Wednesday, March 25, 2015

When Cultures Clash: Why I love Writing Historical Fiction - Guest Blog and Giveaway with Jena Baxter

My name is Jena Baxter and my newest novel, The Carriage,  is set in Victorian, London. My first novel, Reflections, began in the Regency Era. I had already written a couple of fantasy in motion stories, but while doing research on Hans Christian Anderson’s Little Matchgirl, I found some interesting things to ponder.

Burial customs were pretty out there. The dying person takes their last breath and the first thing the servant or family does is stop the clock. Then they covered the mirrors and windows so the deceased couldn’t get trapped in them on their way out, and then placed a black wreath on the door so the world would know they were mourning.

I have a vivid imagination so all I could see was some poor soul banging on the back of the mirror yelling, ‘Let me out. I took a wrong turn. This isn’t funny Uncle.’ I know its poor humor but my brain works that way. Don’t even get me started on the hired mourners following the funeral procession to the graveyard. My mind went wild with that one.

I love humor and my favorite emotion is laughter in sadness. Check out the end of Steel Magnolias if you’re not sure what I’m talking about. Sally Field does an awesome job in that movie. Be sure and get out a box of tissues first, but I’m digressing. After letting my mind go wild with the spirit stuck in the mirror, Reflections was born, and while it does have its humorous moments, the setting is very different.

Fast forward to my newest novel, The Carriage. I was planning a trip we never took to New York, and thinking about taking a carriage ride through Central Park. While I don’t know much about the carriages, they have been there an incredibly long time. I saw a historical photo and that was all it took for my mind to flip to the Victorian Era. I was supposed to be working on a YA/NA contemporary romance based in New York.

Alexis came into existence, and I made her face the unfriendly truths of the era. You should see her face when a servant calls Ezra, the Master. Are you laughing yet? Well, she gives him a run for his money because Alexis won’t be calling any man, Master. Ezra is a shipyard owner and a man on the cutting edge of the age. He doesn’t understand Alexis, but she brings laughter and joy to his dark, broken heart.

I’ve often said, I love cultures whether it’s a bygone era, or something I create myself, which is something you’ll see in my next story. But using modern women, and a young man as well in Reflections, shows the contrast by allowing us to see what the culture was like a little closer.

Alexis found she couldn’t battle the era she was trapped in, she had to conform to it because it wasn’t going to conform to her. Brayden in Reflections found the same, even though he never lived in any age but his own.

Culture is steeped in our DNA, and while we can change opinions and emotions over time, it will always be a part of who we are.

The Carriage
Jena Baxter

Genre: YA, Paranormal Romance

Publisher: Jena Baxter Books

Date of Publication: February 16th, 15

ISBN: 978-0-9911677-2-2

Number of pages: 214
Word Count: 52,313

Cover Artist: Consuelo Parra
Model: Amber Ornelas

Book Description:

A teenage girl enters a carriage in Central Park and disembarks in Victorian, England.

Cursed by her sister Brooke, Alexis Powell arrives in the Victorian Era where she meets Ezra, who was recently murdered by an assassin his brother Amos hired. Now a supernatural creature, Ezra sees into Alexis’ mind with a touch and Intrigued by her memories, offers his help only to be rebuffed for his kindness. Alexis runs away, but Ezra is unable to shake off what he saw. He follows her through the streets of London.

Vulnerable after the death of his Father, his brother’s harassment, and Alexis’ many rejections, Ezra decides to stop following her.  Alexis is unable to find work or food. Facing starvation, she steals a tomato and Ezra finds her facing the local magistrate and an angry mob. He pays for her freedom.

Finally accepting the help Ezra offers, Alexis moves into the manor he shares with his brother. Romance blossoms but the bond between Ezra and Amos is worse than Alexis’ relationship with Brooke.

While Ezra and Alexis search for a way to send her home, Amos looks for a way to kill them.

Available at Amazon

Somehow I was certain I was no longer in New York. The streets were cobblestone, and the buildings wood and brick. A lot of them were broken down, old and shabby. The alleys were filthy and smelled like shit. Exhausted, I looked for a place to hide but didn’t know where to go. When I couldn’t move another muscle, I hid behind a wooden staircase with my back against the wall and fought not to jump at every sound.
 I hadn’t meant to fall asleep, and didn’t know how long I’d slept, but it looked close to mid-morning when I opened my eyes and looked around.
The women walking by were wearing long, full dresses, and big feathered hats. The men’s pants were more form fitting, not the jeans they usually wear. Some of the children running around were barefoot and downright filthy, looking as if they had been rolling in mud or playing with charcoal. I cringed when I saw a boy carrying a rat by the tail. Everything was straight out of a Dickens novel. I wouldn’t have been surprised to see little Dorrit, or Ebenezer Scrooge waltz by any minute now. I rubbed my nose with the palm of my hand. What the hell was I going to do?
 This obviously wasn’t real, so I must have fallen in with a role playing community of some sort. My mother and father used to play dungeons and dragons. Maybe this was the same thing, but in the extreme.
Something slammed into my back. I screamed and turned at the sound of a woman yelling at me. The broom in her hand whooshed down again, just missing my face.
“Whoa. Hey, stop!”
What was wrong with these people? I couldn’t understand a word she said, so I ran. She chased me, swinging the broom until I left the alley.

I stopped to catch my breath, smoothed my clothes, and approached a woman in a long brown dress with a white bonnet and black boots. She stared at me like I was some sort of freak. Uh ... she was the freak, not me. Maybe the men would be friendlier, but not one of them would stop. Then I saw the man that crashed into me yesterday across the road. He looked a little different, wearing a brown suit, and an odd piece of material similar to a scarf around his neck, with a top hat. He was actually still attractive in the weird clothes. Dodging carts and vendors, I made a bee-line for him. At least he wouldn’t chase me with a broom.

About the Author:

Jena Baxter has always loved history and time travel. She liked to read, and often wrote poetry as a stress inhibitor while growing up. But like other writers, she dreamed of writing a novel. So she enrolled at the UCLA Writer's Extension, to gain the confidence and skill to move forward.

Today Jena has a YA Fantasy novel, as well as a YA Paranormal Romance novel online and in print.

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1 comment:

Mary Preston said...

The research would have been fascinating.