Highlighting Historical Romance with Valentines From Bath
You might think a novella, shorter and often simpler than a full novel, would not require much research. You might be wrong. Writers of historical romance always begin with questions. Questions breed research. Sometimes they lead us down the infamous rabbit hole. One thing to keep in mind: fiction doesn’t have to be dead accurate, but it must be at please plausible.
It began with some obvious ones. Did they celebrate Valentine’s Day in 1815? Heck yes. The earliest known example of a valentine poem is from 1415! It was handwritten by a man imprisoned in the Tower of London for his wife. In the early 19th century most greetings were still hand made, but the first printed valentine dates to 1797! But did they have balls to celebrate? Why not? It’s plausible.
If we’re to have a ball, we need to be accurate about the famous Assembly Rooms at Bath because, well, Jane Austen herself mentions them, and Regency Romance fans know them. They layout of the place impacted action in more than one of our stories, though most feature only the ballroom. It also involved tracking down the Master of Ceremonies and the governance of the facility. We wondered who had the day to day operational responsibility and learned the master would have delegated to a paid staff. We gave the Rooms a manager. Why not? It’s plausible.
We knew they had seasonal subscriptions to the events in the room, but what about a special event. Our ball was such an event, outside the routine schedule of dances, so we decided it needed tickets. Why not? It’s plausible.
My own story had some issues. Since I made my hero a former sergeant, I had to know the state of the Napoleonic wars. I was worried Napoleon might have been on the march to Waterloo already on February 14, 1815. I needn’t have. He didn’t escape from Elba for another week or two. Working backward I figured out my hero must have been wounded at the Battle of Toulouse the previous April, the fight that brought about the emperor’s first abdication. Why not? That was easily plausible.
Since I made him the owner of a candle manufacturing business, it only made sense that he might have the Assembly Rooms as a customer. Did they need candles? Boy did they! Check out those chandeliers. But would they insist on beeswax or would they accept the relatively new discovery of spermaceti or whale’s wax to save money? Why not? It’s plausible.
My research even led to a piece on candle making for History Imagined.
The book will be launched on February 9. You can pre-order it by clicking on the cover in the right hand menu. Think about joining us on Facebook that day to celebrate. There will be prizes!
7 thoughts on “Valentines and Plausibility”
Great post on how research impacts story (or not). Thanks, Caroline.
Being the history lover that I am, research always fascinates me. Wasn’t always a fan of novellas, but I’ve read some good ones lately. Looking forward to this book.
The idea of separate tickets is highly plausible. The Master of Ceremonies was not paid, but took the proceeds of two special benefit balls a year, for which there were tickets. This might have been one of them (why not?) or it might have been an extra for some special cause we’re not told about.
Great post, Carol
Thanks Jude!You’ll note I swiped your research into the oldest Valentine.
That was interesting. If i did research i would never get any writing done . I would read the research like a book. So much work for you all. I knkw how some fans make sure history is correct. Im not like that. I just love the stories period.
I just finished 2 more of your books & will now look forward to this Valentines Day read! I love your storylines & charcters! Keep creating/writing.Caroline!