Eleanor of Aquitaine

Juggling Worlds: A Fiction Writer’s Adventure

Friday, December 16th, 2011 | The Writing Life | 5 Comments

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http://www.123rf.com/stock-photo/juggling.html

This week I have had the pleasure of living in two worlds: the world of Eleanor of Aquitaine and the world of Regency England. As I write the Regency romance series Shakespeare in Love for Sourcebooks, I find myself immersed daily in a past that I have visited often as a reader, but only now have come to live in as a writer. I have been exploring the challenges of bringing Shakespeare’s The Taming of the Shrew to life in a new way and in a new setting, this time in Regency England just after Bonaparte has been defeated and my hero returns from the war. Anthony Carrington comes home to an arranged marriage to a woman he likely would have never chosen for himself.  Caroline Montague, the daughter of his commanding officer, will be left penniless and alone upon her father’s death if Anthony does not marry her. He agrees to take her on, in spite of her wild ways, and a great deal of Shakespearean fun ensues.

Of course, in his efforts to control and dominate his bride, Anthony does not resort to starvation as Petruchio does in The Taming of the Shrew. And Caroline does not conform to her husband’s demands, but struggles to be accepted as an equal, something unheard of at the time. So needless to say, I am having a ball mediating between these two, knowing always that true love will triumph in the end. One of the wonderful blessings of romance.

The second world I have been living in is, of course, Eleanor of Aquitaine’s. True love does not win in Eleanor’s world, and power, the by word of Eleanor’s life,  is almost always elusive. This week I had the pleasure of answering questions about Eleanor and her world for RT Book Reviews. Thinking of Eleanor and reminding myself of all the reasons I adore her, why others adore her as well, is always a joy, and no more so than when people ask me about her. She is an amazing woman with more facets than we fiction writers will ever fully explore.

Image Credit:

http://www.123rf.com/photo_9406430_yacht-and-blue-water-ocean.html

It is always a joy to move between the worlds of my fiction, to explore my characters’ lives and to take part in their adventures. And there are always more stories shimmering on the horizon, along the edge of the ocean of imagination on which I sail. I look forward always to the next port, the next elusive shore on which I will wash up, only to discover the next story that is waiting to be told.

I have said it before, and no doubt I will say it again. I am a lucky woman indeed.

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The Leap into the Void

Wednesday, September 21st, 2011 | The Writing Life | 2 Comments

The blank page that lies before us every time we sit down to write is the void. Unformed and unknown, it is a brave new world where we hope to find our characters, our plots, and our ideas waiting for us. Of course, when we write historical fiction, we’ve got a map. The facts as we know them give us an outline for the world we are going to build. But questions remains even then: what facts about our protagonist do we include in this book? What do we leave out? No life has the shape of a narrative arc. Even biographical fiction, like the work I do with Eleanor of Aquitaine, must be shaped and shifted to build an entertaining story.

This search for the things we will need to fill the void is even more profound for a work of pure fiction. When we are building a world literally out of nothing but our own imaginations, we rely on our characters, a plot we’ve developed before we begin,  perhaps an outline, and inspiration. All of these tools, along with our skills as writers and our hope that we will be able to tell a story that others will want to read are our companions as we sit down to begin. The blank page is before us. We are voyagers in the Void. Scary sometimes, often intimidating, the Void is where we writers live. We return from there with our stories in hand, hoping that they will be as meaningful to someone else as they are to us. I for one would not want to live anywhere else.

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