Meredith Allard - Historical Fiction Romance/Time Travel Fantasy with Heart

Meredith Allard - Historical Fiction Romance/Time Travel Fantasy with Heart
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Meredith Allard is the author of the bestselling paranormal historical Loving Husband Series. Her sweet Victorian romance, When It Rained at Hembry Castle, was named a best historical novel by IndieReader. Her first nonfiction book, Painting the Past: A Guide for Writing Historical Fiction, was named a #1 new release in Authorship and Creativity Self-Help on Amazon. She lives in Las Vegas, Nevada. As our Author of the Day, she tells us about her book, The Duchess of Idaho.

Please give us a short introduction to what The Duchess of Idaho is about.

The Duchess of Idaho is a time travel love story that takes place on the Oregon Trail. Grace Wentworth knows that her parents are keeping a secret from her, and while she visits her grandmother in Idaho she finds herself catapulted back to 1850 on the Oregon Trail. While she’s there she meets a handsome pioneer named Matthew Cooper who becomes her love interest.

What inspired you to write this story? Was there anything in particular that made you want to tackle this?

The Duchess of Idaho is an interesting book because while it includes characters from my Loving Husband Series, it is actually the first book in its own series about Grace Wentworth. I originally came up with an idea for a time-travel story to the Oregon Trail because I developed an interest in the Oregon Trail while I lived in Idaho, and like many other readers I’m a huge fan of Outlander and I thought it might be fun to write a time travel story. I didn’t originally think to have one of the characters from the Loving Husband Series as my time-traveling character, but it just sort of worked out that way. The Duchess of Idaho is a stand-alone, so you don’t have to read the books in the Loving Husband Series to be able to follow the story.

Why time travel fantasy? What drew you to the genre?

Like many readers, I’m a fan of Outlander and since I love to write fantasy, I thought, why not write a time travel story? I had already written about vampires, witches, werewolves, and ghosts, so I thought writing a time travel story would fit right in with that love of fantasy. I write fiction to escape the real world, and writing fantasy allows me to do that.

How much research did this book require from you to make the history part of it ring true?

I write a lot of historical fiction, so I’m used to doing research. In fact, researching is one of the things I love about writing historical fiction. I love learning about history. The Duchess of Idaho was one of those books that required a lot of research on my part. Even though I’ve been fascinated by the Oregon Trail for years, I hadn’t read much about it. There was a lot to learn about the Oregon Trail because specific things happened at specific points along the way. I had a lot of fun bringing it all to life, though it was also a hard time because there was a lot of tragedy.

Tell us more about Grace Wentworth. What makes her tick?

Grace is the daughter of James and Sarah Wentworth, the leads in my Loving Husband Series. But The Duchess of Idaho is her story, which is why this book is the first book of its own series. She is a combination of both of her parents—she’s logical like her father James and intuitive like her mother Sarah. Personality-wise, she’s much more like her father. She has a bit of a smarty pants sense of humor, which I love writing. She’s a young woman, 22 years old, trying to figure out where she fits in the world, and she’s able to discover that after her time-travel experiences on the Oregon Trail.

Why did you pick the Oregon Trail as the backdrop for your story?

I lived in Nampa and Boise, Idaho from 2002-2003. Even though I only lived there for a year, I loved it while I was there. During that time I became interested in Lewis and Clark and the Oregon Trail. I had the idea for writing a historical novel set on the Oregon Trail but I was busy writing other projects and put the idea on the backburner for years. Finally, I realized that I could take Grace Wentworth’s story and combine it with my idea for a novel on the Oregon Trail.

Which of your characters was the most challenging to create?

Grace was actually the most difficult character. I had to figure out her personality, how she was similar to her parents, but also how she was different. She was a child in the Loving Husband Series and now she’s a young adult, 22, in The Duchess of Idaho.

Interesting cover. Please tell us more about how it came about.

I have a great cover designer who seems to read my mind. I give her a few general ideas about the book and she comes up with a few mock-ups for me to look at. It was her idea to make the covered wagon glow under the night sky, which was so perfect for the story, especially since it’s a time travel fantasy. I loved that cover the minute I saw it.

James and Sarah's secret also play an important role in this book. Why did you take this approach?

Since Grace is James and Sarah’s daughter, their experiences during the Loving Husband Series help to explain the magic that Grace suddenly finds in her life—in her case the time travel. One of the challenges of writing this book was making sure there was enough information from the Loving Husband Series that people could understand The Duchess of Idaho as a stand-alone story, but not including so much that readers of the Loving Husband Series felt like they were rereading things they already knew. It was a fine balance. But James and Sarah’s secret help Grace understand who she is and where she comes from.

What did you have the most fun with when writing The Duchess of Idaho?

I loved discovering the new cast of characters. For me, one of the best things about being a novelist is when characters suddenly come to life and they seem to exist on their own, independent of me. Some of the characters have a pretty good sense of humor, like Annabelle, Grace’s grandmother, and a few of the Oregon Trail characters.

When starting on a new book, what is the first thing you do?

I don’t start writing right away. I start by kicking the idea around in my head for a while to see if there’s enough there for me to commit to writing it. It can take me up to a year to write a novel, so that’s a lot of time commitment. I like to be sure that I’m excited about the project before I get started on it.

Do you have any interesting writing habits? What is an average writing day like for you?

I’m not sure I do have any interesting writing habits. I just sit myself down and get to work. I usually get to writing in the late afternoon and I’ll work from about 3 pm to 5 pm. I’m also the executive editor of a literary journal for historical fiction, so that keeps me pretty busy.

What are you working on right now?

Right now I’m taking a few weeks off because finishing The Duchess of Idaho took a lot out of me! The Duchess of Idaho has romance, heart, and humor, but there are also some heartbreaking scenes because it’s the Oregon Trail, and the trail was dangerous and hard. As a writer, those heartbreaking scenes take a lot out of me because I’m experiencing it along with the characters. So I’m definitely taking some recovery time. In May, I’ll start on the next book in the Loving Husband Series, entitled And Shadows Will Fall, which is about James and Sarah Wentworth.

Where can our readers discover more of your work or interact with you?

My main hub is my website, www.meredithallard.com. Most of my readers contact me through the contact link on my website or they email me at [email protected]. I love hearing from readers, so please do get in touch!

The Duchess of Idaho

Meredith Allard
How would you survive with one life in the past and another in the present? Part historical romance, part time travel fantasy, The Duchess of Idaho is a story for anyone who believes the bonds of true love will never be broken.
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