Today, we've got talented, multi-award winning historical author, Anna Campbell, to visit! She's here to tell us about one aspect of her research for her latest release!
Over to you, Anna!
Thanks, Sharon. Hiya Love Cats! Thank you for inviting me back here. I love visiting!
Last week, I had a new book out. That’s always an exciting event in Campbellandia, as you can imagine. WHAT A DUKE DARES is the third book in my Sons of Sin series and it details the turbulent romance between childhood friends Camden Sedgemoor, Duke of Rothermere, and Penelope Thorne.
Speaking of rocky, things literally start out that way. While the majority of the story takes place back in England in stately homes and glittering ballrooms, the beginning of WHAT A DUKE DARES is a road trip. Pen, my intrepid and headstrong heroine, is facing down a band of marauding bandits in a ramshackle inn in the Italian Alps in February when who should turn up to save her but the man she’s spent nine long years trying to forget, Camden Rothermere? Even worse, Cam insists upon escorting her home to England (why doesn’t she want him to? I think you need to read the book to find out!).
I’ve illustrated this blog with photos from my own trip to this spectacular part of the world in 1985 (apologies for the faded colour!). Imagine these high, rugged mountains covered in thick snow and someone trying to cross them with a horse and carriage and you get an idea of Pen’s travel difficulties. My friend and I were in a very nippy little Citroen and it was April, but even then a lot of the high passes were closed and snow and ice frequently made driving dangerous.
This particular book involved a lot of travel for the characters. People always seemed to be popping off here and there. There was not just the Italian journey, there was a yacht trip from Genoa to England, a trip to Cam’s Derbyshire family seat, and a journey from London to Liverpool. I don’t know about Pen and Cam, but I was ready for a cup of tea and a nice lie-down by the time I got to the end of writing it!
The problem, for a writer at least, of all this travel is that you need to be careful with your timing. There’s nothing worse when a reader finds themselves ripped from the story because someone travels from London to Edinburgh in a couple of hours when only horse-drawn transport is available. So I needed to work out just how slowly people were likely to travel through the Alps in midwinter (answer: very slowly indeed) and I needed to estimate distances and likely travel times for all the other journeys. Luckily in the Regency, high speed mail coaches published schedules for their routes so working out believable travel times in England is reasonably straightforward.
But what happens when your characters leave dry land? I’m a very enthusiastic swimmer but boats are beyond my ken apart from the fact that they float (hopefully!) and if you point them in the right direction, they’ll carry you to interesting places.
I needed approximate timing for Genoa to Folkestone on the Kentish coast under the power of sail alone. So I called on an expert! My talented writer friend Helene Young lives on a yacht so I requested her help in charting a voyage for Cam and Pen on a thoroughbred of a boat, and she came up trumps with a trip of around a fortnight. Just right for my story! That’s Helene in the photo holding her Australian Romantic Book of the Year Award from 2011. Sometimes it’s not what you know, it’s who you know!
I hope you’ll travel to your nearest bookseller (even if they’re as close as the internet!) and check out Pen and Cam’s tumultuous love story. For all the physical journeys they undertake, their greatest journeys are the shifts their hearts and minds make! Only then can they look forward to happily ever after.
But of course, that’s true about any worthwhile romance novel, isn’t it?
So let’s talk fantasy travel. If you could do a road trip anywhere at all, where would you go? Who would you choose as your traveling companion and why? I’ve got a signed copy of WHAT A DUKE DARES (international) for someone who leaves a comment today. Good luck!
Where to get WHAT A DUKE DARES:
The Book Depository
Barnes and Noble