As a writer of Historical Romance, I sometimes feel like the conductor on a bus tour into the past. Pick up one of my books and I’ll punch your ticket. The bus will fire up with a throaty growl and we’ll disappear into the mists of time for a ride you won’t soon forget. I've been conducting these tours for a while now, and quite a few people book return trips.
But what makes for successful time travel? Well, if you love writing Historical Fiction and want to set up your own tours, here are a few things you might want to consider.
It’s your tour, and those you take along will only see/hear/smell and taste what you share with them. So you’d better make sure you don’t leave anything out. If you make a stop in, say, eighteenth century England and drop by a pub to await the appearance of the Highwayman who features prominently in your story, you’d better give your passengers the full experience. How does it smell when you walk in? Like spilled ale and patrons who haven’t washed in six months? How’s the ale? Dark and foamy? Pungent with a nutty aftertaste? How are the folks around you dressed? How do their voices sound? Make the world you create a tactile one and your passengers won’t want to get back on the bus too soon.
How much do you personally love this world you’re visiting?
I’ve learned that sharing fiction is a bit like osmosis. The writer brings to it a set of emotions and if s/he can convey them properly, they’ll seep into the reader’s consciousness the way water seeps into a sponge. If you enjoy the way your Highwayman struts into the pub when he arrives, if you notice the way his black hair curls on his neck and the wicked gleam in his eyes, so will your readers. You don’t want to force anything onto your tour members: if you have to persuade them to participate, that wrecks the fun of the tour. You want them drawn into things, so caught up they forget the bus exists.
How immersed are you in your chosen period?
For it to be convincing, you have to live and breathe this stuff. You must be aware what your character ate for supper last night, even if it was roasted swan. You have to think about how heavy a knight’s armor is and how much work it takes for your heroine to draw a bath. You should lose yourself in your story, forget what it’s like to live with electricity/television/cell phones for a while, be aware that not everybody in Medieval England is a lord or queen, and that peasants fall in love too. Breathe the fetid air, smell the water in the moat and listen to the music of the times when you write. In short, for truly convincing prose I recommend total immersion, so don’t hesitate to drive that tour bus right into the nearest lake.
In short, your readers will only believe the veracity of your writing if you believe it. So do whatever it takes to engage yourself in your period, and your writing. Happy time travel!
The Guardians of Sherwood Trilogy - Book Three
Curlew Champion, master archer, has always known his destiny. With his cousin, Heron Scarlet, he will become a guardian of Sherwood Forest and further his people's fight against Norman tyranny. But the third member of the triad is still to be revealed, the woman who will complete the magical circle and, perhaps, answer the longing in Curlew's heart.
Anwyn Montfort has fled disgrace in Shrewsbury and come to Nottingham at her father's bidding. He wishes her to make a good marriage and settle down. But the wildness that possesses her refuses to quiet. She knows she's been searching for something all her life, but not until she glimpses Curlew does her spirit begin to hope it has found its home.
Only the magic of Sherwood can bring them together, and only their union can complete the spell woven so long ago...