Thursday, January 29, 2009

Giveaway & Special Guest Blogger: Emily Bryan

Today, I am turning this space over to Emily Bryan - she's doing a great blog tour, giving away books and talking about her work. So, without further ado....Here's Emily!

Short bio: Award-winning author Emily Bryan learned much of what she knows about writing from singing. A classically trained soprano, she gleaned the elements of storytelling while performing operatic roles. She describes her light-hearted stories as Gilbert & Sullivan . . . with sex! VEXING THE VISCOUNT, her newest release from Leisure Books, will hit the bookstore shelves on Feb. 24th

Reviewers on Emily Bryan:
Publishers Weekly: “Bryan has a great handle on the material and her characters, creating a charming, colorful story with an intricate, fast-paced story line."
Booklist: “Wickedly witty writing and wonderfully entertaining characters are the key
ingredients in Bryan's sinfully sexy historical romance . . .”
LifetimeTV: "Great writing and research skills, as well as her ability to weave a good old-fashioned story with heft, make her an author to watch."

Thanks for having me here today, Lisa. I’ve been on a 50day/50blog tour celebrating the release of VEXING THE VISCOUNT (Feb 24th, Leisure Books) since the beginning of January. Minds Alive on the Shelf is the first blog I’ve visited that is not primarily a romance site. With that in mind, I thought I’d share a bit about why I enjoy writing historical romance.

Part of the fun of writing historical romance is the research.

VEXING THE VISCOUNT is set in London in 1731 for the most part. George II, the second of the Hanoverian kings, is on the throne and Walpole is directing parliament. This George, like his father who spoke no English at all, was born in Germany. He was the last foreign born king of England. There was always rumor of Scottish uprising brewing after the defeat of the Jacobites in 1715 (and the pitifully ineffective rebellion of “19”) so I made use of that unrest as a motivation for my villain.

My hero has unearthed some ancient Roman ruins on his estate along with a cryptic wax tablet detailing the theft of the payroll for the entire Legion stationed on Britannia. So I also researched life in Roman Britain for my secondary plot—the love story and the resulting theft in Londinium 405 AD. The clash of cultures between the Romans and the subjugated Celts provides a rich backdrop for a secondary love story which resulted in the theft set in Londinium 405 AD. For more about the Romans in Britannia, stop by

Since my heroine is masquerading as a courtesan (the Georgian era equivalent of a rock star) of course I researched the fashions of the period. This was the age of deception and men as well as women were often guilty of embellishing their attributes and trying to negate their faults with paint, wigs, and padding. For more on this please visit

But the more I study history, the more I realize that men and women have been coming into this world with the same wants, needs and desires since Eden. Technology changes. People don’t. At the deepest level, we’re still looking for a connection to that Other, a way to matter to someone else, to be accepted completely by one other person for who and what we are. And that’s what romance is about.

Thank you for having me here today, Lisa. I’d like to offer a free copy of VEXING THE VISCOUNT to someone who posts a comment or question on your blog today. And please come back tomorrow to see if YOU are the winner.


Shirley said...

Hi Emily. You said you enjoy the research on your books. I have to admit, researching history isn't one of my favorite things. But can you tell us HOW you research? Online? Books? History teachers?

Julie Robinson said...

Hi Emily,

Today, your 2nd to last paragraph is being quoted in my daily journal. I've decided that this year when someone says something that really resonates with me, I am going to write it down (with name credit) so that I don't forget it. And that paragraph is perfect!


EmilyBryan said...

Shirley--I research online, but carefully. If I find an interesting tidbit, I check to see if I can verify it elsewhere.

Of course, I use books. Librarians cringe when they see me coming!

But I also visit museums. I found the fantastic Georgian platform shoes I blogged about at The Romance Studio at the Massachusetts Museum of Art. If you study portraits from the period you're writing in, you get a wonderful sense of what people wore and what their ideals of beauty were. The items they surround themselves with--riding crops, lap dogs, Oriental fans--tells you about their interests.

And my #1 favorite form of research is travel. Since my DH is in the travel technology field, I've been fortunate to visit Europe a number of times. Feeling the draftiness of a castle, walking a cobbled, narrow street, I'm gathering sensory details I hope will make my stories come alive in the minds of my readers.

Julie--Thank you. I'm honored and humbled.

ScorpJen1121 said...

It's always neat to me to get tips on where to get details and info for those of us who do enjoy things like history. this particular time in history fascinates me!

Anonymous said...

Emily, this sounds like an interesting book!

Lana said...

Hi Emily,

I wandered over to your blog and was interested in your descriptions of Georgian fashions, and I loved the sneak peek!
I love the idea of a 'historical within a historical' romance.

Did you consciously choose to parallel of the rebellious Celts under the Romans and the Jacobites? Or were you just intrigued by the two eras?

Anonymous said...

This is fascinating, Emily. As soon as I saw you were posting, my first thought was "modern romance or historical"? I'm interested in the historical too.

I've always used books (or, now, the internet) to find historical details, but I hadn't even thought of museums and that sort of thing. What an excellent idea!

Do you ever get tempted just to write about the history itself, doing a non-fiction piece? Or is it always primarily fiction first, the history second?

Anonymous said...

Roman Britain is a great period to set (part of) a novel in. The accusations of courtesans/hetairas etc padding and painting themselves were around in the ancient Greek and Roman worlds as well as the more modern, so it all fits together.

Amusing (to me) side note: I looked at the book cover before I read the review, and the swirly font of the title flummoxed me. I read it as Dexing Discount. So, it's a shopping novel? Huh. What does "dexing" mean?

My brain is a scary place

Anonymous said...

Ohh, this looks very tasty. I've been a big fan of Regencies for a long time, with occasional forays into Georgians courtesy of Georgette Heyer. I like the notion of the secondary story taking place in a different time period - very unusual, to say the least. I'm not too sure about the courtesan/rock star comparison - I don't think our society has an exact counterpart of the Georgian courtesan. It's a pity, though, that the cover artist didn't know the differences between the periods and dress the characters accordingly.

EmilyBryan said...

Jen--Since I was a music major, I also like to listen to the music of the period. Vexing the Viscount is set in the time of Handel and Bach (though Bach's music was fairly obscure during his lifetime. We have Mendelssohn to thank for reviving his music in the early 19th century. Otherwise, JS Bach might have slipped through the musical cracks of history.)

Ann L--Thank you. Vexing the Viscount will hit the bookstores on Feb 24th!

Lana--Oh, how I wish I were clever enough to have thought about the Celtic unrest being an echo of the Jacobites' discontent! Alas, I cannot make that claim. Some things just happen accidentally in a writer's mind that occasionally look fiendishly bright.

Phyl--While I try very hard to get the history right in my fiction, the idea of writing a non-fiction account of history is intimidating. The closest I come to it is in the Author's Notes I include in my books. Writing non-fiction means drawing some conclusions about the era which I prefer to leave to my readers.

However, I'm not above inserting an actual historical person into my fiction. King George I makes a cameo appearance in PLEASURING THE PIRATE and the Byzantine emperor Basil II lives briefly in SILK DREAMS (one of my books written as Diana Groe).

Anonymous said...

I love the idea of using Britain's Roman history in a historical romance. I really want to read your novel, to find out how you use those historical details, and how your hero deals with finding Roman ruins (an interest in ancient history wasn't always considered quite the thing), and and whether he finds the stolen payroll, and how the Jacobites enter into it, and how you describe the heroine's attire, and how the hero's and heroine's paths cross, and....

EmilyBryan said...

Gavia & Ishtar--Unfortunately, not being Nora Roberts, I have little say in how my cover art or the lettering comes out. I'm well aware the costumes are incorrect for the period. If you'd like to see a little of what should have been, please visit my Courtesan's Closet.

I'd hoped for an elegant feathered mask on the cover myself. Heavy sigh!

The reason I linked courtesans to rock stars is because those "birds of paradise" were constant fodder for the tabloids and cartoonists of their day--Georgian paparazzi as it were.

Anonymous said...

Hi Emily,

Congratulations on your new release. As an aspiring writer myself, it is always informative to learn how published authors do their research.

Historical romances are fun but most authors don't put as much effort as you do into getting the historical details right. This is refreshing!

Anonymous said...

I wondered if the "having to draw conclusions" issue might be why you'd prefer the fiction side to the historian side, Emily. That makes sense.

EmilyBryan said...

Maia- Even in a work of fiction like VEXING THE VISCOUNT, there is always some basis in fact. The Society of Antiquaries mentioned in my book met regularly in 1731 and the association still exists today. The earliest recorded minutes of the group are dated December 5, 1707.

But instead of having their own building, complete with lecture hall as described in Vexing the Viscount, the Society was obliged to meet in various taverns until 1780, when George III granted them use of Somerset House.

I hope readers will forgive my slight shuffling of the facts to serve my story.

Anonymous said...

This looks great! I love well researched historical novels.

I like how you write. "Distracting the Duchess" was well written and fun to read.

Anonymous said...

When you are coming up with a story, Emily, do you find that a particular period interests you, and then you try to find a set of characters and a plot that allow you to "play" in that period, or do you discover your characters--or they you--first?

EmilyBryan said...

Gerard & Phil--I've found romance readers to be quite sophisticated about the history and not above writing to correct me when they feel I've gotten something wrong.

And another reason I prefer fiction to non is that I occasionally shift a few facts, as I mentioned in my response to Maia, in order to serve the story. But when I do, I make mention of it in my Author's Notes.

Anonymous said...

I'm intrigued by this 18th-century character unearthing ruins from Roman Britain. You, as the author of this novel, are investigating an historical epoch, and so is your protagonist.

EmilyBryan said...

Flamm--Thanks so much! Hope you enjoy Vexing the Viscount too.

NotSoClever--(I take leave to doubt that!) Romance is character driven fiction, so it's always characters first. I have to know who they are and what they want before I can devise ways for them not to get it.

That said, I'm writing in Georgian through Victorian time periods now because the market seems to dictate it and they are fascinating eras. However, I sneak in unusual characters and my secondary 5th century plot as a rebellion of sorts. :)

DanielleThorne said...

Sounds wonderful. I love this era and it's so nice to read well-researched books with great plots.

Raz Steel said...

Emily, your description of romance is dead-on. What you're suggesting of course is that romance novels vary their settings but whether the author is writing Historical or Regency or Contemporary, the basic elements of romance still apply. Men and women want that connection to that Other, and they do want to be completely accepted.

Somehow, authors have to hear the voices of their characters. As a contemporary author, I often imagine myself in my characters' lives as I'm writing. Do you do the same with historical characters? How do you prepare yourself to hear the voices of characters who lived almost 300 years ago?

EmilyBryan said...

TW Monkey-Lucian and Daisy and I all researching history. Hmmm . . . a serendipidous echo I did not consciously plan.

EmilyBryan said...

Thanks, Danielle!

Raz--You're right. Being an author is about the only profession where you can admit to hearing voices and not be thought unbalanced.

Since I used to sing professional opera, I've worn the corsets and panniers. I've walked in an 18th century heroine's shoes. Her voice is familiar to me.

I urge everyone to check out Raz's debut Love without Blood. Very fresh!

Anonymous said...

It must be both gratifying and a little intimidating when you know there are people out there who are going to be "faithful" to report inconsistencies. I think I'd be scared out of my shoes.

You have to just know that the one thing you left out of your author's notes as an explanation will be the thing they find and will jump on!

Mojave66 said...

This looks absolutely fascinating. That's about as intelligent a comment I can manage right now, but I'm just starting to develop a taste for historical novels. I'm intrigued by this one having a historical subplot on *top* of the historical information.

cheryl c said...

I have read Vexing the Viscount. I received an early copy from you,Emily. I loved the story. It was fun to revisit some of the characters from Pleasuring the Pirate.

Cheryl (aka Cheri)

Anonymous said...

Emily, do you have other historical fiction writers that have inspired you, or that you simply like to read?

Anonymous said...

You have mentioned you use books, libraries ect, for research. Have you ever traveled to a particular place to do research specifically for a story?

As an aspiring author, I wanted to use a carriage in my story, but never have seen one in person or been in one I dragged my poor husband all over TN until I found a location that would allow me to climb in one and on top of it and spend some time in it. I have to admit it was great fun!

Anonymous said...

I have to admit to loving a good historical romance. Thanks for sharing a little about your research.

EmilyBryan said...

Phyl-The readers only correct us out of love! :) I'm always happy to hear from my readers whatever they have to say.

The stars in my personal historical romance writer heaven are bright and plentiful--Madeline Hunter, Elisabeth Hoyt, Sherry Thomas, Jo Beverley, Mary Jo Putney, Eloisa James, Diana Gabaldon . . . I hate that I can't name them all. And if you want to go back further, toss in Victoria Holt, Mary Stewart and MM Kaye!

Mojave--Welcome to the world of historical romance. I do read some contemporary if it also contains some suspense or humor, and I dabble in paranormals, but nothing takes me away like a historical romance.

Cheryl--I'm so glad you enjoyed VEXING THE VISCOUNT. Thanks for your kind words.

Jane--I haven't visited someplace expressly for the purpose of research, though I love to travel as often as I can.

But nothing is wasted on a writer. All my experiences are grist for the mill. I toss them into my subconscious and later they bubble to the surface.

EmilyBryan said...

Carolsnotebook--You don't have to say it like enjoying a historical romances is something requiring confession. You're among friends! :)

Anonymous said...

Georgian England... Roman Britain. It sounds amazing. I love books that are rich in history. Have you ever thought to write a book set in Rome? It's my favorite period of history and I just love it when I find a good historical fiction novel.


Tessa McDermid said...

Emily, as always, another good story and great research. I was hooked when I read your Viking stories as Diana Groe - that time period always fascinated me and your characters were perfect.

Thanks for sharing today.

Anonymous said...

Emily, that's a great list of authors. (I remember being staggered at how good Mary Stewart's Arthur books were, and how fascinating the history.)

I would also recommend Dorothy Dunnett very highly.

darbyscloset said...

Hi Emily,
I love historical romance and often wonder about the research that it entails. Thank you for sharing your research tibits, especially the part on fashion and studing the portraits!!! To me that sounds like you are just like a CSI detective and I love CSI!!
This gives me a whole new spin on character development!
darbyscloset at yahoo dot com

EmilyBryan said...

Valorie-The closest I've come to setting a story in Rome is SILK DREAMS, one of my books written as Diana Groe. It's set in 11th century Constantinople. I was fascinated by the culture of the Byzantines and surprised to learn that they considered themselves Romans.

Thanks, Tessa. I'm glad you enjoyed my Diana Groe books. I'm looking forward to your May release, WEDDINGS IN THE FAMILY.

Thanks for the suggestion, Phyl.

Darby--The trick is never to use everything I uncover in my research. Readers don't want a treatise on fashion or politics or anything else. They want to be able to slip into a fictive dream. To help them do that, I supply a few evocative details and let their minds supply the rest.

Anonymous said...

Enjoyed reading the comments and I like reading Emily's books.
I have a question for Emily
Of all of the authors of the world, dead or living, who would you like to invite to dinner and why?

EmilyBryan said...

Probably MM Kaye. THE FAR PAVILLIONS is my favorite book. It has everything. Romance and adventure set against the clashes of culture in British India. I read it every five years or so and still thrill to her singing prose. It's a doorstop of a book, but I hate to see it end every time.

Baseball Diva said...

Emily, this sounds like a great read. I'm a fan of historicals, Putney and Kinsale especially. The time period of Roman Britain is one not often covered -- we often get pre-Roman or Regency forward -- so I'm looking forward to this story.

Renee Knowles said...

Hi Emily! I love this time period. Vexing the Viscount sounds fabulous and has been on my list for long enough--I'm heading to B & N this afternoon to buy it. :)

Can't wait to read it!


Genene Valleau, writing as Genie Gabriel said...

Hi, Emily! Glad to see you're still going strong on your 50-blog tour! Wow!

Loved this line of your blog entry: "men as well as women were often guilty of embellishing their attributes and trying to negate their faults with paint, wigs, and padding." Some lessons we spend centuries learning, don't we?

(((HUGS))) to you!

Genene Valleau, writing as Genie Gabriel said...

P.S. Love the title of this blog!

EmilyBryan said...

Baseball Diva--Joy Nash writes Roman Britain stories. THE GRAIL KING and DEEP MAGIC are both wonderful.

Renee--Thanks so much for your enthusiasm, but you'll be disappointed if you look for VEXING THE VISCOUNT at the bookstore today. It won't hit the shelves till Feb 24th. But you can pre-order it online and it will probably come before the release date.

Genene--One of the strangest things I uncovered when I was doing my research was that spindle-shanked fellows in the 1700's used to wear carved wooden "falsies" in their stockings. That way, they could still "make a beautiful leg."

Nynke said...

Hi Emily,

although you did already say so yourself, I wanted to say it's true - I for one would have bothered correcting that little detail in your first novel if I hadn't been wowed by the dedication and thorough research you had obviously put into it. It shows and it makes your novels so much more real!
Like Julie, I also really like the idea of people being essentially the same on the inside through the ages. Nothing better to give you a sense of oneness with the world...


photoquest said...

I would love a chance to win a copy of this book! Do you have any more pirate books coming out in the near future?

Jane said...

Hi Emily,
Padding for men? Where did men use padding besides their shoulders?

EmilyBryan said...

Nynke--If I ever need to have any more Norse in my novels, you know I'll email you first! :)

Photoquest--No new pirate books on the horizon, but I had such fun with the last one! PLEASURING THE PIRATE was featured on the Official International Talk Like A Pirate Day Website as a recommended read for would-be scallywags everywhere!

Jane- In the Georgian era, men didn't try to make their shoulders appear broader. Small hands and feet were considered marks of male beauty. But they did wear wooden falsies in the stockings because a well-turned calf was considered very attractive.

However, I write for a modern reader, so Lucian does not conform to those standards. We like big strapping heroes, so Lucian is unfashionably sized for his time, but not for ours.

Lisa said...

Wow! Thanks everyone so much for coming by and a very special THANK YOU to Emily for making this such a great discussion.

Genene Valleau, thanks! It took a long time to find a title I liked, but I like this one a lot.

I'll be drawing a winner from the names of everyone who posts before midnight and I will post it tomorrow.

mindy said...

thanks for the giveaway it looks like a great read

The_Book_Queen said...

I can't wait to read this one-- I have the others in my TBR pile right now, nearing the top for me to pick up next. :) One of them is even autographed by you (from a previous contest that I won it from).

EmilyBryan said...

Mindy & Book Queen--Thanks for stopping by. Hope you enjoy my work, Queen. Which title do you have?

Colleen Thompson said...

I, too, loved what you said in the next to last paragraph. Your book sounds wonderful. I'm preordering it for sure.

Congratulations on the excellent reviews. But it's your love of research and your way with words that really have me looking forward to your story.

Off to Amazon to order!

Sue A. said...

I like seeing that many things might have changed over the many years but its funny how some things like human nature never really changes. We’re still pumping up, squishing down, adding and subtracting something to appear our best.
Thanks for the great post Emily.

Juanita said...

I love your attention to detail and I can't wait to read this book!

Seeker said...

Hi Emily,
What an interesting background and training field for your writing. Enjoyed your blog.

EmilyBryan said...

Colleen--Thanks for stopping by! Colleen writes addictive romantic suspense. I can't wait for her next title, BENEATH BONE LAKE.

Sue--The changes in ideals of beauty fascinate me. So often in Georgian portraits, you'll see the hint of a double chin. Extra flesh bespoke wealth and health. And the Georgian fascination with ankles and calves while practically ignoring the display of a woman's bosom is so different from our time.

Juanita-Thanks for commenting! I hope you love VEXING THE VISCOUNT!

Lynda-I have sometimes wished I'd taken more than one creative writing course in college. But at the time, music was my first love and I think it's important to listen to your heart in these matters. Passion (or lack thereof) shows in whatever you do.

A writer brings all their experiences, all their fears, all their powers of observation to their work. Maybe it was better for me to have a patchwork background.

But I'll bet a journalism degree would have made a few things easier.

EmilyBryan said...

Thanks so much for having me here at Minds Alive on the Shelves, Lisa. (I've never heard a better description of what a book really is!) This has been great fun!

And my DH thanks you for choosing the winner today. He's normally pressed into that service and even though his process is random, he hates to disappoint my blog "touristas" who haven't won yet.

But the tour rolls on today with another chance to win a VEXING THE VISCOUNT. I'll be at talking about 4 methods for writing a novel. Hope to see you there!