Monday 11 April 2016

Medievals vs Contemporaries: Writing Romance in Both Ages!

with guest blogger Alyssa James/Alyssa J. Montgomery

Thank you for having me on the Breathless in the Bush Blog!

I'm here as ALYSSA JAMES and ALYSSA J. MONTGOMERY. I write contemporary romance for Escape Publishing, but when I decided to pen Medieval romances I used different branding because the genres appeal to different audiences. The stories are vastly different, even though the goal is always to write a story which will engage and satisfy readers' emotions.

I aspired to write contemporary romance because I grew up reading them. My first Medieval romance evolved due to one imagined scene, which I knew wouldn't work in a contemporary romance. I was touring castles in Europe at the time, so the Medieval period appealed.

From that one scene, pivotal to the conflict between my hero and heroine, an exciting new world of writing opened up. Medieval life afforded few rights for women and the justice system hardly seemed just, enabling me to raise the stakes for my characters, force them into desperate situations, and test their morales in life and death scenarios. It's the stuff fairytales are made of. Enter the most heinous of villains, the strong heroine who must take action to save herself - and, of course, the even stronger hero who really does ride up on his charger to save the day!

The Medieval time frame lends itself to believable intrigue and plotting, murder and brutality that can engross the reader. In the second of my Medieval stories, the historical events of the time actually inspired the conflict and motivations of my characters.

I find historical research riveting. The challenge is making sure the historical details are right. I've struck gold because the lady who reviewed Knight of Her Heart for the UK Historical Novel Society enjoyed the story and offered to help with future research. She gave me a lovely review, but wrote privately and pointed our a few minor historical glitches, eg. King Henry V should have been referred to as Your Grace rather than Your Majesty. (That was corrected before the print version of the book was published!) When she read through Book 2 in the series, Knight of Her Dreams, she also found some errors: eg. the blade on the type of sword one of the characters wielded was too thick to fit between the joins of two pieces of armour. She recommended a different type of sword that would do the job. Problem fixed!

Because there's not a lot of research in my contemporary romances, I write them faster. I also don't have to worry about making the dialogue period friendly!

I currently have three contemporary romances in the works, and I fall asleep at night plotting the third Medieval story, Knight of Her Desire, scheduled for release December, 2016.

I wonder whether readers across the romance genre prefer different sub-genres for different times? For example, holiday reads VS mid-week or weekend reads? It would also be interesting to hear from authors who write in different sub-genres about what challenges they face.

Love to Love:

Time spent travelling with the family, without the interruption of everyday life.

Love to Laugh:

Anytime, but especially with my husband,. It occurred to me only recently there isn't a day we're together where we don't share laughter.

Love to Learn:

I'll be at the Romantic Times Convention in Las Vegas as this blog goes live. I know I'll love mingling with readers, authors and industry professionals, and learning about different facets of this exciting writing industry.


  1. I don't know how you do it Alyssa. I'm guessing you don't write both genres at the same time. I love doing research too the hardest part is deciding which bits to put in. Have an amazing time at RTC.

    1. Okay, I don't know why Helen got my reply to Cassie...!

      Hi Helen,
      Thanks for reading my stories! I hope you enjoy the medieval. I find I'm preferring reading historical fiction these days!
      Hope to see you next month at the BIB meeting!

  2. Hi Alyssa

    I do hope you are having a lot of fun in Vegas I wish I was there :)

    I do love and read across all genres in romance and I choose what I fancy reading at the time I have loved your contemporaries and I have the medieval calling to me on my kindle I just really need more hours in the day and perhaps a house keeper LOL

    Have Fun

    1. Thanks Cassie, RT is fun! (Have given out three of your cards at breakfast this morning!)
      I generally work on one story at a time, although I have two contemporaries going at present!

  3. Dear Alyssa,
    It's interesting to reflect on my life circumstances and the romantic subgenres I have read. I am currently reading a lot of rural romance - my husband and I are planning our retirement and travel will be a big part of that. Are the two things related? Quite possibly.
    I hope you enjoy the convention.

    1. Hi Sharon,
      Your travel is bound to provide inspiration! Enjoy both!

  4. Hi Alyssa. I currently write rural/outback romance but would love to try my hand at writing a time travel romance at some stage (although the amount of research needed is a little off-putting). I honestly don't think I'd be able to do both at the same time. Do you write both simultaneously?

    1. Hi Marilyn,
      I'm sure you'll craft the time travel story beautifully. Pick an era you're fascinated with and all will flow!
      I write the stories separately, although the ideas are always bubbling and there is a degree of impatience for me to get to the next one!

  5. Alyssa, I have total admiration for a writer who works in two romantic sub-genres. Although I read in a few different sub-genres, so it must be nice to 'suit' yourself as to what you decide to write next. I've always loved Medievals, and contemporaries are my soft spot. So, win, win!

    1. Hi Malvina,
      One day I'd like to write a regency! Have a story outline already...just not enough time in the day!

  6. Writers sure have amazing imaginations and you sound like you're a great time
    writing your stories, Alyssa. I've always loved romantic suspense and then felt this great desire to write paranormal. Medievals are another line I love. I'd love to combine all 3 genres though I know that's a lot of work there.

    1. Hi Enisa, you're already combining the romantic suspense and paranormal in your current WIP...and there's a historical element too! Can't wait for you to publish that one and for it to be on the shelves!

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