Friday, September 12, 2008

Trends, historical romance and Lust, Caution.

Before I begin, I write historical romance, so if you note any bias in this post, you’re probably right.

Hearing a little on the loops, and in some of the industry blogs, about the return of Historical romance. Now the smarter people out there will tell you, historicals didn’t go anywhere. Sales have remained strong over the past few years, especially for established authors and new authors did get bought, just not in the quantities they had five years ago.

But we’ve had some amazing historical authors hit the scene with some fantastic books and all of a sudden, historicals are being talked about again.
What does this mean, well for those of us who write historicals, perhaps a historical query has a better chance of getting interest, if well written.
Which is great, but then the book has to deliver. And give the standards that Elizabeth Hoyt, Joanna Bourne and Sherry Thomas have set, that’s no small task.
So is it easier to get a historical published, I’d say, probably not. Perhaps just easier to get one read by an agent or editor.

At least, I’m hoping..

And on a completely different topic, but still talking about a historical romance. I finally got around to seeing Lust, Caution. A movie set in early 1940’s Shanghai.
Without giving away spoilers, the director made a choice to start the movie with a scene from the middle, that gave away nothing and everything. A fairly simple scene, where nothing seems to happen, but the heroine shares a look with a man in the scene that, to me, spoke so much about their relationship.
And from there I was riveted to find out what had happened prior to that look and what would happen after, which is exactly how the movie is structured.
It’s fairly graphic, mostly in terms of the sexuality portrayed, and slow at times, and subtitled, but really brilliant.
And a movie portrayed almost entirely in the heroine’s POV. A really interesting choice, because as a viewer we never completely understand the hero(?), at least not his motivations, but the glimpses we’re shown through the heroine are fascinating, conflicting and perplexing.
In many ways it reminded me of a gothic romance, where the hero is at times both compelling and terrifying.

It started me thinking about the use of POV. Romance used to be two or three POV’s in a book. Now that number has increased, which is great, but being in all our character’s heads can often mean we know them all too well. It can remove the mystery of that character.
I’m going to try to create more mystery with my characters. JR Ward did this really well with Zadist in those first two Brotherhood books. She showed up glimpses of a compelling, angry, dangerous character, and never explained why. At least until his book.
Something I need to remember, as I keep working on the current WIP, book 1 in a series of what I hope will be 5 books.


Amy Ruttan said...

In my series I showed glimpses, snippets. When it comes to the book I keep it with that hero and heroine and the bad guy. I like bad guy POV's.

I'm working on book two, and it's so interesting trying to layer pieces in book one and two that will show up in the later books.

Sinead M said...

Amy, I love bad guy POV's, they're my favourite to write.
Writing interconnected books are hard in that you have to be aware of how we present each and every character, and still maintain consistency from book to book.
But I have to say, I love the multiple POV thing... I'm probably overusing it..

Amy Ruttan said...

I've been thinking about this all day, and just did a post at Six Degrees of Sexy on writing the series.

YES the consistency is hard, but also I find the balancing between the past and the present too be tricky in that you don't want to put tons of the previous book into the next because you want that new book to stand alone, but be interconnected. So that if a reader comes into a middle of the series they're not scratching their heads going "huh?", but you've hinted enough for the reader to buy future and or previous books.

Ugh, I hope I'm making sense. LOL. I've been up late at night trying to make the deadlines. LOL! That and planning a birthday party for seven 5 year old girls. ACK!

Molly O'Keefe said...

Sinead you are so holding down the fort right now. The last two posts have been so good -- the beginnings and endings one is interesting, because I think a great premise can take a book pretty far but then it's going to stall out without the solid work behind it.

Lust Caution sounds great and I think maybe you've hit on the real purpose of POV whther you're using tons or one, if it doesn't build a sense of drama or suspence - you don't need it?

On a different note -- BABY LUCY IS HERE!! 8 lbs 9 oz, lots of drama, but we're all doing great!!

Maureen McGowan said...

Oooo... I saw Lust Caution at a past film fest. I remember the intro. The producer joked that Ang Lee had gone from a gay cowboy film to a 3 hour Chinese porno.

But I thought it was pretty brilliant, too.

And great insight about withholding POV's. Sometimes we get more intrigued about a character when we don't get to be inside his/her head.

Sinead M said...

Yeah, I was thinking as I watched Lust, Caution what an interesting thing to hold back. In romance right now it seems we need to know so much about all of our characters, but as a reader, I love a little mystery..

Plus, Ang Lee can create tension in a scene as simple as 4 women sitting around a table playing mahjong..

Annette said...

Jessica Faust blogged about historicals last Friday so there's definitely a buzz out there.

I'm currently reading Margaret Moore's newest one and it's great. She has such a way with words.

Good luck with your series, Sinead. I'm sure it's a lot of planning, trying to make sure everything is set up for each book.

And big congratulations to Molly on Baby Lucy!! :-)

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