Sunday, October 2, 2011


It's easy to tell when I've been on a Regency binge. Quite aside from the drifts of Georgette Heyer's and other historical romances beside the bed, sofa, cooker, and loo, you'll find that my kitchen audio book du jour is probably Sense and Sensibility, or Persuasion.

There are other clues. I look much the same - I'm not to be found wilting about the house in fine cambrics and muslins, protecting my delicate frame (ha!) from draughts with a Norwich silk shawl, (although, yes, I was in my home-made Georgian ball dress again on Friday night, which is another story*)... but I sound quite different.

You see, when I immerse myself in another fictional world, I tend to absorb it's verbal rhythms and language. After six or so Heyer's, read in quick succession, I have to remember to speak normally.

I've always been that way. As a teen, if I read too many of one particular Sci Fi, or a mite too many gritty thrillers, I'd live in that world just a little too much. For the most part it's harmless, just treading the edge of a minor eccentricity. For writing, it's a nightmare.

I absorb language and writing style like a sponge, whether I want to or not. And if I am reading in the same genre as I'm writing, when I'm writing a lot, I have sleepless nights worrying about losing my writing voice, or becoming derivative, or - worse case scenario - inadvertent plagiarism.

So when I'm writing breathless, emotional romantic suspense, you won't find my anywhere near a contemporary romance of similar type. I'll read 1970s medical romances, or old-favourite fantasies.

Or I'll drive my long-suffering husband distracted by immersing myself in Heyer, and failing to remember which century I'm living in.

(*There was a launch even for next Spring's Cockermouth Georgian Fair: a screening of Vanity Fair at which I got to ogle James Purefoy on the screen AND sit very, very upright because slouching meant my corset tended to prevent my breathing AND hope it didn't rain later as my hair was only maintaining its lofty heights by the addition of a Great Deal of hairspray. Later, when I'd divested myself of dress and taken the pins out of my hair, while still wearing powder, patch and rouge, I looked like a dissolute denizen of a Georgian brothel. Or, as Husband maintained, a refugee from an 80's pop video....)


  1. I'm the same. I stay well away from my own genre when I'm in the beginning stages of writing a novel, at least. And then I have a great, greedy glut of reading when I'm finished.


  2. Me too...but less than when I began writing...

    and yes, where are the photos?


  3. I'll second (or third that) - want to see the photos! I don't read at all in any genre when I'm writing, it distracts me too much. I guess the "sponge" effect is universal :)