Anyway, those of you in blogland who frequent the same blogs I do will likely have guessed I suddenly have a little free time on my hands as I've been commenting everywhere *g*.
Màili pointed me to some great essays on Jane Ann Krentz's website, so I'll start with a comment one of them.
Titled Romance 101, it's written by Sue Waldeck, who has a wonderful website called Road to Romance and is about the power of this historical romance novel to inspire a love of history.
I especially loved this section:
In my book, the French Revolution was exciting and real, I could take the descriptions of clothes, mannerisms, personalities and lives and incorporate them into the dry readings required to pass the course...It wasn't the facts that I learned from the books that helped me along, but the hunger for more information about these people who were so interesting.
Sue sums this up so well. THIS is what I'm striving to achieve in my own writing. Those of us who already LOVE history will read about it no matter what. What I want to do is pull in those who think of history as "dry" and "boring" and "just a list of dates". In the last sentence of the section I quoted, Sue hit the proverbial nail on the head when she mentioned it was the PEOPLE that were so interesting.
For those of you who don't like history, remember this - one day WE too will be history. Just think about how many exciting things go on around us every day of our lives. It was the same in the past. History ISN'T really about dates of battles, kings and queens, changes in trade and the invention of new technology. It's about the PEOPLE who experienced it all.
Historical novelists of all stripes recognize this and most, I would venture, want to do the same thing I do - bring the past to life through the people who lived it, even those fictional ones they find in their heads.
Thanks, Sue, for articulating so well my thoughts on the importance of fiction in educating people about the past.