Where Romance and History Meet - www.heartsthroughhistory.com/

Saturday, April 30, 2011

The Setting Collector, by Mia Marlowe

Although today is usually my day to post, I have invited special guest author Mia Marlowe to take my spot! You are all in for a special treat. Mia is a wonderful author of historical romance, and I think you will find her post today to be equally fascinating and get your minds cranking.  Mia is an avid supporter of writers and the romance genre, and I encourage you to not only check out her books, but her blog as well. Visit her at her site, http://www.miamarlowe.com/.

The Setting Collector
by Mia Marlowe

Travel is one of my passions. I like to think of myself a "setting collector." When I explore a new place, the seeds of stories are planted in my subconscious, even if it takes them a while to germinate. In 2002, my DH and I went to Hanover, Germany a couple times--he to conduct business and me to play tourist. One of the places I discovered was Schloss Celle, a castle a short train ride from Hanover.

Like all castles, it was built in stages, starting with a fortified tower around 980 AD. Through the years, it was altered and added to till it became the Renaissance style 4-winged structure that exists today. It's a fascinating place with a hodge-podge interior, reflecting many different building styles.

It doesn't have a moat and was never used defensively. The schloss (German for castle) was primarily a pleasure retreat for the House of Hanover. But in 1772, it also became a prison of sorts for Queen Caroline Mathilda.

Queen Caroline MathildaShe was the sister of Britain's George III and, as if having a mad brother weren't bad enough, this unlucky princess had the misfortune to wed her equally mad cousin, Christian VII of Denmark.

Caroline may not have been a beauty, but she had a vivacious and fun-loving personality. She sometimes outraged people by dressing in men's clothing and riding astride. At Schloss Celle, there is a miniature of her with a decolletage so daring, her rouged nipples are proudly on display.

A free spirit like Caroline couldn't avoid trouble long and soon was embroiled in a long-running affair with her husband's doctor, Johann Friedrich Struensee. Her daughter was almost certainly her lover's child since Christian VII didn't seem to like his queen much.

Even mad kings resent being cuckolded. There was a seething scandal and a messy divorce. Caroline was banished to Celle and her lover was executed. She died of scarlet fever three years later in 1775 at the age of 23.

Touch of a Thief by Mia MarloweThe story of this sad queen inspired me to use Schloss Celle as the setting for a rather gothic section of Touch of a Thief. Lady Viola Preston and Lt. Greydon Quinn are on the trail of the Blood of the Tiger, a cursed red diamond. They encounter the malevolent stone and the villain who has possession of it at this Hanoverian castle.

Posing as newlyweds, Quinn and Viola's adventures take them from London to Paris to Hanover and back again. I hope you'll enjoy doing a little armchair traveling with them!

Have you ever visited a place and thought it would be a good setting for a romance? Leave a comment or question today for a chance to win a copy of Touch of a Thief!


Debra Maher said...

What a wonderful post, Mia! I love houses, little cottages to royal castles and everything in between. There's a character in them.

After touring some of the "summer cottages" in Newport, Rhode Island, I always thought they (one in particular) would make a great setting for an early 20th century novel. Great topic!

Sandy said...

How intriguing, Mia. To me every place I go inspires characters and stories.

Once, I was in Hong Kong for ten days, the harbor there has many little boats where people live. On those boats were television antennas. Smile. It made me very curious of what went on those boats. What the people did for a living, etc.?

Diane D - Florida said...

I loved reading your post. It's always nice to know where a writer gets their inspiration from.

I've visited Warwick Castle in England a few times, and really think that this would make a wonderful setting for a romance novel. The grounds and castle are spectacular. Having said that though, I think that most castles and stately homes are great settings for a romance to bloom.


Beth Trissel said...

What a fascinating post. I love the history you've unearthed. Great inspiration for your book. Wonderful. I collect scenes too. :)

Beth Caudill said...

I always liked the Winchester Mystery House near San Francisco. (http://www.winchestermysteryhouse.com/)

I think it would be great for a mystery or Treasure Hunt story.


catslady said...

Oh I love hearing all the history behind the story. I wish I could always travel but at least my husband and I were able to see quite a few countries in our early years. So many wonderful castles in Europe but a place that really intrigued me was the fortress, The Citadel, in Haiti. At the top of the mountain it felt like you were at the end of the world. Your book sounds very intriguing!

MiaMarlowe said...

Debra--Rhode Island is very lovely--all those fingers of the sea reaching into the land. Great setting!

MiaMarlowe said...

Sandy--Hong Kong! What a wonderful experience for you.

MiaMarlowe said...

Diane--I was in a workshop with Hannah Howell today. She always makes up her towns, homes, castles, etc, but she uses parts from existing places--a dungeon from here, a tower from there, etc.

MiaMarlowe said...

Thanks, Beth. History calls to me.

MiaMarlowe said...

Beth T--Thanks for sharing the link to MysteryHOuse!

MiaMarlowe said...

Catslady--That Haitan citadel sound fascinating. Bermuda is filled with great historical, mostly military settings. Commissioners House at Royal Docks has killer sea views.

Sandy said...

I enjoyed your post, Mia. I know there is probably a castle or two in my ancestors' history (at least one of my ancestors was a knight who fought with the Conqueror at the Battle of Hastings and was subsequently rewarded with land by the King). I've never visited any castles, but here in Virginia, we are fortunate to have beautiful old homes and plantations that evoke a strong sense of nostalgia and respect for the lives of our forefathers. There's something a bit romantic, even idyllic about standing in Jefferson's dining room or Washington's bedchamber. And I adore antebellum plantations - they make for wonderful settings for time-travel romances or stories with a ghostly twist.

Chelsea B. said...

I always think places I go would make a good setting for romance, haha! I guess I just always have romance on the brain :-)


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