Rowan McAllister is here today talking about balance and maybe a little tiny bit about Jamie Fraser to promote her latest novel, We Met in Dreams. It's artistic appreciation!
I want to thank Boy Meets Boy Reviews very much for having me on here today… and a special thank you to Boy Meets Boy’s Adam for taking the time to read my latest and write a lovely review!
This is the last stop on my blog tour for We Met in Dreams, and I’ve had a great time sharing bits of myself and my novel along the way.
On other stops I’ve talked a bit about research and things I’ve stumbled across. I’ve talked about things that have touched me and inspired me in the process of writing this book and creating the cover art. So today I’d like to share a bit of the other side and touch on one of the challenges I face whenever I start a new historical novel.
As I’ve said before, I love the research so it’s not really a problem for me to sift my way through neat bits of history. The biggest challenge I face can be summed up in one word: balance.
It could be said that any novel is a balancing act between character and plot or emotion and action (or any number of things) but historicals are unique in that you have to take the reader back to a specific moment in time using bits of history, food, furniture, modes of transport etc. to set the mood without going overboard.
How much is too much?
I find all sorts of interesting and quirky tidbits of history along the way, and part of me wants to share ALL THE THINGS! But if that bit of history has no real bearing on the plot, I really can’t dump it in anywhere just cuz I think it’s cool. There’s a difference between setting the mood and giving a history lesson, and I would never dare try to fill the shoes of a history professor. I’m a buff not a historian and not nearly qualified for such an undertaking. Finding just that right bit of history that’s pertinent to the story or gets the time period across without putting the reader to sleep or forcing them to skip to the end of the paragraph isn’t always easy.
And another balancing act that’s just as crucial involves language. Language changes significantly even within a decade, let alone across a century or so. Even with a great love of Austen and Dickens, one can admit the works can be just a tad, um, wordy for the average modern reader. I don’t want my characters to sound out of place, but there is such a thing as too much nineteenth century slang if a reader has no idea what you’re talking about… or there’s too much verbiage period. Diana Gabaldon’s Jamie Fraser might’ve been slightly less dreamy if he spoke like a Robert Burn’s poem, mostly because we’d have to stop every second word to look up what the heck he was saying (you know, if words were really necessary to the scene, ahem.)
Anyway, the last thing I want is for a reader to be taken out of the story, so the use of period slang and idioms either needs to be sparse or the words need to be similar enough to today’s usage to get the point across fairly readily. And on the flip side of that, I have to thank my editors for catching occasions where I slip up and use words too modern for the era as well. You don’t realize just how much language has changed until you have to find a replacement for the word ‘lover’ in Victorian English because ‘lover’ just wasn’t used the same way it is now.
Given that I’m an American, there’s the added challenge of trying to represent a language not entirely your own as well as nearly a century and a half removed. Let’s just say I watch a lot of BBC productions to fill my auditory memory with dialect, rhythm, and cant.
It’s not a hardship by any stretch of the imagination, and STARZ’s Jamie Fraser can read me the phone book any time he wants.
In Victorian London, during a prolonged and pernicious fog, fantasy and reality are about to collide—at least in one man’s troubled mind.
A childhood fever left Arthur Middleton, Viscount Campden, seeing and hearing things no one else does, afraid of the world outside, and unable to function as a true peer of the realm. To protect him from himself—and to protect others from him—he spends his days heavily medicated and locked in his rooms, and his nights in darkness and solitude, tormented by visions, until a stranger appears.
This apparition is different. Fox says he’s a thief and not an entirely good sort of man, yet he returns night after night to ease Arthur’s loneliness without asking for anything in return. Fox might be the key that sets Arthur free, or he might deliver the final blow to Arthur’s tenuous grasp on sanity. Either way, real or imaginary, Arthur needs him too much to care.
Fox is only one of the many secrets and specters haunting Campden House, and Arthur will have to face them all in order to live the life of his dreams.
Release Date: February 27, 2017
Genre: Victorian Gothic/Historical European
Page Count/Word Count: 268/98,457
Cover artist: Anna Sikorska
Rowan McAllister is a woman who doesn’t so much create as recreate, taking things ignored and overlooked and hopefully making them into something magical and mortal. She believes it’s all in how you look at it. In addition to a continuing love affair with words, she creates art out of fabric, metal, wood, stone, and any other interesting scraps of life she can get her hands on. Everything is simply one perspective change and a little bit of effort away from becoming a work of art that is both beautiful and functional. She lives in the woods, on the very edge of suburbia—where civilization drops off and nature takes over—sharing her home with her patient, loving, and grounded husband, her super sweet hairball of a cat, and a mythological beast masquerading as a dog. Her chosen family is made up of a madcap collection of people from many different walks of life, all of whom act as her muses in so many ways, and she would be lost without them.
See Adam's review HERE.
See Adam's review HERE.