Ella: Grace, thanks so much for being here today. Tell us a bit about yourself.
Grace: Hello Ella. I live in the UK (hence my unusual spelling of certain words!) I have two fantastic sons; one is studying to be an artist, and the other is reptile mad. In truth, I’m a bit nutty when it comes to cats and act as housekeeping staff to five felines – this is a good obsession because by day I am a veterinarian. My other passions are history and writing, and so it was a natural progression to write historical romance novels, of which three as available as ebooks.
Ella: What inspired you to start writing?
Grace: I know the exact moment I started writing!
It was at a school reunion and friends I hadn’t seen for twenty years, asked what I’d done since leaving and most assumed I’d be a novelist. This was a puzzle until someone reminded me how the stories I wrote for English homework were regularly read out to a hushed class. It was a ‘eureka’ moment as I remembered how simple essays used to take on a life of their own and fill whole notebooks.
Why not start writing again? So, I did.
Ella: Why Regency?
Grace: I find the regency the most romantic of times, however, it is a close run thing. I also have a soft spot for the Victorians, the Georgians, and the Tudors. In fact, come to think of it the middle ages is pretty interesting. My first novel (unpublished) is set in the Victorian era, and I’m working on a new series in a Georgian setting, which makes me sound very fickle when it comes to eras.
Ella: You feel, as I do, that historical accuracy is extremely important when writing historical fiction. Can you speak to that?
Grace: As a writer of historical romance, I take research very seriously. There are the obvious reasons, such as historical accuracy; nothing is more galling to a reader than a character pushing a light switch, when electricity has yet to be invented. I’m a visual writer (I have to be able to picture a scene before I can describe it) and so research is key to find out what people wore in 1814; such as what gowns were made from, what underwear (if any!) was worn, and men’s fashions.
But research isn’t just about getting facts right, it’s also about visiting the past. By this I mean getting a feel for what it was like to live centuries ago; what streets smelt like, how homes were heated, and how long it took to travel from place to place.
In the interests of research I often visit London, easy for me to do as I live a short commute away. Recently, I went to St James’s Street to see what had become of the famous Georgian gentlemen’s clubs: White’s, Brookes’ and Boodle’s. To stand looking at the very bay window where Beau Brummell once peered down on the passers by was a thrill, but sadly it didn’t leave much of an impression otherwise.
The ‘feel’ of the St James’s Street had gone, replaced by litter bins, lampposts, road signs and swanky shops. Actually, I suppose that’s not strictly true because I was surprised by how wide St James’s Street was, and it must have been even more spacious in regency times with no parked cars lining the road. And that is my point, when going in search of the past, it can be difficult to find anything inside or outside of a museum that speaks to my bones.
Perhaps one exception is the Foundling Museum, near Euston, London. This remarkable museum is on the site of the building where in the 18th century, destitute single mothers took their babies in the hope of having them adopted. Inside, the museum has displays of the usual reconstructions and paintings of benevolent benefactors, but it is the tokens left by mothers that have the power to strike emotion in today’s visitor.
Tokens were objects left with a baby by the mother in order to identify her with the child should she be able later, to claim the infant. Items from scraps of fabric to half coins, from tiny rings to nuts were left – and to see such things and think of the hands they passed through, and what they represent in terms of human misery, is truly touching.
Each time I visit London, it strikes me that it’s the wrong place to get within touching distance of the past. In my opinion it is the smaller more intimate places, such as villages, cottages and old gardens where the echoes of voices from centuries past as more easily heard. It is places such as this that inspire my novels, indeed, Hope’s Betrayal resulted from researching the history of a fisherman’s cottage on the Isle of Wight…but that’s a whole new blog post!
Ella: Grace, thank you so much for stating that so eloquently.
Grace: Thank you, Ella, for hosting me. It’s lovely to have this opportunity to ramble on.
Ella: It was a pleasure having you come by to chat. Now, what you’ve all been waiting for, here is the blurb for Hope’s Betrayal.
One wild, winter’s night two worlds collide.
Known for his ruthless efficiency, Captain George Huntley is sent to stamp out smuggling on the south coast of England. On a night raid, the Captain captures a smuggler, but finds his troubles are just beginning when the lad turns out to be a lass, Hope Tyler.
With Hope as bait, the Captain sets a trap to catch the rest of the gang. But in a battle of wills, with his reputation at stake, George Huntley starts to respect feisty, independent Hope. Challenged by her sea-green eyes and stubborn loyalty Huntley now faces a new threat – his growing attraction to a sworn enemy. But a love where either Hope betrays her own kind, or Captain Huntley is court-marshaled, is not an easy destiny to follow.
Grace Elliot leads a double life as a veterinarian by day and author of historical romance by night. Grace believes intelligent people need to read romance as an antidote to the modern world. As an avid reader of historicals she turned to writing as a release from the emotionally draining side of veterinary work.
Grace lives near London and is addicted to cats. The Elliot household consists of five cats, two teenage sons, one husband, a guinea pig – and the latest addition – a bearded dragon!
Grace Elliot (blog) “Fall in Love With History.”
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