Monday, December 6, 2010

Emery Lee Shares Writing Tip #4

I've had the great pleasure of reading a lot of debut authors lately--and I'm loving it! Today I'm going to introduce you to Emery Lee. Her book, The Highest Stakes, grabbed me in and didn't let go! Emery brought history to life amidst romance, war and horse racing! I found a new favorite hero in Robert Devington. And can you tell I was thrilled when I found out there is a sequel revolving around Robert's friend/foe Phillip?

Emery is going to talk about setting and then answer a couple of questions I asked her.

Setting as Character or Bringing a Bygone World to Life by Emery Lee

As a writer of historical fiction, creating a setting equally as compelling as the characters is one of the biggest, but most important, challenges. This is even truer for writers of fantasy fiction, where one creates an entirely new world in the reader’s mind, but since I write historical, we will concentrate solely on this genre for the purpose my brief discussion.

When I first submitted my manuscript to Sourcebooks, my editor Deb Werksman, gave me one very clear injunction - “Build your world.” Taking this completely to heart, I have made it my onus as an author to bring my era, the Georgian period, vividly to life.

But how does one do that when all time has left us are dusty old history tomes dryly documenting events and lives of people long dead?

I began by immersing myself in the 18th century as history relates it by reading (and often skimming) at least a dozen history books. I concentrated on the major events and politics from the time George I was crowned until his grandson George III assumed the throne (a span of approximate 50 years).

From history, I moved on to the society and culture of the times. I read plays and novels by Henry Fielding, Samuel Richardson, and John Gaye. I studied the satirical art of William Hogarth who was not only a great artist, but also a brilliant social commentator. I listened to the music of the period by the Baroque composers who I have come to appreciate deeply.

Lastly, and most importantly, I read diaries, letters, and memoirs, works surviving the ages, in which the true voices of their subjects yet live. This is how I developed my own 18th century writer’s voice, by adopting the style and manners of the real people of the age.

Having laid this solid foundation in world building, I then moved on to study the true subject of my first novel, 18th century horseracing. In much of the novel, I drew on my personal experience with horses, and tapped into professional resources to fill in any knowledge gaps.
The question of how the thoroughbred horse came into being and why, were already subjects of fascination to a lifelong equine lover but I wondered- Who were the men who raised and raced this magnificent specimen of nature? What compelled them to spend and to wager fortunes on this obsession? THE HIGHEST STAKES answers these questions, but all in the context of a love story!

Having already laid the foundation of the era in my first novel, I was semi-prepared to begin the second, FORTUNE’S SON, but I had yet to worm my way into the gambling world. Not just cards and dice, mind you! The gentlemen of Georgian England bet on EVERYTHING! This meant recreating the rattling dice and spinning E-O wheels of the gaming rooms, and the stench and blood of the cockpits and pugilism rings, not to mention the horseracing!

I hope the following excerpts on GOODREADS will give you the flavor of this bygone era, as I warmly welcome you to the 18th century world of Emery Lee!
Link to excerpts on Goodreads :

In THE HIGHEST STAKES, a tale of thwarted love and horseracing, Ms. Lee transports the reader to a world where racing and breeding were the obsession of the uppermost elite, and a match race might easily replace a duel in settling a point of honor. Upon this high stakes turf of England and Colonial Virginia, a tale of drama, danger, thwarted love, and retribution unfurls...

In the upcoming FORTUNE'S SON, second in her Georgian era trilogy, Emery Lee spins a web of drama, passion, and deceit, deep in the world of high stakes gaming, when a chance meeting at a Hazard table between a seasoned gamester, and a courtier of a prince, changes their destinies as unpredictably as a roll of the dice.

Emery Lee is a member of Romance Writers of America, Georgia Romance Writers, and The Historical Novel Society. She is married with two children, owns two horses, and currently resides in NE Georgia.


Question 1:
Lindi P------The Highest Stakes was an amazingly detailed novel full of historical facts and details. Yet all the information was woven in so well. How long do you "prepare" before you actually write the book?

Emery ---------As I discussed in my guest blog, my preparation was very extensive. I had a story in my head but an incomplete foundation on which to build it. I spent months of research before I was ready to write, but that same research will now carry into several other novels.

Question 2:
Lindi P----------I must say Robert Devington is one of my favorite heroes. Was he inspired by anyone?

Emery L-----------Robert was actually an amalgam of several people, but his heroism in battle was modeled after a young trooper named Thomas Brown of Bland's King's Own Dragoons who rescued the Guidon at the Battle of Dettingen. Devington was a great character, although Philip was my personal favorite. (You’ll see much more of Philip in FORTUNE’S SON)

Question 3:
Lindi P-----------Your love and knowledge of horses is obvious after reading The Highest Stakes. Where did that love come from? I think I read where you own a horse or two. Care to share their name(s) and tell us a little about them?

Emery L-----------I have been in love with horses almost as long as I can remember, but my first actual experience was at six years old, shortly after my family moved from town to a big house in the country. One day my father and grandfather went out together and returned with two horses and two ponies. It was love at first sight.
Since that time, I have owned over a dozen horses (including those bought for family members.) I have trained my own horses, shown them, and have taught all of my family to ride. I currently own two, a palomino quarter horse named Doc, and a lovely Arabian named Princeton.

Emery is going to check in with us today! So please, post a comment or you can ask her a question. Anyone who does post a comment or a question will be in the drawing for a copy of The Highest Stakes.

I want to thank Emery for being here today. I'm a firm believer of word of mouth being the best advertising. And I wanted everyone to know about this really great book.

Thanks Emery!!


  1. Thanks for being on FAITH, Emery! I enjoyed your post. I am at the point of needing to do a lot of research for a contemporary novel I'm working on. I haven't been able to start writing because there are too many gaps, research related. I think your post may have inspired me and reminded me that this won't happen overnight - the way I want it to!

  2. Very informative post! Thanks Emery for sharing your knowledge!

  3. Christy==Emery has a lot of great detail and information in her novel and she manages to weave it in seamlessly. You learn, you love, you learn to love. And Emery has a passion for what she writes--that is evident as well.
    When are you going to do another accountablity challenge? Soon I hope!

  4. Edwina--Hi!! Thanks for stopping by. You are in the drawing!

  5. Great interview! Emery, thanks so much for being with us today! Lindi has been raving about your book. :)

    Great cover, btw!

  6. Great interview. Love, Emery. Besides being a great writer she is also as genuine and sweet as they come. Miss you at GRW!
    Lindi, so glad you read her book. I told you it was fantastic!! :)

  7. Thanks for succinct and useful information about using setting as a character in fiction. I'm recommending this blog to several other writers. As always, good reading about writing.

  8. Hey, Ciara! I'll miss seeing y'all at the next GRW meeting. It's my son's birthday. The big 16! :)

  9. Alice, thanks for passing along the link!

  10. Ciara--Hi! Glad you stopped by. I guess we can say you kind of started this whole post. I know I learned a lot from reading Emery's book.
    What Lindi learned---slow down-pay attention to detail.

  11. Alice--Hi to you! Thanks for the shout out to other blogs. I know I do that too when I find a useful post that I know others will enjoy. We appreciate you visiting our blog. I hope Regina can get over here!

  12. Missy--I'll miss the meeting too. I have a family Christmas party.

  13. Thank you all so much for having me on your lovely blog and for allowing me to share my thoughts on research and world building!

    As you can tell, "getting it right historically" is rather an obsesssion with me, but I also don't want to bore people to death with history lessons. I think that creating a vivid setting enriches every work of fiction, but is truly essential in historical works.

    This attention to detail is what creates authenticity in the reader's mind, and clearly serves to differentiate between true historical vs wallpaper romance. The author's challenge is to work in these elements that make the setting "real" in an interesting fashion.

    Now for my side note- I am relocating from Texas to Georgia in 2 weeks and look forward to getting to know you all much better at GRW in the coming year!

    And again, thank you all for such kind support of my debut, THE HIGHEST STAKES.

  14. That's great, Emery! We'll look forward to seeing at upcoming meetings.

  15. Great info, Emery. Thanks for taking the time to post.

  16. Hi Dianna! Hope all is well with you.

  17. Emery, you are definitely emerged in your time period, as evidenced when you called people "subjects". It's always great to learn something from reading a book and I'm sure your book wouldn't disappoint.

  18. Eva--Yes, when you read the book you do feel totally immersed in the time period. I loved that whole aspect!

  19. Hi Eva and Lindi-
    All too true! Sometimes I feel like those half-mad method actors!I love the Georgian era and it lends itself well to my naturally formal writing voice. Although I would like to explore other time periods in the future (Edwardian is another favorite) I don't expect to ever attempt urban fantasy LOL!

  20. Inspiring way to learn history and apply it! Thank you.

    I have 2 horses too. Okay, one is a mini, but he has a Napoleon complex and stands on a hill to be eye to eye with our standard sized horse ;-)