A New Direction

I’ve been mulling over ways to revise at least two of the works that have been written since I began this blog, namely The Keegan Inheritance and Last Request. They’re completed–at least to a first draft or a first draft and a half–and never having had a longer work of my own to revise before, I’d put them aside and chased other ideas around.

I’m still not sure how to revise Last Request, but the Keegans have been resurrected.

Here’s a quick refresher:

Miles Keegan comes from an aristocratic English family, but he has made his own way in the world as a merchant sailor.

He has one daughter, Alexandra, with an American-born mistress and his second child, Madeline, with his black Barbadian wife. When his wife dies, Miles decides that he’s had enough of the West Indies and brings himself and his girls back “home” to England.

I opened Madeline’s story first, in 1814, after Miles has died and left the girls (and their stepsister and stepmother) with a large fortune. The family is still reeling with grief, the stepmother is sickly, Alexandra notices that they won’t have enough money to cover their expenses in the next quarter and the stepsister runs away.

I was trying a few months ago to rework the completed Inheritance ms.  I entered the first draft into a contest last year and got good feedback, for what the work was at the time. A friend STILL jokes about the “it reads like a history textbook” comment. I was complemented on having mixed race characters in a Regency-historical setting, because it’s damn near nonexistent to have mixed race characters in historical fiction and in particular, in romance. But that’s another rant for another day.

Then I tried to write the second story and…it kind of fizzled out.

Then I re-read Eva Ibbotson’s A Countess Below Stairs and watched (and re-watched) Downton Abbey and did NaNoWriMo and tried to write a historical epic that bogged me down in research hell. I read The Queen’s Dollmaker and A Royal Likeness. In other words, I got some new influences and as you know, new influences always equals new ideas.

The romance novel idea went away. I love to read them, but it feels too limiting because there are certain parameters in romance.

  • Everything is focused on the hero and heroine
  • Other characters are merely wallpaper. Unless they’re the villain. 
  • It has to be, you know, romantic
  • Larger-than-life qualities
  • It’s nice if the hero has a title, like Duke or Earl, if you’re writing English Regency romance

 He he. I wasn’t quite meeting those standards.

Why can’t I just use the existing story ideas and write it slanted towards historical fiction of the lighter-with-kickass-heroines/ more historical background/ less ridiculous dukes and other romance tropes variety?

So that’s what I’ve decided to do.

Except that I’ve started with Miles. He insisted. I’m re-reading Bury the Chains so that I can reacquaint myself with an aspect of 18th and 19th century English history that certainly isn’t mentioned in romance novels. He is pre-fatherhood at the moment, becoming successful as a businessman, taking over some family-owned land on Barbados, where he will be faced with a moral dilemma and a very beautiful woman that he isn’t supposed to fall in love with.

And then he has two kids in one year by two different women. Yikes.

Books mentioned in this post: 
A Countess Below Stairs–Eva Ibbotson
The Queen’s Dollmaker–Christine Trent
A Royal Likeness–Christine Trent
Bury the Chains-Adam Hochschild

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