Friday, August 22, 2008

Guest Blogger ~ Lindsay Townsend

Greetings, Title Magicians, today we have a wonderful lady and a most splendid author, Lindsay Townsend, with us who pens remarkable and atmospheric romance novels, the kind of novel you can lose yourself in, and simply be transported to another time and place.
Reading Lindsay Townsend's Flavia's Secret is an opportunity to experience living in Roman times, and to immerse yourself in a love story as it could have occurred in that culture. There is something truly magical about how Lindsay writes, as if she herself is living during the Roman period, observing, then transcribing the story for all of us.

Five Reasons Why I Love the Genre of Historical Romance.

Hello, and thank you to TITLE MAGIC for having me along today! I'm a British writer, living and working in the United Kingdom, mainly in Yorkshire. I'm married and I write full time for Kensington Zebra and Bookstrand of Siren-Bookstrand.

When I was first published, I began as a writer of modern romantic suspense. I still love that genre but writing for Kensington and Bookstrand has given me the chance to return to my first love, historical romance.

"Why do you like it so much, a girl-friend asked me over coffee recently. History is the past. Everyone's dead!" That made me think - WHY do I like historicals and history so much? I suppose in a wider sense we all live always in the past - we are a collection of past memories and experiences that forms us and makes us what we are. My mum, who is 85, has sadly lost most of her short-term memory and is tremendously affected with the loss of that personal 'history'. Even on a one to one basis, history is important.

Here are 5 more reasons why I love the genre:

1. The chance for high stakes and adventure. (This is where history and romantic suspense tend to come close together and perhaps why so writers of romantic suspense such as Mary Stewart tend to write both historicals and moderns.) In a historical romance, I can choose when and where to set the story, so I choose to set my stories in situations of great personal conflict and outer tension. With my ancient historical novel, FLAVIA'S SECRET, set in ancient Roman Britain in AD206, the stakes for Flavia and the hero Marcus are life and death. To save her life and the lives of her fellow slaves, Flavia has forged a vital document, and she does not know if she can trust her new master Marcus, to whom she is also passionately attracted. For his part, Marcus wishes to expose a corrupt and brutal Roman official, the Decurion Lucius Maximus, a man who, if crossed, is quite happy to commit murder.The whole issue of slavery is also explored in FLAVIA'S SECRET - it's many terrors and cruelties. There is also love and tenderness, as there was in the Roman world itself, where we have gravestones showing that masters did free and marry their slave-women companions.

2. Glorious Heroes. In the past, the roles of men have been perhaps more defined by martial qualities, by their roles as warriors. This can lead to unpleasant, brutish individuals but I like to explore its other positive aspect in my historicals - the man as a valiant protector. The ideals of chivalry explored in my medieval historical romances for Kensington did inspire men in the twelfth century to be less crude and consider their womenfolk - at least noble-womenfolk. In my writing, I make this chivalry extend to all women and children, as I feel the ideal was intended. I love the idea of a strong man who can rescue the heroine. So in my Kensington Zebra Debut title, A KNIGHT'S VOW, I have the hero Guillelm care for and protect the heroine Alyson - who also cares for and protects him in turn.

3.Enterprising Heroines. Because women sadly are still oppressed in many parts of the world and were particularly oppressed in the past, writing about my heroines in a past where they were automatically belittled simply because of their sex gives me lots of opportunities for conflict. My heroines must battle for their places in the world and they do so, with their wits and beauty and knowledge. Often in the past women could also be powerful figures - think of Eleanor of Aquitaine - with control of lands and men. I like to explore that in my stories, too and I think it's very empowering for women.

4. Exotic and Exciting Settings. I can show cathedrals and castles when they were new or being built. Living in the United Kingdom, I can explore many part of the medieval and Roman worlds - as I did when I set FLAVIA’S SECRET in Bath, in the Roman baths at Bath. (This is a wonderful, sensual, sexy setting!) For my forthcoming new Kensington Zebra medieval, A KNIGHT’S CAPTIVE, I explore the mysterious fenlands in 1066 and London under Norman occupation.

I can also show the pyramids when they still had their white limestone coverings and Egyptian temples when they were vibrant places of faith, as I do in my forthcoming Bookstrand historical BLUE GOLD. I can also use the setting in a more intimate way, as I do in my forthcoming Bookstrand historical ESCAPE TO LOVE, where the hero and heroine are at the Roman holiday resort of Baiae, infamous even then for its wild boating parties and debauchery.

5. Lovely costumes. I know this is possibly a frivolous reason for enjoying writing about the past, but throughout history there have been some truly spectacular fashions! Read about what Roman and Medieval women really wore in my books and you'll see why I like them so much. And I must admit, I'm a sucker for a man in armour...
Thanks again for having me along, Title Magic! I hope people find this interesting and enjoy it. If people have any questions, please contact me here or on my email at .

Flavia’s Secret
Lindsay Townsend
How far dare you trust your lover? Especially when your lover is also your master.....
Spirited young Celtic scribe Flavia longs for freedom. She and her fellow slaves in Aquae Sulis (which in modern England is the town of Bath) have served the Lady Valeria for many years, but their mistress's death brings a threat to Flavia's dream: her new master, Marcus Brucetus, a charismatic, widowed officer, toughened in the forests of Germania. Flavia finds him overwhelmingly attractive, but she is aware of the danger. To save her life and those of her 'family', she has forged a note from her mistress. If the deception is discovered, all the slaves may die.
For his part, torn between attraction and respect, Marcus will not force himself on Flavia. Flavia by now knows of his grief over the deaths of his wife, Drusilla, and their child; but how can she match up to the serene, flame-haired Drusilla?
As the wild mid-winter festival of Saturnalia approaches, many lives will be changed forever.

An exciting mystery set in ancient Italy and Rome. The romance between Flavia and Marcus is strong and passionate and the mystery is intriguing. Very enjoyable. 4.5 red roses. Morna

For my Bookstrand titles, on the Sirenbookstrand blog: as well as at the publisher’s website:

A Knight’s Vow
Lindsay Townsend

Kensington Books

'Sir Guillelm has returned! The son of Lord Robert has come back to us!'.....
Would he remember her? She had been fourteen years old when he had answered the call of his kinsman, Raymond of Poitiers, and gone with him to the Holy Land. He had been in the exotic, dusty lands of Outremer for seven long years and she had despaired of ever seeing him again.


You can read more about my novels, blurbs, extracts and reviews, on my blog:


Savanna Kougar said...

Hi Lindsay, welcome to Title Magic. Could you please tell us a little more about BLUE GOLD? I just love that title.

Lindsay Townsend said...

Thank you for this wonderful blog entry, Savanna! And for your marvellous comments.

Blue Gold is a BIG historical of 124,000 words. It's a mainstream historical with many 'lead' characters. It's set in ancient Egypt during the Hyksos period and features a religious mystery: who or what is the God Set? (Set is the Egyptian god of Storms and he is rather a mystery.) There's also war and love, powerful priests and a clever, amoral, ruthless princess, two pharaohs and the Egyptian gods themselves.
Thanks, Savanna, for liking my title! Whenever I think of ancient Egypt, the blue of the Nile and the gold of the sands comes to mind. And the death-mask of Tutankamun, all blue and gold.

Trish Milburn said...

Welcome to our little spot in the blogosphere, Lindsay. You've hit on the reasons I, and many others, love historicals. Though I write contemporary romances, I still love to be swept away in a historical romance.

Mel Hiers said...

Hi Lindsay! Welcome!

I think those are the reasons why the historical genre will never be "dead." I don't write them, but I love to read them!

Lindsay Townsend said...

Thank you, Trish! It is super to be here. I also love modern romance in all its many-splendid forms - it's such a vibrant genre!
And thanks again for having me at Title Magic. It's a lovely blog.

Lindsay Townsend said...

Hi to you, Mel - thanks for the welcome and feeedback!
I think romance is so powerful and universal that all its forms will keep going and going. That works for me!

Anitra Lynn McLeod said...

Thanks for joining us! Recently my editor asked me exactly where/when a story I was pitching was set. I tried to explain that it was a futuristic historical fantasy. He said I'd created my own little niche! I like to take elements from the past, mix them with future elements, and then add a whole bunch of creative spin. :)

I have been searching for more ancient historical novels and yours sounds exactly like what I was trying to find. All the reasons you listed for writing them are all the reasons I love reading historical. And yes, I too love the pretty costumes!

I was wondering which time period was the most difficult for you to research and why?

Lindsay Townsend said...

Hi Anitra! Your future historical fantasy sounds great! I like alternative history very much. Which publisher is it with?

I suppose my favourite historical period is the one I'm writing at the time - I find I need to immerse myself in the world. I do have a strong affection for the Classical and Medieval worlds however - they were so different to our time and yet so similar.

Savanna Kougar said...

Lindsay, that is so ultra cool. I saw the Tutunkamun mask when it was on tour an age ago. I adore that whole exhibit.
Ancient Egypt is one of my fave historical periods.
Have you ever read the story of the English woman who was a reincarnation of an egyptian, I think she was a priestess of some type, who fell in love with the pharoah, I think it was Seti -- and then found his tomb as an archeologist?

Evonne Wareham said...


Hello - thanks for being with us and for summing up the plus points of historicals so well. There's a definite magic about the past, that always makes it a great place to escape.


Evonne Wareham said...


Hello - thanks for being with us and for summing up the plus points of historicals so well. There's a definite magic about the past, that always makes it a great place to escape.

Mai Christy Thao said...

Hi Lindsay, welcome to Title Magic. Gotta say I read A Knight's Vow a few months back and thoroughly enjoyed. Guillelm de la Rochelle is to die for. And the cover's absolutely stunning.

I too love historicals (it's always been my first love), and for some of the very same reasons you listed. Excellent post!

Lindsay Townsend said...

Hi Evonne!
Thank you! History gives readers and writers such scope and fun!
Best wishes, Lindsay

Lindsay Townsend said...

Hi Mai!

Thank you - thank you very much! I'm so pleased you liked Guillelm - he and Marcus and Roberto (from my romantic thriller 'Voices in the Dark') are my favourite heroes.
Thanks again.

Lindsay Townsend said...

Hi Savanna!
I saw the King Tut exhibition when it came to London in 1972 when I was 12. It blew me away! I'd love to read the book you mention - I tend to grab any I can find because I love the period and novels about that time are rare.

Savanna Kougar said...

Hi Lindsay, my memory banks are on the fritz with the exact title. I'll have to think on it. But the story is absolutely amazing on many levels, including the love story.

Lindsay Townsend said...

hi Savanna!
I'm wondering if the book was a Barbara Erskine novel. (The Lady of Hay.)Best wishes, Lindsay

Savanna Kougar said...

Hi Lindsay, actually, it was a non-fiction book, but a tremendous true love story.
Dang, I wish I could remember. The whole story is utterly fascinating.
I'm going to check one website where the book could still be available, that's simpler to navigate than Amazon.

Lindsay Townsend said...

hi Savanna,
Sounds fascinating. My kind of non-fiction book, too! Best of luck in searching it down!

Savanna Kougar said...

Lindsay, guess what...if you're interested...success!

Omm Sety's Egypt: A Story of Ancient Myster...
by Hanny El Zeini

Omm Sety claimed to be the reincarnation of an ancient Egyptian--and stunned archaeologists with her knowledge of long-buried...

The book is at Amazon, of course. But is available at ~ ~ also.

Lindsay Townsend said...

Hi Savanna,
Than you! I'll have a good look at it. Sounds worth it.
Thanks again for today at Title Magic! It's been great!
Best wishes, Lindsay

Helen Scott Taylor said...

Hi Lindsey, thanks for being with us on Title Magic. What a fascinating run down on why you like to write historicals. I haven't tried writing historical yet, but they are my favorite read. lately I've been thinking about writing a historical Urban Fantasy series and reading your list certainly struck a few cords for me. Thanks for the interesting blog.

Lindsay Townsend said...

Hi Helen and thanks! I'm glad you enjoyed it! Good luck with your writing. I think you'll find historicals a very rewarding genre to work in, and the urban element is wonderful! Lots of gritty and glamorous excitement. I found writing about London in 1066 in my A KNIGHT'S CAPTIVE great fun, and writing about ancient Bath in FLAVIA'S SECRET gave me chances to put in crowds and festivals and chases. Best, Lindsay

Anitra Lynn McLeod said...

Lindsay--I'm with Kensington. John S. is my editor and he's wonderful to work with. Who's your editor at K?

Lindsay Townsend said...

Hi Anitra!
I'm with Audrey LaFehr. I've found her lovely to work with. (I've found Kensington and Bookstrand great to work with.)
Good luck with your futuristic historical for John S!

Renee Knowles said...

Hi Lindsay! Great post! A Knight's Vow was an excellent read and I'm dying to start Flavia's Secret (when I finally have a minute to read)!



Lindsay Townsend said...

Hi Renee, and thank you from a fellow Siren-Bookstrand author!(Best-selling author, too, like Savanna!)
I'm really looking forward to reading your historical Regency, COURTING TROUBLE - I wish there were more hours in the day to read!

Lexie O'Neill said...

You may never see this--I'm often late on Friday posts:( So sorry, but
I did want to chime in and offer my welcome...
And I love historicals, too! They're my favorite read, and I find it very interesting that a trend seems to exist among all of us paranormal people. Maybe there's the escape factor?
I also have been thinking about--have a start on a Roman era--time travel. I'm going to go out and find your books!

Lindsay Townsend said...

Thanks for your kind comments, Lexie. I'm another fan of time travel, and I agree with you about the link between historical and paranormal. The earlier the period in which a book takes place, the more natural and appropriate the characters' belief in the paranormal becomes, too.

Good luck with your Roman book!