September 6 Blythe Gifford – Oh The Places You’ll Go

Romance can take us anywhere

One reason I Celebrate Romance is that romance can take us…anywhere! BlytheGifford_TheWitchFinder2_800

It’s a truth I try to tap in my books, and one I think we recognize in all romance.  Whether we read about the medieval past or a dystopian future, about dukes or space cowboys, or about lovers in our own country or a foreign one, the feelings are universal, and ones we recognize.

As a result, we can travel to times and places we will never see, even some that may not exist.  When the story is over, we may be changed, if just a bit, by the experience.  And we may learn a few new things we would never have bothered to study, because they were important to the hero or heroine and because the hero and heroine were, for those hours, important to us.

Of course, I tackle this most directly in an historical context, but the same holds true across many types of romance – paranormal, dystopian, suspense.  Even contemporary romance can take us to a city we’ve never seen, or introduce us to a profession we know nothing about.  Every book adds to our experience, and romance, I think, gives us permission to live in times, places, and situations we might otherwise have missed.

As a result, I find romance one of the most flexible genres.  Who does not, ultimately, want to be loved, no matter what the time or place?  And which one of us does not want to be reminded that love, indeed, can conquer all?

Recommendations:

As part of the celebration of romance, try reading in a corner of the genre you haven’t explored before.  You may find you feel right at home!

Like so many in the United States, I’m very vague on Chinese history, but when Jeanne Lin puts me in the midst of a Tang Dynasty love story such as THE LOTUS PALACE, I can experience that world directly and emotionally, even if I knew nothing about it before page one.

Never read paranormal?  Hanna Martine’s Elementals Series, which begins with LIQUID LIES, is a good example of this, as the main characters of each book are part of an “elementals” group, water, air, earth, or fire.

Haven’t read many contemporaries?  Try Kate Meader for fun, sexy (hot!) contemporaries grounded in Chicago or Molly O’Keefe, who just won a RITA for her contemporary romance.  And if you’ve never tried the inspirational side of romance, try Hope White’s romantic suspense.


Questions for the Author:

Describe the most daring, adventurous or inspiring thing you ever did.

I quit my job and moved across country without a new job lined up and knowing only one person. (And yes, there was a man involved.) But I learned many valuable lessons from that experience I would never have gained otherwise.

Tell us about your journey to becoming a writer. (How did you decide to get started? Did you always know or was there a specific moment when you knew?)

I started writing my first historical novel at age ten. In pencil. But I returned to writing much later in life when I was making a Bucket List and “write a book” was still on it. I credit Romance Writers of America for teaching me the business and the craft, and for recognizing my second manuscript as a Golden Heart finalist. That was my big break.

3 – Tell us about The (or A) Book That Changed Your Life. (Why?)

Long ago, I read KATHERINE by Anya Seton.  It is the fictionalized version of a true story of the lifelong love affair between a king’s son and his mistress, who became this third (and last) wife.  The descendants of their “royal bastards” sat on the throne of England.  I became obsessed with the English royal family of the 14th century and worked out a detailed royal family tree, attempting to include even those born on the wrong side of the royal blanket. (This was way before the internet made such things available at the tip of a Google search.)

As a result, when I did start writing seriously, I started in that time period I loved so much, and four of my first five books featured royal bastards, real or imagined, as either the hero or the heroine.

Blythe is generously giving away two copies of The Witch Finder to U.S. readers (apologies to international friends). Entry below.


Blythe Gifford Headshot WebAfter many years in public relations, advertising and marketing, Blythe Gifford started writing seriously after a corporate layoff. Ten years and one layoff later, she became an overnight success when she sold to the Harlequin Historical line. Since then, she has published ten romances set in England and on the Scottish Borders, most incorporating real historical events and characters. For more information, visit www.blythegifford.com.

 

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  • mariannewestrich

    I love that romance can take us anywhere. I read during lunch every day and get to mentally leave my desk, my work and “live” for that time somewhere else! It’s a “vacation” for my mind during the day.

    • Blythe Gifford

      Really can take you away and let you forget reality for awhile, can’t it?

  • HannaMartine

    Thanks so much for the recommendation, Blythe! I’ve read several of your books (IN THE MASTER’S BED gave me so many good feels) and I love how your command of history and the times mesh with the vibrant characters.

    • Blythe Gifford

      Oh, thanks, Hanna. And you’re welcome! IN THE MASTER’S BED is one of my personal faves.

  • Judy Goodnight

    It is amazing what other knowledge you can pick up while reading romances. With all the Regencies I’ve read, I have amassed an extensive knowledge of the Napoleonic Wars, British naval & military history, not to mention info about the peerage, dress, and social customs of the early 1800’s.

    • Blythe Gifford

      I find I sometimes assume people know some historical fact or circumstance and then realize that I’m much more deeply into my time period than the average person!

  • Make Kay

    Yes, I’ve learned many things from reading books that amaze my husband, when I trot out my knowledge! Love it.

    • Blythe Gifford

      Isn’t that fun to do?!

  • Martha B

    Yes, we readers (speaking for myself,) learn a lot of things in historical romance novels. My husband is sometimes shocked when I know the answer on Jeopardy (the category is English history). I am NOT a history buff. I have learned the customs, dress and societal expectation “back in the day” for the upper ten thousand. Thank you for transporting us to other places and times.

    • Blythe Gifford

      You’re welcome! It’s wonderful when you can learn by osmosis.

  • Sara Daniel

    Great post, Blythe! I love how your historicals take me to new places and times and give me a new perspective on history.

    • Blythe Gifford

      Thanks so much! That’s what I try to do.

  • Sue G.

    I love the things I have learned from historical romances. Hard to believe some of those things happened then, like an unwed woman couldn’t be alone with a man! Crazy!

    • Blythe Gifford

      Truth really IS stranger than fiction. Occasionally I’ll come across an historical fact and think I can’t use it because no one will believe it!

  • Sheryl N

    New author for me, thanks for the post and for the recommendations

    • Blythe Gifford

      Thanks for stopping by!

  • Eileen Aberman-Wells

    I enjoyed your essay. Thanks for sharing your journey to become a writer. I’ve loved historical romances, especially those that are true to the history of the times. You are a new to me author who’s books I will soon be reading.

    • Blythe Gifford

      I’m one of those historical romance writers who is very grounded in history – I often used real people or events as part of the story, so I hope you enjoy my work!

  • Sonali Dev

    Oh Blythe, I totally loved your recommendations. Thanks!

    • Blythe Gifford

      I would have recommended A BOLLYWOOD AFFAIR, but I didn’t want readers frustrated that they couldn’t buy it yet. So readers, add his book to your list – out October 28!!

  • Joan Varner

    I agree that romance novels of all genres have given me the opportunity to travel and see the world without ever leaving home. It is always an enjoyable experience and I learn something new each time.

    • Blythe Gifford

      Glad to hear it. I always really try to convey the physical experience of my hero or heroine when they are in a specific place. Hope the reader can feel it, too!

  • Patty Vasquez

    I really like this sentence in your essay: “…we may learn a few new things we would never have bothered to study, because they were important to the hero or heroine and because the hero and heroine were, for those hours, important to us.” This is very true! I’ve learned about Egypt and the Great Pyramids, wooden sailing ships, the Vikings, painting, cooking, and a host of other topics all while reading romance. You and several other RARM authors have suggested Jeanne Lin’s books. They must be really special. I think I would enjoy your books, as well, since historical fiction is my favorite sub-genre of romance. I will look for them on the bookshelf! Thank you for the introduction.

    • Blythe Gifford

      Thanks so much for stopping by and for your comments. Glad I’ve given you some new authors to try – and maybe some new things to learn!

  • rebecca moe

    Great post! Thanks for sharing 🙂

    • Blythe Gifford

      So glad you enjoyed it!

  • Pamby50

    You are so right that reading romance can take you anywhere you want to go. So when watching Jeopardy with my daughter & her friends, they asked how I knew some of the answers? I said because I read romance books. Thank you for writing such wonderful books.

    • Blythe Gifford

      It’s a painless way to get an education, right? Wish more professors understood the power of story!

  • Kathy Nye

    I love Seton’s Katherine. It’s on my keeper shelf. Nice to meet another fan.

    • Blythe Gifford

      There’s a whole cult of Katherine lovers, seriously! You are not alone! I keep hoping to sneak her into a book some day.

  • Sharon Forbes

    I enjoyed your post. I now would like to perhaps try a book about Chinese history/romance sometime. I just have so many books on my TBR list! What a problem to have, huh?!

    • Blythe Gifford

      It means you have many, many places you can go, right?

  • Beverly Long

    Blythe, so nice to see you as part of the RARM celebration. Totally agree with your comment that we can be changed by every book we read–our perspectives widened, our knowledge enhanced, our spirits uplifted.

    • Blythe Gifford

      Love seeing that each of us has a different twist on the genre, and yet, it’s still romance!

  • librarypat

    I came late to reading romance. I was in my 50’s. Prior to that my maid interest was history and science, and mystery and suspense were my favorite fiction genre with historical fiction thrown in. I did read an occasional Sci-Fi and contemporary fiction. I naturally gravitated to historical romance and it is still my favorite. I have tried every sub-genre of romance and save for a few that are just not to my liking, I have enjoyed them. The paranormal and urban fantasy have been fun and different.
    No matter what the sub-genre of romance, the fact that two people are trying to make the best of their situation and their lives together despite the obstacles thrown in their way. Love is what makes life worth living whether you are a duke, a cowboy, a pirate, a shifter, a teacher, a lady-in-waiting, a witch, a detective, or a demon hunter. It is enjoyable spending time in their world to get away from our mundane and crazy one for a few hours at a time.

    • Blythe Gifford

      You are a great example of something I have always found – romance readers are very widely read – and they choose romance for very good reasons! Thanks for posting.

  • Julie Nieves

    Oh my, more wonderful romance novels to explore! I also love reading across the romance spectrum. Thank you for sharing your thoughts!

    • Blythe Gifford

      Thanks for stopping by!

  • Courtney Cogswell

    I think the main reason that I don’t often read outside of the romance genre is because I don’t have to in order to enjoy a wide variety of characters, settings, plots, etc. Whether it’s fast paced mysteries or thrillers, Regency era dukes and duchesses, the girl and boy next door or even fairies, vampires, and werewolves…I can find all of the above somewhere in the genre. I have learned all kinds of interesting things over the years from reading romance because the majority of the authors I’ve read have done a crazy amount of research in order to ensure their book is accurate, which can help stave off those pesky snobs against romance. Don’t even get me started on the vocabulary I’ve built over the years due to my romance reading addiction 🙂 I am so thankful for all of you authors that give me so many worlds to experience…each one unique. Thanks for your great essay!

    • Blythe Gifford

      You make a great point – within romance, you can really have it all! Glad you enjoyed the post.

  • Stephanie M.

    I enjoyed reading your post. I found romance through historicals and while I’ve ventured to other sub-genres, I always circle back to where I started long ago. This means I’m always looking for a new-to-me author and look forward to reading your books. Thank you for the recommendations as well. 🙂

    • Blythe Gifford

      You’re welcome! So glad you enjoyed it. And historicals hold a place of highest honor in my heart, too!

  • Gretchen Miller

    Cool

    • Blythe Gifford

      Thanks!

  • catslady

    I’ve enjoyed her books before and this one sounds like something I would really enjoy!

    • Blythe Gifford

      Oh, that’s so good to hear!

  • Ruth

    I enjoyed your post. One of the aspects that drew me to romance is that it is so varied. If you want to get to the highlands of Scotland or a ranch in Montana or the waves in Hawaii, there is a romance book for you!

    • Blythe Gifford

      Exactly!

  • Great post! I agree, I love following romance around the world…and into the past, and the future. It is such a diverse genre, and I will never have enough of it!

    • Blythe Gifford

      Love your sentiment!

  • Meredith Richeson Hillenbrand

    I love historical romances I think the most because it means the author took some time to do some research as well as writing a story. I enjoyed your post a lot. I do read all kinds of books, but like them best if they include a romance of some kind as well. Thanks for writing!

    • Blythe Gifford

      Oh, you are welcome! Thanks for stopping by to comment.