I graduated with a degree in history. I chose the major because:
1. I liked history, when it came time to declare, most of my classes were in history.
2. Its a good major if you want to go to law school, which I thought I did at the time.
3. What better degree for a romance writer, the other career I aspired to?
My focus was the colonial south and I spent a few months in Williamsburg, VA studying the era. Oh, I loved it. I couldn't wait to write my great, dramatic romance novel encompassing a period and location I adored.
A few years later, I did write my novel. I took my knowledge and experience studying colonial America and set my book in Virginia in 1752. Okay, I won't candy-coat the truth. The book reeked. Oh man, it was not good. But at the time I thought it was pretty good. So with perky optimism I submitted it to agents. Before they could actually find out how bad my book was, they flat out said novels set in colonial America did not sell.
Now, a bit more jaded, I've found there are only two periods in history and two countries as far as publishers are concerned. It seems every historical is set either in medieval England or Scotland or set in Regency London. France exists to provide that pesky Napoleonic war so we could have Regency spy heroes.
I know I'm being extreme. There are other books out there written in different time periods and places, but they aren't the norm.
Yeah, this is an old argument that gets rehashed time and time again. But I do wish it would change. I'd hoped when "The Patriot" came out there would be a revived interest in colonial-Revolutionary America (although by the end of the film I was rooting for the redcoats. Wasn't Jason Isaacs a hottie?). But it didn't happen.
I have buckled under the pressure and my current WIP takes place in the Regency era although out stubbornness I set it in 1808 which technically is not the Regency. And as I look towards the end of my WIP and my next project, I can't help but long to return to Virginia and write about pocket hoops and would-be patriots.
Sorry, after writing this blog, I thought of a whole other part.
As a reader, I have found myself drifting away from historical romance. Funny, because when I first started reading romance I only read historicals. I started reading in the early '80's during the days when Woodiwiss, Busbee, Wilde & Lindsey were royalty. Lindsey was all over the historical atlas and part of the fun was never knowing where she was going to take you. Busbee settled in the south in the early days of the Republic and mixed in the troubled political climate of the era with her sweeping romances. Does anyone remember Eleanora Brownleigh and the way in which she brought the elegance of the the early 20th century alive to her readers?
It seems the choices for readers have been funneled down. Not that there aren't great authors, but I feel like the choices are limited with regards to variety.