Saturday, May 18, 2013

Christina Hollis: Research and Romance...

Sunset over the Golden Horn, Istanbul, Turkey. Photo by Bertil Videt 2003.
Istanbul by Bertil Videt

I wrote my first romance almost by accident, but found I loved the process. 
My writing career began in journalism. A  piece I did on Robert Curthose, the eldest son of William the Conqueror, attracted a lot of interest. Writers love to see how many ways they can use the research they've done, so I decided to try expanding my work into a new biography of Robert. It felt like a good idea, but at the time publishers weren't interested in anyone who hadn’t been immortalized by Holbein - like the much more famous Henry VIII. 

Young Robert led a wild and exciting life, but he ended up as a pretty obscure footnote to English history. Without much in the way of written records or illustrations, I was told his natural habitat was between the pages of an academic thesis. That didn't appeal to me, so I put the idea aside. 

Then one day, BBC Radio 4's Woman's Hour did a feature on historical romance. When I was at school, I'd loved the books of Georgette Heyer so I decided to try turning some of the general research I’d already done into a novel. The result was Knight's Pawn, which was published by Harlequin Mills and Boon under their Masquerade imprint. This was followed by five more historical novels for Harlequin, written under my pen name of Polly Forrester. At the time they were only available in the UK. I'm now in the process of bringing them out as ebooks, to introduce them to a wider audience. 

Lady Rascal is already on sale and my next title, Jewel Under Siege, is due for release later this summer. Jewel under Siege is set in Constantinople (modern-day Istanbul), at the time of the Crusades. Elena is a young widow who finds herself in an impossible situation when tough warrior Emil literally falls into her life. He is the enemy, but the lure of the forbidden means Elena and Emil are attracted to each other despite the dangers. Robert Curthose manages to become a footnote to their story, too!

One thing I've noticed when revisiting my earlier work is that my fiction tended to be sweet, rather than steamy. As my career in fiction-writing has expanded, I've lost some of my inhibitions so I’m busy warming up the scenes between Elena and Emil at the moment 

How do you like your historical romances - tender, or torrid? 

If you'd like to keep up with the latest news about Jewel Under Siege, you can subscribe to Christina’s newsletter by sending her an email at with the word “subscribe” in the subject line. You can also read her blog at, and see a complete list of her published books at


Connie said...

I had to chuckle at your question because it reminded me of a funny thing my son said when he was a little boy. We asked him how he wanted his steak cooked and his response was: Tender! :-)

So, I guess my response would also tend to lean toward the tender side. A little seasoning of some passion here and there makes for my favorite type of novel.

I’m looking forward to reading “Lady Rascal.” I love the cover! The hunky hero and the heroine in that lovely dress is just yummy!

Christina Hollis said...

Hi, Connie - thanks for commenting. Children have a way of saying what everybody is thinking, don't they?
I'm glad you like the cover of "Lady Rascal", and I hope you're having a lovely weekend!

Pat Cochran said...

I like my romances with more than a touch of both, mixed in with a fair amount of humor!

Christina Hollis said...

Hi Pat - thanks for commenting. That sounds like the perfect recipe - "a little of what you fancy"! ;)

Lory Lee said...

Hi Christina! I'd like them both or a little mix of both. Too tender sometimes becomes boring (sorry) or too torrid would take some romance out of it.