It’s Not About The Dates

Recently, I asked a much-more-knowledgeable-than-I friend, “Doesn’t it kinda make you sick that I’m writing Regencies, and yet I have no clue about some of this basic stuff?” It was during one of those frequent moments when I feel like a fraud for doing what I love. The plight of a lot of women, but that is not the point of this post.

Her reply, being a friend and all, was that no, it didn’t matter if the writing was good. And knowing me well, she went on to assure me that my writing is good.

And I’ve been thinking about that since, especially since I have asked both her and my dad (my research partner–hi Dad!) to answer some research questions for me: Towns and inns along the Great North Road, titles, Church of England common talking points, and a good first name for my villain (we settled on Elisha).

When I was in college, I took a course titled America Since 1945 (I minored in political science and religion). I came out of high school without a clue as to how to study, so when it was time for the first exam, I frantically memorized dates and events. But when the test came back, I did poorly. Why? Because while I knew the dates, I didn’t understand the why behind the dates. The dates themselves didn’t matter, it was the progression of history and various moments of cataclysm that mattered. I learned a lot that day, which might be why I am so laissez-faire about my own research; yes, getting it right is important if you’re writing historical fiction, but it’s not as important as getting the feeling right.

So while I am occasionally embarrassed about my mistakes, I feel as if I have the tone right, the feeling of the period oozes through every word of my writing. And I might never know the right way to address the daughter of a peer (Lady Megan Frampton, I think, whereas the married-into-it address would be Megan, Lady Frampton), but my characters are inspired by the time, which in my opinion trumps perfect historical accuracy every time.

Of course there are sore points for every reader; I roll my eyes when I read a book where the titled lord can decide to whom his title will fall when he’s dead, like he’s bequeathing a toaster or something (Carla Kelly does this, but I still LOVE HER WRITING). Others can’t deal with marriage details (special license inaccuracies? Guilty as charged).

What are your sore points? Do you fault authors who don’t get it right, or do you turn a blind eye if the writing is good? Have you pre-ordered the fabulous Carla Kelly’s Beau Crusoe yet? And which authors get everything right? Loretta Chase springs to mind; who else?

Megan
www.meganframpton.com

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