A lot of writers write in the same genre they love to read. If they read Sci-fi, they write Sci-fi. If they read YA, they write YA. This isn’t the case with me. You see, I’m petrified to even attempt to write what I love to read. Historical romances. I think this genre has got to be the most difficult genre to write in. First off, not only do you need to know the language of the time, and keep it consistent throughout, but you have to contort it in clever ways via flirtatious banter between the hero and heroine. On top of that, you have to know what they ate, how they dressed, how they traveled, and even the local news of the time period, most times in a completely different country. Talk about research, research, research! I am absolutely in awe of these authors and I just know if I attempted to write a historical romance I’d botch it up to no end. I imagine these people eat, sleep, and breathe in the era they’re writing.
This is the mode I’m in currently, albeit mine is through watching movies. I know, so lame. Over the past week, I’ve discovered that Netflix has a full selection of historical romances to choose from, most based on Jane Austen’s books. I’ve watched Jane Eyre, Wuthering Heights, Lost in Austen, and next on queue is Mansfield Park. What’d you say? You’ve never heard of Lost in Austen? Well, then you’re truly missing out. This has now become my favorite movie. I love love love love love it! Anyone who adores Pride and Prejudice NEEDS to see this movie. Like seriously. If you have Netflix, it’s currently in the romance titles. Or, I think you can watch it online too.
The move is about a woman in modern-day London who is dissatisfied with her life. Her ratty copy of Pride and Prejudice has been read more times than she can count (since the age of 12), and she compares every man in her life to Mr. Darcy. They’re just not good enough. Obviously. *swoon* A portal of sorts opens in her shower and she and Elizabeth Bennett switch places (she enters as Elizabeth’s out-town-friend). When she arrives, it’s as if the story of Pride and Prejudice is starting fresh from the beginning and she is in awe over meeting and interacting with the characters and visiting the locations. Her goal from start to finish is to make the characters perform the way they do in the book. But nothing goes the way it should, and she finds herself falling in love with someone she shouldn’t. In short, it’s a bit like fan fiction in that the story is completely switched around, but the characters remain the same. The writers even take liberties with twisting what you think you know about a character (i.e. Wickham).
But what I love most about the movie is two-fold. First, this is not a cheesy remake. It’s really good quality movie making. The characters are EXACTLY as I imagined them from their appearance to their mannerisms. It’s just perfect. But because the plot takes a turn, it’s almost like you have a “backstage pass” to the story. You get to spend even more time with the characters you love and learn different things about them. Most importantly, it brings a dream many of us have probably had to life. What is this dream? Well, that you wake up one day in a Jane Austen novel. Okay, so maybe that’s just one of my dreams. But the fact that this actually happens (in movie land) to a woman just like me brings it that much closer to reality. Does that make sense or do I sound like a loon?
Here's a clip from the movie I found online, which is actually cut out of the Netflix version.
I always go overboard when it comes to historical romances. One time, I ate nothing but scones with jam and Earl Gray tea for breakfast just so I could feel closer to the characters. Please tell me someone else has done this? I just love history so much. Did you ever feel like you were born in the wrong time period? I feel like that all the time. I want to wear petticoats and dresses and button-up shoes. I want servants bustling about me in white caps and gray gowns. I want to ride a horse across the misty moors and to go to outlandish balls. I want to eat and read by candlelight and live in a house full of twists and turns. The problem is…I can’t and I never will. And when I get into what I call a Jane Austen fog, I wander around modern society like a lost puppy, with visions of horse drawn buggies where cars are honking or visions of Mr. Darcy where my husband stands. And then as the day wears on, and technology has invaded my senses, the fog dissipates, quite sadly, and I cannot wait to go back in again.
Is there any genre that does this to you? Just gets underneath your skin and you can’t let go? Like you’d give up reality in an instant to be able to jump in?
I haven't given up completely on writing historical romance. It plays a role in my current series, but in a small way. My main character has dreams of past lives and in those dreams I get to pretend I know what I'm doing. Here's one of my attempts. :)
She fingered the brocade curtain, smooth between her fingertips, and looked out the leaded-pane window. Lush green lawns rolled into the horizon, a circular garden brimmed with roses of every shade, and a cement lion spouted water from its mouth. An estate fit for a princess, but even after living there a full six months, it still didn't feel like home. She felt like an intruder, an annoyance, a thorn in her Uncle's side.
Female voices drifted in from the hall. Hearing her name, she hid behind the curtain, afraid of being accused of eavesdropping. She held her breath, her muscles tense.
"They say she's unmarriable."
"Tsk. Her poor mother."
"I know! Can you imagine? Three seasons and not one offer of marriage. It's unheard of."
"What do you suppose is wrong with her? She's pretty enough and I hear she can play the harpsichord beautifully."
There was a pause and she glanced at her ring-less hand gripping the curtain. Her ears strained to hear the other woman's response.
Bark, Bark, Bark
Quinn opened her eyes. No, she had to find out what was wrong with her! She closed her eyes again, trying to get back to that warm, hazy spot in her dream.
Growling, she shoved back the covers and sat up, peeking through her veil of bangs. What the hell was that dog barking at? "George! What is your issue?" She glanced at the alarm clock. It was seven thirty-four. Ugh. She didn't like to get up any earlier than nine on Sundays.
Okay, I can't help myself. I had to include this scene. Just know it's a major spoiler alert if you intend to watch the movie. God, he's so yummy!