Years ago, and I mean YEARS ago before ebooks, I did a lot of international travel for business. But I can remember my first trip overseas very clearly. It was a two week trip to five European cities. I brought six novels thinking I would catch up on my reading—there never seemed to be enough time at home with three small children. I finished one and a half books before I landed.
I know, how could I leave them? It wasn’t easy. My days were filled with client calls with the local bank directors, but most late afternoons, evenings and the weekend I was on my own. I filled the time with walking tours of the city, sometimes in groups other times using the track provided by the hotel.
Each time I came face to face with history; the Grand Place in Brussels, the Place de la Concorde in Paris, and HamptonCourt in England. As I went on to the different cities I tried to hear the sounds, smell the aromas, and see the sights from a different perspective, a different time. Stories by Julie Garwood, Jude Deveraux, Johanna Lindsey and Lynn Kurland had me enthralled along with Clive Cussler.
I know, he's not exactly romance but his Dirk Pit stories always start with some historical fact or thread that's crucial to solving the mystery. I read my books at night and visited places where I could imagine the stories unfolding.
I promised you a list of reasons why I write historicals. Here it is:
- I LOVE history. I’m captivated with the past. Sometimes I think I was meant to be born in another time.
- I like research. Even if I have a detailed outline of my story I find I’m researching while I’m writing. If I’m not careful I can easily get distracted for hours. I’ve even taken classes, how old manuscripts were made and how to transcribe them from Stanford University. Witch Craft in the Middle Ages from the University of Barcelona. It goes back to enjoying history.
- Historical facts mixed with chivalry and magic made the most compelling stories to me. The romance of the middle ages and Renaissance with their knights and princesses and their myths of druids, fairies, and fae tossed in for good measure all drew me in.
- I enjoy reading how people reacted and solved issues in their time. Things we take for granted today were challenges in earlier times. Just think about travel, washing clothes and cooking.
- I like to read stories where women push the limits of their time and how people around them, especially the men they love respond. I don’t enjoy reading a story where a woman is the victim unless she rises to the challenge and becomes the true heroine of the story.
- Time travel stories and the ability to change the past, protect the future, or simply experience a different time made all things possible. Personally, I want my fiction based on fact but I don't necessarily want the cold truth of reality. I know that history doesn't always end with a happily ever after but taking a little poetic license to alter history just a bit to make it all work out is what I enjoy reading.
- I’m a romantic. I love reading about the courtship rituals of the past and comparing them to today. I was really surprised when I researched medieval romance and found that many of the established courtship rituals up until the 1950’s were based on the Medieval and Renaissance periods. It made me love knights in shining armor all the more!
- I enjoy exploring human emotions, figure out motivations and how they can be so similar to motivations today.
- Like Mary Jo Putney, I believe historical stories have a mythical element you don’t find in contemporary stories. There is a license to exaggerate, as long as the situation is plausible, with risks that reach beyond limits, and men that are bigger than life.
- After years of writing marketing and product information for an international bank, which was anything but creative, I thoroughly enjoy creative writing. It is such a wonderful outlet for all the stories and characters that run around in my head.
Why do you write or read historicals? I would love to know.