I’m delighted to welcome Lotte James with a guest post for my slot on the blog tour organised by Rachel’s Random Resources.
Over to you, Lotte…
When to ask your readers to suspend their disbelief
Balancing history with imagination, is one of the keys to a great historical romance, and it is admittedly one of the things I have found most challenging as a writer. When you get it just right however, I believe that is when magic happens.
For me, it’s about doing the work, the research – collecting facts, figures, maps, pictures… Getting a proper feel of the time I’m writing in, by visiting houses, museums, reading diaries or scrolling through artistic works of the time. Getting an idea of the atmosphere, the energy of it all. Then, letting my imagination begin to do its work.
Learning to read between the lines of the history books; using logic and deduction to fill in blanks I might encounter – and believe me, there are plenty – whilst also allowing myself to play around with it all. Asking myself: if this existed in 1839 but not in 1824 – then logically it came to be somewhere between those two dates – and so can I plausibly have it present in 1832?
Then, letting my imagination run a little freer. Not dismissing my research, or having the Prince Regent answering a cell phone, but finding those moments when I can ask the reader to suspend their disbelief.
Now, I love history. There are plenty of incredible tales within the pages of it, plenty of incredible people, and the strangest little tidbits sometimes too. I do believe it is important to properly represent the past – good or bad – because why else write about it? Details, research, and facts, are invaluable, important, and often can spark a great new plot point if I’m honest.
At the same time, it’s vital to not be shackled by it. At least not as a fiction writer, in my own humble opinion.
It’s about saying: did it happen? Do I have proof of this existing? Maybe not. But then again, maybe, just maybe, it could have happened. Maybe, it could have existed. Often, the beauty, the personality of a work, lies in that could have. As challenging as that balance is to find, it is also, to me, one of the fun parts of writing historical romance.
Though admittedly, I forgot about the fun part when I began writing The Gentleman of Holly Street. Nose stuck in my research as I attempted to find examples and instances of particular schemes or endeavours – notably in regards to sustainable and ethical shipping, or innovative charitable initiatives for the houseless, in the 1830’s – I forgot that sometimes, it’s ok to let the characters be who they want to be. Even if you have no proof someone like them did exist. If you have reason to believe they could have, then go for it. And trust your readers.
Which I did in the end. Because readers are incredible too.
I trusted my readers to enjoy the tale I’ve spun, to hopefully be swept away, and to believe, as I do, that good, honourable, and innovative people can be found at any time or place.
Thanks so much, Lotte.
Will this Christmas…
Change their lives again?
When self-made gentleman Freddie Walton rescued penniless Philomena Nichols at Christmas eight years ago, he never imagined that he would build his empire with her. Yet whilst they have created a life together as friends, Freddie can’t let their special connection become more than that. Not when his dangerous past continues to haunt him… But what happens when Freddie’s feelings for Philomena also refuse to stay hidden?
Purchase Link – https://bit.ly/3oZINsz
Lotte James trained as an actor and theatre director, but spent most of her life working day jobs crunching numbers whilst dreaming up stories of love and adventure. She’s thrilled to finally be writing those stories, and when she’s not scribbling on tiny pieces of paper, she can usually be found wandering the countryside for inspiration, or nestling with coffee and a book.