Sunday, August 28, 2011
Welcome Amber Leigh Williams & the Importance of Good Research!
Winemaking – This research was for Forever Amore, my historical based in Italy, which was eventually published after several revisions. Before I wrote Forever Amore, I didn’t drink wine. During the research, however, it became inevitable and I eventually grew to love it. There’s so much history in winemaking. I find the organic process – especially that which was utilized in the early twentieth century – fascinating in itself. I watched many videos, printed out many pictures, and read many books that revolved around vineyards and winemaking. My favorite part of the winemaking research (besides the tastings) was the vineyard work. I even made my hero a worker in the heroine’s vineyard to better help him blend with the people around him and avoid capture. A lot of work goes into a vineyard, but there’s something romantic about it. In spring, when the buds begin to burst on the vines and the vines have grown tall enough to conceal the hero and heroine in a sunset stroll, romance was simply inherent!
Italian – While researching Forever Amore and reading books based in Italy, it became pretty clear that some knowledge of the Italian language was necessary. The plot revealed that the heroine would have to teach the hero Italian if he were to journey through the Italian countryside safely in disguise. I enjoyed learning French in school so I took to teaching myself rudimentary Italian. It came pretty easily, all except for distinguishing between the different greetings people use at different parts of the day. I transferred this confusion to the hero, Charles, in one of his first conversations with the heroine, Lucille….
“I already know a bit Italian,” he said in earnest as he followed her from the room that he would share with Roberto indefinitely.
“Really? How do you say ‘good morning’?”
He frowned. “Ciao?”
With a sigh, she descended the stairs ahead of him. “We have far to go.”
Rodeo – I joined the ranks of western romance authors with relish by signing up to write a novella in the Wayback, Texas series for The Wild Rose Press. And I dove into researching cowboys like a fish into water. For those who aren’t familiar with the series, Wayback is a rodeo town. I love cowboys. I love western animals. Research was no chore, especially when I was invited to a local rodeo and got to experience the whole thing firsthand. In other words, I was the eager wannabe cowgirl in pigtails and blue-jean skirt taking diligent notes in the first row. I uncovered those notes the other day and found both the name of the bull the hero of the first book in my Wayback trilogy rides as well as the hero’s first name. Somewhere in the world a bull named Jack the Ripper and a rodeo cowboy named Judd have been immortalized forever :)
Mythology – Currently, I’m working on research for a paranormal concept that involves a great deal of Greek mythology. I love mythology – it’s my storyteller paradise! At the moment, I’m learning a great deal about the god of war as well as the origins of mermaids of folklore – sirens! Sparta is another key area of research. It’s all too easy to get carried away. However, one of the best parts of research is uncovering new passions or indulging old ones. I’ve always loved Greek mythology and wanted to include it in some aspect of my writing. Now that I’ve found the perfect opportunity, my job just got a lot more fun!
Today I’m including an excerpt from Denied Origin, a romantic suspense available in paperback and ebook from The Wild Rose Press….
He knew all about the Taj Mahal’s tragic history. He knew it wasn’t the only great temple in India, but it was the most cherished, a very fitting tribute to beauty, a shrine of love and devotion. He knew it’d taken over two decades to complete and had been built by a Mughal emperor in honor of his beloved wife who’d died in childbirth.
Mark wondered how love such as that of the Mughal emperor and his Muslim princess could still exist now in a time defined by its greedy and power-hungry society. In a world where terror and fear reigned, Mark found it hard to believe a love like that was still a reality.
He glanced at Valentina and realized he was living that reality. He was full proof of it. He turned away from her, tried to convince himself he had no choice. But even with his mind determinedly set against it, this feeling was digging a home in his core, refusing to be stemmed or ignored.
As the train pulled into the station, Valentina stirred. It was midmorning and the sun was out, bright and full. She squinted out the window at Agra. “Are we getting off?”
Mark nodded as he rose to get their luggage. He threw the duffel over his shoulder before helping her to her feet. He tucked an arm around her shoulders. “Don’t leave my side,” he whispered as they wandered into the station.
He kept his eyes sharp. A sniper could be perched just out of view, a knife could be held just out of sight. His eyes passed over every face, studied them, judged them. He checked over his shoulder many times to make sure no one was following them. “We’ll go straight there.”
“Good,” she muttered. He knew she was also watching the crowd. “The sooner we leave this place the better.”
He didn’t relax, but slowly began to take in the sights as they walked quickly through the city streets. They walked through a large bazaar where the smell of spices was so strong he could almost feel them filtering through his lungs as he breathed deep to admit them. There weren’t many cars. There was the occasional elephant, more than a few horse-drawn carts, and various bicyclists.
All the people were tan with exotic eyes and peasant dress though they had a carefree air, a sense of peace and gratification. They’d been walking for some time when they came to a crowded iron bridge.
“Are we close?” She pressed close to Mark’s side as they squeezed into the traffic on the bridge.
He nodded, his eyes darting every which way, searching for the glare of a weapon. “This is the Yamuna River. The Taj is just across the bridge.”
After wriggling their way through the suffocating crowd, they broke out into the sunlight again. As soon as she saw the monument in the distance, she let out a surprised gasp. “Oh, Mark…”
He couldn’t help but grin at her surprise. “It’s even better up close and personal, huh?”
Her gasp melded fluidly into an awestruck sigh. “Oh, it’s gorgeous—more than I imagined.”
“We have to go through the south entrance,” Mark advised, guiding her onward. “Not much further.”
Find out more about Denied Origin, Forever Amore, and my western romance trilogy at my website: www.amberleighwilliams.com! Thank you for hosting me, Alison! I enjoyed talking about my favorite research topics.
Readers, what people, places or things do you most like learning about through your TBR list?
Thanks, Amber! Great advice and information! Denied Origin sounds like my kind of scavenger hunt and who can resist a title like Forever Amore!
Next week: Marie Tuhart