Whether you are reading or writing, the world of books is filled with genres from which you can choose: childrens books, nonfiction, murder, suspense, romance, chicklit, and on and on. Yet when I sat down to tap away at my first book, I chose Historical Fiction. Why? I had never been a historian. In fact, I hadn’t ever been interested in history. But the books I’d been reading swept me up in adventures I needed to have, and I’d settle for nothing less.
It all began when my mother handed me a copy of “Outlander” by Diana Gabaldon. The genius of Gabaldon is that she can incorporate her incredible knowledge of the past, her gift of research, her creative instincts, and work it all into the most human characters I’ve ever read. Jamie and Claire—as well as anyone they meet—are real. Any one of Gabaldon’s millions of fans will agree with that. Yes, they are fictional. And yet they are as real in my mind as many of my flesh and blood friends.
Is that strange? Maybe. Don’t get me wrong. I’m well aware I can’t call them up and meet for a coffee. But they really do feel as if they existed at one time.
When I write, I have often said I am just the typist, the medium between the story and the keyboard. I feel the story rather than plan it. To me, quite honestly, the inspiration comes from somewhere else.
But … from where? Okay. Here’s the thing. My stories are set in the mid-18th century, so no one alive today was alive then. (I’m not talking about reincarnation or anything like that.) But people did (obviously) live back then. And they died. Those who believe we can communicate with spirits know it’s entirely possible to channel messages from beyond. Well, what I’m saying is that if I’m hearing these stories, channeling or whatever, couldn’t they be coming from someone who has passed? How do I know someone isn’t actually telling me their story?
That’s the magic for me when it comes to good historical fiction. When it’s written well, it’s so believable it feels like it actually happened. And though I know what I write is fiction, well, in truth … who’s to say it didn’t really happen?
(originally a guest blog on Turning The Pages)