By Callie Hutton
As a teenager in high school, one of my least favorite classes was History. All that memorization of dates, battles, and which president was known for what, bored me to tears. It was dry. It was boring. It was the best insomnia meds I’ve ever had.
The summer between my junior and senior year, I picked up a copy of Gone With the Wind. Now here was history worth reading. At first I skimmed over the battles, but then as I continued on with the book, I read more and more of the actual history contained in the story.
This book was about people. Those who lost loved ones, those who waited at home for a letter, for some indication that their husband, brother, father or son was still alive.
Fiction? Yes. Gone With the Wind is a work of fiction, but what happened to Scarlett O’Hara, et al, was based on real life events. Babies were born during the height of battle. Plantations were burned to the ground, and thousands, both black and white, were left homeless, adrift in a world turned completely upside down.
I closed that book with a sigh of pleasure, and then followed up with the story of Henry VIII’s last wife, Katherine Parr. That led me to read the stories of the other five wives. I was fascinated. History was not just battles and dates, it was the story of people. Real people who lived and died, with hopes and dreams, sorrows and pain.
I had been converted. I was a history addict, which eventually led me to a degree in History.
As an historical romance author, authenticity is important. I write both American Western and Regency. Keeping true to my era is important. I try very hard to make sure I don’t use language and references inappropriate for the time. And when I make a mistake, my editor slaps my hand. Or if it slips by her, I can be sure a reader will call me on it.
I use various sources for my research. I have shelves of books on people, places, and things during the Regency period, the Middle Ages, the Old West, and the Victorian era in both England and the United States. I also spend a great deal of time “Googling” questions about clothes, medicine, bathing, and yes, even sex, in various time periods.
Two of my favorite research books are the Timeline of History and the Timeline of Science. Want to know the most important scientific discovery of a certain year? Or the political trouble in the world in a particular year? My Timeline books provide the answers.
Bringing history alive to my readers through the characters I create, and the time period in which they lived, is what I strive for when I write my two favorite phrases: Chapter One and The End.
THE HIGHLANDER’S CHOICE
The Scottish Highlands, 1815
Lady Sybil Lacey is every inch the proper English gentlewoman. She’s horrified to attend her best friend’s wedding in the Scottish Highlands—a wedding to a barbarian Scot, no less. For aren’t Scots naught but brutish, whiskey-swilling lechers in rough kilts? So to find herself secretly attracted to the tall and devastatingly handsome Scottish laird of Bedlay Castle is quite disconcerting…
Liam MacBride is convinced that English ladies are silly sassenachs who think of nothing but social events and clothes. So why is he intensely drawn to Lady Sybil? All they do is quarrel…until loathing turns into inexplicable lust.
A tempestuous, fiery romance between an English lady and a Scottish laird is quite scandalous enough…but no one is more shocked than Sybil when she discovers her laird is betrothed to another.