Thursday, November 1, 2012
Fall in Love Blog Hop
Since Fall is here and 2013 is just around the corner, I figured we'd talk about new books or authors we have fallen in love with this year. Is it that new phenomenal indie author or new series that has blown you away? Who have you been gushing about all this year? Is there a new genre you found and now love?
Great news everyone, I wanted to let you know that Toni Aleo will also be hosting the "Grand Prize" so to speak. She is doing a giveaway that offers a brand new Kindle Fire among some other goodies.
Be sure to check out www.tonialeo.com as well as the other "hop" participants listed at the bottom of this post
When this blog hop came around I thought about an author I had fallen in love with this year and while there were several Natasha Blackthorne and her amazing books came to me over and over as I thought. Natasha was kind enough to answer a few questions about her work and herself.
I love your heroines that know their own mind and body, is this historically accurate?
Hello Carin and thank you for the questions. As far as women knowing their own bodies, I don’t believe that a male doctor was the first person to discover the clitoris. I think in any era there have always been women who were in touch with their bodies. They might not have felt free to express this to anyone else. Maybe they were lucky and had an understanding husband or lover at some point in their lives. However, it is certain that being in touch with one’s sensuality in a time when it is not celebrated puts one into a very definite conflict with society.
I read widely from social history in the time periods I write in. This is something I do for entertainment and pleasure. I would do it no matter if I wrote historicals or not. I am particularly fascinated with those individuals who don’t fit in with their own times. I am also very interested in how people manage to handle getting their needs met versus keeping a respectable public image.
Men have always found ways to philander and fornicate no matter the rules of their time. Were the women they played with always evil and not deserving of a heroine role and a Happily-Ever-After?
The Puritan courts were booked with handling sexual crimes. Yes, society often has stringent rules about how to behave but people also break those rules. When they break the rules, if they are caught, there are consequences. So what do people, who cannot manage to live within the strict rules, do to ensure that they don’t get caught? What kinds of stresses and conflicts does this place in their lives and relationships? What compromises must they make? This is what is most interesting to me when I am looking at a time period.
I think a woman’s personality and how that personality shapes her personal experiences plays a large role in how familiar she becomes with her body. A woman who has a naturally high sexual drive, combined with a keen intellectual curiosity will be driven to become more familiar with her own body. And I do believe that a character’s backstory must be logical for her to have gained this familiarity with her body.
Beth McConnell had a past when Grey’s Lady begins. She was not a starry eyed virgin. She’d had a long and deeply intimate relationship with a medical doctor who had been educated (and gained his sexual experience) in Europe. This gentleman hurt her very deeply and rejected her based on her social class. She was also raised with a negative message about who and what she was. No matter what she did, she knew she couldn’t be a true “lady” such as her first lover needed for a wife. She knew she was “ruined” because of the seduction. She feels trapped, hopeless, unwanted, unlovable and unacceptable.
At the same time, she was longing for a way to find her own personal power. To be loveable. She wanted to be acceptable to the kind of man who excited her, that is the wealthy, powerful, dynamic gentlemen who she grew up so close to, yet so distant from. She was very aware of how gentlemen lusted after her unusual silver-blonde beauty and she’s come to understand many things about how to please those gentlemen. So at the time Grey’s Lady opens, she has a very different worldview than a typical young woman of her time. She’s not meant to be an example of the average woman of Jeffersonian era America.
But having said that, based on my research, women from the lower classes in America at the time were known to strike up temporary, casual relationships with wealthier men. They would meet them in the “bawdy houses” and also places like the theatre. They might have sex in exchange for a nice dinner and some cases of wine. It wouldn’t always tend to be outright money for sex and neither the woman nor the man viewed it as absolute prostitution. Nor would the woman always do such a thing.
These were turbulent economic times and women tended to feel the brunt of that the worst. This casual prostitution was something these women tended to slip in and out of depending on the fluctuations in their circumstances. Alexander Hamilton got himself into a little trouble with a situation just like this with Mrs. Maria Reynolds. That he had an affair with her wasn't what so many people took issue with. It was the fact that he broke the first rule of gallantry: Thou Shall Not Get Caught.
Emily had a natural stubbornness that wouldn’t let her totally surrender to her grandmother’s domination. She always kept a secret inner life. Her art and her sensual nature became a way of quietly rebelling against her grandmother. However, all of these traits also get her into trouble during the course of the story.
When Anne marries, her husband also neglects her and they live separately. And again, she’s a woman with a very curious, intellectual mind and a strong sensual drive. Because of her philosophy studies, she’s a secular minded person. She wouldn’t feel the same guilt about touching herself as a woman who read the moral “purity” materials of the time. To me, it would have been less believable that, in the loneliness of her nights in the country, she had not fully explored the pleasurable solitary solace her own body could provide.
You also ask about women knowing their own minds. In genre fiction, it is necessary for a main character to either know their own mind or to be fighting to come to know their own mind. It is this realistic for history? Certainly it is. One need only read some of the available primary source materials for the time. The diaries of Abigail Adams, Elizabeth Drinker and the letters of the Lennox sisters in England are all examples of women who were articulate, intellectually curious, educated and able to discern their own opinions. There are many other examples of strong-minded women from history.
I like to write about naughty girls not perfect pattern card ladies. Often my heroines are quiet rebels, struggling to maintain their individuality against external forces of rigid conformist control. I like to explore issues I find in social history more than I like to follow the traditional historical romance plot. I write for people who enjoy something a little offbeat and different in a historical.
You write Erotic Historical Romance, do you ever have difficulty with the research?
I majored in history in college and now I read books on history and psychology for entertainment. It is my hobby and always has been. The more intimate areas of human relationships are fascinating to me and it is natural to want to explore history at this level. How do people find ways to meet their sexual and emotional needs in a time when marriage is mostly something meant for economic gain and social control? So I read many books on the history of sex, relationships and family dynamics. I own many books on these topics that I collected over the years.
The only thing that can be difficult is when I want to find a specific piece of information and it takes a long time to find a definitive answer.
You have written both American Historical and English, which was harder to write?
American social history is harder to research. There are so many books written specially about English culture and behaviour during the Georgian and Regency eras. It is harder to find out about American history in this period.
I was lucky enough to have an English editor when working on A Measured Risk.
Do you have a favorite of you books?
I don’t have a favorite when it comes to my published books. One of my practice novels, a novel about the American Revolution, is my personal favorite.
okay a couple fun questions
favorite color – I like red, blue, purple, black and dark green pretty much equally well.
cat or dog person - I like dogs just fine but prefer to live with cats.
favorite dessert – Pumpkin Pie
Coke or Pepsi - Neither
Early Bird or Night Owl – I feel better and write better late at night.
Thank you, Carin, for the wonderful interview questions and for hosting me on your blog.
* Some of the historical information in this interview comes from: Sex among the Rabble: An Intimate History of Gender and Power in the Age of Revolution, Philadelphia, 1730-1830 by Clare A. Lyons, The University of North Carolina Press, (2006).
Natasha can be found
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