When you love writing historical romance as much as I do, it’s always a challenge to choose whether to lean into the romance more than the history - or vice versa. For me at least, I always try to lean towards both. I don't claim to always succeed at all. The challenge then becomes one of balance.
I read a review of my #holidaynovella that suggested my Chal and Stari romance might appeal to readers who prefer more historical context - and less romance - and this got me thinking…
…which is equally dangerous and rewarding.
There was a time when I thought I’d write historical fiction rather than historical romance fiction. This dream is still lively enough, but right now I’m having so much fun writing about love, having my characters fall in love, make love, earn love, lose love, learn love…that I’m not sure I’ll ever stop writing romances. I note that most other genres include a touch of romance here and there.
There’s a reason the love story between Aragorn and Arwen was played up in Peter Jackson’s Lord of the Rings movies - whereas it’s a mere appendix in the series (I say ‘mere’ but anyone who has read the nine books understands the breadth of Tolkien’s storytelling, and it’s not particularly romantic at all). This is because people want to read about people. Fascinating as is historical context (at least to me), people love climbing around inside other lovers' hearts and minds more than any other kind of reading.
Several reviewers pointed out how my historical settings take as much precedence as my love stories - and I believe they’re right. This is why I love reading reviews by the way; I learn so much from you all and I'm a better writer as a result. If you’ve ever taken the trouble to pen a review of any of my works, know that I read them all - and that I remain forever grateful.
Back to my point though, it would seem I’ve got some work to do to improving my balance between romance and historical context, so I’ve been doing a bit of studying on this. I started with reminding myself of the differences between historical fiction, and historical romance.
Historical fiction, as the name suggests, primarily centres around historical events, periods, or settings. Mary Renault is one of my favourites here. I'd also add Rosalind Miles, but I'm not sure if King Arthur is historical. Historical fiction appeals to readers fascinated by history, seeking a deeper understanding of the past through engaging stories.
As most history fans know, the emphasis in historical fiction lies in capturing the essence of a particular era, delving into social, political, and cultural aspects to provide a rich and immersive experience. It’s an area of special interest for me (as some of you may have guessed), so I ask you: Do I overdo the history in my stories? Ah. the perils of being an ND author...
Historical romance fiction:
Historical romance fiction includes a greater emphasis on the love stories than the period in which they’re set. I admit to being anal regarding historical accuracy and I'm determined to balance both my compelling, passionate romantic narratives, alongside my historical word building. My Regency historical setting is sometimes more than a backdrop for enhancing the emotional journey of my characters. Often it’s an indisputable plot point. This is certainly the case for my Romany romances. For me, the goal is to deliver my blend of romance and history, and hope it entertains.
I’ve said many times that writing a novel is a lot like baking a Christmas pudding: the right ingredients, in the tastiest measures to create the most compelling blend of flavours. I hope, at the very least, my obsession with history remains as entertaining for me as it is for you.
My goal is reader immersion, offering you a chance to escape into emotionally charged narratives, set against a backdrop of the past. I may not always get this right so this is a thank you, and a resolution: I will blend more and better for you all in 2024.