I’ve got Crystal Collier here to celebrate the release of her newest novel, Soulless. The sequel to Moonless, released last year. One of the interesting things about this series is where it akes place and the time period.
I was curious about why she chose that time and location, and now she’s here to answer my questions. Welcome, Crystal. So my first question, as I said above, is how you chose England 1768 as the location for this series.
About the time I penned out the first draft of MOONLESS, I was working on a musical based in 1798, England. (It may have slightly influenced my writing.) I knew the time period for MOONLESS had to reflect England’s most prideful hour—a time when aristocracy was at its height, before the American revolution and industrialization. This story has been in my brain for a LONG time, and the nation/time period was very strategically placed to accommodate the entire series arc.
Did you have previous knowledge about this period in time or did you have to research everything?
The musical prepped me, but I seriously spent about five years reading articles, essays and books based close to the time period, not to mention studying fashion, technology, maps and anything else I could get my hands on. The greatest challenge of writing historical fiction is understanding how people thought in a different era. There are so many anachronistic social expectations we embrace (that I had to wipe from early drafts). Gaining an authentic cultural mentality was like learning a new language. And becoming an anthropologist.
Wow. Five years. That’s a lot of prep work!
One thing I was curious about. Did you have to revise any details from the story because you discovered they didn’t fit with the time period?
Contractions (can’t, doesn’t, we’d, etc.) are modern inventions. That’s not to say people didn’t slur their words together in 1768, but they would never have written or spoken that way in polite society. That made for a bit of a rewrite…
Clocks had just been invented, and only the most modern of men possessed a pocket watch…which set back my method of explaining time. It was a transitory period, going to from candle-marks, moon cycles and season to hours, minutes and seconds. Another tricky one.
John is a smoker, but not a pipe kind of guy. Turns out the story takes place RIGHT at the time when cigars made their debut…or I may have fudged that one by a couple years—because I can.
I had a writing coach who absolutely adores my time period, and a literary agent mentor who was kind enough to point out some of my early, erm, foibles, but mostly I corrected myself while studying. For instance, in 1750, King George the first established new marriage laws that dictated the legal age of marriage as 21. (Our equivalent of 18.) In early drafts I wanted to call “coming of age” 16. Major no-no.
Definitely good to do your research. That is one of the things that scares me away from writing historical fiction. Do you get nervous about people bashing you for not being historically correct?
I’m such a perfectionist. Seriously. The only way to conquer your fears is to face them, knock them down and grind your heel in their face. I listened to all the bashers in beta readings (probably went overboard in how many betas I used for MOONLESS) and studied my guts out. I even went so far as to research every word and phrase for its historical accuracy. It really was like learning a foreign language, but the more you use that language, the more fluent you become. After all that, I came away rather confident—no matter whether people might rip or not. (Which they haven’t—even the mean ones—so I must have done okay.)
Thanks so much for sharing with us, Crystal, and congratulations on the release of Soulless. And now you can find out more about Crystal’s book and have a chance to win some special prizes.
a Rafflecopter giveaway
The Soulless are coming…
Alexia manipulated time to save the man of her dreams, and lost her best friend to red-eyed wraiths. Still grieving, she struggles to reconcile her loss with what was gained: her impending marriage. But when her wedding is destroyed by the Soulless—who then steal the only protection her people have—she’s forced to unleash her true power.
And risk losing everything.