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I grew up in Colorado at the foot of the Rocky Mountains, then lived in Denmark and traveled throughout Europe before coming back to Colorado. I have two adult sons, whom I cherish. I started my writing career as a columnist and investigative reporter and eventually became the first woman editor of two different papers. Along the way, my team and I won numerous state and several national awards, including the National Journalism Award for Public Service. In 2011, I was awarded the Keeper of the Flame Lifetime Achievement Award for Journalism. Now I write historical romance and contemporary romantic suspense.

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Seductive Musings

Tuesday, September 16, 2008

Please welcome Denise A. Agnew, our guest blogger


Delicious Research: Time Traveler
Denise A. Agnew
www.deniseagnew.com
www.myspace.com/deniseagnew


First of all, a hearty thank you to Pamela Clare for inviting me to her blog. I first started reading Pamela’s books earlier this year, and I’m so glad I did. All her books are awesome, and like all her fans, I can’t wait to read the next one.

I’ve written historical romances in the past, but have taken significant time out to write contemporaries. Why? Because my interest in historical writing comes as it comes. I can’t really write them on demand any more than I can write other novels on demand. I have to have a spark, and idea that grabs me by the throat. My time travel BRIDGE THROUGH THE MIST takes the reader back to 1318 Scotland. The hero, a Highlander, demanded that his rough and tumble world be created, and I said yes. After all, he did have that big sword and...oh, did I just say that out loud? I loved researching Scotland via books and computer, but in the 90’s I had the great fortune to visit Scotland several times. There’s nothing like being there...books and research can never convey quite the sounds, smells, visuals that visiting a country can. There’s nothing like standing in front of a great castle and savoring the wonder.

On the other hand, what if you’re writing a book set during the Jack the Ripper murders of 1888 London, England? I’ve always had a fascination for writing fictional stories based around true events, and because I’d been interested in Jack The Ripper’s antics for quite a while, I’d researched the heck out of it. When I took the plunge to write MIDNIGHT ROSE, I found all that fascination paid off.. It took about five months to create the first draft of the story, plus a few months more to revise and edit. I ended up with a very long manuscript, but one I was so proud of, and one that satisfied me to the core. When I had that big ole book in hand, I sighed with relief. Yes, this felt good. No, it felt fantastic.

When I wrote LOVE FROM THE ASHES, my story set during the 1906 San Francisco earthquake, the research once again consumed me. Because I’d always been interested in earthquakes, the science and the history of the event swept me up. Like an adventure, I rode the tide with the real life people who experienced the event, learned a lifetime of details. Again this story took me a long time to write, but once more the satisfaction was beyond compare. Where did I get the original idea for the story? I’d read that many marriage licenses were taken out the day after the earthquake. How romantic is that? So guess what my hero and heroine did? Yep, that’s right.

In ’06 a burning ache to write another historical started to consume me. Soon I possessed an inkling of where and when I wanted to set the story. Roman Britain. Oh, boy. If you want to cause shudders of dread in an author, tell them you are research ANYTHING to do with the Romans. Well, okay, some authors’ eyes will light up, other author’s mouths will round in a big O of admiration. Some will grunt and say how would I stand the research? I located tons of stuff on line and gobbled it up. I’d already accumulated two books on Roman Britain and read those. Then I bought books on the Roman Army and digested them with complete fascination. Watched my Gladiator DVD again. Watched my HBO Rome DVD set again. Sucked it all in. Wrote my notes about the plot, the characters, thought of their names. Soon I had a big, big idea for my book. Eventually I wrote the entire tome, then ended up having to clip away at it after my agent and I realized I’d overdone the history. (SIGH). And that heart-warming, excited feeling of accomplishment built within me. I love this story, and I hope someday you will all get to read it and enjoy as well. Wish me luck!

Earlier this year, I researched 1840’s and 1850’s Philadelphia and the surrounding area, the politics, the upheaval, the immigration of Irish to the area. I completed that book as well. Beyond that I’m also researching for a novel set in 1700’s France. I’m enjoying learning something new every day as I search the Internet and tap into research books.

As I explore history, I notice that nothing is new and everything repeats itself. These themes allow an author to create in infinite new ways. I’m continually drawn to big events and writing about how those events changed and altered people. How do a man and woman survive catastrophic occurrences and what do they learn from them?

Most of my historicals are out of print right now, but you can stop by my website any time and read excerpts from my contemporaries and from my time travel.

As a reader, what makes you happiest when you’re reading a historical? What draws you into the story? At the end of the day I’ll pick one person to receive a free download of my out of print historicals LOVE FROM THE ASHES or MIDNIGHT ROSE.

Thanks again, Pamela, for inviting me to your blog today.

28 comments:

You are so welcome, Denise!

I love doing research, as well. It is a kind of time travel for me. I love to lose myself in a time period and just drink in the experiences of people from that time.

COOL that you researched Rome. My undergrad degree is in classical archaeology, with grad work in Rome, Egypt and Cycladic cultures (which I love).

I went to your website and I LOVE your gallery of heroes. I want one on my website. LOL! What a fun way to showcase your sexy contemp heroes.

And super cool that you're having a contest! I'll step aside now and let someone else talk...

Ronlyn said...

Welcome Denise!!
Oh how fun! Pam knows that I've been on the hunt for "new-to-me" authors, so this is perfect timing for me! YAY!!
so, to answer your questions:
I LOVE History. I love seeing how the past unravelled and how that *one little decision* rippled out to impact so many things. It's crazy and so cool. So, when reading historicals I really enjoy when there's a firm grasp of what's going on politically and socially. Not that the author laments aobut the political climate for pages and pages, but that the characters are more than just 2 demensional sex fiends (although a bit of that is a good thing too.) *G*
When the characters are well rounded men & women who are interesting as individuals as well as a couple. When they "get it"...it being the whole picture.
I guess that is what captivates me, in a nutshell.

Thank you so much for blogging! It was wonderful to "meet" you.

Ronlyn

haleigh said...

Hi Denise,
Wow, the level of research you've done about so many different time periods is amazing. I'll bet you kill at Trivial Pursuit!

I love reading historicals for all the reasons you mentioned loving researching for them. There's so many fascinating stories throughout history, and as I don't have the patience to read history text books (*g*) I love learning about history through the stories and emotions and romance of characters.

Phyl said...

I confess, Denise, that I've not read your books before. But I want to now. I'm fascinated by the fact that you've written across such a variety of times and places.

As to your question, I have always loved history. Historical novels (romantic or not) are a great way to learn more while being entertained. I like being swept into a time or place that's so unfamiliar to me.

Hey Pam! It's very obvious that you love history. It comes out in your stories so well. You know how to weave the history seamlessly into the story and that's hard to do without overwhelming the reader. Archaeology is a passion of mine. I belonged to the Pikes Peak Chapter of the Colorado Archaeological Society from about 1985 to 1993 (left for Hawaii). In Hawaii there were no amateur archaeology groups and I didn't get a chance to participate. I wish I had volunteered at some digs when we lived in England!! My archaeology group here in Arizona just died out unfortunately. Thanks for the kudos on the heros. I stole that idea from someone else...can't think who it was now. I think it is a neat way to give readers an advance look.

Denise A. Agenw

Hi Ronlyn,
Thanks for stopping by today. :) I'm thrilled you're considering reading some of my work. When I wrote my Roman book and my Pennsylvania book, I couldn't help but have a tiny bit of the politics of the time leak in. It's unavoidable, I think, if you're giving the reader a taste of that world. But like you said, you don't want to saturate the reader, since it's a romance at heart. I think writing a historical can give the author an education at the same time it entertains the reader. Thanks again for stopping by to chat! Great to meet you, too.

Denise A. Agnew

Hi Haleigh,
Delighted to meet you. You know, I don't think I've ever played Trivial Pursuit. LOL! I love learning. I worked at two universities for a total of fourteen years. Through the first university I got two bachelors degrees and took quite a few other courses just for fun. BUT, I can't say I'd be interested in getting another degree. I'm enjoying writing full time. :) It's really a fantastic job. Where else can I set my own hours and create, create?

Denise A. Agnew

Hi Phyi!
I wish my historicals were widely available. :) I'm working on getting the Roman and the Pennsylvania book published, although the market for the Roman book is a tough one to crack. I'm also hoping to someday have my 1906 San Francisco and my Jack The Ripper book available again. Plus, I have a fantasy romance floating around out there looking for a home as well. Ah, the publishing life! As for my available books, the time travel is erotic romance, which I realize isn't for everyone. It depends on what you like. My erotic romance is definitely ROMANCE and the high level of sensuality is just a part of that. Speaking of history books, I just finished a great one this summer called "Devil In The White City" by Erik Larson and I highly recommend it. I want to read some of his other books, too.

Denise A. Agnew

Phyl said...

Denise,

After I left my first comment, I went to visit your website. (Very, very neat wallpaper, BTW!) I'm an ebook reader, so it will be easy to purchase some of your books. And I do like me some erotic romance, too. What fun!

Hey all! Pamela had a great idea for me. Since she'll have her new post up Thursday, I'll announce the winner that day instead of doing it tonight. That will give more people time to comment.

Denise A. Agnew

Phyl,
Awesome! Thanks for stopping by my site. I appreciate it and I'm so glad you like ebooks, too. By the way, if you have a My Space page, stop by and friend me at www.myspace.com/deniseagnew

Denise A. Agnew

Phyl said...

LOL! It's all I can do to remember to update my own blog more than once a month! So no, I've stayed away from MySpace. But I do appreciate the invite. I'll still be your friend, even if it isn't official! :-)

haleigh said...

Hi Denise,
I'm the same way. I work at a University as well. I love learning and so wish I could convince my students that they should love learning too! Maybe then they would listen in class......

That wonderful that you're able to write full time! As much as I (usually) like my job, I can't imagine anything better than writing and writing and writing all day long! Hopefully someday we will have the same wonderful job *g*

It's a deal Phyl. I didn't want to do My Space for some time, but it's worked well for me to be a part of it. :)

Denise A. Agnew

Haleigh,
I have to admit I don't miss working at the universities. They were a great experience, but fourteen years was enough. :) The full time writing job started for me when we moved to England in '96. At first I was actually afraid of writing full time. I was like, "whoa, I'm not bringing in any money." That was scary. But I had my husband's income to support me as well, just as I do now. Making a living wage as a writer is not an easy thing to do. But I still have a super life doing what I love. Even when things aren't perfect, all I have to do is remind myself I could be back at a university. LOL!

Denise A. Agnew

Laurie D. said...

Hey Denise and Pamela! I am a huge romantic suspense fan but I enjoy historicals too. Besides the obvious necessity of romance, I like descriptions of clothing and surroundings that work to pull you into the setting.

Thanks for being here, Denise! I'm looking forward to you guesting at my blog on the 29th!

Hi, Laurie!

Good to see you here. You're a woman after my own heart — historicals and R.S. :-)

You should post the URL to your blog so that we can all come peek.

Ronlyn, Haleigh, Phyl, good to see you here! Phyl, it's been a while. Great to have to pop in.

Hi Laurie! I'm late chiming in tonight because I had a meeting at my house. :) Looking forward to being on your blog, too. :) I'm everywhere! LOL.

Denise A. Agnew

Naz said...

Hey Denise

Its only afternoon here in Sydney I know that its late for you. Love the look of the new book cant wait to grab it when it comes out.

Hi Naz,

Thanks so much for taking time to stop by and say howdy. Goodonya! :)

Denise A. Agnew

Since all of you were so great stopping by to chat, I've decided to throw out the idea of ONE winner and say that all who commented can receive a free download. That's everyone who would like one! The two choices are LOVE FROM THE ASHES set during the 1906 San Francisco earthquake or MIDNIGHT ROSE, set during 1888 London and the Jack The Ripper murders. Never fear, Jack is not the hero. LOL. Anyhoo, everyone email me individually at danovelist@cox.net and we'll discuss which download you want.

Pamela, thanks again for having me here. I hope you'll be able to squeeze in a blog date with me over at The Bradford Bunch www.thebradfordbunch.com We'd love to see you there. Everyone here stop by and see us anytime!

Denise A. Agnew
www.deniseagnew.com

Phyl said...

Thank you, Denise! Email on the way.

Ronlyn said...

thanks so much Denise! you're so generous. ((hugs))

Denise, you are such a sweetheart! I know everyone will love your stories. I'm glad you had your husband's support for writing. I find it terribly difficult to do this as a single mom with a demanding (!) full-time job. I feel like I can never catch up at anything.

I didn't realize -- I'm sure you told me -- that you used to live in Colorado. Unless there's some other Pikes Peak somewhere else. Don't think so. I have a brain like swiss cheese... Cool that you are fascinated by archaeology, as well.

I always laugh watching Indian Jones movies. "You call this archaeology?!?" his dad shouts. Hahaha! Compare that to my cataloging some 130+ turkey ulna found in a neolithic midden at Chaeronea in Greece. Yes, freakin' turkey bones. I had to describe them, give their length and diameter in cm, and then research other findings of turkey ulna and connect any interesting cracks, breakages or knife marks with those found on turkey ulna around the world. THAT is archaeology. :-)

Laurie D. said...

You'll find my blog at http://lauries-laudanum.blogspot.com/ - Denise will be there on the 29th - I hope you'll all stop by!

Lori said...

Wow - that was so generous of Denise! I was so busy at work I didn't have time to check my blog reader :( Congrats to everyone! I've read Bridge on the Mist (as well as all the contemps) and really loved it, so am now off to go find the others.

Thanks, Denise, for paying us a visit here. I hope you'll stop by again! And thanks for being so generous. I'm sure there's lots of happy reading going on right now.

Pamela

JennJ said...

Hi Denise I am definitely going to have to check out your books they sound awesome! :)

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