Researching to Write a Contemporary vs a Historical Romance

Today, Denise Weimer returns to share some helpful insight into research. She writes in both historical and contemporary romance which means taking a different track to gather background nformation for each genre. Take it away Denise.

 

Hi, readers! I’m delighted to be visiting on Cindy’s blog, sharing about my TWO novels that release this month through Lighthouse Publishing of the Carolinas, one a contemporary with Candlelight Romance imprint, and one a historical with Smitten Historical Romance imprint.

 

Fall Flip, Candlelight contemporary romance, set in the river town of Augusta, GA

The tragic death of Shelby Dodson’s husband—her partner in a successful Home Network house flipping business—stole love, status, and career. Now a bungalow redesign thrusts Shelby into the company of a new contractor. Scott Matthews remembers high-and-mighty Shelby from high school, and her prissy, contemporary style goes against his down-to-earth grain. When the house reveals a mystery, will its dark secrets—and their own mistakes—cost a second chance at love? https://www.amazon.com/dp/1645261883/

The Witness Tree, Smitten historical romance, set in Salem, NC, and Cherokee Indian Territory (now NW GA)

Past betrayal has turned John Kliest’s passion to his work as a builder and surveyor in the Moravian town of Salem, North Carolina. Now, to satisfy the elders’ edict and fulfill his mission in Cherokee Territory, he needs a bride. But the one woman qualified to record the Cherokee language longs for a future with his younger brother.

Clarissa Vogler’s dream of a life with Daniel Kliest is shattered when she is chosen by lot to marry his older brother and venture into the uncharted frontier. Can she learn to love this stoic man who is now her husband? Her survival hinges on being able to trust him—but they both harbor secrets. (https://www.amazon.com/Witness-Tree-gain-break-heart/dp/1645260623/)

 

As you can imagine, researching for these stories looked very different.

 

For a contemporary romance:

  • My research emphasis falls heavily on the careers of the characters or things that happen during the course of the story, like home renovation. Sometimes I interview experts or visit job sites.
  • A trip to the setting proves imperative. Where do the locals eat? What smells and sounds predominate? How do the people talk? And what do the neighborhoods look like? When researching for Fall Flip, I’d picked out online a specific historical neighborhood to be the upscale spot where the parents live, only to discover in person that the neighborhood had fallen into disrepair.

 

For a historical romance:

  • I tend to start with the real history, poring over web sites, books, and microfilm, funneling pertinent facts into a timeline. From what really happened in history, I salvage bits and pieces into my fictional plot. I need to know what’s realistic before I can begin to picture the story.
  • I add to that timeline maps that help me figure distances, terrain, and travel time.
  • And I add portraits and drawings of real historical figures, fashion plates, and buildings. And yes, sometimes the handsome actor who helps me picture my hero just right.
  • A visit to the location can be extremely helpful, though it’s important to remember that time may have significantly changed the landscape. Even with a building, like Chief James Vann’s house in The Witness Tree, the elaborate interior trim-work was only added after my story by the chief’s son. You can’t assume anything. The other people in my tour group were probably rolling their eyes behind my back at my many questions by the time we reached the detached kitchen. LOL!
  • I’ve also been known to attend or participate in the select living history event. Great for sparking sensory detail.

Represented by Hartline Literary Agency, Denise Weimer holds a journalism degree with a minor in history from Asbury University. She is the managing editor of Smitten Historical Romance and Heritage Beacon Historical Fiction (imprints of Lighthouse Publishing of the Carolinas) and the author of The Georgia Gold Series, The Restoration Trilogy, and a number of novellas, including Across Three Autumns of Barbour’s Colonial Backcountry Brides Collection. A wife and mother of two daughters, she always pauses for coffee, chocolate, and old houses! Connect with Denise here:

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