The History in Historical Romance By Regan Walker

Tuesday, March 25, 2014

For me, research and writing historical romance must include real history, not just background. It’s a character in each of my books in the Agents of the Crown trilogy. For me, the historical setting is important to get right. I am constantly weaving in historical events and real historical figures into the romance. I don’t just refer to the food and dress of the period, but also what was actually going on that was of great import, the attitudes of the people and who was involved.

Typically, I begin with an idea, a scene or a character. For my latest novel, a seafaring pirate adventure, WIND RAVEN, it was the sea captain, Jean Nicholas Powell, an arrogant Englishman who gave up on love (and virgins in particular) some years ago. Now he loves only his ship, his crew and his life at sea. For this man, I needed a worthy heroine, a woman he would come to respect who would defy convention and give him a major run for his money.

Enter the American patriot, Tara McConnell from the shipbuilding family of privateers who made the Boston Clipper ships, those “sisters of the wind” that helped America successfully run the British blockades in the War of 1812. Tara, who grew up on her father’s ships, has nothing but disdain for the English, even though the war has been over for several years. Yet she was forced by her father to spend a year in London with her aunt, a dowager baroness, and to have a Season.

For my heroine, I found a real, historic model in Anne Chamberlyne, a scholar’s daughter and member of the gentry who, in 1690, declined offers of marriage, and at the age of twenty-three, donned a man’s clothing and joined her brother’s ship to fight the French off Beachy Head. Tara McConnell was just such a woman.

Once Tara becomes a passenger on Nick’s ship, the sparks start to fly. She wants to act a member of his crew and he wants her far from the action. It was important to me that I get all the ship scenes correct and use all the right terminology, particularly since both Tara and Nick well understood the workings of a schooner. I read my 4-inch thick Sailor’s Word Book and studied drawings of schooners of the period until I was seeing them in my dreams. I also took a ride on a schooner of the period to get a feel for the movement of the ship—and in doing so, found a wonderful consultant in the person of the ship’s gunner. We became fast friends and have exchanged dozens of emails over the past year on technical subjects and questions about staging scenes on the schooner.

The research that went into this book took over a year and included not just schooners, but subjects like the War of 1812, and American and British attitudes about it, the island of Bermuda (where Nick makes a stop) in 1817—what Brits were living their, the food, the lifestyle, and storms at sea and how a schooner could weather a major storm at sea. Then, when all that was done, I had to become knowledgeable about one of my real life characters—the pirate from Puerto Rico, Roberto Cofresi. A tall, blond giant of a man, who was well educated and yet wore pirate earrings any woman would covet, Cofresi preyed on all merchant ships not flying the flag of Royal Spain. In my story, his ship is a small, fast schooner, the Retribución, he uses to seek his revenge. And he had reason for revenge as you’ll see in my story.

New York Times bestselling author of seafaring stories, Danelle Harmon, called WIND RAVEN:

“A salty, sweeping, evocative tale of romance on the high seas—and a good old-fashioned love story that will keep you up far, far past your bedtime. So, reach for the coffee. Brava for Regan Walker!"

You can see my book trailer on my website here: www.reganwalkerauthor.com

And you can buy the book on Amazon here: http://www.amazon.com/Raven-Agents-Crown-Regan-Walker-ebook/dp/B00IXMM1AO