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Wednesday, 4 May 2011

The Highest Stakes by Emery Lee

Since THE HIGHEST STAKES' release, I have been asked a number of questions about my inspiration and creative process, and how I researched the novel. I would like to take this opportunity to answer some of these questions and share some thoughts and insights on the novel itself.

It is always said that one should write one's passions. In my case, this would mean converging horses, history and romance. A love story set in the world of horseracing began churning around in my head and invading my dreams at night.

The premise involved young lovers torn between two worlds. I wanted to create a hero who would overcome many obstacles to find love and happiness, with his ultimate fate hanging on a horse race. But where to begin?

I started by researching the history of horseracing and learned that nearly all Thoroughbred racehorses can trace their blood back to not only the Arabian horse, but three very specific sires - all imported to England from the Middle East in the late 17th and early 18th centuries. Bingo! I thought. Why not start with the origin of the thoroughbred itself?

Suddenly, I had my setting- mid-18th century England in the reign of George II, a time in which horseracing became an obsession of the uppermost elite, and fortunes could be won or lost on the racing turf.  I then narrowed my time period to the decade that preceded the formation of the first Jockey Club in 1751.

Once I knew the when and the where of my story, my additional research into this select historical period truly was exhaustive. This was an era of corruption, arranged marriages, and high stakes gambling; when racing and breeding became the obsession of the uppermost elite, and a match race might replace a duel in settling a point of honor.

Over many months, I delved into all aspects of upper class 18th century English life, to include the War of Austrian succession, the British military campaign in which my characters play a part, the shifting politics of the times, arranged marriages, and of course 18th century horseracing and breeding practices.

My goal was then to vividly recreate in the reader’s mind this fascinating and titillating, hard-drinking, vice-ridden, horseracing world of Georgian England.

Interestingly, the horses in THE HIGHEST STAKES play nearly as important a role as the human characters, as Sir Garfield’s racing stud is as essential as his niece and daughter in his schemes to gain social advancement.

Sir Garfield’s niece, Charlotte, is a young girl who is orphaned and forced to live with her uncaring and socially ambitious relatives. Lonely and neglected, she seeks solace within her uncle's racing stables, where she discovers two lifelong passions, Robert Devington, and her uncle’s racehorses.
The young and ambitious Devington is a lowly, but talented stable groom, who leaves his employ for the military, in order to better himself in the eyes of Charlotte's uncle, who will never see him as good enough. When Robert is still rebuffed upon his return from war to claim Charlotte's hand, a racing wager seems the only pathway to win her.
Through this love story of Robert Devington and Charlotte Wallace, a tale of drama, danger, thwarted love, and retribution unfurls.

Enjoy the ride!
Emery Lee



Deborah Swift said...

Hi Emery,it sounds like you had a lot of enjoyment writing this book, based on your enthusiasm for horses and on your research into Georgian England. For those that don't know,Emery runs a Romantic Historical Fiction group on Goodreads.

Emery Lee said...

Hey Deborah!
While horses are certainly one of my passions, I am completely enamored of the Georgian Era. In addition to my upcoming FORTUNE'S SON (set in the 18th century gaming world) I have several more projects set in this time period. (One of whcih is romantic historical fiction with Jacobite intrigue!) I look forward to the chance to share more with you.
Warmest regards,