I generally take the way I write more or less for granted, but it’s always fun to think about things you take for granted. Chris Green at invited me to take part in a progressive blog talking about just that: what my writing process is!
What am I working on now?
Right now I am working on the second book of my Irish trilogy that takes place during the Regency period, The Broken Heart. Unlike the first book, which is set entirely in Ireland, this book is set in both England and Ireland. Caroline, who in the first book has set her heart on being a belle at the London season and falling in love with a handsome, eligible man who adores her, has all that happen, but it doesn’t turn out as she expected. Caroline has to grow up suddenly from a dreaming girl to a woman who has to take her destiny into her own hands and make her own happiness. But romance is still involved . . .
How does my work differ from others of its genre?
I suspect my writing falls somewhere between the traditional historical romance and women’s fiction. In the first book of the trilogy, The Divided Heart, the dominant curve of the book is Caroline’s sister, Anne, who has to come to terms with her love for both the Irish people by whom she is surrounded, and the English who have conquered them—two communities with centuries of hostility between them. Born in Ireland to an English family settled in Ireland for generations, her heart is divided between the place and people where she lives, and the English traditions of her family and the community in which she moves. There are two men involved, and from both of them Anne finds much to be attracted to, and to learn. The real history of Ireland is therefore important in a way that Regency fiction does not always deal with.
Why do I write what I do?
History in general fascinates me—it seems endlessly interesting to learn how other people, living in other times, have carved out their own ways of living given the circumstances that surround them. I married an Englishman, and for the early years of our marriage, we lived in London. It was during the Irish Troubles, when Northern Ireland, which belongs to the United Kingdom, was torn between the Catholic and Protestant communities, warring over the issue of whether Northern Ireland would remain part of the United Kingdom (the position of the Irish Protestants living there) or be reunited with the southern counties, now the independent nation of Eire (the position of the Catholic population). The struggle was long and ugly, and it was on the front pages of English newspapers—which I read in London—and on television every night. As an American, it came as an enormous surprise to learn that the English, at that period still absorbing their Norman conquerors, had been in Ireland since around 1100. How the two communities had lived together for so long, and in bitter antagonism, fascinated me.
How does my writing process work?
It usually begins with a lot of reading. Although I’ve been to Ireland, there’s a big difference between walking across the Ha’penny Bridge (which is what the original toll was—now of course there is none) and marveling at the Book of Kells, and learning about its troubled history.
So I read a lot, and then I wrote a lot, most of which got discarded. I’m a real pantser, and it’s not until the characters get a grip on me that I can see clearly where their stories will lead. Sooner or later, generally sooner, thank goodness, I can see the path straight before me, and then it’s simply a matter of following it as I am led. By the end, the characters and their adventures are as clear to me as my husband is when he gets home from work and asks mildly if I’ve given any thought to dinner.
Most of the rumination stage for the second and third book (I hope) has gone on already. The Broken Heart should be ready for publication in spring/early summer of 2014, and The Rebellious Heart, the third book of the trilogy will be out later this summer.
Selena Fulton, A multi-published author living in Florida, Never Let Go, a time travel set in the Civil War era, will be blogging about her writing process on March 10 at selenafulton.wordpress.com