. By the time a historical heroine heated and hauled the water, washed her hair with lye soap, and drained the gunk from the tub with a bucket, she’d need a second bath to recuperate from the first one.

6. The research. Contemporary stories still require a lot of research to be sure the facts are right, but it’s much easier to check details when you’re not simultaneously looking up dates. And writing glitz-and-glamour contemporaries makes the occasional trip to the concierge level of a luxury hotel tax-deductible. :-)

So if it seems I just can’t make up my mind which I like better – well, that’s the truth. For right now, I’m going to keep on writing historicals. Except … there are these present-day settings and characters that are nagging around the corners of my mind…

Just One Season in London by Leigh Michaels (Regency)

Viscount Ryecroft is a young man with a problem. Make that two problems: He has a beautiful sister to marry off, but no money to fund a London season for her. Perhaps he needs to find an heiress for himself first? His sister, Miss Sophie Ryecroft is willing to marry for the good of the family, but since she can’t meet the sort of man Rye has in mind for her except in London, she’s looking for alternatives.

And finally, Rye and Sophie’s mother Miranda, the dowager, but still young Lady Ryecroft, will do anything for the sake of her children—even taking up again with a man she knew long ago, and offering to be his mistress...but he’s not willing to settle for anything less with Miranda than marriage, and she doesn’t want her children to settle for anything less than love… Only in London can the Ryecrofts find their destinies!

Leigh Michaels is the author of nearly 100 books, including 80 contemporary novels and more than a dozen non-fiction books. More than 35 million copies of her romance novels have been published by Harlequin. A six time RITA finalist, she has also received two Reviewer’s Choice awards from RT Book Reviews and was the 2003 recipient of the Johnson Brigham Award. She is the author of On Writing Romance, published in January 2007 by Writers Digest Books. Leigh also teaches romance writing on the Internet at Gotham Writers’ Workshop. She lives in Des Moines, Iowa. For more information, please visit http://www/


Naomi Musch said...

LOL! Excellent points. Well said.

StephB said...

Leigh, what an enticing cover! You've got me sold *smile* I LOVED your On Writing Romance and The Mistress House. Looking forward to reading your latest one.


Leigh Michaels said...

Thanks for stopping by, ladies! I'm so glad you enjoyed The Mistress' House, and I think you'll like meeting the Ryecroft family, too.