Thursday, 27 October 2011

Guest post: On Location with Romancing the Countess by Ashley March + Giveaway

Today I am very happy to welcome to Ex Libris historical romance author Ashley March who is on a book tour around the world celebrating the release of her latest novel: ROMANCING THE COUNTESS! Ashley was kind enough to share with us a secret, the kind I love: discovering more about the behind the scenes of a book and how she found the perfect real place location for her novel! Please give her a warm welcome, read on and answer Ashley's question and you could win a copy of ROMANCING THE COUNTESS!

by Ashley March

A huge thank you to Stella for hosting me today as I continue celebrating the release of my newest book, ROMANCING THE COUNTESS!

In ROMANCING THE COUNTESS, an important part of the story happens at a country house party in Wiltshire. I’ve never been to Wiltshire, have certainly never been to England (although I have hopes for my 10th wedding anniversary!). In fact, I only picked Wiltshire because it didn’t sound familiar (i.e. hadn’t heard it as a location in many other English historicals), and because I simply liked the name. Wiltshire. There’s a certain noble, poetic ring to it, don’t you think? =)

But once I made the random decision that I did want to use Wiltshire as the location for the house party, I had to do some research. What did the landscape look like? Were there a lot of trees? Hills? Was it barren? Did certain types of flowers or trees that I wanted to include in the story even grow there? (Yes, small details like that do come up.) Since railroads were in existence by the time period of my story (mid-19th century), I looked up what cities the railroads crossed. This also helped when my heroine had to go into a nearby town to see a dressmaker toward the end of the house party.

One of the main things I found out about the landscape of Wiltshire is that there are a lot of chalk hills, although these are mostly farther south.

I also found that that there are multiple carvings of horses in the chalk hills, the earliest one going back to 878AD. I did not include this in the book as I set the house part in the northeast part of the county, but thought it was an interesting detail.
While I did find that there were trees in Wiltshire, as you can see from the pictures above they weren’t many near the chalk hills. And for the country house party I wanted there to be trees. And a lake. (I’m from East Texas—I love trees and lakes.) So I did a little more research and found a part of the county in the northeast where there were fewer chalk hills and more trees: Swindon. (Swindon is also the name of the largest town, and where I sent my heroine to meet with a dressmaker.)

Then I found Lydiard Park, a 17th century Palladian house in Swindon, and this is what I began picturing for the George estate in ROMANCING THE COUNTESS, Linley Park.

And a note of interest: Lydiard Park is open to the public year-round, so if you ever happen to go to Swindon, Wiltshire, West England, you can visit the estate that was the basis for Linley Park in ROMANCING THE COUNTESS. =)

Finding pictures of places like the ones above help me to “see” my characters and the places where they go when I write. I can become more immersed in the story because I feel in a way as if I’ve visited the places myself. What about you as a reader? Do seeing visual images of the landscape and similar houses to the ones featured in a book help you to picture yourself there? Would you ever visit the locations or basis of locations from your favorite books? If you could visit any particular place (city, county, country) because you read about it in a romance novel, where would you go?

One random commenter will be chosen to win a copy of my newest book, ROMANCING THE COUNTESS!

Sebastian Madinger, the Earl of Wriothesly, thought he'd married the perfect woman-until a fatal accident revealed her betrayal with his best friend. After their deaths, Sebastian is determined to avoid a scandal for the sake of his son. But his best friend's widow is just as determined to cast her mourning veil aside by hosting a party that will surely destroy both their reputations and expose all of his carefully kept secrets...

Leah George has carried the painful knowledge of her husband's affair for almost a year. All she wants now is to enjoy her independence and make a new life for herself-even if that means being ostracized by the Society whose rules she was raised to obey. Now that the rumors are flying, there's only one thing left for Sebastian to do: silence the scandal by enticing the improper widow into becoming a proper wife. But when it comes to matters of the heart, neither Sebastian nor Leah is prepared for the passion they discover in each other's arms....

Also, find out how to win the ROMANCING THE COUNTESS Book Tour Grand Prize of 50+ romance novels by visiting!


As Ashley said above, one lucky commenter will win their own copy of ROMANCING THE COUNTESS!

All you have to do is:

1) Answer Ashley's question highlighted in yellow above, and
2) leave me a way to contact you (e-mail address, Twitter handle, etc.)

Giveaway is open worldwide and ends on 4 November 2011!

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