Balancing humor and levity in historical novels

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I’ll be the first to admit that I’m not notoriously known as the funniest person in my family. The youngest of my seven-year-old twins on the other hand? She is a master of dry humor and jokes well beyond his age. She never met an episode of Mister Bean she didn’t like it. My son? He never fails to deliver the ultimate knock knock joke. And then there’s my other twin who, with her love of hugs and song, reminds me every bit of Poppy, from the movie, Trolls. Each time, it’s “Hug Time! His joy is contagious.

As for me, I am a master observer more than anything. I take advantage of every moment and store every memory. Much of this comes from my years of research for the Dodd Center at UConn and my years of training as a history teaching professor.

(When is historical accuracy inaccurate?)

I have come to understand that humor comes from the people in our life; his friends and family, and the moments we share with them. I can’t even tell you how many of those moments in my life have served as inspiration for the scenes in my books. There was a time when my five year old daughter, who had just started playing football, got on all fours in the middle of the field. One of her boyfriends from kindergarten didn’t even miss a beat … he just jumped on her back, and she started to take him around the field, the two having created their own horse and horse game. rider.

Among my favorite things to write is the big, loving family. This does not mean that loving families do not know the hardships; We do. But what helps someone get through these hardships and heartaches and struggles are the people in your life. Whether it’s the family you were born into or the family you found. And when our first child was born with Down syndrome, we learned a lot about “the family found”. I digress …

I don’t think I fully appreciated the gift of our support network until we went into lockdown. Yes, I have always been grateful for the amazing family and friends we had, but I didn’t just appreciate How? ‘Or’ What a lot, until we can’t see them anymore. In March 2020, we went from Sunday dinner at Nana and Papa’s house to Wednesday locked in our house, the five of us. Almost overnight, we found ourselves separated from our friends and family. I missed them, and I missed those light, happy moments together.

My husband and I, however, were fortunate enough to have some continuous time with our three little ones as well. And every day I was able to appreciate all the more, all the special things about my children and my husband; things they did or said that left me with a sidelong laughter. Like the time during my daughters’ kindergarten class at a distance, I caught my youngest twin sitting still with her hands up, tilted in opposite directions, and her head tilted to the side, because she loved to do it. appearing as his screen froze.

In those early days of the pandemic, I returned to those stories that I loved to write. Big families like the Audleys of my All the sins of the duke series. Large families made up of all unique individuals. The overprotective brother and the fiery and intelligent younger sister. The working brothers and sisters. The faithful and loving. Brothers bickering. Men and women we can each relate to in one way or another.

This is what I strive to create in the pages of my books – real people with their own unique quirks and personalities, and characteristics that leave a reader smiling, and even recognizing parts of themselves, or of the people they love, in the story.

I was asked: how can I balance humor and levity in my historical romances? The truth is… I don’t mean to write these light moments on purpose. I write rather people in my books, and they or they are the ones that fill me with an endless well of emotion that will sometimes leave a reader crying, sighing, and even laughing. The characters – their lives, their struggles, their experience, their love story – ultimately all constitute the balance.

And it’s so much a part of the Audley family in my All the sins of the duke series. Rafe and his siblings may have been fathered by a duke, but living and working in a mining town, they were removed from the Polite Society. As an author, I loved discovering who these characters are. It’s a family that’s rough around the edges and as real as any of us.

The lightness of my books comes from the characters themselves. I see every hero and heroine and every supporting character as these layered individuals who need to be fleshed out like real people are. What quirks are inherently theirs? And the relationships between each hero and heroine and their friends and family allow for the most beautiful dynamics.

Whatever the year, whether 2021 or 1821, families are families, and as it has been perfectly stated in the The Muppets take Manhattan: Peoples is Peoples.


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