Remember the excitement of moving up to “chapter books” in elementary school? Big books with bigger stories and plenty of adventures for the characters meant you were officially a big kid, too – and for most of us, chapter books were the last giant step towards becoming life-long readers.
But reading chapter books meant leaving picture books behind, and I’m not sure I ever got over the loss. Although as I writer I shouldn’t agree, there are times when one picture really is worth a thousand words. I suspect I have a lot of company, too. Most of us are visual creatures. Why else would publishers lavish so much care on the cover-art for romances to attract readers? I freely admit that I’ve bought books by authors new to me simply because I liked the cover.
Still, that cover is likely the only visual that comes with a romance, and often the cover-art bears zero relation to the author’s idea of how the hero or heroine should actually look. Like it or lump it, the cover is the only illustration that authors or readers get.
In the world of social networking, Pinterest is the newbie next to the (relative) old-timers like Facebook and Twitter. Pinterest is often dismissed as a haven for chicken recipies, cute pet photos, and wedding planning. But I’ve discovered that for writers – and for readers – it can be so much more. A Pinterest board can become that illustrated version of a book.
I share a Pinterest page with my good friend and fellow-blogger-&-author Loretta Chase, where we’re our usual internet selves as the Two Nerdy History Girls. Unlike other social networking sites, you don’t have to have your own Pinterest account to visit ours (although it’s easy enough to join.) Anyone can browse.
Here’s the board I created for When You Wish Upon a Duke, my new historical romance for Ballantine/Random House. I’ve included all sorts of 18th century things that relate to the story, from what Charlotte’s wedding ring and dress might have looked like, to dueling pistols, a sedan chair, jewels, and a posh, velvet-covered dog kennel. There’s the grand town house that inspired the one I invented for the Duke of Marchbourne, and the much more modest Dorset country manor where the Wylder sisters might have spent their childhood. I’ve even included a photograph of the tasseled and silk-lined interior of a carriage. And beds: lots of lush, splendid beds (because this IS a romance.)
But my Pinterest boards aren’t just about new books. They’re also a place to store ideas and research for future stories. I’ve always been fascinated by London’s 18th and 19th century pleasure gardens like Vauxhall and Ranelagh, magical places where people from all classes mingled by moonlight for music, dancing, and seduction. Whenever I stumble across something on the internet about pleasure gardens, I stash it (or pin it, in Pinterest jargon) on this page, ready when I might need it. I’ve used it, too: in my next book, When the Duchess Said Yes, the hero and heroine meet at a masquerade at Ranelagh gardens.
Of course, not everything I pin has a purpose. Some things are there just because. I love shoes, so I’ve made a board featuring dozens of pairs of 18th century shoes and slippers. There’s another board devoted to wedding dresses of the past because I’m hopelessly romantic, and one of historical curiosities, like Henry VIII’s horned helmet and boxing squirrels.
And then there’s the board devoted to Hot Heroic Inspiration, which is exactly what it sounds like. ::Sigh:: Isn’t Pinterest great?
Have you discovered Pinterest? If so, what kinds of things do you pin?
Isabella Bradford is a pseudonym for Susan Holloway Scott, the award-winning author of more than forty historical novels and historical romances. Her bestselling books have been published in nineteen countries and translated into fourteen languages, with more than three million copies in print worldwide. Visit Isabella on her website. She also blogs with Loretta Chase at www.TwoNerdyHistoryGirls.com, on Twitter, and on Pinterest.