I wrote my erotic historical FORBIDDEN SHORES after reading Adam Hochschild's wonderful book BURY THE CHAINS, the story of the English abolitionist movement. It confirmed my view of the Georgian era as a time of tumult and radicalism as well as elegance and wit and great clothes and all those other props of historicals.
Hochschild points out that it was possibly the first time that people cared passionately enough about a cause--something that would benefit strangers thousands of miles away who they would never meet--to make sacrifices themselves. Ropemakers in Bristol, one of the cities that thrived on the trade, petitioned to end the slave trade, knowing full well that their own livelihood would be threatened. It was also a movement that cut through divisions of class and gender; ordinary housewives boycotted sugar. The abolitionists introduced the tactics of the modern political campaign--investigative journalism, slogans, and powerful visuals. Wedgwood produced a plaque of a kneeling slave in chains, with the caption "Am I not a man and a brother" that was mass produced and appeared on many artifacts such as jewelry and china.
So I had a great cause, and naturally my characters would take different viewpoints. I also wanted to explore the dynamics of a relationship where three people become involved, and each of them is in love with the one who cannot love them back. My editor wanted me to set it in the Caribbean, which at first I resisted; what could be sexier than Quakers collecting petitions in the rain? But I think she was correct, in that it made the stakes greater for the characters even though it presented me with a problem: I had to write about slaves and slaveowners without glossing over the cruelty or idealizing those slaves who appear as secondary characters. One of my main characters (aka hero #2) March, is a sugar plantation owner. My heroine, Clarissa, an abolitionist so ardent she was seduced, ruined, and exiled from her family by a fellow-abolitionist is a survivor whose fervor for the cause has dimmed. And Allen (hero #1) is a lawyer who's a cynical rebel without a cause; a troublemaker and odd one out in his aristocratic family.
However, I was very happy to write a book that begins with a long voyage where the hero and the heroine find some very novel ways of entertaining themselves below decks! And see if you enjoy my favorite chapter, where Allen does his laundry (very uncharacteristic for a Georgian gentleman) and climbs the mast in a fit of phallic symbolism.You can read the beginning of the book on my website, http://www.janelockwood.com/, and also find out where I'm blogging this month.