Thursday, May 7, 2015 at 1:00 AM | By: Cafe
The Write Way Café welcomes author Ashley York, who reminds readers historical novels are fiction, not history books.
I love to address historical accuracy in fiction: television, movies, and books. As an historical romance writer, I have to balance history, legend, and the telling of an interesting story set in a time period that's very long ago and far away. Readers may come with certain preconceived beliefs about the period that can be deeply entrenched. Beliefs that come from other medieval books. I hope my books add to their enjoyment of the period.
It's always a little disconcerting when I see a reviewer comment on historical inaccuracy. Historical inaccuracies abound in fiction. In Foyle's War, a British Series on Public Television, they have a scene where one scientist is introduced to a man who then introduces the woman beside him. The scientist acknowledges her and they shake hands. STOP! In nineteen forty-two? No way! Men shook hands. A woman would not want to shake a man's hand. She was a woman. They didn't do that. Did I stop watching it? No.
And how about the History Channel? Being on the History Channel does not make its very popular Vikings Series any more historically accurate. The number of similarities between the Viking gods and the Judeo-Christian God are just amazing. Did the Vikings actually believe that their gods cared about their welfare? No. People were pawns in their otherworld games. There were no similarities between the harsh, willful petulance of Odin and Thor and the compassionate mercy of Jehovah. Am I still looking forward to seeing what happens in Season Three whenever it comes out on Hulu? You bet.
In a work of fiction, it's the writer's prerogative. They're not writing history. They're writing fiction. You regularly see these false renderings and think nothing of it. Is the fact that it's visual make it more believable? Perhaps. Movies are the same.
In Braveheart (I love this movie!) the most intense battle scene is The Battle at Sterling Br—wait, where's the bridge? The actual battle was fought on a bridge which adds all kinds of drama to the event. Bridges were of great importance. To take out the bridge really lessens the drama but...the writer took us through it without a bridge and we still cheered.
Even Number One Best Selling author Brad Metzler, who does write scholarly articles as well as fiction, should be read in the proper context. The Tenth Justice, a work of fiction (which I highly recommend), should not be considered a job description for Assistants to the Supreme Court. Good thing! Metzler has experience in Washington and throws in a lot of things he knows about but it's written to be entertaining.
I still love the character's in Foyle's War and I still root for Ragnar and Rollo ;) because it's fiction. I'm not trying to learn history from them. I'm being entertained and I can respect the writer's prerogative of misrepresentation of the facts. If it were a scholarly work, I would expect it to be based wholly on fact. I might even complain if I found inaccuracies. A work of fiction? Entertain me.
NEW RELEASE INFORMATION: The Gentle Knight
A medieval soldier returns home to find his lover died in childbirth just as his own mother had. Believing he is cursed, Peter of Normandy turns from love. When he must give escort to an Irish princess more noble than many knights, he struggles with his decision to live a solitary life. Can he take the chance that his love won't be a death sentence and possibly make them stronger?
Padraig MacNaughton's death bed decree rips his daughter, Brighit, from the shelter of her protective clan in Ireland. Forced to take vows at a Priory in England, she finds herself in the hands of lecherous mercenaries with their own agendas. Dare she trust the Norman knight to see her safely to her new life as a nun? Even when she finds in him the fulfillment of all she's ever wanted?
Or will honor and duty eclipse their one chance for happiness?
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