I’ve been thinking – and you know that usually means trouble. When I did that signing last week with Eloisa James, she asked if I ever wanted to write historical romance again.
The answer, of course, is yes. I really do want to write historicals again.
Which got me to thinking about what kind of historicals I’d like to write.
Of course, there is the unfinished business at Kinfairlie, and the four books linked to the Jewels of Kinfairlie series that I’d like to write and/or finish. Those four siblings and Rosamunde deserve to have their stories told. But I was also thinking about a new series, and what tone or balance those books might have.
The thing is that the historical romance market has changed considerably since I first sold to Harlequin Historicals in 1992, and I think that’s because reader expectations have changed. I was never happy with the impetus to avoid history, religion and politics in historical romance, mostly because the romances in the 80’s that were chockful of those details were the ones I loved the best. I don’t think I’m alone in missing that as a reader – in fact, I think that desire for historical detail is what has driven the increasing popularity of historical fiction. Much of this historical fiction features female protagonists, lots of history religion and politics, and even love affairs. Sometimes there’s even sex. There certainly is more of a focus on relationships and emotion than was once the case in historical fiction. My own suspicion is that readers who liked history moved away from the romance section when historical romance became closer to costume drama, and began reading authors like Philippa Gregory.
The market has also been flooded with Regency romances, a setting that is a steady performer. I wonder, though, whether there’s been too much Regency – too many dukes and rakes – just as I wonder whether there have been too many vampires in recent years. It’s hard to be certain when trends will end.
As as reader, I also really like romantic suspense in an historical setting – which includes gothics. I think I’ve read everything Phyllis A. Whitney and Mary Stewart wrote and read each one several times over. I wrote THE ROGUE because I was interested in moving in that direction. And FALLEN, certainly, has a similar gritty and suspenseful tone. Those books are challenging to write but fun, too.
So, I think that might be the direction to pursue. I have to entertain myself first, right? I’ve been pushing some ideas and some settings around my desk, starting to play. This is the fun part.
Tell me what you think. Are you done with vampires? Are you done with Regency? What are you reading in historicals these days? Erotic historical romance? Paranormal historical romance? Costume drama historical romance? Gothic/romantic suspence historical romance? Time travel historical romance? Historical fiction with romantic elements? Something completely different?