I do love a historical romance. All that pent up sexual attraction and hidden passion.
So, I was thrilled when author Ellie Thomas agreed to answer some questions. I loved Twelve Letters and can’t wait to dive back into that world.
Your latest story, A Touch of Spice, is set in Elizabethan times. What research did you do?
Do you really want me to witter on all day? I’ll do my best to keep it short and sweet but I get horribly carried away enthusing about source books, so I apologise in advance! Do shut me up at any point.
Ruth Goodman is my go-to reference author when it comes to the Tudor period and her books are as informative as they are entertaining. I perused How to be a Tudor and the fabulously named, How to Behave Badly in Renaissance Britain and had them next to my computer while writing A Touch of Spice, complete with numerous bookmarks. The chapters on insults were especially inspiring. I mean, who could resist, “I give not a fart for you,” or the ever-popular “kiss my arse!”
Your series cover different historical eras. How do you choose when to set a story?
Because my MC tells me to! Sometimes I deliberately choose a different era for a change of pace, say if I’ve been loitering in the Regency period for several stories and need a refresh. But at other times, the historical period is purely down to random inspiration.
For example, over the summer, I was reading the excellent summation of a century of social history, English Society in the 18th Century by Roy Porter.
Did any major historical facts stick in my head? Did they heck. But there were a couple of sentences about the origins of highwaymen starting after the English Civil War due to marauding ex-soldiers. And several months of percolation later, bam, that was the inspiration for my WIP Lucky John, about a Royalist messenger traversing the dangerous roads of England shortly before the restoration of the monarchy.
What is it about the Regency period that makes it so sexy?
The clothes. Especially for the guys. I have to say I’m a huge fan of brightly coloured 18th century peacock-style fashions with oodles of brocade and lace, the like of which wasn’t seen again until the glam rock look of the 1970s. But the understated, body con style of the Regency period with the artfully tousled cropped hair (and yes, they did use bear grease for hair gel) is irresistible.
It’s such a studied take on the natural look with those subdued colours drawing more attention to cut of the clothing and all-importantly, the physique.
They even had stretch fabrics like kerseymere (the Regency equivalent of Lycra) for those eye-wateringly tight pantaloons. Allegedly, plenty of men had to corset up to reduce their waistline or pad out their shoulder and calves (and possibly the front fall of their breeches) to achieve the ideal masculine silhouette. But it is an eye-catcher!
Do you have any eras you are planning to take us to?
I’ll keep lurking around the Regency London for my next couple of stories in April and May, The Misfit and May Wedding, which are both additions to my Twelve Letters series. Then for Simply John, which will be out in July, I’m nipping back to Oxfordshire just before the Restoration in the late 17th century.
If A Touch of Spice was made into a movie, who would play the leads?
Ooh, I’ll pick a young Joseph Fiennes circa Shakespeare in Love to play Jehan, please!
How many plot ideas do you generally have swirling around?
Either too many or too few!! I vacillate between worrying I’m going to forget all my random story ideas or panicking that I’ll never think of another!
What comes first? Plot or character?
Character. Someone usually pops into my head fully-formed with a complete back story. They are at a point in their lives where they have a burning dilemma or a problem to solve, which eventually becomes the plot, and they happen to fall in love along the way.
Which authors influenced your writing?
I fell into historical MM romance many moons ago by reading KJ Charles and Joanna Chambers who write such magnificent stories. I also reckon that absorbing far too much Georgette Heyer at an impressionable age was a deciding factor!
What are you reading at the moment?
This month, I’ve been obsessed with Cole McCade’s Criminal Intentions series. Nail-bitingly compelling MM romantic suspense!
When not reading or writing, what else do you like to do?
I cannot stop dancing. Fact. I also bake a bit.
Where can people find you?
Thanks so much for having me as your guest interviewee this month, Kristian!