Saturday, March 20, 2010

Wildcard Weekend: Excavating Florida’s Hidden Treasures, metaphorically speaking

The Pink Heart Society welcomes Steeple Hill Historical Inspired author Louisa M Gouge.
This is my first post for The Pink Heart Society, and I’m thrilled that these lovely ladies have invited me to be guest blogger. As a writer, I always have lots to say, but especially when I have a brand new book releasing and have just returned from a research trip for my next novel.

So, I ask myself, what will the readers of this blog want to know? Since this site is about writing, I’ll start by telling you that I write historical fiction and I love to talk about history. But I also want to discuss the research required for any book, historical or contemporary or even time travel.

I have lived in Florida for thirty years, and yet for twenty-five of those years, it never sunk in that this state was once a British colony. Florida? Spanish colony, right? Yes, for most of two hundred years. But during one of those many European wars of past centuries, Spain had to hand over this colony to England in 1763. Out went the hapless Spanish settlers, many of whom had been born here. In came the eager English AND a bunch of Americans from the northern colonies. Many settled in the capital, St. Augustine, and others established plantations, where they grew oranges, lemons, rice, indigo, and many other products. Then, when the thirteen colonies rebelled against England, many loyalists had to flee their homes and come to Florida, which had no wish to separate from the mother country. Of course, all this conflict makes a wonderful setting for a romance novel. In my case, it’s been the inspiration for a series of three books.

The first book, Love Thine Enemy (July 2009), takes place on one of those indigo plantations along the St. Johns River, and the hero and heroine are on different sides of the Revolution. Then, in one of those fun fiction happenings, a secondary character from that story asked for his own book. So along comes The Captain’s Lady, which was just released this March 16. Again, the hero and heroine are on different sides in the war, and for variety, this story takes place in London. What fun to imagine the drawing rooms and manor houses of England! But the best part was to explore the motivation of the Patriots who were willing to risk their lives, their fortunes, and their sacred honor to win freedom for themselves and their posterity. If you ever want to understand this motivation and, if you’re an American, reignite your own patriotism, read the Declaration of Independence. It’s very readable, even after two hundred and thirty-four years. For me, it serves as an inspiration to write stories about fictional people engaged in those struggles in the hope that my readers will appreciate what their real life forefathers and foremothers did for them. And to make certain I don’t jar my readers with historical mistakes, I always strive for accuracy in my settings and social attitudes of the time.

Fortunately for me, I am crazy about research. Whenever possible, I travel to my settings. In fact, I just returned home from St. Augustine, where I spent two days in the St. Augustine Historical Society’s research library. The wonderful librarians there helped me design the settings for my third book in this series. They pointed out some errors I was making and helped me fix them. I read many journals and books, buying several for my own library. I also visited that historic city’s streets and houses that are kept true to the time period. No author wants a reader to stop reading because a mistake pulls her from the story. Of course, no one is a perfect writer, but we do try our best to present stories as they might have happened. When we encounter conflicting accounts of what actually happened in those days, we must find the truth or choose another scenario. No “adjusting” history to fit our stories, please.

For an exciting trip into the past, give historical fiction a try. You’ll discover romance, adventure, brave and handsome heroes, courageous and beautiful heroines in graceful gowns, and maybe just a wee bit of inspiration for your own life.

Louise M. Gouge’s latest release is The Captain’s Lady. Find out more about her at, where she is giving away a copy of her new book on March 31.


  1. Great post Louise. I write historicals and just love the research that goes with it. I might even say I love it *too* much and don't do enough writing. Take care. Caroline x

  2. Caroline, I have that same problem. I could have taken a pillow and blanket and camped out in the St. Augustine Historical Research Library. If you ever get a chance to go there, you'll love it. Same goes for the other historical society libraries I've visited. Louise

  3. Love your writeup Louise,

    I'm writing a historical at the moment, and being a fan of relatively luxurious "fabrics" (can't help but buy metres of fabulous fabrics = obsession), I've been researching the origins and first trading routes beyond that of the "Silk Trail".

    Wow, cotton cloth/clothing was around 5th millennium BC, and 1500s when velvet,satin became fashionable as everyday wear for nobility and gentry. Research can be fun in more ways than one!