Wednesday, January 26, 2005

Why historical romance?

Why historical romance? I often hear that question. It's actually pretty simple. I love history. And crave happy endings. So it just seems natural for me to write stories set in the past that end happily.

But there is more to it, when I sit down and really thing about it. History isn't taught nearly as much as it should be these days. And when it is taught, many students don't connect with it - for a variety of reasons. Fiction is one way to bring history to those who found it "boring" in school. And mixing it with romance is, IMHO, an added draw, as many people are like me in that they like a happy ending.

So it seemed quite natural when I returned to writing fiction after my years of essay/thesis writing at university, that I would pen a historical romance. Ok, so I was also one of those naive people who thought it would be an easy thing to write and sell. I'm a lot smarter now .

History and romance seem to blend naturally in my stories and I hope that when people read them, they'll learn something about the period while enjoying the journey of my characters. Over the years I've learned to avoid the information dump, one of the pitfalls that awaits anyone writing any form of historical fiction. Interesting as certain facts and events may be to you, the writer, your reader only wants to read about things that are related to the story. This doesn't mean I leave historical detail out, I just find ways to include it subtley and try to avoid launching into a lecture on housing in the medieval period or the politics of the French Revolution.

I am one of those writers who does aim to be as accurate as possible. And am one of those readers who does question things (though sometimes I do turn out to be wrong). This is not just because I want my readers to learn something while they read, but because I love to research. And the historian in me craves accuracy (just as the romantic wants a happy ending). Recreating the past is both a magical and frustrating job for any writer - magical when it works and frustrating when you spend hours searching for a small detail. I've learned that if I can't find something out, I rework a scene rather than bang my head endlessly against a brick wall (a cliche, I know, but one that seemed appropriate here). I know I'm not the only historical romance writer who feels this way.

For those who want to write historical romance with a good balance of accuracy and readability, Sabrina Jeffries provides some solid advice as do Anne Marble, and Carolyn Jewel. I also stumbled across an interesting exchange about historical accuracy in romance fiction on Alison Kent's blog.

Well, that's about it for today. Enjoy :-


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