Award-winning historical romance author Christine King has once again returned to the stark contrast of Regency high society London and the wilds of the North Yorkshire coast for her latest book, Stolen Innocence.
We met up with Christine, who’s based in Stockton, to find out more.
Stolen Innocence is actually the first book you wrote… what was it that made you hold onto it and release it now after the others?
I wrote Stolen Innocence about ten years ago and it was the first novel I had ever written. I was inspired by a television programme, City of Vice, which was a series inspired by the Fielding brothers, magistrates of the Georgian era who were two of the founders of the famous Bow Street Runners, the first organised police force in Britain (if not the world!). The stories concentrated on the underbelly life of Georgian London and the rampant vice and crime which existed at the time.
I had the idea of a girl who, through no fault of her own, was sucked into this world, and how she would become part of it and I used to lay awake at night with ideas and the story running around in my mind. Eventually one night I got out of bed, switched on the computer at 11pm and by 2am I had written the first chapter! I wrote the book in six weeks and entered it into a competition for new writers a few weeks later. I didn’t win but they provided some useful feedback, essentially that it was a good idea but needed a lot of work to make the characters more rounded and provide back stories for the protagonists. Basically, it was a very raw first novel!
So I put it away and got on with writing my second book. I entered this one, The Blade And The Dove, into the same competition a year later and this time I won! I followed this with two more novels and every now and again I would take out Stolen Innocence and do a little bit of work on it but always put it away until I was ready to give it the attention it deserved.
During 2020, I decided to rework the book and, admittedly, as I knew it would be, it was a little raw, grammatically bad and the story line needed revamping so I got to work and finally, eighteen months later finally published the book through Sixth Element Publishing.
As with your other books, the story spans the length of the country from London society to the wilds of Yorkshire… what it is about that contrast that you find so fascinating?
Since leaving home at the age of 18, I have lived in various locations throughout the country, from the big city of Bristol to the quiet of Great Ayton in North Yorkshire with periods spent in Weston super Mare and Cornwall in between. I loved reading the Regency novels of Jane Austen and Georgette Heyer and found the social scene described by these writers absolutely fascinating… the balls, the soirees, the clothes, the formal codes of conduct by the High Society of Georgian England (the Ton). With this in mind, I always wanted to introduce an element of that period during the so-called Season which operated in the social calendar of the time.
In comparison, I also wanted to explore the more rural aspect of life, the slow country life before the time of the industrial revolution which was even then beginning, during the period my books are set. My love of the countryside, village life and the seas surrounding our beautiful country all called to me to set my stories around these shores.
You’re staying with the Regency period in this new book. What draws you to that time and how do you research the details you include in your books?
I find all periods of history interesting and would love to write novels from other time periods, including Tudor and going back to Viking times. I touched on the Roman invasion of Britain in my book, Echoes of The Stones, and have ideas for stories from other eras. I am also working on a novel set in the present – hopefully that will be ready to be published for Christmas next year as it’s a story touching on my other favourite genre, i.e. a ghost story set around a haunted house at Christmas.
I must admit, I am very drawn to the Regency period and find it a very romantic and exciting era. I do spend time researching the details of the books, as I know readers are very quick to pull you up if you get anything wrong. For instance in Smuggler’s Moon, I spent time investigating the smugglers’ routes and habits during that era. I read up on the different types of ships used, the areas along the north east coast where smuggling was rife, the names of some famous smugglers of the time and the punishments meted out if they were captured. I was a bit worried when I researched Scarborough Castle because I based a prison there and thought if I was wrong I would get complaints, but as it happened a bit of research confirmed that during the Napoleonic wars, it had been used as a prison for French captives! As my story is set just after the Napoleonic wars, I was on quite safe ground. Seriously though, I spend a lot of time researching and making sure the details in my stories are as accurate as possible.
What are you working on next?
I have a few short stories I’m hoping will be appearing in future Harvey Duckman Presents anthologies and apart from the spooky Christmas story, I have an idea for another historical romance, this one set on the high seas with characters from previous novels, who have grown up and it’s their story this time! Unfortunately, as the time has now moved on from the Regency, it will be early Victorian so more research is now required!