Tuesday, July 06, 2010

What's Real in Historical Fiction

Now that the cover is here and the publication date is zooming toward me, I've been thinking about what is real when writing historical fiction. The easy answer is "Nothing. I write FICTION." That's true enough, but it isn't the whole truth. Belle Brezing was a real and somewhat famous prostitute, her step-father did run a grocery store in Lexington, KY, and Jenny Hill's whorehouse was in a large Main Street home that was once owned by Mary Todd Lincoln's father.

In historical mystery, there are bits of truth, but the characters are figments of the writer's imagination, even when we writers draw on an actual historical figure. No matter how many biographies, newspaper articles, historical letter or other accounts I read when writing a character, what I write will never be more or less than what I imagine they would be if they had lived in my fictional world. If I am very lucky the bits of truth will shine through and my readers take an interest in the time and place I write about.

Kentucky has a wonderful, colorful, rich history. When readers open the pages of Cricle of Dishonor I hope they step back into that history and enjoy the visit.

No comments: