History Hoydens


Historical Romance Writers Dishing the Dirt on Research

21 March 2011

Using Real History

I’m a history geek, so the spark for my book often comes from a real historical event. For the soon to be released RIPE FOR PLEASURE (can’t believe it will on shelf in a little over a month!) the spark was an actual lost treasure.

When Bonnie Prince Charlie made his bid for the throne in 1745, the king of France sent a fortune in gold to help fund the rebellion. But as we all know, things did not go well for the prince and his supporters, and the rebellion was quickly quashed and the prince sent feeling back to France. It all happened so quickly that the money never even reached him, and to this day no one knows what happened to it.

No there’s an idea for a story. Not just a lost treasure, but a REAL historical mystery to play with! In my version of the world, a cache of letters discovered by the hero at his new estate hints at the treasure being hidden in a house in London. A house currently occupied by a retired courtesan . . . what’s a poor younger son with a new estate he can’t really afford to do when faced with such temptation?

The next two books are also “inspired” by real history (RIPE FOR SCANDAL by an infamous bigamy case and RIPE FOR SEDUCTION by a very poorly thought-out proposition a man once sent a widow and what she did to punish him for it). I’m always collecting historical tidbits that I think might provide the kernel that will sprout into a story, and when I’m stumped I pull out a few research books and turn on something educational like The National Geographic Channel (my sister calls it the Mummy and Hippo Channel, LOL!). A few hours of “creative lounging” and I can usually come up with something.

Writers: what works for you? Readers: do you like to see author’s notes where they tell you about the history behind the book?


Anonymous Anonymous said...

Absolutely! I love the notes and historical info because I feel like I have learned something. I then search the internet to find out more. I think it is part of why I love historicals so much.

11:13 AM  
Blogger Louisa Cornell said...

Historical serendipity is one of my favorite sources for stories. My second book was inspired by photographs of the area where the city of Dunwich once stood.

My third book is the first in what I HOPE to sell as a trilogy. The inspiration for the second book in that trilogy came from an afternoon reading the histories of country estates and the mystery of a man who became a complete recluse and no one, not even his family knew why. Once I researched further the idea for the trilogy came to life. I have a notebook with articles and lists of references to story ideas. Now if I just had the time to WRITE all of those stories!

And yes, I LOVE an author's notes about the historical information which inspired the story or the true history they have incorporated into their book.

12:04 PM  
Blogger Isobel Carr said...

I'm guessing that most historical readers like this sort of thing. It's one of the reasons I'm thinking of doing a "behind the book" section for my new website.

2:32 PM  
Blogger Dtchycat said...

I like the little 'behind the book' notes authors sometimes put at the end of their books so that history nuts like myself can go and look further into a certain event that inspired the novel. It also, in a way, verifies that the author made attempts to make it as historically accurate for the time/place even though it is fiction.

7:51 PM  

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