Historical Fiction

You write historical fiction because….
You read historical fiction because….

There are as many reasons to write and read as there are writers and readers. We all have our own preferences, our own opinions, our own interpretations.

There seems to be a spiralling debate in the HF world about historical accuracy in fiction and whether it is better to write and read about real people or purely ‘made-up’ people.

I’m feeling a little giddy here.

One of the first things you learn as a researcher of any field is that the more you research, the bigger the differences. First, second, third hand sources – it doesn’t matter. No one has the definitive answer. All is cloaked in bias and propaganda and the changes that time will bring to everything.

So, you write a novel set in the 17th century… for example. You choose to tell a story about Real People. And then you find it suggested that this is not a very good idea. How dare you presume to give a Real Person those thoughts, actions, motivations when you have no earthly way of verifying a single one of them?

A story is a series of actions and reactions. The human condition is universal. You can’t plot a life but you can plot a novel. Applying absolute certainty to that most ambiguous of creatures – mankind – is surely asking for trouble.

And being 100% ‘right’ in every way, shape and form? Good grief, how boring!

Personal opinion here but –I think I’d be rather flattered to be remembered in print, perfectly or even imperfectly, 400 years from now. The odds of that happening to any of us here today are long but…what a compliment.

Elizabeth Chadwick, author of The Greatest Knight and many other works of Historical Fiction has a fascinating method of research. She uses the Akashic Record.

Now – I often wonder if any of the Real People she has had access to have ever turned round and said ‘Go away and leave me alone. I don’t want to be remembered.’???

The above is a serious question. One that boggles my head.

The point of view is – Historical Fiction is about people. It’s written by people and read by people and people are imperfect. End of….!

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