Susan here, with our AAW (Ask-A-Wench) feature for January, when we posed this question to ourselves:
Is there a time period or location that you’d love to write about but haven’t yet – a dream book or book setting that you’d love to try?
From ancients to aliens to mysteries, here’s what we came up with!
Pat says: Let’s be fair, I’ve been published since 1984—forty years ago. I have averaged two and a half books a year over that period, working on 90 books, I believe. I have indulged myself by writing almost everything I’ve ever wanted to write and set it anywhere that interested me. The question I should be asked—is there anywhere or anything you haven’t written about?
And the only thing that comes to mind is my alien idea set in the jungles of South America. I’ve played at writing the story in several forms but so far, I’ve not been happy with the results. Now that I’ve actually visited Peru and Ecuador… I guess we’ll see what happens!
Nicola here. I’ve always been tempted to turn to crime. Crime writing that is. I love reading crime and thrillers and enjoy the challenge of a mystery and the satisfying way in which they can be solved. I think the only reason I’ve never given it a try is that I know nothing at all about police procedure, other than what I read in books or see on TV, and so it feels as though it would require a huge amount of research. Whilst I don’t mind doing that for my historical fiction it isn’t as appealing for another genre. So I will probably remain a keen reader of crime fiction rather than an author of it.
I’ve been lucky enough to write about several time periods that are my favourites – Regency, Tudor, 17th Century in England, but I’ve always wanted to write a book about Elizabeth Stuart, the Winter Queen, which would have to be a sweeping 17th century epic covering Scotland, Germany, Bohemia, Holland and finally England! One day, perhaps, but I’ll need to get on with it soon! The picture, by Jacques Fouquier, shows Elizabeth’s garden at Heidelberg Castle on the Rhine.
Christina says: I’ve written about most of the periods of history that interest me already, but there’s one still missing – the Dark Ages. It’s a time that’s shrouded in mystery and there seem to be very few details about this era, at least when it comes to written evidence. However, the artefacts left behind discovered by archaeologists are fascinating and intriguing. I can never go to the British Museum without taking a quick peek at the Sutton Hoo treasures, for example. And the Staffordshire Hoard is equally tantalising. So I’m going to give some thought to setting a story during this time because – why not?
As for locations, there are still lots of possibilities for Viking stories – the Faroe Islands, Greenland, L’Anse Aux Meadows in Newfoundland, as well as Dublin and Normandy, to name a few. So I have a lot to choose from, which is very exciting! (image: Wikipedia)
Andrea says: I started my writing career after being inspired by finding a tattered Georgette Heyer Regency romance in a pile of used books . . . which led me to discover the Signet Regency line, which came out with 3 or 4 books a month. I want to try to write a Regency romance, I thought to myself, and dreamed of perhaps having Signet publish it. And lo and behold, somehow the stars aligned and I sold that first effort to Signet. The more I researched the era, the more i became fascinated by all its aspects. Yes, the drawing rooms and ballrooms were alluring, but I found there was so much more to the time period than fancy parties and country manor houses. So I’ve stayed with the Regency, moving from romance to historical mystery and historical fiction, which allow me to delve deeper into the complexies of the era. And for me there is still a wealth of material to inspire stories.
That said, I have an idea for an Edwardian series that at some point I may play with. That era fascinates me because, like the Regency, it’s a time when society was turning upside down as new ideas were challenging the traditions of the past. We’ll see!
Mary Jo here: I can’t match Pat’s 40 years as a writer, since I’m at a mere 38 years, And I certainly can’t match her 90 books; I’m a bit over 50, I think. (I haven’t counted lately.) But I’ve been very lucky to be able to write just about everything, and everywhere, that I’ve wanted. While the majority of my books have been set in 18th and 19th century Britain, I’ve also set books in Central Asia, India, China, the East Indies, and even one in the United States. I’ve done contemporaries, young adult time travel, and a number of romantic fantasy stories. I even wrote one medieval because it was the only time period in which the hero wouldn’t look like a total psycho.
But what I would love to do is have the time to write about secondary characters that intrigued me but I didn’t have time to develop. (Basically, I have a compulsion to give happy endings to everyone I like. <G>) There are many such characters but most compelling are the people I was grooming for stardom in my Regency paranormal The Marriage Spell. I intended that book to be the beginning of a series with my typical “family of choice” set up. But my publisher wasn’t interested and I had to find a new home and no other house was interested in continuing a series started elsewhere. I have at least a dozen pages of emails from readers asking me when I was going to write about Ashby and Ransom and the others. Sigh. Hasn’t happened yet.
Full length novels take a lot of time, but I like the idea of writing novellas about these characters and a number of others–going all the way back to that single medieval. Maybe some day!
Anne here. Back when I first started writing for publication, I wrote Regency-era historicals and one contemporary romantic comedy, but I was advised to stick to the one genre, so I did. I still have an occasional yen to write contemporary romantic comedy, but I’m also very comfortable in the Regency.
Susan here. I’ve written dozens of books set in Scotland from the 11th to the 19th centuries, and I’d continue that indefinitely; I love Scottish-set stories and accumulated knowledge makes it easy to stay there. Yet there are other locations and historical situations that would be a fun challenge to take on, if I could find the time! I took a deep dive into 11th-century Scotland when I wrote mainstream historical fiction in Lady Macbeth and Queen Hereafter, and I would love to write another deep dive in a story that centers on Joan of Arc. So much has been written about her in nonfiction and fiction, yet I’ve been playing with a story that has a different angle, a real dream book for me.