Nina: I studied mostly 19th century European art when I was working on my PhD, so I’ve been immersed in that history for a long time. It’s such a fascinating era, filled with so much innovation and social change, that it’s rich with possibilities for storytelling. I also think the social structures allow for some interesting conflicts among the characters, especially when propriety and desire clash. Then there are the writing challenges — when characters can’t call each other on the phone or hop in the car, you have to address that! I also like the fact that the Victorian era has a rather romantic aura associated with it, and it’s just fun to research and write about the details. And in general, art history grounded me in how to tell a story since so much of 19th century European art is about visual storytelling.
Nancy: Your hero in your first release, Alexander, Viscount Northwood is part Russian, and the burgeoning Anglo Russian war plays a big part in this book. What drew you to writing about this time period?
Nina: This is also related to my art history research, as my dissertation was about French and Russian art in the 19th century. There’s a lot of both political tension and cultural exchange between Russia and other European countries, so I thought it would be fascinating to bring that element into a romance novel. Also the wartime setting allows for another cache of storytelling possibilities, and doing the research usually generates new ideas. I really liked the idea of Lydia and Alexander’s relationship also creating cultural issues as well as personal ones.
Nina: “A Study in Seduction” is a sexy, intricate Victorian romance centering on Lydia Kellaway, a brilliant mathematician, and Alexander Hall, a viscount fighting a family scandal. When Lydia challenges Alexander to a wager for a locket that contains a shattering secret, they clash in a war of resolve and hearts. Only one of them can win, but the battle might destroy their love.
Nina: Lydia is very, very loosely based on a 19th century female mathematician named Sofia Kovalevskaya.She was a Russian woman who had an early talent for mathematics and sought a university education. She eventually became the first woman in Europe to earn a doctorate summa cum laude and a full university professorship. I was intrigued by Sofia’s struggles and ground-breaking work, and I wondered what it would be like if a woman with such a strong intellect had to contend with a physical attraction to a man whom she couldn’t resist. So Lydia started to develop from that idea, and Alexander soon followed!
Nina: Yes! Clara Winter is a strong, determined women who lives with her uncle in his Museum of Automata, after having escaped her tyrannical father. And Sebastian is battling his own demons, as he is faced with the sudden loss of his career as a renowned musician. When Clara realizes that Sebastian can help her in a very desperate quest, she’ll stop at nothing to make him her ally. But the revelation of their secrets could either unite them or tear them apart forever.
Nina: I’m working on the third book in the series, which focuses on Talia Hall, the youngest of the Hall siblings and the only sister. She has had a life-long crush on their childhood friend James Forester, Baron Castleford, and finally Talia decides that it’s about time James knows exactly how she feels about him.
Nina: I have a lot of ideas floating around, and sometimes doing research helps them find a place to land — like I knew I wanted to write about a female mathematician, then looking more into the Victorian era, I realized that was the right setting for the story I wanted to tell. I used to be a pantser but found that I’d get too off-track during writing, so now using at least a sketch of an outline is really helpful in keeping my ideas in order. It still changes, but I’m getting better at keeping the bones of the story straight.
Fine dining or takeout on the couch?
Day or night writer?
Nina: Definitely day, but an “all-day” writer as I have a pretty strict schedule for a few hours, then try to eke out paragraphs or sentences in-between family responsibilities.
Nina: Actually, I love popcorn while sitting on the couch too, but while writing I definitely prefer tea and cookies. Must be the influence of the Victorians!
Nina’s books can be found at:
So everyone, do you like historicals that stay within the boundaries of England, or do you like being immersed in different venues?