A warm welcome back to Christina Phillips. Christina is a regular visitor to Magical Musings, and she took some time out to answer a few of my questions about the fascinating period of history she writes about.
Q: Christina, I love how you write erotic historical romances set in unusual times. Early Britain is a fascinating time period for me, which I don’t think is explored enough by writers. Do you think that’s because it is harder to sell books not set in more well-known historical periods, or because research into periods such as the Roman occupation of Britain is very hard to come by?
A: Thank you for having me back on Magical Musings, Michelle! I think you’ve hit the nail on the head as to why there aren’t so many books on the market set in Britain during the first century. When my agent was shopping Forbidden in June 2009 both the time period and the unusual protagonists were a hard sell. Editors enjoyed my voice and the book, but wanted to know if I had anything set in the Highlands with Scot warriors – because they knew there was a market for those books.
Even with four published books set in my mystical Roman/Druid world, I’m still struggling to find my audience. Each book takes me on average between six to nine months to research and write, then additional time with revisions and edits and promo. So leading onto the second part of your question I think the fact that the research is harder to come by does factor into things. If an author loves writing about both ancient Britain and Highland warriors, but the potential readership for one far outstrips the other – the chances are she’s going to write what she knows is going to sell. Writers have bills to pay, after all
A: Before I started writing Forbidden I read as much as I could find about the ancient Druids. And discovered there wasn’t much around, due to the fact they hadn’t believed in writing down their knowledge. Everything was passed down to their acolytes in oral form, and the few things I did find out about them were generally written by contemporary Romans. Probably not the greatest source of unbiased information! To refresh my mind about the Romans (I’d loved learning about the Romans at school) I read lots of children’s history books – I find children’s reference books fantastic for research! I also did a lot of cross referencing online. And when I came across contradictory information I’d simply use whichever best served my story!
Q: You also write paranormal historicals set in Regency England. That’s quite a switch from the early Roman occupation of Britain setting of your other historicals. What tempted you down that path?
A: I’d always wanted to write a lush Regency romance, but the characters and plot always eluded me. Plus, there are so many amazing Regency writers already I wasn’t sure I could do the sub-genre justice. But a few years ago a scene came to me so vividly I knew I had to write it down. It was the vision of a squalid London back alley and a beautiful woman dancing to the strains of a single violin. In the shadows a duke watched, mesmerized, determined to make the ethereal dancer his. But the duke was a vampire, and the elusive dancer an immortal vampire hunter, and their dark desires sizzled from the moment they met.
Q: What aspects particular to the early Roman occupation of Britain and the Regency do you play with and use as part of your plot?
A: The aspect that really intrigued me about the early Roman occupation of Britain was the Druids. Until I tried to research them I’d had no idea how little we truly know of these remarkable people. Even the Romans, who wanted to wipe them from the face of their mighty Empire, conceded they were law-makers and the keepers of knowledge and wisdom. I absolutely loved unearthing these mysterious Druids with their goddess culture and equilateral society, which was so different from the Roman one.
With the Regency, I’ve always been fascinated by the ton and the manners and code that structured everyday life for a well born lady. But because I’m naturally drawn to the dark side of things, I also found the squalid underbelly of this glittering facade irresistible. In Bloodlust Denied I managed to interweave these elements, and one of my favorite scenes is when the hero and heroine are dancing at an assembly. On the surface they look like a perfectly respectable couple, but danger and lust seethe beneath this deceptive veneer.
Q: You also write paranormal romance as Christina Ashcroft. Do you approach your paranormals with a different mindset to your historicals? And are you tempted to weave any of the historical research you have done into your paranormals?
A: I do have to switch off from historical mode when I write contemporary, but I soon get into the swing of it One of my favorite things to write about involve gods and goddesses and this does tend to find its way into the books I write, whether they are historical or contemporary paranormal. I can’t seem to help myself!
Q: Finally, what’s up next for you? Tell us about your next release.
A: The fourth book set in the mystical world of my first century Britain has recently been released by Ellora’s Cave. In Tainted I mixed things up a bit, and instead of having a Roman warrior hero there is a tough Celtic warrior. Gawain was a minor character in both Forbidden and Captive, and I’d wanted to give him his well deserved happily ever after for a long time.
Book description for Tainted:
A dangerous love Rome will never allow…
Driven by the knowledge he failed to protect his king and embittered at losing the woman he loves, Celtic warrior Gawain despises the lust he feels for the beautiful Roman patrician, Antonia. She is everything he’s never wanted in a woman, yet she ignites his passion like no other. Despite the danger of discovery he embarks on an illicit liaison with her, determined to uncover the reason for the infinite sorrow that haunts her eyes.
Newly arrived in Britannia from Rome, Antonia is inexplicably drawn to the cold, tough Celt whose touch stirs a desire she long thought died at the hands of her brutal former husband. With Gawain she learns the pleasure of sex and his unexpected tenderness thaws her frozen heart. But she hides a deadly secret that could be her undoing, and knows her growing feelings for him can lead nowhere. Yet when a shadow from her past threatens her future Antonia is torn between the Empire of her birth and betraying Gawain, the man she’s grown to love.
Inside Scoop on Her Savage Scot: This medieval romance dabbles a wee bit in the paranormal.
A Romantica® historical erotic romance from Ellora’s Cave
I’m also very excited by my upcoming Highland Warrior Chronicles! The first book, Her Savage Scot, is going through edits at the moment, and I’ve just started writing the second, Her Vengeful Scot. The books are set in the ninth century and feature tough Scot warriors and their brave Pictish princesses.