posted on May 22, 2014 by Joanne Rock

Lure of the Medieval

hdsI had a friend suggest that maybe writers were drawn to the time period where they have the most memorable past lives. If this is the case, clearly I had a blast during my time as a medieval lady because I can’t seem to get enough of the time period. Some people look at the Middle Ages and think about the fact that there was no running water, no meds, and no Internet, and run screaming in the other direction. Me? I often think “No Internet” would be a blessing and not a curse (sorry, techie friends) and that I could get used to the deep quiet of pre-Industrial era living. As for bathing, I would be the queen of my own herbal garden where I could raise gorgeous-smelling flowers that would scent my bathwater and extended the illusion of “clean.”

Self Promotion Simplified - front coverI say this because it doesn’t matter what else I write, I will always need to come back to the Middle Ages sometimes. I’ve done lots of contemporary romance, some suspense, time travel, Young Adult, and—new this month—a non-fiction book called SELF PROMOTION SIMPLIFIED. I’ve written around the map in direct defiance of all the marketing wisdom that says this is not a good idea. As much as I’d like to streamline my “brand” I’m not driving the bus creatively-speaking. My Muse is in charge of what I write. I have to be an artist first and foremost. It’s up to my business side to figure out how to market what the artist produces. But if the artist isn’t happy, I know for a fact the reader won’t be either.

hhkAnyhow, despite my Muse’s extraordinary case of Fickleness, her weakness is for medieval historical romance. Whisper “Robert the Bruce” and she swoons. Talk of mystics, seers, cults, legends, lore, Camelot, and mighty kings who ruled unruly lands is always certain to inspire a story. I just love the dark veil that hangs over the “Dark Ages.” Historians will point out they were not dark in the way that we’ve come to perceive them. There were plenty of enlightened scholars, forward thinking monarchs and even feminists (c’mon, you know Eleanor of Aquitaine wore this crown along with her others!).  Yet the Middle Ages are shrouded in a misty fog because the historical record is sketchy. Written accounts are few and frequently tinged with metaphorical language that opens up all kinds of interesting interpretations. No highly developed culture dominated the landscape of Europe (no Super Powers!) so a wide assortment of quirky smaller cultures thrived. If knights wanted to fight in a Big War, they had to head to the Holy Land.

This gives me an impression of at least some of the medieval era as rather pastoral. Sure, it was violent too (is there any era in history that isn’t?) but there were pockets of quiet existence. Focus on kingdom building and strengthening clans. While her husband wandered off to the Holy Land looking for a place to use his sword, a lady could experiment with the herb garden. Read a book. Discuss the merits of chivalry and how to relate what they wanted from men into an understandable treatise. (Thanks to Eleanor of Aquitaine’s court at Poitiers, it all got written down).

So I love the Middle Ages. I spend a lot of time mentally roaming them for stories and this month, I embarked on a fun series that combines a lot of that appeal, even if technically the heroine begins her story in Victoria’s era. You see I had the heroine stumble on an enchanted place inhabited by a Highlander who is cursed to wander through time until he finds his missing sister. As one of three brothers, Iain Darroch is part of a brotherhood all suffering the same curse. So if you like THE HIGHLANDERS HAUNTED KISS, I hope you’ll check out THE HIGHLANDER’S DARK SEDUCTION on June 1 and THE HIGHLANDER’S ETERNAL TOUCH on July 1.

Until then, thank you for reading and if you ever want to rattle around the Middle Ages with me, hop on over to my Pinterest boards for inspiration!

Joanne Rock

Joanne Rock

Three-time RITA nominee Joanne Rock has never met a romance sub-genre she didn’t like. The author of over seventy books currently writes sexy contemporary stories for Harlequin Desire and small town romance for Harlequin Superromance. An optimist by nature and perpetual seeker of silver linings, Joanne finds romance fits her life outlook perfectly—love is worth fighting for. A frequent speaker at regional and national writing conferences she enjoys giving back to the writing community that nurtured and inspired her early career. She has a Masters degree in Literature from the University of Louisville but credits her fiction writing skills to her intensive study with fellow author and friend Catherine Mann. When she’s not writing, Joanne enjoys travel, especially to see her favorite sports teams play with her former sports editor husband and three athletic-minded sons.

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4 thoughts on “Lure of the Medieval”

  1. Joanne, I love the Middle Ages too ever since reading Thomas B. Costain and Anya Seton in high school. I’m known for writing contemporary, but I love the Medieval period. I’ve enjoyed the recent The White Queen series on Starz. Like you, I sometimes need to retreat to another time. And thanks for reminding me of SELF PROMOTION SIMPLIFIED. I need to read it!

  2. KJ Van Houten says:

    How dies this work for novels set in the future? Science fiction romance us my favourite genre!

    1. joannerock joannerock says:

      Well that’s a great question, KJ…. I would say you are ahead of your time!! OR– if you’re a FRINGE fan, I’ll bet Walter Bishop would say that time is flexible and you’ve just skipped forward for your past lives. I miss that show so much!!

  3. joannerock joannerock says:

    Hi Jan! Thank you for stopping by and you are more disciplined than me focusing on a subgenre that is working really well for you. You do well by studly cowboys! I decided not to be shy about recommending the self promotion book whenever I can. Whereas fiction is a very subjective field — maybe readers will love the books, but maybe not — with this non-fiction book I can feel certain there is smart, easy to implement advice that could benefit most writers in one way or another. I’m really glad I found some time to write all down and gatherquotes from experts in the field. I learned more as I went, and that made it all the more fulfilling!

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