Historical ‘Accuracy,’ Marginalized Characters & the Author’s Note
“Female-centered historical novels are having a moment, particularly when uncovering little-known histories. Resistance to these narratives, which cast heroines with agency, hidden talents and extraordinary achievements, has declined, but only after a hard-fought battle. Perhaps women have won the war and we can pen stories of our ancestors without the dreaded attack of the old guard — a patriarchy accustomed to controlling the narrative and wielding the term ‘historical accuracy’ like a weapon.”
So writes author and columnist Vanessa Riley in her June 14, 2021, article in the Books/Perspectives section of the Washington Post. It’s a conversation many historical romance authors have been having for years. Trailblazers in historical fiction, who love to write stories frequently outside the confines of the commonly disseminated history taught in schools, have faced detractors who question not only their art but also their “sheer audacity” to even put such stories on the page.
Luckily, I’ve had the privilege of learning from the journey of those who’ve come before me. One thing I knew for certain would be necessary when I sat down to work on my first ever historical romances was that I’d need an AUTHOR’S NOTE, particularly for my 17th Century story featuring a Black heroine and hero in the Scottish Highlands (Never Cross A Highlander). To understand why, check out Vanessa’s full article about women, history, writing marginalized characters, and correcting narratives by visiting the Washington Post online.