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Tuesday, February 28, 2012

Research + The American Civil War = Romance?

Please welcome guest blogger Nancy Lee Badger

How does an author come up with off-the-wall ideas? Research. Today, I will explain why I set one of my signature paranormal dragon romances in Charleston, South Carolina, on the eve of the American Civil War.  

Many readers know I love to write about dragons. I usually base these stories in Scotland. I set DRAGON’S CURSE on the real Scottish island of Staffa.  I set DRAGON IN THE MIST on Loch Ness. Since I have not yet been fortunate enough to visit Scotland, I read books, travel magazines, and clicked all over the internet to discover all I could about the locations I decided to use in those novels.
Before SOUTHERN FRIED DRAGON was even a glimmer of an idea, I went on a trip to Charleston, South Carolina to commemorate the 150th Anniversary of the beginning of the American Civil War. I had ancestors that fought in the war. A couple of them died. Fort Sumter, in the Charleston Harbor, is where it all began. Imagine the thrill of discovering that we lived within hours of this historical site. (See links below)

Research started when I decided to take a trip for personal reasons, and went to the internet to research the island and its museum. Again, this was before I thought about using Charleston and the area as a setting for a book. The busy city is steeped in history. Once I arrived at the on-land museum, the informative storyboards and articles from the battle sparked ideas. Even the ferry ride proved inspiring…the water, the birds, and the distant walls of the fort all came together to form a story. I quickly started jotting notes.

On the island itself, I used my trusty camera to record photos of everything. Ideas sprang like rain through the holes in the fort’s upper defenses. What a rush! Back home, I set myself down and transcribed the notes I’d scribbled. I looked over the photos I’d taken. How could I use this trip to create a story with dragons, cannons, soldiers, and romance?

I imagined the men firing on the Fort Sumter soldiers from land-based forts that, up until the War Between the States began, were all Federal outposts. Wouldn’t one of these Fort Sumter soldiers make a great hero? But, how could I use the Civil War Sesquicentennial in a story with dragons?  

This is where imagination took over. Writing fiction allows the author a freedom to twist a character’s life to fit the story. I kept some of the history intact, using historical facts to flesh out my plot. I learned all I could about the cannons used, the men who fought there, and the outcome of the first battle of the Civil War.

The story I came up with quickly morphed into SOUTHERN FRIED DRAGON. I even had my husband, a history buff, read my manuscript before I sent it out to my editors. I was fortunate to have visited an important American national monument, but remember…research is available all around once an author takes the time to look.  

For more information on Fort Sumter and Charleston:

Fort Sumter National Monument http://www.nps.gov/fosu/index.htm
Ferry Service to Fort Sumter http://www.spiritlinecruises.com/sumter_overview.asp
Charleston, SC Welcome Center http://www.charlestoncvb.com/
South Carolina Aquarium  http://scaquarium.org/default.aspx


Nancy loves chocolate-chip shortbread, wool plaids wrapped around the trim waist of a Scottish Highlander, the clang of dirks and broadswords, and the sound of bagpipes in the air. Nancy lives the dream. After growing up in Huntington, New York, and raising two handsome sons in New Hampshire, Nancy moved to North Carolina where she writes full-time. She and her family continue to volunteer at the New Hampshire Highland Games each fall. Nancy is a member of RWA, Heart of Carolina Romance Writers, Sisters In Crime, FF&P Romance Writers, and the Celtic Heart Romance Writers. Nancy is a proud Army Mom, and she also writes romantic suspense as Nancy Lennea.

Check out my website www.nancyleebadger.com
And my blog www.RescuingRomance.nancyleebadger.com.
Twitter @NLBadger
Facebook http://on.fb.me/scmtx5


Southern Fried Dragon

Amid cannon fire, and the threat of Civil War, love and trust will find a way.  

Dru Little flew away from her home in a cave beneath a Scottish Island to end her lonely existence and find companionship across the sea. Her journey in late 1860 has led her to the modern American city of Charleston, South Carolina. Hiding her true self, she takes over the life of a serving girl and enjoys the hard life working in a tavern near the wharves. She has no idea that her life will turn upside down in a dark alley the moment a handsome soldier saves her life.

Lieutenant Shaw Stenhouse has his own worries. Southern secessionists are talking up a storm in Charleston. His fellow Federal soldiers are suddenly at risk from the community they are here to protect. The possibility of civil war takes a backseat when he saves a comely lass from drunken sailors. A good deed and a stolen kiss put a smile on his face until the threat of war becomes a reality. Their instant attraction proves disastrous when Dru spots her former lover, the Black Dragon, working for General Beauregard and the southern troops. As the clandestine group plans their attack on Fort Sumter, and Shaw’s soldiers, she takes to the sky.

Dru fights against the threat of detection, while she fears losing Shaw’s love. What will he do when he finds out that she is a powerful Scottish dragon Hell-bent on carrying him to safety? When Shaw discovers her hiding inside the heavily guarded fortress, thoughts of espionage—and worse—catapult the two lovers into danger from many sides.

When her former lover threatens Shaw, Dru must decide which is more important: protecting another of her kind, now nearly extinct, or protecting the human male, the man she has come to love.




5 comments:

Mickey said...

Nancy, your ideas for research are sure to inspire others to stretch their imaginations. Good article.

Kim B. said...

Love Nancy's books; this one is my new favorite! Her hard work and research shines through and jumps out of the pages.

Kathy said...

Will definitely be adding your book to my list to read!! Very inspiring :)

Nancy said...

Thanks for all your well wishes.

JC Page said...

Great addition Nancy! Am lookin forward to reading. Nothing better than a steamy romance surviving during war time; a critical turning point in US history. Can only imagine the hours of research you endured for this new amazing read. Thank-you.