History was not my fave subject. I rolled my eyes when my mother watched yet another documentary about ancient Egypt. Our Easter traditions included Ben Hur and Moses, which hardly counts as educational. On my high school senior year trip to Italy, I was a snarky brat. I said something to the tune of, “Oh look. Another f*ing piazza.”
Between holiday traditions and teenager disinterest, I found my reverence for the past (and a better attitude!). I have no idea how or when it happened. Now, I stare at extant artifacts in a museum for two hours as easily as watching a blockbuster movie.
Why Historical Fantasy?
Perhaps I ended up writing historical fiction because The Queen’s Viper began in a building that’s probably older than my country, the Double Tree by Hilton on Bath Road. The hotel has stone turrets, slate roofing, and a regal-looking crest. Bath Road is older than dirt. It was a route for pilgrims and royals alike since pre-Roman times.
Research gives the bones of my narrative the flesh it needs for the story to have a life of its own. All I have to do is turn on the creative juices.
No one knows why the ancient Britons raised stones and logs into giant circles, and the missing truth makes fab fodder speculative fiction. Henry VIII erased the entire village of Cuddington to build Nonsuch Palace, an event which I could turn into a moving story about loss and survival. Green pigment made of lead created an epidemic of toxic poisoning in Victorian England. Imagine, then, a Victorian mystery where the killer is not a living person.
And that’s just looking at one small part of the globe!
The Door That Doesn’t Close
— Lesley Donaldson (@Bornagainwriter) June 4, 2017
I love digging up information about the past and weaving it into the V’Braed narrative. However, grandiose info dumps don’t make a good story (even though I have read them in books published by The Big 5). I’m going to write an accompanying guide about the history in my V’Braed series. You can take the info out of the story, but you can’t take the info out of the writer.
Or something like that.
One of my two biggest challenges writing The Wrath of Atticus has been balancing the time I spend between research and writing. All the research in the world won’t write the manuscript; a poorly researched yet complete manuscript falls flat. My time management teeter-totters between both.
Viper is immortal yet she’s missed 400 years of Britain’s history. The industrial revolution impacted upon the world in a way she never would have imagined. Technology changed more in those missing years than they had in the centuries Viper walked among humankind. And in The Wrath of Atticus, surfacing memories peel away the layers of Viper’s backstory.
Thus, my other struggle has been the delicate placement of the bookends of British life in the same narrative. Otherwise, having Boudicca and Victorian Suffragettes in the same story would feel like Doctor Who fanfic. Not that that’s a bad thing. It’s just not my novel.
From the days before Roman Londinium to the heyday of Queen Victoria, one thing remains certain. My brain is stuffed to the gills with information I used to snore at. And I’m having a lot of fun finding it.
What’s your writing (or internet) rabbit hole?