header('Cache-Control: max-age=259200'); Why I Love Historical Romance - Kristen Koster
Feb 102012

Photo of luxurious fabric to be made into a cape.Last week in my accountability group’s HOW I WRITE series, we talked about 3 Things I Love About My WIP. This week we’re talking about why we write in a particular genre and what attracted us to it. Also, we were asked if we like to read any genres we don’t or can’t write? Why? And would we like to try a different genre? I’ve already answered the “Why Romance” question, but I’m not sure I’ve ever covered Why Write Historical Romance, and Regency Romance in specific.

What attracted me to Historical Romance?

I grew up reading a variety of historical romances pilfered from my mom’s stash: Kathleen Woodiwiss, Kat Martin, Rosemary Rogers, Shirlee Busbee, Virgina Henley, Johanna Lindsey, and many, many, more. I’ll freely admit I was looking for escapism and a bit of the bodice ripping excitement promised by the covers. It was a slightly different kind from what I was finding in Science Fiction and Fantasy in that this was real world stuff, not wholly made up! Westerns/Colonial American, Medievals, Regencies… all were fair game. I never read the contemporary romances then. Probably because they all had boring object covers instead of those wildly passionate clinches.

So why settle into the Regency Era?

The romantic notions like titles and balls, the escapist fantasy, the slower/different pace of life, the layers and intrigue in the rules of society. The descriptions of men’s fashions, especially the mysteries revealed when a man removes his cravat. While I love me some eye-candy, there’s something to be said for leaving things to your imagination too.

They’d also just done away with the powdered wigs, patches, and panniers of the Georgian Era. Nasty stuff. Not practical and not attractive. Medievals were too much fantasy compared to the historical reality of fleas, sandy grit in the bread, women being literal property. In the Regency that last hadn’t changed legally, but the authors were showing their heroines more as partners than dependents. Victorian Era was too hypocritical for me in many of its attitudes around sex. I never really got into Edwardian Era books because anytime they drive up in a car or the phone rings, my immersion is shattered. Yes, I love Downton Abbey, but yup, the phone and the cars were jarring at first there too. I suspect my problem is more with books where the setting isn’t firmly established in the beginning and those things sneak up on me.

What else do I read besides Historical Romance?

What don’t I? The most represented genres on our shelves (well, the ones *I* read anyway) include Science Fiction, Fantasy, Young Adult, some Contemporary Romance, some Romantic suspense, historical time travel, a handful of chick lit mysteries, and a selection of urban fantasy. Again, it’s usually the escapist aspect that draws me to these genres, something removed from my ordinary world.

If not Historical Romance, what else would I try to write?

Maybe contemporary romance, Urban Fantasy or some fantasy, but it’d probably be flavored in some way by the historical aspect and it’d likely still have lots of romantic elements. But for now, I’m focused on finishing the current crop of characters in my head who all reside firmly in Regency London.

And if you’d like to read more about what’s got the rest of the group excited about their genres, you can find their blogs here:

* Alexia Reed * Kimberly Farris*
* Angeleque Ford * Danie Ford * Emma G. Delaney *

Your Turn: What’s YOUR favorite genre of book to read and why?

  5 Responses to “Why I Love Historical Romance”

Comments (5)
  1. It’s so interesting how we grew up reading the same thing but chose to write something different! Way back when, I never met a historical romance I didn’t like (Jude Deveraux, Judith McNaught, Teresa Mederios etc) and I didn’t read contemp either. I did read a lot of SFF, heavy on the fantasy and now I write Science Fiction and contemp romance. HOW did that happen?? It’s all in my voice. Historical and fantasy have that escapism quality that I love to read but I can’t write it. I wish I could because then I might be able to write paranormal and actually sell. 🙂 You, on the other hand, are perfectly suited to write historical fantasy like Gail Carriger or Zoe Archer. But as Regency is my first love, I hope you stick to that!

  2. It’s funny how what people enjoy reading changes. I go through addiction stages. Right now, I’m in my historical romance addiction.

  3. Growing up, I read lots of non-fiction. I’ll read any story that has an interesting premise.

  4. Kristen,
    Love your summing up of why we love the Regency era, especially the hero slowly pulling off his cravat- sigh!

  5. I also love the regency, as opposed to contemporary, because it offers so many options for romantic conflict that we just don’t have today. Society’s rules made it harder for people to express their feelings or marry for love. It seems that most conflicts in modern romances are based around infidelity. I like that historical romances are usually based around other barriers, and our heroes and heroines have to really fight to get what they want.

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