Great Victorian Era Map I Found…

Hi Folks,

While out researching where my heroine was going to live in London, I came across this Poverty Map that showed a few streets on the East End of town. My heroine isn’t going to live in this area, but I thought the map was marvelously interesting to see the areas of blue and black and the comparable red. Couldn’t find yellow or pink easily… or what I see as white might have meant to be yellow. Who knows.

Poverty map of Old Nichol slum, East End of London, showing Bethnal Green Road, from Charles Booth’s Labour and Life of the People. Volume 1: East London (London: Macmillan, 1889). The streets are colored to represent the economic class of the residents: Yellow (“Upper-middle and Upper classes, Wealthy”), red (“Lower middle class – Well-to-do middle class”), pink (“Fairly comfortable good ordinary earnings”), blue (“Intermittent or casual earnings”), and black (“lowest class…occasional labourers, street sellers, loafers, criminals and semi-criminals”)
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Interview with Historical Romance Author, Ashley March

Hi Everyone!

I was lucky enough to score an interview with author Ashley March. I am so excited to have her on my blog. Her novels are especially interesting because not only are they written during the Victorian Era, but also because they are considered Reconciliation novels versus straight romance. A definite niche in the market.

Ashley March

Here’s a little about Ashley, from her own website www.ashleymarch.com:
After spending countless hours memorizing both traditional and simplified Chinese  characters, perfecting her tones, and practicing her speaking with any Chinese  native she could find, Ashley successfully graduated with a degree in Mandarin  Chinese. She was determined to be the next best Chinese translator in the  world… Then she discovered writing historical romances was as much fun as  reading them, and her Chinese capabilities have never been the same. When she  isn’t writing sexy, emotional historical romances set in the  Victorian Era, Ashley stays busy trying to entertain her two young daughters,  attempting to do housework, and hiking in the beautiful foothills of  Colorado.
And now on to my very first interview.
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If you woke up in a jail cell – who would be sitting next to you, and what would be the first words out of your mouth? I’d say, “Well, this sucks” to the dissident sitting beside me because we’d both been arrested for insulting King Henry VIII and his proclivity for arresting/beheading those who didn’t agree with his policies. (What, you expected me to NOT think in historical terms? 😉 )
What has been the single biggest change in your life since you’ve become a published author? Trying to be “present” when I spend time with my family. I have a large to-do list, and I must always try to concentrate on leaving my author persona to the hours of the day when I’m not with my family. They are my number one priority, and I want them to know that by my interactions with them.
Who are some of your favorite authors, in or out of the romance genre? In no particular order, my favorite romance authors are Lisa Kleypas, Julie Anne Long, Laura Lee Guhrke, and Sherry Thomas. There are many, many more, but it would be a VERY long list. 🙂 Because I don’t have a lot of time to read I typically stick with romance, but the last non-romance book that I remember making an impression on me was the historical fiction novel I, ELIZABETH by Rosalind Miles. What are you reading right now? THE RAKE AND THE RECLUSE by Jenn LeBlanc. It’s an illustrated time-travel romance written by a fellow Colorado author and I’ve heard so many great things about it that I knew I had to read it myself. If only I had more time–I’m lucky if my schedule allows me to read a chapter a week.
Your novels are set in the Victorian Era – what about that time period so appeals to you? What are your favorite parts of it? I enjoy that SO MUCH happened during the Victorian Era, and I don’t mean because it spanned multiple decades. Changes occurred constantly, both in England and abroad. The dark tone we usually associate to the era appeals to me (as opposed to the lighter tone of the Regency); the transition from the power being held by the aristocracy to the middle class; new innovations and inventions; the advance of medicine and education. I don’t think I’ll ever run out of ideas for new stories.
Do you write your stories with a particular message in mind? And if so, is that clear from the beginning, or does it take shape during the course of writing? As of right now it appears to me that my author theme is forgiveness/healing, as these seem to be very important in both SEDUCING THE DUCHESS and ROMANCING THE COUNTESS. However, I don’t have a particular message or theme in mind when I begin writing a book. My goal is to discover who the characters are as I write; even after plotting the book I usually end up (pleasantly) surprised by who they become and what they do.
On your website – you alluded to being very interested in Chinese, what aspect, the language, the history, etc? And do you plan on incorporating that interest into any of your future novels? I’m a polyglot. I love languages (even I though I can no longer speak those I’ve studied). It was the challenge of the Chinese language that initially attracted me, but as I find so often when learning a language, soon you become enamored with the people, the culture, and the history as well. I would love to visit China some day. I’ve played with the thought of a Chinese setting or characters, but usually an idea has to strike me first to be able to plot out a novel. Once an idea hits me for a Chinese setting or character, then I won’t be able to help myself. However, it hasn’t happened yet.
What is the craziest/worst writing advice you’ve ever received (and promptly ignored)? Before I was published, I had someone critique my writing and tell me that you’re absolutely not supposed to use the word “was.” This is an example of someone learning about the misuse of the passive voice and taking it to the extreme.
Thank you so much, Ashley, for taking the time for this interview! For anyone that would like a copy of her debut novel SEDUCING THE DUCHESS, please leave a comment and tell me what the “Craziest or Worst Writing Advice YOU’VE Ever Received” and I’ll choose a commentor at random to have the book shipped to. And don’ t miss the next release of Ashley’s, out Sept. 7, 2011, ROMANCING THE COUNTESS.

SEDUCING THE DUCHESS - Win a copy!