Hi everyone –
One of my favorite parts of writing paranormal romance is world building. Setting up rules, societies, etc. and then forcing my characters to live within those parameters.
But my new novella, Night Thief, had the added challenge of being set in 1840 in Paris.
It’s a prequel featuring two of my prominent side characters from Night Demon. I knew they had fallen in love in Paris in 1840, but I didn’t realize until I started writing the book that by setting it in a historical period I was actually doubling up my world building!
Like paranormal authors, historical authors also have a “world” with rules already in place based on historical records and research. By setting my paranormal world within the confines of the historical time period, the worlds collide and the result was interesting.
I did have moments of wanting to beat my head into my keyboard when I couldn’t make something work with the actual historical timeline. And I’ve never had to research a book so heavily even though this was just a novella! LOL Instead of making up the shoes they were wearing, I found myself researching shoe construction in the 1840’s. Simple things like stuffing a dress in a horse’s feed sack became a research mission to discover what the bags would be called. (Hint – I couldn’t use burlap! LOL)
There was also the challenge of weaving in true historical events. Night Thief opens during the huge state funeral for Napoleon after King Philippe negotiated with England for the return of the fallen leader’s body. I also used other historical events including an Opera opening, one of the art universities in Paris, and an artist, Antoine Berjon, from the time period as well.
Although the research added work, in the end, I fell in love with the multi-layered, worlds colliding, historical paranormal. If you’re writing immortals into your paranormal, the historical aspects blend well to give your characters the ageless feel too.
Anne Rice gave me my first love of immortals. (Lestat! *swoon*) She was a master at layering the time period with her paranormal elements. You can find great examples in Interview with a Vampire and also in her lesser known vampire chronicle, Pandora.
As a writer, I really enjoyed the added challenge to keep the paranormal aspects true to the time period. No phones, no cars, phosphorous matches, etc. It’s like getting two worlds for the price of one!