By Adriana Kraft (Guest Blogger)
Do you love history? I do – as far back as I can remember. I devoured books about far away times as a child. In my teens I loved Gone With The Wind, all of Jane Austen’s books, biographies of Elizabeth the First, the other Tudors, Mary Queen of Scots, and on and on. My husband (who co-writes with me under our pen name, Adriana Kraft) shares this tradition. His early years were also populated with biographies, as well as with Zane Grey Westerns, Sandberg’s biography of Lincoln, and Willa Cather.
He and I have been writing romantic fiction together for over a decade, and have been published in erotic romance since 2006. We have yet to publish a historical novel – but it’s not for lack of interest.
Part of what’s so daunting is the need to get things exactly right. We’ve dabbled in a little time travel here and there (okay, in our books, not personally...), but when you send characters back in time you can afford to be a little vague about precisely where you’ve sent them or when they’ve landed, leaving a lot of wiggle room for imaginative detail. Setting a full novel in a historical period we haven’t experienced means a LOT of research.
So today I thought I’d share a little about the historical periods that have drawn us, what we’re learning, and what we’re working on.
There are two: on the American continent, Native American history, and across the ocean, Celtic history. Do you detect a theme? We continue to feel drawn to cultures that respected the earth, honored the cycles of the seasons, and experienced the sacred as integral in everyday life. More: these two cultures reflect our ancestral roots. Hubs has a dollop of Native blood from his mother’s side, and both of us share UK roots that likely went back to the Celtic era, especially in Wales.
We turned to Native American history first. Because we also like to set novels in places we’ve lived or travelled, we chose western Wyoming and the Wind River Range – a landscape that reached out and grabbed us when we first encountered it. A western University library afforded us ample personal accounts of the period just after the civil war, when the Shoshone were moved to the Wind River reservation and white settlers first arrived and brought cattle into western Wyoming. We threw ourselves into a plot that spanned four decades and traced a civil war veteran from central Pennsylvania (my grandmother’s long lost uncle, we love to imagine) who moved west, established a ranch in the remote Wind River Valley, saved a Shoshone’s life and was given a Shoshone bride in gratitude. Perhaps you can tell we also love working with a clash of cultures.
We do have a completed draft of that work. It’s not a romance, exactly – more of a straightforward historical novel. But we have pulled it back out for another look and hope to release it, broken into two shorter works, later this year.
Delving into our Celtic roots has come more recently. Partly in response to what we were learning about Native American spirituality, we took training in energy healing practices, drumming, and shamanic journeying. We then decided to explore the cultures on the British Isles just preceding and during the Roman occupation. As with Native American history, our original impetus was personal – an effort to ground some of what we experienced in our training with cultures that are in our bloodlines. We focused especially on Wales, because of our shared ancestral roots.
It didn’t take long for us to get excited about setting a fictional series in that time and place. We now have the broad strokes outline for a four book series that opens in Wales during the Roman occupation. A young native woman is captured and made to become slave to a Roman officer and his wife, who eventually take her back to Rome with them. She leaves behind an infant daughter. In Rome, she gives birth to a son. With her mystical practices, she is able to stay in communication with her daughter, and across the ensuing centuries…
Well, if I keep going, I’ll give away too much of the plot! We do have the first book in this series drafted, and plan to have the series completed sometime in 2013. We’ll keep our favorite paranormal features of time travel, telecommunication and telekinesis, but the historical intervals will be carefully grounded in substantial research.
Meanwhile, if you’d like a sample of our erotic romance with time travel features, I’d recommend our very first sale, Colors of the Night, and its sequel, Aria Returns, forthcoming this spring at Extasy Books. We like to think we invented the timeless love goddess Aria; some days it seems more likely she found us, from whatever plane it is she exists in. Deeply spiritual but equally playful, she travels time and space seeking couples who need a little jump start to their relationship, in and out of bed, and she brings them ancient sacred sexual wisdom through direct practice.
We hope you love history as much as we do. It’s so easy to lose ourselves in the research, which each of us finds incredibly absorbing. We are never bored – we hope we can deliver our excitement to our readers as we expand our output in this fascinating genre.