Friday, January 22, 2010

Guest Blogger, Sharon Lathan

I’d like to welcome bestselling author Sharon Lathan to Thoughts in Progress today.

Sharon latest release “My Dearest Mr. Darcy” is the third installment in her Darcy Saga sequel series to Jane Austen’s “Pride & Prejudice.”

As a special treat today, Sharon will be giving away a signed copy of “My Dearest Mr. Darcy” to one lucky person who comments on her post between now and 8 p.m. Thursday, Jan. 28.  The giveaway is open to U.S. and Canada residents only. Those wishing to be entered in the contest must include their e-mail address in their comments. Sharon will selected a lucky winner from one of those commenting.

Sharon could you tell us how you incorporate historical facts into your novels and how it came about?

I no longer remember when the idea of Darcy and Lizzy visiting the seacoast first occurred to me. Faint glimmers probably began with the numerous references to holidays at Bath and Brighton that are scattered throughout any article that even touches upon the Regency. Much like appearing in London for the Season, leisurely vacationing and socializing at a beachfront locale was an expectation among the ton.

Yet right off I knew they would not visit any of the popular resorts. I wanted to be unique! Finally, after exhaustive research, I settled on Norfolk. Combining historical facts about the fame of Great Yarmouth with creative license, the Darcys ended up a few miles north at a lavish resort on the bluffs of Caister-on-Sea. I became so immersed and fascinated by the history of the region, the wonders in nature by sea and land, and the wealth of possible activities that what I imagined being a one or two chapter jaunt ended up being six!

As I always do when writing of the Darcys living their life, I wove romance and healthy doses of drama with loads of historical information and enlightenment. Of course you must read My Dearest Mr. Darcy to learn of all the fun to be had, but let me share some tidbits to pique your interest.

Sea bathing: Personally I can’t fathom swimming in the frigid waters surrounding England. Yet, this is precisely what our hardy English ancestors considered prime recreation and a healthy pursuit. The concept of “taking the waters” – both warm mineral spas and cold ocean water – was deemed a cure-all for just about any ailment since the mid-1600s and rose in popularity in the 1750s and beyond. Resorts popped up all over the place and the bathing machine provided privacy for modest swimmers. All together now: Brrrr….

Silhouettes: Named for the despised French finance minister in pre-Revolutionary France who was so miserly and horrid at his job that anything cheap was labeled, “a la Silhouette.” Cutting shaded profiles from paper was an inexpensive, faster method of capturing a person’s image and grew as a popular art form in the late 1700s onward. Silhouettists gravitated to tourist areas, like Bath and Brighton, and were frequently invited to parties of the wealthy to trace the guests.

Nelson Monument: Lord Admiral Horatio Nelson was born in Norfolk and the first of this great Englishman’s several monuments was erected in Great Yarmouth. Luckily for me, the first stones were laid in 1817 upon land that had originally formed part of the Militia Barracks on the South Dene. Also lucky for me was the horseracing track at those barracks! Lizzy and Darcy were able to tour the foundation of Nelson’s monument and then have a bit of fun betting on the horses.

Hot air ballooning: In 1783 the first manned-flight of any kind took place in Paris, France in a balloon filled with heated air designed by the Montgolfier brothers. In 1785 a manned balloon crossed the English Channel and you might say the rest is history! It would remain an extremely dangerous undertaking for a long while to come, but brave souls like Englishman James Sadler paved the way for other balloonist like the one who takes off from Great Yarmouth while the Darcys are there to observe.

The Norfolk Broads: A network of navigable rivers and lakes, the Broads are utterly unique, and today a protected national park. The peat wetlands that span over 100 square miles are simply amazing with diverse wildlife, rich history, and stunning beauty. Writing the Darcys driving through this lush landscape was a must.

Touring Caister Castle, attending a magic lantern show, walking to the end of a classic wooden pier, dining in a new-fangled restaurant, and interacting with the other guests combined to keep the Darcys quite busy! Still, it isn’t a truly romantic holiday at the beach if the lovers do not enjoy the sunrise and sunset, right?

Nestling onto a blanket spread over the soft sand as the sun first shows her face and touches the rippling waves of an ocean in a blaze of glorious colors is a universal delight, and certainly an occasion I was not going to allow the Darcys to miss. J Additionally, the flat western horizon with an expanse of wide waterways means that sunsets in this area of Norfolk are nearly as spectacular as the sunrises. Indeed, a romance writer’s dream comes true.

So of course I wrote my somewhat clichéd interludes near the surging surf! I figured we women never tire of that sort of ideal. In fact, I bet you can readily recall a beach-themed romantic scene from a book or movie – and From Here to Eternity is too easy! Any others?

Here's a book trailer video highlighting Sharon's wonderfully romantic, historically accurate series.

Sharon, thanks so much for guest blogging today and for sharing this information with us. The beach is a wonderful place to return to time and time again. I can see how the Darcy are drawn there. And adding historical facts to your novels is an extra bonus for your readers.

Don’t forget to leave your e-mail in your comments if you’d like to be entered in the giveaway for a signed copy of “My Dearest Mr. Darcy.” Sharon will also be stopping back by during the day to answer any questions you might have and respond to comments. For more information about Sharon and her novels, visit her Website at: She also blogs at Casablanca Authors blog.

Is there a spot your characters return to time and time again?


  1. I love Austin's books and have always been interested in the era. Thanks, Sharon, for sharing some information with us that you learned through your research. And..I'm glad our beaches are a little warmer here in NC!

    Mystery Writing is Murder
    Mystery Lovers’ Kitchen

  2. Discovering all that rich history must've been fun!

    And Elizabeth, as I've been told by a friend who teaches snorkling and deep sea diving, if people knew how many sharks are attracked to our warm NC waters, they'd never go in the ocean again! LOL

  3. Good interview!

    The sea baths reminded me of when I was young & my family visited relatives in Scotland. My dad & I went to a local swimming pool & were surprised when no one else was there. Then we got in the water. It was sea water - no heat, no chlorine, all natural. All freezing!!!

    Hardy souls :)

  4. Mason - Thanks for hosting Sharon today : ).

    Sharon - I admire authors who do the research and give their historical novels a real sense of authenticity. To me, that's one of the things that makes a novel - especially an historical novel - particularly engaging.

  5. Very interesting. Enjoyed the post - the trailer is very good too. I just had an Australian author featured on my blog a few days ago who also does creative rewrites of Pride and Prejudice. Quite a tribute to a book to become such a classic that retellings of it can also be successful decades later, hmm?

    Marvin D Wilson

  6. Although I live in Vero Beach, I'm not a regular visitor to the shore. I guess with two small children, it's quite a hassle to get there and take care of the aftermath of a day/afternoon at the shore.

    But the beach does hold a romantic place in my heart. The first time my (future) husband and I kissed in 1991, it was on Atlantic Beach in North Carolina. It was so amazing, my legs buckled. That's never happened before or since!

    Thanks also for all the pieces of history-- a good education for us!

    No need to enter me in the contest. I just stopped by to read the posting!

    Laura Hartness
    The Calico Critic

  7. Hi all! Early morning her in California. And our beaches are warmer too, at least the southern ones. In the north they are very cold, which is why wet suits were invented! So I can imagine how cold it must be in the North Sea.

    Great story Jemi! I grew up in a place where swimming holes were a fun pastime. The water could be cold as it was snow melt, but surely not as bad as Scotland! I bet in ages past the people swam in those ponds though.

    Thanks Margot. I do try my best. :)

    Yes, Marvin, Austen is living on! I think it is great that classic literature stays in the public eye, however it is done. Thanks for the trailer praise. It was done so well, not by me tho! LOL!

    Hi Laura! Thanks for stopping by!

    Now, no one has mentioned a great romantic scene from the beach. How about The Thorn Birds. That is a good mention. Any others?

  8. Oooo! I just thought of one. This was so sweet. At the end of The Maiden Heist, William H. Macy's character George realizes how much he's in love with his wife. It's really a beautiful moment.

    Laura Hartness
    The Calico Critic

  9. I'd sure be interested in a bit on how you researched all this information. Looks exhaustive.

    Best Wishes Galen.
    Imagineering Fiction Blog

  10. I haven't seen that movie, Laura. I like William H. Macy so will have to look it up. Thanks!

    Galen, I always start with Wikipedia and Google. Wikipedia will give basic starting info on most every subject one could imagine. Sometimes if all I need is a quick definition or date, that is enough. But one must be cautious with Wiki, although I have never found any glaring errors. Often the "external links" offered on Wiki will lead to great website. But I usually do a bunch of Google searching. Over time I have gotten very good and using varied terms to find what I want.

    If you write historical, then you might think about becoming a member of the Beau Monde group of the RWA. Those ladies are amazing and can answer any question imaginable!

    And once I find a great website, I book mark it. ALWAYS bookmark. You never know when you will go back!

  11. Hi Sharon,

    would love to read your latest...thanks for the opportunity.


  12. Sharon, thanks so much for sharing these historical facts and interesting background on your novels with us. Sorry I've been absent today, but work was crazier than usual. Thanks again for guest blogging here today. Hope everyone else had a great day.

  13. Wow! All that history was fascinating! Thanks for sharing with us, Sharon.

    All the best,


    corra (dot) mcfeydon (at) gmail (dot) com

    from the desk of a writer

  14. Sharon your latest offering MDMD is superb! The history itself is amazing. Your depth of research shines through in your novel, and I must admit to learning a great deal about the era, so many things i had no idea of.
    The book is well rounded in that is gives us the beautifully written devotion and passion we love from Darcy & Lizzy. It shows us even more of their lives through backstory (which I still find astounding). You bring these characters to life, and I always feel as though I have just visited them through your writing!
    TSBO devotee

  15. Thanks for having me, Mason. It is fun for me to share all the interesting tidbits I learn with readers. At least I think it is interesting! LOL! If nothing else it might give one an edge when playing Trivial Pursuit, right? :)

    Vee, you are too kind. Love ya!

  16. One "beach" scene I loved was in "The Notebook". The whole scene was very passionate and intense. It may technically be a lake, but I thought it should count.

    Sharon, I'm working on getting a friend to read your books. So far, she seems interested, but limits her book budget. I don't know how long it will take. I may have to buy her the first one myself.

    Mason, I like your blog. I'm hoping to learn more about the blog world.

  17. Thanks for sharing.

    Please count me in.

    cindyc725 at gmail dot com


I'd love to hear your thoughts on today's post. Thanks for dropping by.