I was lucky enough to meet Paullett through NetGalley. I reviewed the first book in her Enchantress Series and immediately fell in love with her writing. She has since written three other books in the series and has become my Georgian/Regency mentor (although she might not know I gave her that title). Paullett graciously agreed to do an author interview so that we, her dedicated readers, might get to know a little bit more about her and her writing process.
1. When did you first feel the need to become a writer?
Always! I’ve never not wanted to be a writer. From as far back as I can remember, I wanted to write, and I do mean even in childhood. My mother and I were avid readers and would spend every evening reading to each other and talking about the stories. At the time, I thought I would become a mystery writer because I loved mystery novels. I loved delving into, especially, human nature and psychology. It wasn’t until I stumbled on my first romance (historical romance, no less) that I realized I wanted to write love stories rather than mystery (I was 12, I think, or thereabouts). I love the combination of history and romance. We can transport ourselves to a different time and place, living in a different setting and experiencing a different world, true escapism. We also have that opportunity to relive the pivotal moment when we find someone who sees us, understands us, and values us, that moment of true belonging. What a beautiful experience to relive time and again.
Once I knew I wanted to write historical romance, I wasted no time. I was joining local writing groups that had hist rom tables and even national groups with local chapters I could attend (and of course, you can imagine the reaction when in walks a 12-year-old eager to read and critique with experienced romance writers). And yes, I still have some of those old stories (typed on a Smith-Corona typewriter)!
2. What authors do you feel inspired you to become the writer you are today?
Too many to name! Writers have inspired me in a variety of ways. Johanna Lindsey, for example, inspired me to write within this genre. Hers was the first historical romance I read. Margaret Atwood inspired me to look at different perspectives of a situation and pay attention to the word play of a single phrase or word. Stephen King inspired me to scrape away the purple prose and focus on what matters. I could talk all day about writers who have inspired me in some fashion, as each had some influence on how I approach writing, not just in this genre but in terms of style and craft.
3. What does a typical day of writing look like for you?
Get drink. Sit at computer. Open document. Sip drink. Stare. Sip drink. Click Google. Fall down a rabbit hole. Get up to refill drink. Repeat.
Somewhere in there I write! Once my fingers start tapping, they don’t stop. The drink goes cold, the sun moves across the sky, and still my fingers tap. It’s the getting started that sometimes takes a bit of warming up because I’ll re-read what I wrote in the session before, dig around for research, re-read again, make a change, do some more re-reading, and so forth. I suppose it’s a bit like writing-foreplay. I first must fondle the words and roll the turn of phrases over the tongue. There are times when I get right to the writing-lovemaking, but more often than not there’s an hour or two of foreplay where I’m working up to the true intimacy.
4. How do your stories come to life? Do you have a clear idea before you start or do you start writing and let inspiration guide you?
A little of both, actually. I have a clear idea before I start. I’m very much a planner in that the entire story is outlined, scenes sketched, dialogue drafted, etc., before I ever begin the actual writing. Once I begin writing, everything changes. The writing takes on a life of its own; the characters make decisions of their own. Entire scenes will be changed, deleted, and added. What I thought sounded good goes a different direction until I almost don’t recognize the story anymore. The story very much comes to life as I’m writing it, but I was initially inspired by that original plan.
5. Why did you pick this particular era to write about?
I let the characters choose the era. My first set of characters was Lizbeth and Sebastian from The Earl and The Enchantress. They screamed to me the Age of Enlightenment. It wasn’t until I started digging into the era that I was struck by the decade and then the year that they would meet. It was all about studying the timelines, the events, the literature and inventions, the etiquette and mores, the culture, even the fashion of each passing year to be able to say, “THIS year.” It began with narrowing the movement/era, then the decade, and then the year. Nothing is arbitrarily chosen. I wanted what existed at the time and didn’t exist yet to work for their story and their beliefs. It’s the same with every story. How differently would have been Duncan’s experience with war if he had fought instead during the Napoleonic Wars or the American Revolution? The stories depend on the time period in which they take place—era, decade, and year.
6. What do you find is the hardest part of writing in this genre?
Staying true to the time while also pleasing the reader is the most challenging. For true historical accuracy, there are certain mores, etiquette, and world views that must exist, but such things don’t make a ready connection with the modern reader. The multitude of “fantasy” historical romances proves this, where readers are often more interested in seeing modern sensibilities with carriages and ballgowns than an accurate depiction of the time. Finding a balance where I’m as true to the time as I can be while still making the characters relatable is a great challenge, and so a little bit here and there must give to make it happen. It’s not the historical aspect that’s difficult but rather making it convincing and relatable to the modern reader.
7. What does your research process look like?
Much of the research happens before I begin crafting the story since I use the research to sort out the plot points—can this happen? How would it happen? Are there instances of this happening? A great deal of research will happen as I’m writing, as well, such as when a new plot point reveals itself or when a character wants to do something that I’m unsure would have happened. Take, for instance, Sebastian’s visit to the coffeehouse. Here we have our hero, an earl no less, popping down to the local Starbucks, basically. Would he have? Could he have? Did coffeehouses even exist? This moment, his desire to visit the local coffeehouse, spurred research during the writing process that I never could have anticipated during the plotting process. And lo and behold, I discovered a fascinating world of 18th century coffeehouses that gave me fodder for a great many future stories! Some research, like this, can be intense, but some research is simply looking up word etymology or something quick and easy.
My three primary research sources are
(a) Primary sources from the time, as in journals, memoirs, diaries, autobiographies, laws, legal proceedings, law reports, farming journals, etc. of those in and at the time. Depending on what I’m researching determines what I read. So, for instance, if I want to understand the daily life of a vicar, I’ll read the various published memoirs of clergyman at that time. I learn a great deal more than what their daily life was like, of course, and that influences other aspects of my writing and research. If I want to know what the charges for bigamy were, I’ll find the original legal documents outlining the laws and any documented court cases where someone was charged with bigamy. If I want to know how horses were trained, I’ll read the British Army’s training manuals from that time. These are just examples, of course.
(b) Scholarly sources of aspects of the time, such as peer-reviewed, academic and scholarly articles from journal databases such as JSTOR, Ebsco, and so forth. Their research often leads me to other primary sources and secondary sources that I wouldn’t have found otherwise, but it’s amazing how many experts in the field have already researched things we might want to know, and we can study their research findings, such as a scholarly, peer-reviewed article examining the various medical treatment methods for spinal injuries from 1790-1810.
(c) Art and literature of the time. It’s amazing what you can learn by reading the fiction they enjoyed reading as well as studying the paintings. For instance, there’s a distinct difference in the artwork from the Baroque period vs the Rococo period, showing us what the people valued at the time, how they lived their life daily, how their values influenced fashion, if they spent their days indoors vs out, etc. The literature and art work together in creating a whole picture of life. We know how they spoke, how they treated each other, how they thought, what they valued, their outlook, etc.
My three primary research sources are
- Primary sources from the time, as in journals, memoirs, diaries, autobiographies, laws, legal proceedings, law reports, farming journals, etc. of those in and at the time. Depending on what I’m researching determines what I read. So, for instance, if I want to understand the daily life of a vicar, I’ll read the various published memoirs of clergyman at that time. I learn a great deal more than what their daily life was like, of course, and that influences other aspects of my writing and research. If I want to know what the charges for bigamy were, I’ll find the original legal documents outlining the laws and any documented court cases where someone was charged with bigamy. If I want to know how horses were trained, I’ll read the British Army’s training manuals from that time. These are just examples, of course.
- Scholarly sources of aspects of the time, such as peer-reviewed, academic and scholarly articles from journal databases such as JSTOR, Ebsco, and so forth. Their research often leads me to other primary sources and secondary sources that I wouldn’t have found otherwise, but it’s amazing how many experts in the field have already researched things we might want to know, and we can study their research findings, such as a scholarly, peer-reviewed article examining the various medical treatment methods for spinal injuries from 1790-1810.
- Art and literature of the time. It’s amazing what you can learn by reading the fiction they enjoyed reading as well as studying the paintings. For instance, there’s a distinct difference in the artwork from the Baroque period vs the Rococo period, showing us what the people valued at the time, how they lived their life daily, how their values influenced fashion, if they spent their days indoors vs out, etc. The literature and art work together in creating a whole picture of life. We know how they spoke, how they treated each other, how they thought, what they valued, their outlook, etc.
8. You have such a unique approach in your books regarding important issues women face. Why did you feel it was important to weave these topics into your stories?
It was all to do with the chosen era and what was happening at the time. I realize there are parallels to contemporary experiences, but my intention was to stay true to the era with the struggles they faced, the desires they had, the freedoms they realized, and so forth. Many of these issues are seen in the works of the time. Even Jane Austen’s characters and actions speak to the issues women faced.
I do feel it’s important for us to understand these issues because that is not only an important aspect of the time but also the challenge of the happily ever after. Can two people facing these issues have a happily ever after? So much of what they face echoes what we face today that seeing how they tackle their issues gives us hope in our own lives.
Now, what exactly the issue is will depend on the era in which I’m writing, as we won’t necessarily see a repeat of the same themes or desires from every character since the issues women faced are different from one era to the next, say women in 1750 vs women in 1850—although, much like today, there are parallels. Take the concept of “the angel in the house” of the Victorian era. While this ideology is exclusive to the Victorian period, there are still parallels a century before and a century after.
9. What is your favorite part of the writing process?
I suppose the writing itself is my favorite part. While lost in the tapping of keys, I make magic happen. I’m not worried about editing or perfection. I’m not worried about learning all I can on a specific topic. I’m not worried about deadlines. I’m simply writing for the joy of writing. The wordplay is incredibly fun.
10. How do you come up with character names?
Thus far, most of the character names have come from family members. I might use a family member’s middle name as a hero’s first name, for instance. I have used a few names from close friends, and while the characters don’t resemble them as people, I’ve borrowed their names as a way to honor them. I do spend a good bit of time digging around registries of the time to see what was popular. There have been a few times when a name would pop into mind out of the blue while profiling a character, and there have certainly been times when I’ve been researching something and a name stands out that seems perfect for a secondary character or even a hero/heroine. Drake, for instance, came about when I was traveling Northumberland and plotting places for things to occur, landmarks that could be mentioned, and the like. I came across the Drake Stone, had a good laugh, and decided the cousin would be named Drake. His mother may try to convince him he was named after a dragon, but I’ll always know he was really named after a rock.
11. What do you feel makes The Earl and The Enchantress special?
Tough question—special to me? Special as a plot? Special for readers? It’s special to me on a few levels. It was my debut novel, so even when I look back at it ten years from now and want to change everything, it’ll always mark the launch into my writing career, the book that started it all. Sebastian is, in many ways, my favorite hero archetype. I love reading about Byronic heroes. Of all the types out there, Byronic is the one I turn to time and again. Sebastian embodies that sort of perfect hero, for me, although he does have flaws that would have driven me batty had I known him! But of all the heroes so far, he’s the one with whom I would want to be trapped in a castle. Debut novel + ideal hero = special place in my heart.
12. What book/books are you currently reading?
I’m currently reading Redeeming the Reclusive Earl by Virginia Heath. It’s newly released. One of the book bloggers I follow recommended it. I take such recommendations seriously! If they say I’ll like it, I’m going to read it. And I can never resist a book staring a reclusive hero, namely an earl. Am I imagining Sebastian acting out the part of the hero in this book? Maybe.
13. If you weren’t a writer, what would you be?
I can’t see myself being anything but a writer. I’m a classical musician, but I’ve never had a desire to do anything with that training aside from teaching lessons or play in an orchestra, neither of which sings my heart’s desire. It’s fun, but not my passion or talent.
14. Favorite type of pen? Ballpoint, uniball or fountain pen
Ballpoint, no contest. I like the feel of it against the page, smooth without the scratch. Once upon a time, I handwrote all stories. I couldn’t craft a story on a typewriter or computer. I had to write it by hand first. The feel of the pen against the page was somehow inspirational. I wrote everything by hand and then would retype it afterwards. Now, I type far faster than I write, and I think faster than I type, so the only way to go about writing is to type everything. If I had to wait for my hand to catch up to my ideas, I’d never get anything written! As it is, my typing is fast enough that I can keep up rather well. And in case you’re curious, my last clocked speed was 128 wpm with a 98% accuracy. I spent a great deal of time in middle school or thereabouts practicing my typing even to the point of taking typing courses to increase the speed. Why? Because I knew I’d have to type fast to be a writer!
15. Favorite time of day to read?
I typically read in the morning to start the day and at night to end the day. I’ve been known to lose sleep over a book, as I’m sure many can relate!
About The Author
Paullett Golden is a Houston, Texas native who now divides her time between Northumberland, England and her hometown. She has been a university professor for over 20 years. When an oncologist told her she had three months to live, she decided it was time to fulfill her dream of being a novelist. As a survivor, she now focuses her attention on writing. Her debut novel has hit the Amazon bestseller list multiple times and has won literary awards. She loves historical fiction of all kinds as a way to transport us to a different time and place. All research comes from authentic resources of the era and from scholarly and peer-reviewed articles from researchers specializing in the time period. Though she may take liberties with the fictional aspects, she does aim for the fiction to reflect the mores, culture, laws, and environment of the time. When not writing, she can be found in her butterfly garden or on a race track.
The Enchantress Series
You can also read about The Enchantress Series in my last post.