My name is Emily Klein, and I’m an historical romance novelist. Rather, it happened to me by chance. That’s why I am a self- proclaimed accidental romance novelist.
I’m a mum of two. Four years ago, I gave birth to my youngest wee lass. She took many hours to eat, many hours to fall asleep. What’s an anglophile mum to do? I was swept away with musings and daydreams about forgotten times. I made up stories and they served me well, or rather, saved me.
Entire narratives came to me as I sat near my weeping babe. These took place in castles, in a land dear to my heart and inspired by the ballads I loved so well. But, busy, tired mum that I was, I had no time to sit and write them down.
The months passed, and my wee daughter now went to daycare. I had a short break before I needed to go back to work, so I sat myself down at my favourite coffee shop, and wrote. And wrote. And wrote.
Shortly, I had my first short story written, because I had it all in my head before it was put to pen and paper. It was titled The Fair Flower of Northumberland, like the border ballad, and took place in the middle ages, in northern England.
And then, just as my writing endeavour started, it was done. And I craved more. So I started again. This time it was a novel, .The Draughtsman Damsel
So why ‘accidental’? Because I never thought to write romance. These were the stories that came to me. They started as an experiment, a hobby. They became my lifetime passion and vocation.
How do I come up with stories?
When get I an idea for a story, it usually starts with a romantic scene, sometimes a proposal scene, and sometime an erotic scene. My characters pop in my head, saying sweet nothings to each other. Then, I start building the story around it. Who are these people? How did they get here? Why are they in love with each other? Which time period?
Apart for being a staunch anglophile, and loving the English language, the characters simply talk in my head in English. Also, I must say, they tend to use “my lord, my lady” with each other, and that works best in English.
Here are some anecdotes about how I came up with the stories for my novels:
After I finished writing The Draughtsman Damsel, I had recurring “visions” of a young, ginger squire-come-knight, who was proposing marriage to a young, beautiful lady, and she was his lord’s daughter. He tells her that he’s now suitable for her, as he reluctantly accepted his inheritance of a lordship that was his brother’s.
Then I started thinking … how did he get there? Why does he see himself as unworthy? I kept seeing him as a precocious, clever, impetuous ginger lad. Fists clenched, eyes sparkling. Was he bastard born? Yes, but he wasn’t supposed to be. I saw his young mother, great with child and awaiting her lord’s return. Perhaps he would wed her then.
I saw his father, weeping and guilt-ridden over the mother’s sick bed, wed to another, by his own fault.
I saw my lad, John, as a too clever, almost devilishly clever boy who scares his surrounding adults with his uncanny insights. However, he was also a tenderhearted lad, who tended animals. I saw him being sent away as punishment, but thriving instead. That’s how A Good Knight’s Kiss was born.
I then had another idea. A young lady is betrothed to a lord her father detests, for politics’ sake. She is groomed for him. Her father’s knight and counselor has an unhealthy attachment to her, when she is yet a young lass. She thinks herself hopelessly plain, and begins to anticipate her wedding day.
I saw her betrothed, not really to such a bad man. He has been forced to wed a young girl he knows not, but rebels and marries his pregnant, beloved mistress.
I saw her arriving to be wed to the lord, unaware that he’s no longer a single man. I saw him moved by her uncanny beauty, though his wife now lay dying, and offering to be her guardian instead.
I saw her deliberating between three marriage offers, one being her father’s former knight, one being her new guardian, one … one was the dead lady’s brother, whom her lord guardian detests and wishes to save her from him. Why?
I saw a siege, and her marriage to one of the three as a means to lift it and save everyone. I saw it happening in the time of King John and Magna Carta.
That’s how Her Father’s Promise was born.
What now? Thought I. A few readers who had read The Draughtsman Damsel told me that they were enamoured by one of its side characters, Scotsman Robert McMillan. “Give him his own book,” they pleaded. What’s an author to do? I envisioned him heartbroken, having lost Annabelle’s heart. I imagined him fleeing the King’s decree to wed. His betrothed, I imagined, as a too beautiful highland laird’s daughter. I imagined them meeting each other in the greenwood, unaware of the fact that they are each other’s intended. I imagined the elves interfering. Thus, Greenwood Side was born (yet to be published).
Finally, I imagined a lady fleeing an unfaithful fiancée, and a sordid past, to hide as a governess, and falling, reluctantly, for her master, in regency times. I imagined him a recluse, fleeing, himself, from guilt and shame. He was arrogant, and unwillingly celibate. She is sworn to abstinence, and unknowingly, she is arrogant as well. Thus, Arrogance and Abstinence was born (Self Published on Kindle.)
I’m currently working on Reynardine Redeemed, another sequel to the Draughtsman Damsel, featuring the Rakish Guillaume du Lac, as the fabled Reynardine, a werefox from balladry.