Guest Blogger: Victoria Gray

04 Nov

Historical Romance – Blending Fact with Emotion

Why do I love reading and writing historical romance?  The answer is actually quite simple.  Historical romances transport me to another time and place and immerse me in a love story.  Before I started writing historical romance, I never considered the skillful balance between facts and emotion in these stories, the delicate weave of details within a love story that creates a sense of time and place and brings the plot and the characters to life.  Now, as a writer of historical romance, I know firsthand the challenge of blending facts into a story without creating information overload.

While the developing emotional relationship between the heroine and her hero is the central focus of historical romance, historical details serve to sweep the reader away to another time and place.  Infusing facts throughout the story without sounding like a travel guide is a writer’s challenge.  Research, layering details through multiple revisions, and a willingness to cut facts that don’t enhance the story are my keys to achieving balance between historical detail, story flow, and emotional intensity.

Of course, thorough research is a given.  Historical inaccuracies pull a reader out of a story, while details about historical events, clothing, food, transportation, communication, occupations, and social structure—the list could go on and on— provide scaffolding for a believable story.

After I become familiar with the essential characteristics of an era, I map out the plot and research specific aspects of the time period that may factor into the story.  What weapons were available?  What historical events, landmarks, and people might have impacted the characters’ lives? What literary and artistic works were prominent during that era?  In my new release, Surrender to Your Touch, the Union occupation of Norfolk, Virginia during the Civil War creates additional danger for the hero, outcast Rebel officer Will Reed, while the Union’s use of his family’s historical home, a James River plantation, adds to Will’s profound sense of loss.  Angel in My Arms features Union spy Amanda Emerson’s visit to Confederate first lady Varina Davis and her mission to Richmond’s Libby Prison to rescue a double agent,  while Destiny factors the heroine’s love of tragic romances into the character’s development.  Research to identify popular authors of the heroine’s time provided details that fleshed out Emma Davenport’s actions and dialogue.  These historical details add to the tapestry of the story.

How much historical detail brings a story to life without bogging it down?  That depends on the story.  Are historical events plot elements, or does the historical setting provide a context for the story?  Surrender to Your Touch, Angel in My Arms and Destiny are set against the background of the Civil War, but the key plot events are entirely fictional.  Historical details woven throughout the story create a sense of time and place, and references to historical figures can add to a character’s development, but historical name-dropping can result in detail overload.  Your characters shouldn’t sound like Joan Rivers on a time travel adventure.

Every author develops a method that works best for him or her.  To me, research, layering details, and revision are the keys to crafting a love story that transports the reader to another time and place.

Here’s a little about Surrender to Your Touch: 

Will Reed is out to settle a brutal score. The disgraced Rebel officer’s own men want him hanged, and an enemy has ordered him killed. Intent on clearing his name and evening the score with those who betrayed him, he begins with the woman he once loved—Union spy Kate Sinclair.

For years, Kate used seduction as a lure. She knew better than to let her heart get involved–until she fell in love with Will. Grieving his death, Kate’s joy at discovering him alive shatters when she is confronted by a bitter, vengeful man—a man who’ll stop at nothing to learn the truth of her betrayal. As danger pursues them, Kate fights to tear down the barriers Will has erected around his heart, but her most powerful weapon may ultimately destroy her—surrender.

I hope readers will stop by my website and my blog, ;

I’d love for you to friend me on Facebook: and follow me on Twitter: 

CONTEST:   Based on the story blurb, who would you like to see portray Kate and Will if this were a movie? One lucky commenter will win a pdf of Surrender to Your Touch. Winner will be announced on Monday, November 7. 

Surrender to Your Touch is available from E-book or Print, and The Wild Rose Press:  E-book and Print




Posted by on November 4, 2011 in Guest Blog, historicals, romance


14 responses to “Guest Blogger: Victoria Gray

  1. Victoria

    November 4, 2011 at 5:59 AM

    Thanks for having me today…I’m looking forward to sharing your casting ideas 🙂

  2. Lilly Gayle

    November 4, 2011 at 6:33 AM

    I love romance novels but historicals have a special place in my heart. (Both for reading and writing) And this book sounds fabulous. My grandmother grew up in Fredericksburg Virginia and her family home had been used as a Union hospital during the civil war. Above the ceiling in the parlor, there was a small stain that could never be painted over. It was a grease stain from where my ancestors hid a ham from Union officers during the occupation of their home. And in one of the upstairs bedrooms, there was an old bloodstain on the floor. I never saw it because it was covered with a rug, but I’m told it was left by a wounded Confederate soldier who tried to escape the Union occupied “hospital.” He collapsed and bled out on the floor.

    One of these days, I’m going to write that family story as fiction.

  3. Janis McCurry

    November 4, 2011 at 7:15 AM

    Victoria, historical romance is my favorite genre. I’d have to go with Jim Caveziel as Will. He’s very good at handsome, bitter men (Movies like Angel Eyes, Count of Monte Cristo. Right now, he’s the hero of Person of Interest on TV). Kate is harder for me. I see her as slightly careworn from her life, so no one too impossibly fresh faced like Emma Stone. Emma Watson could do it or maybe Dakota Fanning.

    Thanks for visiting Gem State Writers.

  4. Georgie Lee

    November 4, 2011 at 8:12 AM

    I love reading about the Civil War. Thanks for writing in such an interesting time! Congrats on the release.

  5. Mary Vine

    November 4, 2011 at 8:29 AM

    Thank you for explaining your process. It seems to me that if you want ANYTHING done, you have to plan for it.

  6. Kathleen Bittner Roth

    November 4, 2011 at 9:01 AM

    Great blog, Victoria! I’ve read your book, wonderful story and hey, great cover! So don’t include me in the give away. I have to go with Janis McCurry on her selection for the H&H.

  7. Nancy Jardine

    November 4, 2011 at 10:01 AM

    I, too, love reading historicals and I’m now trying my hand at writing one. As you mention, Victoria, it’s getting the blend of historical fact and setting, and interweaving just the righ amount of those details with the emotions- not to mention building believeable characters. I’d go for Gerard Butler as will, but have to say I can’t immediately visualise a heroine. It needs someone with spunk, but also very natural in looks. Great blog.

  8. Clarissa Southwick

    November 4, 2011 at 11:41 AM

    Thanks for some great tips, Victoria. I will leave the casting to others. I’m not familiar with enough actors to fill the roles 🙂

  9. Tess

    November 4, 2011 at 1:29 PM

    I’m a huge fan of Wendy’s writing!!!! And Will and Kate are just scrumptious…both of them!

  10. Victoria

    November 4, 2011 at 3:58 PM

    Thanks, Ladies, for your wonderful comments. I’ve been tethered to the dreaded day job, but I’m finally free ; ) Love the suggestion of Jim Caveziel…awesome choice…when I wrote the story, I had a younger version of Stephen Moyer (Bill on True Blood) in mind…but Jim Caveziel is definitely making me second guess that 🙂

  11. Mary Ricksen

    November 4, 2011 at 4:33 PM

    For me Historicals must be the hardest to write! It’s very hard to make interesting and equally hard not to overdue the history. It’s such a difficult balance and very few people are good at it. Though many try! Good luck on what sounds like one of the good ones! :0)

  12. Carioline Clemmons

    November 4, 2011 at 6:06 PM

    Victoria, congratulations on your new release. Lovely cover. Glad to know about the book. Best wishes for a ton of sales.

  13. Victoria

    November 5, 2011 at 7:28 AM

    Thanks for your kind comments. Balancing the history with the romance is challenging at times, but I find the key is to weave the history in throughout the plot without doing a lot of info-dump.

  14. Victoria

    November 7, 2011 at 10:06 PM

    Nancy Jardine is the winner of the e-book of Surrender to Your Touch. Please email me so that I can send you your prize 🙂


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