Guest Author Amanda McCabe dishes on Paris, Jazz . . . and Love!

ManhattanHeiress2Andrea here, and today I'm delighted to welcome my good friend Amanda McCabe to the Word Wenches to dish about A Manhattan Heiress in Paris, her new historical romance set in the 1920s. (fluttery sigh.) Amanda and I met many moons ago when we were both writing traditional Regency romances for Signet. She had since branched out into a variety of fabulously interesting time periods . . . so without further ado, let's hear what she has to say about how history inspires her writing!

You’ve started in Regency romance but have also written in a number of other time periods—Renaissance, Elizabethan, Victorian, Gilded Age Edwardian and the 1920s! Tell us a little bit about what draws you to exploring different eras.
I admit, I’m Amanda and I’m a history junkie!!  I’ve always been fascinated by the past, ever since I found a stash of Jane Austen and various Gothic romances/Heyer titles on my grandmother’s bookshelf.  (she was a history/book junkie, too!).  One author she collected especially was Barbara Cartland, and while even as a ten year old I had scorn for her whispery, stammering, wide-eyed heroines, I loved the historical settings she used.  Elizabethan, Regency, Victorian India, the theatrical world, Monaco casinos, smugglers in Cornwall, she had a bit of everything, and talked about them in author’s notes I devoured.  They sent me to the library to find non-fiction works where I could learn more.  So, strangely, I owe my love of history to—Barbara Cartland!

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What We’re Reading!

Here's a round up of what the wenches have been reading this month. In the comments, let us know what you've enjoyed. It's a great library builder!


The girl and the sword The Girl and the Sword by Gerald Weaver (UK link) is a historical epic in the true sense of the word. It covers decades and looks a great span of ideas and history. It’s set in the 13th century and tells the story of Pauline de Pamiers who is a young girl from the oppressed Christian sect, the Cathars, and how she refuses to accept subjugation but forms an alliance with one of the most famous crusaders of all, Simon de Montfort. There are big themes in this book – the role of women in medieval society, the establishment of parliamentary democracy, the dominance of religion.

Whilst the character of Pauline is fictitious, Simon de Montfort was, of course, very real and in his author’s note, Gerald Weaver talks about taking an “American” view of a man who has primarily been written about by English historians. It’s fascinating to see the different perspective that he brings to the character and actions of de Montfort, seeing someone who has often been dismissed as an ambitious opportunist as, in fact, a fundamentally good man who was responsible for sowing the seeds of democracy.  Whilst I might not have agreed with his interpretation of some of de Montfort’s actions, I did love the sheer swashbuckling scope of the story. This Simon is a real hero of integrity, courage and action. Pauline is an admirable woman and their relationship is a tender and true love story. My favourite aspect of the book was their dialogue which was funny and clever and very entertaining. So if you are a fan of epic historical novels with feminist heroines and knightly heroes, this could be the book for you.

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Perfume Unmasked

Pat here: As I may have said before, one of the fun parts of writing historical novels is the dive down research bunny holes. I’ve just spent a lovely few hours scrounging around in the insane details of British law, how magistrates were appointed and criminals brought to court, when there was essentially no police force in rural environs. And along with that, I followed a side trail into manorial law, an entire blog by itself. Suffice it to say, my hero, as heir to a manorial estate, is a law unto himself. He doesn’t like it much, though.
(above photo is manor and accompanying village–not quite the one I imagine as I write but pretty anyway. See the manor way in the background?)

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Celebrating Romantic Fiction

SportsdayChristina here. You know that saying, “It’s not the winning but the taking part that counts”? That’s a hard lesson to learn when you’re little. How many times have we said it to ourselves, our children or our friends when someone lost at something or didn’t win some competition or sport? I know I repeated it to my daughters until I was blue in the face, but it didn’t stop the disappointment on their faces as they came away emptyhanded from yet another school sports day.

“Mummy, can’t we buy a medal?” my oldest asked once, obviously not having grasped the whole concept of such competitions at all. And clearly, she had already learned that a lot of things in life can be bought, which wasn’t a lesson I wanted her to absorb at such a young age. Thankfully, we eventually begin to understand the saying as we grow up and it makes perfect sense.

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Violence and Romance

Christina here, and today I’m contemplating violence. No, not personally, but in books and films, as well as in real life. It’s kind of hard not to with everything that is happening around the world today!

VikingsRight now I’m in Sweden again, and there have been a lot of stories in the press here lately about how gun violence and the number of murders each year are escalating. When I was growing up, this used to be a very peaceful country and if there was even one murder a year, it was a sensational story picked over by the press for weeks, if not months. These days there’s maybe one a week. ONE A WEEK! How did this happen? It’s getting to the point where no one bats an eye at reading the headlines and that’s very sad.

I think we are all becoming desensitised to violence. Or perhaps going backwards to how things were in the past, when punishments were harsh and it was a dog-eat-dog kind of world. Having studied and written about the Vikings for a while now, I’m fully aware of the brutality some of them displayed (although as I keep saying, the marauders were a minority, not the majority of the population). They thought nothing of it, nor did their victims. Given half a chance, they would have been just as violent in return. It was the norm, but that was a 1,000 years ago!

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