Friday, July 17, 2015

Getting to Know You - Christina Courtenay

I’ve never really found anywhere I truly belong – I grew up in Sweden with a Swedish mother and an English father, which meant I was a bit of a ‘mixed-up kid’.  But one place (if you can call it that) I’ve always felt an affinity with is the past.  I still remember my very first history lesson, learning about the Stone Age, and being taken on an outing to see a Stone Age boat carved out of a tree trunk.  I was amazed and fascinated and completely hooked on history from then on.  While others in my class groaned about having to learn the names of kings and queens, and the dates of battles and other important events, I lapped it all up – I couldn’t get enough!

Like most other authors, I was a voracious reader as a child and quickly outgrew the children’s section at the local library.  My dad had noticed my love of history and pointed me in the direction of books like The Odyssey and the Norse Sagas, as well as factual books about Tutankhamun and so on.  When he told me to read The Three Musketeers, however, I had found my favourite genre – historical romance.

It has to be said that there isn’t an awful lot of romance in that book (and what there is doesn’t end very happily, which frustrated me enormously!), but it showed me that such books existed and made me go looking for more.  I discovered writers like Victoria Holt and Madeleine Brent, but in my high school library I finally found the best thing ever – Georgette Heyer.  As a teenager I had a one hour long journey to school by train, when I was supposed to be revising or studying, but I’m afraid to say a lot of those journeys were spent in Regency England instead!  If you ask me, it was time well spent though as I learned a lot about the Regency period and my English (both grammar, vocabulary and spelling) improved no end.

These days I’m lucky enough to both read and write historical romance as much as I like!  I also spend time doing genealogy, a very addictive hobby which feeds my love of all things past.  There’s nothing more exciting than discovering an ancestor who has been eluding you for years.  I once found one after looking for him for ten years - talk about a Eureka moment!  And I almost missed him because the person entering his name in the baptismal register had smeared the J at the beginning of his name so it read <inkblob>oseph.  Thankfully the smudge couldn’t be any other letter so I knew I’d found ‘my’ Joseph.

So far my genealogy research hasn’t given me any ideas for a novel, but I’m hoping that one day soon I’ll come across the perfect hero or heroine among my ancestors.  Until then, I’ll just make them up!

Christina x
The Jade Lioness – historical romance and adventure set in 17th century Japan, published by Choc Lit, out now as an ebook, coming in paperback October 2015


Jane Odiwe said...

I'm very envious of your mixed background, Christina. I love seeing your posts on Facebook about Swedish traditions! Thank goodness for Georgette Heyer-I wonder if she knew how her books inspired so many.

Melinda Hammond/Sarah Mallory said...

What a lovely post - you have such an interesting background, Christina, and I am sure it colours your books (which I love, by the way!)

Thank you for posting

Fenella J Miller said...

Fascinating - have your book on my Kindle.