Tuesday, 24 March 2015

Guest post by author Sally Malcolm

I'm delighted to be able to welcome Sally Malcolm to Books with Bunny today, to discuss a topic close to her heart- why does she write historical romance?  Sally has written a piece exclusively for the blog, to say exactly why...

The other day over coffee a friend of mine, a reader of contemporary women’s fiction, asked me this question:  ‘Why historical romance? I mean, have you considered writing something more serious?’

I was a little taken aback and replied with something like, ‘Oh, well, I suppose I just really enjoy the escapism.  It’s fun.’

And that’s true, of course.  But it’s definitely not the only reason, or even the best reason, for reading or writing historical romance.  I’ve been considering the question for a few days now and this is what I wish I’d told my friend.

First, you can’t lump all historical romance into one huge genre any more than you can with ‘contemporary romance’ or ‘women’s fiction’.  Some historical romance is fun and escapist, and there’s nothing wrong with that.  Julia Quinn’s Bridgerton series is a wonderful way to escape from the everyday grind; it’s so much fun to curl up with one of her books and a nice cuppa and chuckle away at the antics of her heroes and heroines.  But other books tackle deeper subjects – Laura Kinsale’s Flowers from the Storm is a classic, with its damaged, ‘maddened’ hero and Quaker heroine, estranged from her community and her own sense of self.  While this year’s wonderful A Memory of Violets by Hazel Gaynor tackles the harsh, brutal lives of Victorian London’s flower girls.  And then there’s my favourite historical romance sub-genre: action and adventure.  For danger and pure sex appeal, you can’t beat one of Joanne Bourne’s intrepid pairs of heroes and heroines   – such as Robert Grey and Annique Villiers from The Spymaster’s Lady (which I’m reading right now). Not only is the romance full-on, but so is the action, the tension, and the intrigue.  It makes for a breathless read.

Second, historical romance gives you such a large canvas to work on.  I mean, we’re talking the whole of human history folks!  There’s simply so much of it to play with.  From the ancient world, captured by books such as The Hand of Isis by Jo Graham, about Charmian, half-sister and handmaiden to Cleopatra, through to the Sadi Jones’ wonderful novel, The Outcast, set in post-war England, there has to be something for everyone.

But finally I realised that I didn’t have to justify why I love historical romance because it’s no better or worse than any other literary genre.  They’re all stories about people, about their bitter conflicts and terrible betrayals, their complex loves and hard-won triumphs.   And in the end it’s not the setting of the story that makes for a good book but the quality of the writing – whether it’s a fun Regency romp, a heart-breaking romance, or a full-blown adventure.

So the next time I’m asked the question ‘Why historical romance?’ I’m simply going to answer ‘Why not?’


The Legend of the Gypsy Hawk – Sally Malcolm

‘Come then, and I’ll tell you the tale of the Gypsy Hawk and her wily captain – the infamous Zachary Hazard …’

To Amelia Dauphin, freedom is her most prized possession and she will stop at nothing to keep it. Daughter of a Pirate King and the youngest captain in her father’s fleet, she lives on the island of Ile Saint Anne, where pirates roam free and liberty reigns.

Zachary Hazard, captain of the Gypsy Hawk, hasn’t been seen on Ile Saint Anne for six years but his reputation precedes him. To Zach, liberty is the open water and he has little time for the land-bound pirate island.

But when he hears that Amelia’s people could be in danger, he has no choice but to return. And what begins then is a desperate fight for freedom and a legend in the making …

A swashbuckling pirate adventure. Pirates of the Caribbean for adults with a sizzling romance at the heart!

Set among the freebooting pirates of the early eighteenth century, The Legend of the Gypsy Hawk is a tale of romance and adventure, but ultimately it’s a story of love and its power to redeem even the most broken of souls.  It moves from the exotic shores of Ile Sainte Anne to the frozen streets of a London winter and at its heart lies one question: how much would you sacrifice for duty?  Your life, your freedom – or the one you love? 

About the author:

Sally lives in London, England with her American husband and two children. She is co-founder and commissioning editor of Fandemonium Books, the licensed publisher of novels based on the American TV series Stargate SG1, Atlantis and Universe. Sally is the author of five of the Stargate novels. She has also written four audio Stargate dramas. And recently she completed work on three episodes of the video game Stargate SG-1: Unleashed which were voiced by Stargate SG-1 stars Richard Dean Anderson, Michael Shanks, Amanda Tapping and Chris Judge.

The Legend of the Gypsy Hawk is the first in the Pirates of Ile Sainte Anne series.

https://www. twitter.com/sally_malcolm

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  1. Lovely post ladies. I totally admire those who write historical romance - all those details to research and get right. And as you say - such a wealth of eras to choose from, all with their own particular 'romance' - though you definitely can't go wrong with pirates :-)

    1. There is so much scope for romance in history. And a rugged pirate- perfection!

    2. Thanks Kathryn! I really enjoy the research, especially the language - the slang - that people spoke. And pirates are fun because they thumb their noses at all societies rules so let you get away with a lot as a writer! :)

  2. Great reasons all, both for reading it and for writing it. I grew up on books like The Three Musketeers and the Prisoner of Zenda, Robert Louis Stevenson, H Rider Haggard, not to mention the wonderful Georgette Heyer. Dad was a fan and passed them on to me.

    I'm even trying to write in that genre myself.


    1. My writing isn't in the distant past, but what I'm writing is set in the eighties and nineties- reliving my youth as I research!

      I'm not sure I'm brave enough to do a Sally and tackle pirates yet (so to speak!)

    2. Oh those are fabulous stories, John! Real epic, romantic adventures that have passed the test of time. Good luck with your own writing. :)

    3. Hey Kate - I definitely think writing in the 80s and 90s counts as historical fiction now. So easy to forget there were no mobile phones, no internet (gasp!), no social media. The world is a very different place now than it was twenty years ago. Amazing!

  3. I love pirates – and musketeers – but I'm not sure I'm brave enough to write about them! Although I'm pleased lots of other writers do. I rally enjoyed Sally's book and I admit I fell a little in love with Captain Zach. Great post! Thank you. xx

    1. Thanks Berni! I love musketeers too, very swashbuckling. But I'm not sure my French history is up to tackling them myself (luckily we have the BBC for that!). So pleased you enjoyed the book. :)