Love History, Love Historical Romance
I have always loved history, even as a child. I majored in history and English in college and taught history. But even as a lover of history, I was never enamored of most history textbooks. In fact, a lot of history textbooks are, in my opinion, dry and boring.
But boring seems to be the way they try to teach you to write in history class. Only the facts and cite every one. I tried to liven up my papers. I tried to show the human aspect of history. In graduate school one professor told me I put too much romance into my papers, but he also admitted to enjoying my turns of phrase. I just couldn’t figure out why history, which is so full of wonderful, exciting stories, had to be so boring.
Then someone handed me a copy of Kathleen Woodiwiss’s The Wolf and the Dove and I fell in love with history all over again–historical romance, that is. Here was everything I ever wanted, history, a good story, history, romance, history. Did I mention a good dose of history?
Over the years as I have devoured one historical romance after another, I have found that most writers of the genre also have a love of history and a penchant for making sure that every piece of history that goes into one of their books is as accurate as they can make it. If they do have to “fudge” a bit, there is usually a historical note at the end explaining why they made the change and how things really happened.
I can’t tell you how many times a historical romance has sent me to my shelf of research books or to the internet to check out some fact or to find out more about the history in the book. What a wonderful way to learn history!
So why is it so much fun to learn history through story? It makes it real, it makes us relate to the human element, and it makes it important to know some of the history facts because they are important to the well-being of the characters in the book.
Lisa Cron, in her book, Wired For Story, explains how that story is part of our psyche. It is how we really learn. Facts are not nearly so important to a human being as story is. That’s why I used to tell my history students stories. I once had a class refuse to leave the room at the end of class until I finished the story I was telling them–about Magellan’s trip around the world. Maybe that’s why I am now happily writing historical romance myself. I listened to what my history professor told me about putting too much romance into my papers. I decided to put more in and just write historical romance.
Michele Stegman is a multi-published author of historical romances. She loves to add twists and make her stories as different as she can. In her latest full-length book, Conquest of the Heart, a book set in England in 1067, her hero is not a big, brash, conquering Norman. He’s a Saxon, one of the conquered.