Friday, March 23, 2012

How do you take Historical Romance, with one lump or two?

One of the things I love best about writing historical romances is research. Often I come across an article, picture, or historical fact which inspires something in my stories. I love to read about history, especially when it involves a good mystery or folklore. One of the most interesting facts about history or historical figures was that many people were superstitious. Today we adhere to those very superstitions. Ironic isn’t it? Imagine someone in the long lost past thought, “If I step under this latter, bad things will happen to me.” How many of us today refuse to walk under a latter?

I read once that if a butterfly enters your home, good fortune would come to you. That of course is Scottish folklore. I think perhaps if a butterfly entered your home it would bring delight and would make you feel as though you had good fortune. Well, that’s my take on it. As much as historical is factual, there is a lot of subjective information to take from it.

I have found a lot of tidbits of history to add to my stories. I don’t try to bore people with a history lesson, but instead weave the fact into the characters, story, or have it support both. As a longtime reader of historical romance, I admit there are parts of books where I just skim through, because the author has felt the need to go on about political dealings or delve deeply into a historical fact. I do feel bad about that, because I know ever word an author writes should be coveted. Unfortunately, I want romance and don’t want it overtaken by such detail.

In a new series I am working on, I have tried to weave history in it. However, it takes place in modern day. The characters in each book resemble those from history (some actual, some fictional). In this way, we can still connect with them knowing a little of what drives them to be who they are.

Another thing I find interesting about writing historical romance is – the go-between the hero and heroine. I want my characters to be who they are in their time frame. Unfortunately that means the woman won’t be a kick-ass who takes the man she wants. I know, I know, we all want to read about women who are empowering – but remember a woman could be empowering and still be coy or sweet or demure (and still get what she wants).

So readers, I ask you, how do you like your history in romances? We authors would love to hear your feedback. When you read a historical romance, does too much history detract from the pleasure of reading? Does too little history detract from reading and you hoped there was more? Do you stop or have you stopped reading because you didn’t agree with the author’s historical facts?
I know I will always cherish reading historical romances, and I do hope authors continue to put out such marvelous books.
Kara Griffin


divavixenqueen said...

Very intriguing.

A little bit of mystery, A little bit of suspense, A little bit of comedy,(well.. maybe a whole lot of comedy).

Basically, a little bit of everything would keep me happy.

And if the story's good why stop.

Historical romances are good, once they're done right and have the right elements in place.

cheralyn said...

Interesting post!I like historical romances with just enough history in them to help me imagine what it was like in that time period. I get bored too, if there is too much history and not enough romance! cheryllynne(at)rocketmail(dot)com

Kara Griffin said...

Cheralyn, Glad I'm not the only one. But when I pick up a historical romance, the key element for me is "romance" and the history is kind of the back element, like the back drop :) Thanks for coming by and reading my post.

Divavixenqueen, I agree with you too. :) I think the trouble is sometimes a writer doesn't know how far to go. I sometimes haggle with that issue - such as with speech and such.

Thanks for the feedback. :)