Ask any historical romance author if they believe their history is accurate, and you are likely to see the hackles go up, just like a bird. Why? Because we all do our best to be historically accurate, but sometimes it’s difficult. It’s even more difficult if you write in a time period that has little written about it.
The time period of both of my Scottish series is the 1200s. I have had two different historians with advanced degrees in medieval history tell me I chose an excellent time period to write about because there is so little written about Scotland in the 1200s. There was a bit about the Battle of Largs, the setting for Love Letters from Largs, and I loved writing about that battle. But now that I have advanced to the 1280s for The Highland Clan, the only thing worth mentioning is that King Alexander III died in 1286. I’m not quite sure how I’ll deal with that yet.
Two of my favorite historians have also advised many that if you plan to be completely accurate, you’ll never get around to writing your novel.
The Grant and Ramsay Clans are completely fictional, but I do stick with the primary historical figures, such as King Alexander and Alexander of Dundonald. The heroes/heroines….all created in my mind.
The point I wish to make is this: this is historical romance and it’s fiction. As authors, we choose what is accurate and what is not. We each create our own world based on history and what the readers want to hear.
What???How could you say that?
We each choose which parts of history we wish to keep and which parts we change because….that’s what you, the readers, want to hear. Do you expect your Highlander to be wearing a kilt? Of course, you do. Don’t we all?
So you are still not a believer, I see. You still believe that every book of historical fiction MUST be accurate.
Here’s a few things I’d like to point out that my historians have informed me about the Scottish Highlands we all know and love:
- There were no lairds in the 1200s, only chieftains.
- The Highlands were not called the Highlands then.
- Lowlander Scots talk (bairn, ye, yer, ken, dinnae etc.) was not spoken in the Highlands until much later than the 1200s. This is major for me. My clans are Gaelic, and I cannot write my books in Gaelic (nor could you read it), but the surprise to me was that the traditional dialect we are all accustomed to reading in our Scottish historical romances has no place in my novels. The Lowlander Scots had not spread north yet.
- They did not wear kilts in the 1200s. They were not called kilts until the 1500s. So I refer to them as plaids (blankets). One reader advised me they are tartans. Only in today’s world, not in the 1200s, my dear.
I could go on, but I won’t. It’s important for you, the reader, to understand two things:
- Just because you read something in one Scottish romance does not mean it is correct for all Scottish romances. What took place in Outlander time is much different from Medieval time.
- We, the author, each create our own world, much as the fantasy authors do. So you accept it, but remember-it may not always be true. 😉
This is such a great topic, I’ll write more later…I’ve given you enough to think about today!