Last year around this same time, I was shifting gears--moving from work on Jewel of Persia to work on Love Finds You in Annapolis, Maryland. It was a pretty big shift, I grant you. Both historical, but . . . yeah, not a lot in common otherwise, and it took me a goodly while to successfully switch gears in my li'l brain.
I'll be honest. When I dove into the 1780s, it wasn't my favorite era. The fashions were still unfamiliar. Powdered hair, paniers, sack-backs . . . It just wasn't what I knew. I'd written in the 1860s, the 1880s, the 1920s, but the 1780s?? What in the world had I gotten myself into?
Speech patterns were different. Vocabulary, tricky. I like to stay true to the language as much as possible without being confusing to modern readers, but so many words I use regularly weren't around yet.
But after reading some era work, studying the era fashion and culture, I wrote. And I fell a little bit in love with the elaborate coils of hair and the wide-hipped dresses. The beautiful mannerisms and the formality of life. Enough in love that I've spent the summer working on another book set 1779-80.
At this point, I've grown accustomed to the cadence of speech I settled on as a compromise between what it was and what modern readers will "get." I close my eyes and see sack-back gowns and shades of hair powder. It's comfortable, and it's beautiful.
So naturally, it's time to shift gears again, LOL. Back to the 1860s, of all things, though on a different continent than what I've written before. I'm excited to have this new project to work on, but when I sat down to write my first scene I had this moment of realization--I needed different speech patterns, different fashion. A different setting, which means different similes. A totally different feel.
It took me a few days to wrap my brain around the changes, some reading of appropriate books, some revisiting of hoop dresses and sugary-sweet mannerisms. I'm exciting to really dive into it all, and into the history I'm going to need to draw on for this new book.
But I'm going to miss the 18th century. That century that at first befuddled and confused me, that I didn't quite love now has a very special place in my heart. Hopefully I can revisit it someday in the near-ish future.
I'm really grateful for this opportunity that requires the shift of gears. And I'm also really grateful that when it comes down to it, I just love history. Might take me a while to really fall in love with each era for its unique features and fashions, but once I discover what sets it apart . . . ah.