Thursday, October 24, 2013

Guest Post and Giveaway: Pamela Sherwood

Please join me in welcoming author, Pamela Sherwood to Debbie's Book Bag today. Pamela is here promoting her book, A Song at Twilight, a historical romance set in the Victorian era. Enjoy the guest post and see the giveaway details at the end for your chance to win a copy of A Song at Twilight.

What makes you want to write about Victorian England?

The sheer panorama of it, for a start! I first came to historical romance through the Regencies of Georgette Heyer and Jane Aiken Hodge, and years later, when I seriously started thinking of writing a romance myself, I thought for sure that it would have a Regency setting. After all, I’d spent a number of years in graduate school, studying the Victorian era and writing a thesis on Victorian poetry. So I couldn’t have anything more left to say about it, could it?

Well, as it turned out, I did have quite a few things left to say! I still love the Regency and find it a fascinating time, but it passes so quickly. The true Regency period (1811-1820) is an eyeblink in history, not even a full decade. By contrast, the Victorian Age spans more than 60 years, from 1837 to 1901, during which changes beyond imagining took place. Choose any decade of Victoria’s reign and you’ll find something interesting happening, whether in politics, religion, science, art, technology. Inventions that we take for granted today--the telephone, electric lighting, trains and cars, even canned food--all came into being during the Victorian era, and were greeted with responses that ranged from awe to horror. Victorians tend to be regarded as less exciting and less glamorous somehow than their Regency precursors--but they knew how to work. And ultimately, they changed the world.

As a writer, I love tapping into that excitement and that sense of sweeping, monumental change. My favorite decades of the Victorian Era would have to be the 1880s and 1890s, mainly because of the shifting dynamic between men and women. While men still dominated most aspects of society, women were beginning to assert themselves more forcefully. They had achieved the right to study at Oxford and Cambridge, though they weren’t awarded degrees until the 1920s; they were campaigning for the vote (another goal not realized until the 1920s); and they could seek employment outside the home, the schools, and the shops. Legal reforms made it possible for them to retain property bequeathed to them or which they earned in their own right, and they could petition for and receive custody of their children if their marriages broke down. And since I have always preferred romances in which the hero and heroine were on a more equal footing, I gravitate naturally to the late Victorian and early Edwardian periods.

What comes first a good storyline or a good character?

For me, I would have to say character. A book can have a brilliant plot, more intricate than a Rube Goldberg device, and a beautifully realized setting, but neither is going to mean much if the characters fail to come alive.  Whether you’re the writer or the reader, you have to care about or at least be interested in the people inhabiting this fictional world.

My debut novel, Waltz with a Stranger, was influenced by several things, including the transatlantic marriage market and an early Tennyson poem, “The Sisters,” but ultimately it was the story of Aurelia reclaiming her true self after an accident that shattered her sense of self-worth and finding a forever love with a man who sees more than her scars. The sequel, A Song at Twilight, is set in the glamorous Victorian music world, but it’s mostly the story of Sophie and Robin, two people who loved and lost each other four year earlier, finding the courage to fight for their relationship when they’re given a second chance. As a writer, I need to be passionately invested in my characters’ journeys, bringing them through the storm to a safe harbor.

Granted, a strong storyline always helps. And there are some instances in which the plot comes first. A brainstorming writer might suddenly think, “Oh, I want to do a Cinderella story,” or “I want to do a contemporary version of Sense and Sensibility,” or “How would this trope play in such-and-such a setting?” In situations like that, you have a template that imposes a certain structure on the work--although you can take as many liberties within that structure as you like. And with the characters--to make them unique and wholly yours, rather than overfamiliar archetypes or pale imitations of the originals.

Thank you for hosting me today!


Pamela Sherwood grew up in a family of teachers and taught college-level literature and writing courses for several years before turning to writing full time. She holds a doctorate in English literature, specializing in the Romantic and Victorian periods, eras that continue to fascinate her and provide her with countless opportunities for virtual time travel. She lives in Southern California where she continues to write the kind of books she loves to read.

Giveaway Details:

The publisher is sponsoring a giveaway for one copy of A Song at Twilight by Pamela Sherwood.

~ You must be an email subscriber to participate.
~ US and Canadian Addresses only.
~ The deadline to enter this giveaway is Midnight EST, November 7th.

1. Please leave a comment describing your favorite kind of music and why you like it.

2. Please fill out the FORM.


Di said...

I love all kinds of music, but my favorite is probably from "Musicals" either broadway or film, because then I think of the story that they are part of.
sallans d at yahoo dot com

justpeachy36 said...

I have a very eclectic background in music. I listen to everything from Oldies to Opera. I think music is a way of expressing ourselves and I love just about all of it, though Rap is stretch for me.

Pamela Sherwood said...

Di, I actually grew up with cast recordings and soundtracks of Broadway musicals! My Fair Lady, Carousel, Camelot, Hello Dolly--they all got frequent play during my childhood.

Justpeachy36, I like different kinds of music too, though I may favor traditional and classic rock 'n' roll.

jmcgaugh said...

My favorite music is from Broadway musicals. For some reason, it appealed to me as a fairly young kid, and I've never quit loving it.

Pamela Sherwood said...

jmcgaugh, I think the music we're exposed to as kids tends to leave a lasting impression on us.

Charlotte said...

Country is my first choice.

Pamela Sherwood said...

Charlotte, C&W has a loyal following, I understand.

LorettaLynn said...

I love Blue Grass... You can really swing to it and it is old worldly .

Pamela Sherwood said...

LorettaLynn, I haven't heard much bluegrass, but there's definitely a swing to it!

CrystalGB said...

I love country music. I like the beat and the lyrics of a lot of the songs.
Your book sounds great. I love the cover.

Unknown said...

My favorite kind of music is probably pop/rock - the kind that makes the regular top 20 charts. I like music I can cook to and dance while cooking or work to without it interrupting my train of thought. I don't care much for twangy country music or rap music. I dislike the screaming acid rock. Everything else I like. Thanks for the giveaway.

lag123 said...

Classic rock is my favorite. It takes me back to my youth!

lag110 at mchsi dot com

Lexi said...

So true, the Victorian era spaned a much longer time and has to much going on.

I love rock. The beat and the words, great for working out.

Anonymous said...

I love country music. I love singing and dancing to it. Thanks for the giveaway.

Brooke Showalter said...

I like alternative rock...not too heavy, awesome sound, and the lyrics always speak to me.

Anita Yancey said...

My favorite kind of music is classic rock and country, because they are what I grew up listening to. Thanks for having the giveaway.


Nancy said...

I contempary Christan however my voice is well suited to most Church music.

Michelle F. said...

I like pop and rock best, especially '80's music, because I was a kid/teen back then. I love it when they play that kind of music on the radio. They play '80's music a lot on Fridays and Saturdays and sometimes for holidays, like Memorial Day or the 4th of July.


Athena said...

My friends tell me I listen to weird music. It doesn't really matter what type, if I like it, I like it. I try not to be contained to one style. My newest favorite are The Coronas.