19 January 2016

Guest Post ~ Bringing historic romance to life in a series, by Jayne Castel

Follow the stories of four incredible women - Raedwyn, Freya, Saewara, and Cynewyn - and their search for love and freedom in a world dominated by the warrior and the sword.  The Kingdom of the East Angles is a series of historical romance novels set in 7th Century Anglo-Saxon East Anglia, England.

Available on Amazon US and Amazon UK

Bringing historic romance to life in a series

The beauty of writing an historic romance series – as opposed to straight historical fiction – is that you get to start each new book with fresh characters. I enjoy novels that follow the same protagonists through many books – Bernard Cornwall’s ‘The Last Kingdom’ series is one my favourites – but it just doesn’t work in historical romance.

Romance focuses on the developing love story between the hero and heroine and should end with them facing a happy future together. If you create a sequel involving your two protagonists, then the genre morphs into a historic saga, rather than romance.

Creating an historic romance series

I’ve seen writers create a historical romance series in two ways – either by following the love-stories within a family or by using the same historical setting and picking up a year or two after the first story ends with a fresh romance.

The first option is the one I see most often in historical romance: brothers or sisters in a family who one-by-one become the focus of the story, and live their own adventures.

The second option – and the one I use – needs a strong a historical setting, one that readers can return to with a sense of familiarity. It helps if you can overlap each book with some of the same characters. Sometimes, I like to introduce the hero or heroine for one of my next books as a minor character in a novel, that way when readers pick up the next novel in the series there’s a natural sense of progression.

A journey into Anglo-Saxon England

I focused my series on the reign of three 7th Century East Anglian Kings: Raedwald, Sigeberht and Annan. These novels span eight years, from 624 to 631 A.D – at a time when the East Anglian Kingdom's power was beginning to wane under the threat of Mercia. It’s a highly specific setting, centred around the town of Rendlaesham, which was the seat of the East Anglian king.

My inspiration began with the Sutton Hoo burial – and the great Saxon long ship archaeologists unearthed there. Many believe it was King Raedwald (the king who appears in the first book of my series) who was buried at Sutton Hoo. My mother is from East Anglia and I have spent a bit of time there, so writing about a flat marshy landscape with wide skies and a wild shingle coast was easy.
As I wrote the series,

I noticed a theme running through all three books: that a male dominated world breeds strong women. My heroines: Raedwyn, Freya and Saewara are all searching for love, and freedom, despite the roles and demands placed on them.

They are brave, resourceful and independent, and they all want a man who sees them as an equal. I think many people imagine Anglo-Saxon England as a time of great oppression for women – especially compared with the modern world – but that’s not how I see it. Whether you were born in Ancient Egypt or Victorian England, what women want emotionally  from a man hasn’t changed much over the centuries.

So, in a nutshell, here is what The Kingdom of the East Angles is about:

In Dark Under the Cover of Night, Raedwyn is a king’s daughter who falls in love with the son of her father’s archenemy. In the end, she must choose between love and duty.

In Nightfall till Daybreak, Freya is a king’s slave who struggles to regain her freedom. However, her plans are complicated by her growing attraction to the man who leads the king’s army.

In The Deepening Night, Saewara is forced to marry the king of an opposing kingdom. Torn between loyalty to her people and her growing love for her new husband, she must decide where her allegiance truly lies.

I also wrote a prequel novella to the series: NIGHT SHADOWS, which I’ve included in the series as a free bonus! You can also get a copy of the novella for free, if you sign up to my newsletter on my website. This is a tale of ‘second chance’ love between Cynewyn, an ealdorman’s daughter, and one of her father’s spearmen, who she had spurned ten years earlier.

Jayne Castel
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About the author

Jayne Castel writes Historical Romance set in 7th Century Anglo-Saxon England. Two of her novels Dark Under the Cover of Night, and Nightfall till Daybreak reached the quarter finals of the Amazon Breakthrough Novel Awards in 2013 and 2014. Jayne writes historical romance adventures about warrior heroes and strong-willed heroines. She weaves powerful love stories into meticulously researched stories about honor, valor, loyalty and vengeance. Find out more at Jayne's website: www.jaynecastel.com, and find her on Facebook and Twitter @JayneCastel

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