Writing Historical Fiction - article

One of my favorite areas to work in is historical fiction. The best authors in the genre are passionate about getting the history right, but because it’s fiction, they get to use their imaginations too. The characters may go places or have relationships we don’t know they had, but the underlying setting and background information has to be accurate. For example, maybe you’re writing a book set in England several hundred years ago, and you want to mention a rose? What kind of rose grew in England at that time of year? Some of your readers are going to know that, so you need to make sure those kinds of details are completely accurate. You have to be careful about how you use the fictional elements and make sure that you’re grounding them in fact. But at the end of the day, it is fiction, so you get a certain amount of license. It’s important to pick a character that will resonate with readers. Gillian Bagwell, one of my authors, wrote a book called The Darling Strumpet that came out to fantastic reviews. It’s about Nell Gwynn. She was an actress in the time of the Charles II just following the restoration. Gillian Bagwell made Nell fascinating, because she’s passionate about this period and about the theater, and as a result the era came alive on the page for readers. I think the opportunity to get into the head of this really interesting woman is what has made the book so appealing to people.

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  • I have written three books based in the 17th century, following the lives of a family. The two initial characters are caught up in the Civil War. She is the daughter of a strip farmer and he is the son of a merchant. Finding out about the housing of the poorer members of society, and things like household items and cooking, has been very difficult as most books tell you about the homes of the gentry but I have had great fun researching everything. Thank you for such a helpful article.
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