How Much History is Too Much History?

I’m going to be speaking at NOLA Stars one day workshop on June 11 on just this very topic and although I have some ideas I’d love to hear yours.

Remember the Duke of Slut and the Regency Police?

For me the divide between Regency Fantasyland and history is becoming even wider and I think that’s a shame. Did all the hot young dukes in London really own private distilleries from whence they obtained their never ending supply of whiskey? Apparently they did, but that’s not my point. Really. We’ve created an alternate history with its own conventions and characteristics but I think providing this comfort zone is a mistake. Don’t we read historicals to go to a time and place unlike our own and wonder at the differences in manners and behavior we find there?

From a structural crafty point of view, I think the conflict established by the standards of the time regarding love and marriage should provide as much tension as anything else the hero/heroine might do or feel. The emotions should bridge the gap of two centuries and those emotions, since we write romance, should be what makes us identify with the characters. We must make the assumption that falling in love is pretty much the same whenever/wherever you live.

What do you think? Do you enjoy those familiar points of reference, or do you want to feel that shiver down your spine when you realize that you are indeed in a different country?

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