A Distant Magic Redux

Cat_243_dover by Mary Jo

‘Tis the season for Wenchly book releases!  Next week will see publication of books by Loretta and Edith.  Both will be delicious.

This week saw the release of A Distant Magic.  It is—affordable. <g>  Yes, this is the paperback reprint of last summer’s hardcover edition.  So not new, but affordable is good.

Though Pat and I didn’t discuss this, her post on slavery Monday was a fine segue into my post since A Distant Magic is set amidst the 18th century British abolition movement.  With historical romance, there’s always a balance between the romance and the history.  (And in this case, also fantasy.)  A powerful romance is always at the core of my stories, but I also like to use interesting history to enhance the story. 

In the case of ADM, the history is amazing.  In the course of a single lifetime, general belief in British society A_distant_magicapril_07 moved from “slavery is inevitable” to “slavery is wrong and must be abolished.” 

As I said, it’s a stunning story—and figuring out how to weave that into a romance over several decades was a major challenge.  The solution was time travel, with my hero and heroine being transported through time to protect the fragile beginnings of the abolition movement.  In the early days, the death of a single man, particularly Thomas Clarkson or William Wilberforce, would have set the movement back for years, perhaps decades. 

Gustavus_vasa But abolition was the result of many people working together, and I didn’t want to lose sight of that.  Neither did I want to make it seem as if it was exclusively a white movement.  As writers and fighters, blacks worked for their own liberty.  The picture at the left is of Olaudah Equiano, who was kidnapped into slavery, eventually bought his freedom, and wrote a bestselling account of his life that helped changed minds in Britain.   

One of my three point of view characters in ADM is Adia, an African-born sorceress.  I loved Adia, and used her story to illuminate slavery in the 18th century.  Captured as a child in Africa, sold into the West Indies, Adia used her intelligence and will to improve her lot, and ultimately escape slavery with her husband and child.  In London, she joins with other African sorcerers in a vow to free all of their fellows—a vow that takes her to Jean Macrae and Nikolai Gregorio, my piratical part-African hero. 

It was quite a journey the four of us had, and it was certainly one of the most difficult books I’ve written.  But despite the history, it’s still a romance.  (Booklist,the magazine of the American Library Association, listed it as one of the Top Ten Romances of 2007.) 

At the center of the story are two forceful characters.  Both are strong, both have magic, both bear the scars of living.  Nikolai kidnaps Jean in Marseilles for he has sworn vengeance on the Macrae family because of what he sees as her father’s betrayal.

But once he has her, what is he to do with her?  A scene from early in their relationship::

Corsari_ship "Nikolai leaped back aboard his ship to find the Scottish witch.  He found her at the dinghy, slashing at the lines that secured it to the deck.  A thick red braid fell over her shoulder, and her small white hands wielded a corsair blade with unnerving expertise. 
“Don’t waste your strength,” he barked.  “You’re not leaving this ship.”
She pivoted, sword in hand.  It was a lovely nimcha, one he wouldn’t mind owning.  She hissed, “Don’t come near me!” 
He paused out of her reach, realizing that he was disinclined to move closer.  She was using some kind of magical shield.  He could overcome it, but he would have to use his own magic to do so.
Reluctantly amused by the blazing red-haired hellion who confronted him with lethal menace, he asked, “Where is that well-bred young lady I kidnapped in Marseilles?”
“She existed mostly in your mind.”  Her crisp voice was as different as her demeanor and her garb.  “I’m no meek English virgin, captain.  I rode to battle against the king’s army in the Rising of Forty-Five.  When my lover died, I led our men myself.  After Culloden, I guided them home safely across country filled with pillaging English soldiers.  You underestimated me, as most men do.”  Her eyes narrowed.  “I could have killed you.  Instead, I saved your life.  Surely that is worth my freedom.”
“Why should I be fair when I hold all the power?”  Thinking she was unlikely to attack him, he concentrated his power and reached out slowly to take the sword. 
She sliced the blade across his wrist with just enough pressure to draw blood, then danced back a step.  “Not all the power.  There’s a good chance that I can kill you before any of your men observe this little scene.”  She showed her teeth.  “We shall learn if your power of attack is greater than my ability to shield.”

Needless to say, Jean and Nikolai eventually work things out. <g> (More information and an excerpt at http://maryjoputney.com/ADMmore.htm )

The fun is in the journey.  If you haven’t read the book, this is a good time to consider getting a copy.  And if you’re feeling lucky—a signed copy of this new mass market edition will go to one of the people who leave a comment between now and midnight Sunday. 

Thomas_clarkson As for history—how much do you like in a historical romance?  How much is too much?  (That’s abolitionist and organizer Thomas Clarkson on the left.) 

Do you avoid stories with dramatic history (like wars) because it gets in way of the romance?  Or do you enjoy learning something new, and find that the individuality of real history enhances the reading experience?  We Wenches would love to know!

Mary Jo

65 thoughts on “A Distant Magic Redux”

  1. Hi, I love depth and real history in a romance, it will prompt me to head off and find out more about the era.
    Mary Jo the historical details in your Silk series made them one of my favourite series. In particular the information about the Sunni and Shia Muslim history was very interesting in light of recent conflicts in the central Asia.
    Skilled writers who add the history elements as part of the story certainly add to our enjoyment and enhance our knowledge of a historical time period and these novels are always my Favourites. A book needs more history than just a date and period clothing to make it “historical”.
    I really don’t want romances to be too ‘light’, I love depth!
    Best wishes to you all.

    Reply
  2. Hi, I love depth and real history in a romance, it will prompt me to head off and find out more about the era.
    Mary Jo the historical details in your Silk series made them one of my favourite series. In particular the information about the Sunni and Shia Muslim history was very interesting in light of recent conflicts in the central Asia.
    Skilled writers who add the history elements as part of the story certainly add to our enjoyment and enhance our knowledge of a historical time period and these novels are always my Favourites. A book needs more history than just a date and period clothing to make it “historical”.
    I really don’t want romances to be too ‘light’, I love depth!
    Best wishes to you all.

    Reply
  3. Hi, I love depth and real history in a romance, it will prompt me to head off and find out more about the era.
    Mary Jo the historical details in your Silk series made them one of my favourite series. In particular the information about the Sunni and Shia Muslim history was very interesting in light of recent conflicts in the central Asia.
    Skilled writers who add the history elements as part of the story certainly add to our enjoyment and enhance our knowledge of a historical time period and these novels are always my Favourites. A book needs more history than just a date and period clothing to make it “historical”.
    I really don’t want romances to be too ‘light’, I love depth!
    Best wishes to you all.

    Reply
  4. Hi, I love depth and real history in a romance, it will prompt me to head off and find out more about the era.
    Mary Jo the historical details in your Silk series made them one of my favourite series. In particular the information about the Sunni and Shia Muslim history was very interesting in light of recent conflicts in the central Asia.
    Skilled writers who add the history elements as part of the story certainly add to our enjoyment and enhance our knowledge of a historical time period and these novels are always my Favourites. A book needs more history than just a date and period clothing to make it “historical”.
    I really don’t want romances to be too ‘light’, I love depth!
    Best wishes to you all.

    Reply
  5. Hi, I love depth and real history in a romance, it will prompt me to head off and find out more about the era.
    Mary Jo the historical details in your Silk series made them one of my favourite series. In particular the information about the Sunni and Shia Muslim history was very interesting in light of recent conflicts in the central Asia.
    Skilled writers who add the history elements as part of the story certainly add to our enjoyment and enhance our knowledge of a historical time period and these novels are always my Favourites. A book needs more history than just a date and period clothing to make it “historical”.
    I really don’t want romances to be too ‘light’, I love depth!
    Best wishes to you all.

    Reply
  6. I don’t insist on it, but I like it when the historical world the characters inhabit actually affects the way they think and behave. And I’d like some clue as to the tme setting, even if it’s only a date at the beginning of Chapter 1. Then I can fill in the background myself.

    Reply
  7. I don’t insist on it, but I like it when the historical world the characters inhabit actually affects the way they think and behave. And I’d like some clue as to the tme setting, even if it’s only a date at the beginning of Chapter 1. Then I can fill in the background myself.

    Reply
  8. I don’t insist on it, but I like it when the historical world the characters inhabit actually affects the way they think and behave. And I’d like some clue as to the tme setting, even if it’s only a date at the beginning of Chapter 1. Then I can fill in the background myself.

    Reply
  9. I don’t insist on it, but I like it when the historical world the characters inhabit actually affects the way they think and behave. And I’d like some clue as to the tme setting, even if it’s only a date at the beginning of Chapter 1. Then I can fill in the background myself.

    Reply
  10. I don’t insist on it, but I like it when the historical world the characters inhabit actually affects the way they think and behave. And I’d like some clue as to the tme setting, even if it’s only a date at the beginning of Chapter 1. Then I can fill in the background myself.

    Reply
  11. I’m not here qualifying for the prize since I’ve already read it, as you’re well aware “G”. But I would like to say that to me, the fun of an historical is placing the characters into the difficulties/morals/society of a particular period of time. I mourn the days when we quit using historical events as part of the obstacles a couple must overcome.

    Reply
  12. I’m not here qualifying for the prize since I’ve already read it, as you’re well aware “G”. But I would like to say that to me, the fun of an historical is placing the characters into the difficulties/morals/society of a particular period of time. I mourn the days when we quit using historical events as part of the obstacles a couple must overcome.

    Reply
  13. I’m not here qualifying for the prize since I’ve already read it, as you’re well aware “G”. But I would like to say that to me, the fun of an historical is placing the characters into the difficulties/morals/society of a particular period of time. I mourn the days when we quit using historical events as part of the obstacles a couple must overcome.

    Reply
  14. I’m not here qualifying for the prize since I’ve already read it, as you’re well aware “G”. But I would like to say that to me, the fun of an historical is placing the characters into the difficulties/morals/society of a particular period of time. I mourn the days when we quit using historical events as part of the obstacles a couple must overcome.

    Reply
  15. I’m not here qualifying for the prize since I’ve already read it, as you’re well aware “G”. But I would like to say that to me, the fun of an historical is placing the characters into the difficulties/morals/society of a particular period of time. I mourn the days when we quit using historical events as part of the obstacles a couple must overcome.

    Reply
  16. I read some historical novels, but I prefer straight nonfiction history to historical fiction or romance. (Regencies always excepted.) I particularly like stories that are set in unfamiliar areas. In school, when I had as usual finished my work ahead of most of the others, I used to sit and stare at the big map pulled down in front of the blackboard and wonder about places with romantic names like “Hispaniola” and “The Khanate of the Golden Horde.”
    Back then, even pirates sounded good to me:
    Warm sands flowed round him. Blurts of crimson light
    Splashed the white grains like blood. Pas the cave’s mouth
    Shone with a large, fierce splendor, wildly bright,
    The crooked constellations of the South;
    Here the Cross swung; and there, affronting Mars,
    The Centaur stormed aside a froth of stars.
    Within, great casks, like wattled aldermen,
    Sighed of enormous feasts, and cloth of gold
    Glowed on the walls like hot desire. Again,
    Beside webbed purples from some galleon’s hold,
    A black chest bore the skull and bones in white
    Above a scrawled “Gunpowder!” By the flames,
    Decked out in crimson, gemmed with syenite,
    Hailing their fellows with outrageous names,
    The pirates sat and diced. Their eyes were moons.
    “Doubloons!” they said. The words crashed gold. “Doubloons!”
    ‘Portrait of a Boy’ was originally published by Stephen Vincent Benét in 1917.
    I was particularly fond of Harold Lamb’s tales of Khlit the Cossack, an old retired Cossack officer travelling across central Asia and running into everyone from The Old Man of the Mountain to Kubilai Khan.

    Reply
  17. I read some historical novels, but I prefer straight nonfiction history to historical fiction or romance. (Regencies always excepted.) I particularly like stories that are set in unfamiliar areas. In school, when I had as usual finished my work ahead of most of the others, I used to sit and stare at the big map pulled down in front of the blackboard and wonder about places with romantic names like “Hispaniola” and “The Khanate of the Golden Horde.”
    Back then, even pirates sounded good to me:
    Warm sands flowed round him. Blurts of crimson light
    Splashed the white grains like blood. Pas the cave’s mouth
    Shone with a large, fierce splendor, wildly bright,
    The crooked constellations of the South;
    Here the Cross swung; and there, affronting Mars,
    The Centaur stormed aside a froth of stars.
    Within, great casks, like wattled aldermen,
    Sighed of enormous feasts, and cloth of gold
    Glowed on the walls like hot desire. Again,
    Beside webbed purples from some galleon’s hold,
    A black chest bore the skull and bones in white
    Above a scrawled “Gunpowder!” By the flames,
    Decked out in crimson, gemmed with syenite,
    Hailing their fellows with outrageous names,
    The pirates sat and diced. Their eyes were moons.
    “Doubloons!” they said. The words crashed gold. “Doubloons!”
    ‘Portrait of a Boy’ was originally published by Stephen Vincent Benét in 1917.
    I was particularly fond of Harold Lamb’s tales of Khlit the Cossack, an old retired Cossack officer travelling across central Asia and running into everyone from The Old Man of the Mountain to Kubilai Khan.

    Reply
  18. I read some historical novels, but I prefer straight nonfiction history to historical fiction or romance. (Regencies always excepted.) I particularly like stories that are set in unfamiliar areas. In school, when I had as usual finished my work ahead of most of the others, I used to sit and stare at the big map pulled down in front of the blackboard and wonder about places with romantic names like “Hispaniola” and “The Khanate of the Golden Horde.”
    Back then, even pirates sounded good to me:
    Warm sands flowed round him. Blurts of crimson light
    Splashed the white grains like blood. Pas the cave’s mouth
    Shone with a large, fierce splendor, wildly bright,
    The crooked constellations of the South;
    Here the Cross swung; and there, affronting Mars,
    The Centaur stormed aside a froth of stars.
    Within, great casks, like wattled aldermen,
    Sighed of enormous feasts, and cloth of gold
    Glowed on the walls like hot desire. Again,
    Beside webbed purples from some galleon’s hold,
    A black chest bore the skull and bones in white
    Above a scrawled “Gunpowder!” By the flames,
    Decked out in crimson, gemmed with syenite,
    Hailing their fellows with outrageous names,
    The pirates sat and diced. Their eyes were moons.
    “Doubloons!” they said. The words crashed gold. “Doubloons!”
    ‘Portrait of a Boy’ was originally published by Stephen Vincent Benét in 1917.
    I was particularly fond of Harold Lamb’s tales of Khlit the Cossack, an old retired Cossack officer travelling across central Asia and running into everyone from The Old Man of the Mountain to Kubilai Khan.

    Reply
  19. I read some historical novels, but I prefer straight nonfiction history to historical fiction or romance. (Regencies always excepted.) I particularly like stories that are set in unfamiliar areas. In school, when I had as usual finished my work ahead of most of the others, I used to sit and stare at the big map pulled down in front of the blackboard and wonder about places with romantic names like “Hispaniola” and “The Khanate of the Golden Horde.”
    Back then, even pirates sounded good to me:
    Warm sands flowed round him. Blurts of crimson light
    Splashed the white grains like blood. Pas the cave’s mouth
    Shone with a large, fierce splendor, wildly bright,
    The crooked constellations of the South;
    Here the Cross swung; and there, affronting Mars,
    The Centaur stormed aside a froth of stars.
    Within, great casks, like wattled aldermen,
    Sighed of enormous feasts, and cloth of gold
    Glowed on the walls like hot desire. Again,
    Beside webbed purples from some galleon’s hold,
    A black chest bore the skull and bones in white
    Above a scrawled “Gunpowder!” By the flames,
    Decked out in crimson, gemmed with syenite,
    Hailing their fellows with outrageous names,
    The pirates sat and diced. Their eyes were moons.
    “Doubloons!” they said. The words crashed gold. “Doubloons!”
    ‘Portrait of a Boy’ was originally published by Stephen Vincent Benét in 1917.
    I was particularly fond of Harold Lamb’s tales of Khlit the Cossack, an old retired Cossack officer travelling across central Asia and running into everyone from The Old Man of the Mountain to Kubilai Khan.

    Reply
  20. I read some historical novels, but I prefer straight nonfiction history to historical fiction or romance. (Regencies always excepted.) I particularly like stories that are set in unfamiliar areas. In school, when I had as usual finished my work ahead of most of the others, I used to sit and stare at the big map pulled down in front of the blackboard and wonder about places with romantic names like “Hispaniola” and “The Khanate of the Golden Horde.”
    Back then, even pirates sounded good to me:
    Warm sands flowed round him. Blurts of crimson light
    Splashed the white grains like blood. Pas the cave’s mouth
    Shone with a large, fierce splendor, wildly bright,
    The crooked constellations of the South;
    Here the Cross swung; and there, affronting Mars,
    The Centaur stormed aside a froth of stars.
    Within, great casks, like wattled aldermen,
    Sighed of enormous feasts, and cloth of gold
    Glowed on the walls like hot desire. Again,
    Beside webbed purples from some galleon’s hold,
    A black chest bore the skull and bones in white
    Above a scrawled “Gunpowder!” By the flames,
    Decked out in crimson, gemmed with syenite,
    Hailing their fellows with outrageous names,
    The pirates sat and diced. Their eyes were moons.
    “Doubloons!” they said. The words crashed gold. “Doubloons!”
    ‘Portrait of a Boy’ was originally published by Stephen Vincent Benét in 1917.
    I was particularly fond of Harold Lamb’s tales of Khlit the Cossack, an old retired Cossack officer travelling across central Asia and running into everyone from The Old Man of the Mountain to Kubilai Khan.

    Reply
  21. Hi Mary Jo! Great post.
    I am very fond of history in romance, especailly when the author inserts the h/h into real events in a believable way.
    ADM is a perfect example of this. Nickoli and Jean play historical roles, both great and small, in such a way that the reader can almost believe they once existed. There is so much depth in ADM, I had to read the book twice–once for the romance, once for the history–and I fell in love both times. Bravo, Mary Jo! All the best on your new mass market edition.

    Reply
  22. Hi Mary Jo! Great post.
    I am very fond of history in romance, especailly when the author inserts the h/h into real events in a believable way.
    ADM is a perfect example of this. Nickoli and Jean play historical roles, both great and small, in such a way that the reader can almost believe they once existed. There is so much depth in ADM, I had to read the book twice–once for the romance, once for the history–and I fell in love both times. Bravo, Mary Jo! All the best on your new mass market edition.

    Reply
  23. Hi Mary Jo! Great post.
    I am very fond of history in romance, especailly when the author inserts the h/h into real events in a believable way.
    ADM is a perfect example of this. Nickoli and Jean play historical roles, both great and small, in such a way that the reader can almost believe they once existed. There is so much depth in ADM, I had to read the book twice–once for the romance, once for the history–and I fell in love both times. Bravo, Mary Jo! All the best on your new mass market edition.

    Reply
  24. Hi Mary Jo! Great post.
    I am very fond of history in romance, especailly when the author inserts the h/h into real events in a believable way.
    ADM is a perfect example of this. Nickoli and Jean play historical roles, both great and small, in such a way that the reader can almost believe they once existed. There is so much depth in ADM, I had to read the book twice–once for the romance, once for the history–and I fell in love both times. Bravo, Mary Jo! All the best on your new mass market edition.

    Reply
  25. Hi Mary Jo! Great post.
    I am very fond of history in romance, especailly when the author inserts the h/h into real events in a believable way.
    ADM is a perfect example of this. Nickoli and Jean play historical roles, both great and small, in such a way that the reader can almost believe they once existed. There is so much depth in ADM, I had to read the book twice–once for the romance, once for the history–and I fell in love both times. Bravo, Mary Jo! All the best on your new mass market edition.

    Reply
  26. I like a little history in my novels – but then I would have majored in history if I could have figured out how to get a well paying job with that degree.
    That being said, I don’t like it when the history included overshadows the story – in other words, I’m trying to escape by reading novels, and I need to know that the HEA is a good one.
    I ended up quitting the Diana Gabaldon series because I wanted Jamie and Claire to be able to relax in their HEA. But I digress.
    If the history is incorporated into the story, I like it, but if the history is merely there to give the couple “a bad time” I’d rather it wasn’t there.

    Reply
  27. I like a little history in my novels – but then I would have majored in history if I could have figured out how to get a well paying job with that degree.
    That being said, I don’t like it when the history included overshadows the story – in other words, I’m trying to escape by reading novels, and I need to know that the HEA is a good one.
    I ended up quitting the Diana Gabaldon series because I wanted Jamie and Claire to be able to relax in their HEA. But I digress.
    If the history is incorporated into the story, I like it, but if the history is merely there to give the couple “a bad time” I’d rather it wasn’t there.

    Reply
  28. I like a little history in my novels – but then I would have majored in history if I could have figured out how to get a well paying job with that degree.
    That being said, I don’t like it when the history included overshadows the story – in other words, I’m trying to escape by reading novels, and I need to know that the HEA is a good one.
    I ended up quitting the Diana Gabaldon series because I wanted Jamie and Claire to be able to relax in their HEA. But I digress.
    If the history is incorporated into the story, I like it, but if the history is merely there to give the couple “a bad time” I’d rather it wasn’t there.

    Reply
  29. I like a little history in my novels – but then I would have majored in history if I could have figured out how to get a well paying job with that degree.
    That being said, I don’t like it when the history included overshadows the story – in other words, I’m trying to escape by reading novels, and I need to know that the HEA is a good one.
    I ended up quitting the Diana Gabaldon series because I wanted Jamie and Claire to be able to relax in their HEA. But I digress.
    If the history is incorporated into the story, I like it, but if the history is merely there to give the couple “a bad time” I’d rather it wasn’t there.

    Reply
  30. I like a little history in my novels – but then I would have majored in history if I could have figured out how to get a well paying job with that degree.
    That being said, I don’t like it when the history included overshadows the story – in other words, I’m trying to escape by reading novels, and I need to know that the HEA is a good one.
    I ended up quitting the Diana Gabaldon series because I wanted Jamie and Claire to be able to relax in their HEA. But I digress.
    If the history is incorporated into the story, I like it, but if the history is merely there to give the couple “a bad time” I’d rather it wasn’t there.

    Reply
  31. “the fun of an historical is placing the characters into the difficulties/morals/society of a particular period of time.”
    I agree. I love to learn my history this way. It is so much more personal. Doubtless, it is much more subjective and probably not as “accurate” as a non-fiction historical account…although more accurate in some ways…but I love it and remember it a lot better when I connect it to a story. I know tons about the middle ages I would not have otherwise remembered from reading S.K.Penman’s “Here Be Dragons” trilogy and others. I loved Jo’s description of an opium addict’s journey to freedom (and just about anything else by Jo ). Heck, the only reason anybody really knows anything about Macbeth is because Shakespeare set him in a story and that was enough to fascinate us and get us to find out if there was a real Macbeth (and Lady Macbeth!).
    This has been addressed elsewhere, but I also like to have the characters be products of their time, not 21st c. transplants. They have to be unique to be book-worthy, but they shouldn’t be so “forward-thinking” that they would have been clapped in Bedlam. It becomes anachronism at that point. No one was prepared to think the way we now think until after the 1960s, so it’s pretty annoying to put those thoughts in the head of a proper 19th c. miss.

    Reply
  32. “the fun of an historical is placing the characters into the difficulties/morals/society of a particular period of time.”
    I agree. I love to learn my history this way. It is so much more personal. Doubtless, it is much more subjective and probably not as “accurate” as a non-fiction historical account…although more accurate in some ways…but I love it and remember it a lot better when I connect it to a story. I know tons about the middle ages I would not have otherwise remembered from reading S.K.Penman’s “Here Be Dragons” trilogy and others. I loved Jo’s description of an opium addict’s journey to freedom (and just about anything else by Jo ). Heck, the only reason anybody really knows anything about Macbeth is because Shakespeare set him in a story and that was enough to fascinate us and get us to find out if there was a real Macbeth (and Lady Macbeth!).
    This has been addressed elsewhere, but I also like to have the characters be products of their time, not 21st c. transplants. They have to be unique to be book-worthy, but they shouldn’t be so “forward-thinking” that they would have been clapped in Bedlam. It becomes anachronism at that point. No one was prepared to think the way we now think until after the 1960s, so it’s pretty annoying to put those thoughts in the head of a proper 19th c. miss.

    Reply
  33. “the fun of an historical is placing the characters into the difficulties/morals/society of a particular period of time.”
    I agree. I love to learn my history this way. It is so much more personal. Doubtless, it is much more subjective and probably not as “accurate” as a non-fiction historical account…although more accurate in some ways…but I love it and remember it a lot better when I connect it to a story. I know tons about the middle ages I would not have otherwise remembered from reading S.K.Penman’s “Here Be Dragons” trilogy and others. I loved Jo’s description of an opium addict’s journey to freedom (and just about anything else by Jo ). Heck, the only reason anybody really knows anything about Macbeth is because Shakespeare set him in a story and that was enough to fascinate us and get us to find out if there was a real Macbeth (and Lady Macbeth!).
    This has been addressed elsewhere, but I also like to have the characters be products of their time, not 21st c. transplants. They have to be unique to be book-worthy, but they shouldn’t be so “forward-thinking” that they would have been clapped in Bedlam. It becomes anachronism at that point. No one was prepared to think the way we now think until after the 1960s, so it’s pretty annoying to put those thoughts in the head of a proper 19th c. miss.

    Reply
  34. “the fun of an historical is placing the characters into the difficulties/morals/society of a particular period of time.”
    I agree. I love to learn my history this way. It is so much more personal. Doubtless, it is much more subjective and probably not as “accurate” as a non-fiction historical account…although more accurate in some ways…but I love it and remember it a lot better when I connect it to a story. I know tons about the middle ages I would not have otherwise remembered from reading S.K.Penman’s “Here Be Dragons” trilogy and others. I loved Jo’s description of an opium addict’s journey to freedom (and just about anything else by Jo ). Heck, the only reason anybody really knows anything about Macbeth is because Shakespeare set him in a story and that was enough to fascinate us and get us to find out if there was a real Macbeth (and Lady Macbeth!).
    This has been addressed elsewhere, but I also like to have the characters be products of their time, not 21st c. transplants. They have to be unique to be book-worthy, but they shouldn’t be so “forward-thinking” that they would have been clapped in Bedlam. It becomes anachronism at that point. No one was prepared to think the way we now think until after the 1960s, so it’s pretty annoying to put those thoughts in the head of a proper 19th c. miss.

    Reply
  35. “the fun of an historical is placing the characters into the difficulties/morals/society of a particular period of time.”
    I agree. I love to learn my history this way. It is so much more personal. Doubtless, it is much more subjective and probably not as “accurate” as a non-fiction historical account…although more accurate in some ways…but I love it and remember it a lot better when I connect it to a story. I know tons about the middle ages I would not have otherwise remembered from reading S.K.Penman’s “Here Be Dragons” trilogy and others. I loved Jo’s description of an opium addict’s journey to freedom (and just about anything else by Jo ). Heck, the only reason anybody really knows anything about Macbeth is because Shakespeare set him in a story and that was enough to fascinate us and get us to find out if there was a real Macbeth (and Lady Macbeth!).
    This has been addressed elsewhere, but I also like to have the characters be products of their time, not 21st c. transplants. They have to be unique to be book-worthy, but they shouldn’t be so “forward-thinking” that they would have been clapped in Bedlam. It becomes anachronism at that point. No one was prepared to think the way we now think until after the 1960s, so it’s pretty annoying to put those thoughts in the head of a proper 19th c. miss.

    Reply
  36. I love the history when it serves to really crank up the tension between the hero and heroine, increasing the magnitude of their feelings for each other by providing incontrovertible barriers to bump up against. And then the HEA occurs realistically within the historical time-frame. Really hard to do, especially with paranormal, in order to avoid the deus ex machina, and I love it when I read it.
    I quit the Gabaldon books on book two. I loved Outlander and applauded the risks she took with her villain and with Jaime’s victimization. But she writes in a very non-linear, spiral-storytelling style and I lost patience.

    Reply
  37. I love the history when it serves to really crank up the tension between the hero and heroine, increasing the magnitude of their feelings for each other by providing incontrovertible barriers to bump up against. And then the HEA occurs realistically within the historical time-frame. Really hard to do, especially with paranormal, in order to avoid the deus ex machina, and I love it when I read it.
    I quit the Gabaldon books on book two. I loved Outlander and applauded the risks she took with her villain and with Jaime’s victimization. But she writes in a very non-linear, spiral-storytelling style and I lost patience.

    Reply
  38. I love the history when it serves to really crank up the tension between the hero and heroine, increasing the magnitude of their feelings for each other by providing incontrovertible barriers to bump up against. And then the HEA occurs realistically within the historical time-frame. Really hard to do, especially with paranormal, in order to avoid the deus ex machina, and I love it when I read it.
    I quit the Gabaldon books on book two. I loved Outlander and applauded the risks she took with her villain and with Jaime’s victimization. But she writes in a very non-linear, spiral-storytelling style and I lost patience.

    Reply
  39. I love the history when it serves to really crank up the tension between the hero and heroine, increasing the magnitude of their feelings for each other by providing incontrovertible barriers to bump up against. And then the HEA occurs realistically within the historical time-frame. Really hard to do, especially with paranormal, in order to avoid the deus ex machina, and I love it when I read it.
    I quit the Gabaldon books on book two. I loved Outlander and applauded the risks she took with her villain and with Jaime’s victimization. But she writes in a very non-linear, spiral-storytelling style and I lost patience.

    Reply
  40. I love the history when it serves to really crank up the tension between the hero and heroine, increasing the magnitude of their feelings for each other by providing incontrovertible barriers to bump up against. And then the HEA occurs realistically within the historical time-frame. Really hard to do, especially with paranormal, in order to avoid the deus ex machina, and I love it when I read it.
    I quit the Gabaldon books on book two. I loved Outlander and applauded the risks she took with her villain and with Jaime’s victimization. But she writes in a very non-linear, spiral-storytelling style and I lost patience.

    Reply
  41. From MJP:
    Not a surprise that Word Wench readers like a good dose of history with their romances! One of the mistresses of the craft was Roberta Gellis. I was reading some Norman era history and there was reference to a clash between opposing factions in the streets of Oxford–and I realized how seamlessly she’s incorporated that into a book of hers I’d recently read. Totally cool!
    Talpianna, that’s a great passage. I did EXACTLY the same thing–studying the maps hanging from the rack over the blackboard and wondering what was in those vast empty spaces of Asia. Which is why I’ve done several books set in Asia and others with Asian connections. (Given the importance of India in the British empire, those connections are very believable.)
    Mary Jo, spending much of the weekend at the Balticon sff con

    Reply
  42. From MJP:
    Not a surprise that Word Wench readers like a good dose of history with their romances! One of the mistresses of the craft was Roberta Gellis. I was reading some Norman era history and there was reference to a clash between opposing factions in the streets of Oxford–and I realized how seamlessly she’s incorporated that into a book of hers I’d recently read. Totally cool!
    Talpianna, that’s a great passage. I did EXACTLY the same thing–studying the maps hanging from the rack over the blackboard and wondering what was in those vast empty spaces of Asia. Which is why I’ve done several books set in Asia and others with Asian connections. (Given the importance of India in the British empire, those connections are very believable.)
    Mary Jo, spending much of the weekend at the Balticon sff con

    Reply
  43. From MJP:
    Not a surprise that Word Wench readers like a good dose of history with their romances! One of the mistresses of the craft was Roberta Gellis. I was reading some Norman era history and there was reference to a clash between opposing factions in the streets of Oxford–and I realized how seamlessly she’s incorporated that into a book of hers I’d recently read. Totally cool!
    Talpianna, that’s a great passage. I did EXACTLY the same thing–studying the maps hanging from the rack over the blackboard and wondering what was in those vast empty spaces of Asia. Which is why I’ve done several books set in Asia and others with Asian connections. (Given the importance of India in the British empire, those connections are very believable.)
    Mary Jo, spending much of the weekend at the Balticon sff con

    Reply
  44. From MJP:
    Not a surprise that Word Wench readers like a good dose of history with their romances! One of the mistresses of the craft was Roberta Gellis. I was reading some Norman era history and there was reference to a clash between opposing factions in the streets of Oxford–and I realized how seamlessly she’s incorporated that into a book of hers I’d recently read. Totally cool!
    Talpianna, that’s a great passage. I did EXACTLY the same thing–studying the maps hanging from the rack over the blackboard and wondering what was in those vast empty spaces of Asia. Which is why I’ve done several books set in Asia and others with Asian connections. (Given the importance of India in the British empire, those connections are very believable.)
    Mary Jo, spending much of the weekend at the Balticon sff con

    Reply
  45. From MJP:
    Not a surprise that Word Wench readers like a good dose of history with their romances! One of the mistresses of the craft was Roberta Gellis. I was reading some Norman era history and there was reference to a clash between opposing factions in the streets of Oxford–and I realized how seamlessly she’s incorporated that into a book of hers I’d recently read. Totally cool!
    Talpianna, that’s a great passage. I did EXACTLY the same thing–studying the maps hanging from the rack over the blackboard and wondering what was in those vast empty spaces of Asia. Which is why I’ve done several books set in Asia and others with Asian connections. (Given the importance of India in the British empire, those connections are very believable.)
    Mary Jo, spending much of the weekend at the Balticon sff con

    Reply
  46. My major in college was history, so when I read a novel that has an historical setting, I find that if there’s an error in historical fact (even if it’s for plot purposes), it affects my enjoyment of the novel. That’s one of the reasons why I enjoy Mary Jo’s novels so much–she does her research well and the history that’s interwoven with the stories really comes alive.
    Incidentally, I put the “Outlander” series aside after I started the fifth one (“The Fiery Cross”) and found that it was not very well edited. A ten-page discussion on how eighteenth-century women dealt with their menstrual periods is not what I would choose as leisure reading! Someday, I plan to go back and finish the series–I did like the first four books very much and I would like to find out how the story ends!

    Reply
  47. My major in college was history, so when I read a novel that has an historical setting, I find that if there’s an error in historical fact (even if it’s for plot purposes), it affects my enjoyment of the novel. That’s one of the reasons why I enjoy Mary Jo’s novels so much–she does her research well and the history that’s interwoven with the stories really comes alive.
    Incidentally, I put the “Outlander” series aside after I started the fifth one (“The Fiery Cross”) and found that it was not very well edited. A ten-page discussion on how eighteenth-century women dealt with their menstrual periods is not what I would choose as leisure reading! Someday, I plan to go back and finish the series–I did like the first four books very much and I would like to find out how the story ends!

    Reply
  48. My major in college was history, so when I read a novel that has an historical setting, I find that if there’s an error in historical fact (even if it’s for plot purposes), it affects my enjoyment of the novel. That’s one of the reasons why I enjoy Mary Jo’s novels so much–she does her research well and the history that’s interwoven with the stories really comes alive.
    Incidentally, I put the “Outlander” series aside after I started the fifth one (“The Fiery Cross”) and found that it was not very well edited. A ten-page discussion on how eighteenth-century women dealt with their menstrual periods is not what I would choose as leisure reading! Someday, I plan to go back and finish the series–I did like the first four books very much and I would like to find out how the story ends!

    Reply
  49. My major in college was history, so when I read a novel that has an historical setting, I find that if there’s an error in historical fact (even if it’s for plot purposes), it affects my enjoyment of the novel. That’s one of the reasons why I enjoy Mary Jo’s novels so much–she does her research well and the history that’s interwoven with the stories really comes alive.
    Incidentally, I put the “Outlander” series aside after I started the fifth one (“The Fiery Cross”) and found that it was not very well edited. A ten-page discussion on how eighteenth-century women dealt with their menstrual periods is not what I would choose as leisure reading! Someday, I plan to go back and finish the series–I did like the first four books very much and I would like to find out how the story ends!

    Reply
  50. My major in college was history, so when I read a novel that has an historical setting, I find that if there’s an error in historical fact (even if it’s for plot purposes), it affects my enjoyment of the novel. That’s one of the reasons why I enjoy Mary Jo’s novels so much–she does her research well and the history that’s interwoven with the stories really comes alive.
    Incidentally, I put the “Outlander” series aside after I started the fifth one (“The Fiery Cross”) and found that it was not very well edited. A ten-page discussion on how eighteenth-century women dealt with their menstrual periods is not what I would choose as leisure reading! Someday, I plan to go back and finish the series–I did like the first four books very much and I would like to find out how the story ends!

    Reply
  51. I applaud you for writing about the topic of slavery. Most romances set in that time just pretend that particular aspect of society didn’t exist. Was that risky to take on?
    Coincidentally, (because I’m a history nut) I’m reading “The Slave Ship – A Human History” by Marcus Rediker. I have to read it in small doses. Not for the faint of heart!

    Reply
  52. I applaud you for writing about the topic of slavery. Most romances set in that time just pretend that particular aspect of society didn’t exist. Was that risky to take on?
    Coincidentally, (because I’m a history nut) I’m reading “The Slave Ship – A Human History” by Marcus Rediker. I have to read it in small doses. Not for the faint of heart!

    Reply
  53. I applaud you for writing about the topic of slavery. Most romances set in that time just pretend that particular aspect of society didn’t exist. Was that risky to take on?
    Coincidentally, (because I’m a history nut) I’m reading “The Slave Ship – A Human History” by Marcus Rediker. I have to read it in small doses. Not for the faint of heart!

    Reply
  54. I applaud you for writing about the topic of slavery. Most romances set in that time just pretend that particular aspect of society didn’t exist. Was that risky to take on?
    Coincidentally, (because I’m a history nut) I’m reading “The Slave Ship – A Human History” by Marcus Rediker. I have to read it in small doses. Not for the faint of heart!

    Reply
  55. I applaud you for writing about the topic of slavery. Most romances set in that time just pretend that particular aspect of society didn’t exist. Was that risky to take on?
    Coincidentally, (because I’m a history nut) I’m reading “The Slave Ship – A Human History” by Marcus Rediker. I have to read it in small doses. Not for the faint of heart!

    Reply
  56. I love historic events including war and really enjoy “tidbits” of information that I didn’t know before.
    History of our civilization and how we got to where we are in attitudes etc. is always interesting to me. I’m still trying to understand how people can judge others on their skin color alone! I have a great imagination but it won’t stretch that far.
    When our older daughter was about 3 we were going down an escalator and there was a black man going up–Jenni pipped up (in that moment of silence)”LOOK Mommy there’s a whole wheat man”
    The black man laughed the rest of the way up the escalator!
    As life often does-two years after a divorce, Jenni met a schoolmate (the one black man in the class before hers) and they married and have a beautiful daughter. How ironic!

    Reply
  57. I love historic events including war and really enjoy “tidbits” of information that I didn’t know before.
    History of our civilization and how we got to where we are in attitudes etc. is always interesting to me. I’m still trying to understand how people can judge others on their skin color alone! I have a great imagination but it won’t stretch that far.
    When our older daughter was about 3 we were going down an escalator and there was a black man going up–Jenni pipped up (in that moment of silence)”LOOK Mommy there’s a whole wheat man”
    The black man laughed the rest of the way up the escalator!
    As life often does-two years after a divorce, Jenni met a schoolmate (the one black man in the class before hers) and they married and have a beautiful daughter. How ironic!

    Reply
  58. I love historic events including war and really enjoy “tidbits” of information that I didn’t know before.
    History of our civilization and how we got to where we are in attitudes etc. is always interesting to me. I’m still trying to understand how people can judge others on their skin color alone! I have a great imagination but it won’t stretch that far.
    When our older daughter was about 3 we were going down an escalator and there was a black man going up–Jenni pipped up (in that moment of silence)”LOOK Mommy there’s a whole wheat man”
    The black man laughed the rest of the way up the escalator!
    As life often does-two years after a divorce, Jenni met a schoolmate (the one black man in the class before hers) and they married and have a beautiful daughter. How ironic!

    Reply
  59. I love historic events including war and really enjoy “tidbits” of information that I didn’t know before.
    History of our civilization and how we got to where we are in attitudes etc. is always interesting to me. I’m still trying to understand how people can judge others on their skin color alone! I have a great imagination but it won’t stretch that far.
    When our older daughter was about 3 we were going down an escalator and there was a black man going up–Jenni pipped up (in that moment of silence)”LOOK Mommy there’s a whole wheat man”
    The black man laughed the rest of the way up the escalator!
    As life often does-two years after a divorce, Jenni met a schoolmate (the one black man in the class before hers) and they married and have a beautiful daughter. How ironic!

    Reply
  60. I love historic events including war and really enjoy “tidbits” of information that I didn’t know before.
    History of our civilization and how we got to where we are in attitudes etc. is always interesting to me. I’m still trying to understand how people can judge others on their skin color alone! I have a great imagination but it won’t stretch that far.
    When our older daughter was about 3 we were going down an escalator and there was a black man going up–Jenni pipped up (in that moment of silence)”LOOK Mommy there’s a whole wheat man”
    The black man laughed the rest of the way up the escalator!
    As life often does-two years after a divorce, Jenni met a schoolmate (the one black man in the class before hers) and they married and have a beautiful daughter. How ironic!

    Reply

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