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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A Visit with Denise Weimer: Editor and Multi-published author

Denise Weimer is my special guest today. She is blessed with two books releasing at the same time in different genres. I had to get to know her better. Welcome Denise, please tell me about your writing journey.

My writing journey began around age 11, when my parents would take me to historical sites around the Southeast. My active imagination wondered what kind of people lived in those old houses and towns and what their lives were like. I started scribbling stories in my spiral-bound notebook in the back seat of the car. Then reading them aloud to my mother, who encouraged me to keep writing.

I received a journalism degree with a minor in history from Asbury University. I was almost published by my dream publisher right out of the college—back in the day one could approach publishers directly, without an agent or previous publishing experience—but they’d just committed to a similar series. I set my writing aside as I worked in public relations and as a free-lance magazine writer, then started a family.

When my younger daughter started napping, then attending preschool, I decided I might write a novella. Thus my first book baby, Redeeming Grace, was born. It was followed by The Georgia Gold Series (Eugenia Price-style historical fiction set in Savannah and the mountains during the mid-1800s), The Restoration Trilogy (modern romantic suspense with historical back stories that emerge during a renovation), and Across Three Autumns of The Backcountry Brides Collection.

I loved The Backcountry Brides Collection. My absolute favorite novella was Across Three Autumns.  Your historical imagination kept me engaged. Now, tell me about your latest project.

Backcountry Brides last year was my most recent release, but please check back next month as I share about two novels I’m releasing in September with Lighthouse Publishing, a historical (The Witness Tree – https://www.amazon.com/Witness-Tree-gain-break-heart/dp/1645260623/) and a contemporary (Fall Flip).

While we all wait to hear more about your two new releases and how you research them could you tell us what inspires you to write your stories?

I draw inspiration for my novels from the varied settings in my home state of Georgia—from the mountains to the piedmont to the coast. Add to those all the different time periods, and there are endless possibilities.

For The Restoration Trilogy, watching my parents restore a mid-1800s doctor’s house and apothecary shop provided the nudge. I love the idea of modern characters learning life lessons from history. In the stories, a brooding bachelor and a historical preservation grad uncover artifacts and letters from three different centuries, all while enduring mysterious accidents, fighting about the restoration, and then, of course, falling in love. (https://www.amazon.com/gp/bookseries/B0719FYYLZ/)

There’s another book to put on my TBR pile.  Here is one of my favorite questions to ask authors. If you could go back in time and give one piece of advice for your younger self about writing what would that be?

“You were right, and your professors were wrong. You don’t have to start your writing career at a newspaper!” LOL. Although I admit, my journalism training has served me well.

In general, I’d say that everyone’s path to publication looks different, these days more than ever. And that’s okay.

I agree.  It’s tough to be  a creative in a world that demands so much of our time. Tell me, who is your best support system to keep you focused on your writing?

My author friends, most of whom I’ve not yet gotten to meet in person. It’s such a blessing to know there are so many like-minded individuals out there, even if we are scattered across the county! Most of the doors that have opened in my career have been opened by the grace of ones who have gone before me, like Carrie Pagels and Pegg Thomas, my mentor and co-laborer as managing editor at Smitten Romance.

As writers, we are encouraged to read, what is your favorite genre to read for fun?

Historical romance, although I do also enjoy a fast-paced modern romantic suspense.

Denise, where is your favorite place to write?

At my kitchen island when everyone is gone, with a cup of hot tea at hand and a view out the window of beautiful autumn hardwoods.

Awesome! Denise, thanks so much for stopping by. I’m looking forward to your revisit in September when you share more details about your new releases.

  More about Denise:

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. Fall Flip (Candlelight Romance –order on amazon) and The Witness Tree (Smitten – https://www.amazon.com/Witness-Tree-gain-break-heart/dp/1645260623/) release in September. A wife and mother of two daughters, she always pauses for coffee, chocolate, and old houses! Connect with Denise here:

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If you love author interviews and blogs about writerly things please subscribe to receive these posts in your email. Don’t forget Denise will be with me again in September, you don’t want to miss learning how she does research for her historical and contemporary romances.