Friday, April 13, 2012

Historical Romance vs. Historical Fiction with B.J. Scott, author of Highland Legacy

My debut novel, Highland Legacy was released in the fall of 2011, but the journey to publication was not without pitfalls. After pouring over the manuscript for countless hours to make sure it represented my best work and would hopefully appeal to readers, I started to send out query letters to Agents and editors. While the manuscript received very positive responses, it was also met with mixed opinions as to what genre it represented. For a new author this can be confusing.
Perhaps one of the biggest challenges facing a writer of Historical Romance is knowing how much actual history to add and where to draw the line. The difference between a historical romance and historical fiction varies depending on the genre requirements of each publishing house.
For most publishers, a historical romance is one where romance between the hero and heroine drives the story. The POV is restricted to the hero and heroine, or a combination of both, and while a third POV might occasionally be acceptable, it is not usually recommended. Secondary characters, historical settings, and historical facts add flavour and help to flesh out the story, but they remain in the background. Romance novels contain elements of suspense, danger, adventure, and beloved characters may even die, but the ending is always one that closes the book on a positive, happy note.
Rich with facts, Historical Fiction is driven by actual historical events. It can be written in multiple POV where appropriate and while there is often a romantic element, it is not necessary, and does not drive the story. A happy ending is not necessary.
Whether you write historical romance or historical fiction, research is essential.Fans of these two genres are often history enthusiasts and familiar with the time period and customs of the era. If using historical events, accuracy is important. While an author often uses literary license in a historical romance to enhance their story or to set the scene, sticking to the facts in a historical fiction is important.
Many books and movies that are set in the past are not historically accurate. Events do not occur in chronological order or never happened at all. To assume the reader will not know the difference is a mistake. Writing a historical fiction or even a historical romance is a golden opportunity for the author to reach out to history buffs and to share with those who are not, interesting details about a bygone era.
From the book’s inception, Highland Legacy was meant to be a historical romance. However, the earlier versions bordered very closely on Historical Fiction. In my effort to pen a gripping saga of love, passion and adventure, my desire to share information and facts about this epic time in Scottish history was evident. This posed a problem when it came to finding a home for the book.
I did my research and my historical facts were accurate as to events and setting, but POV was multiple and my secondary characters played a major roll in developing the story. The history of the time period became almost as important as the romance between the hero and heroine, at times coming dangerously close to taking over the story.
When this was pointed out to me by an editor who loved the story, but could not off a contract because of the publishing house guidelines, I had to make a decision. Tone down the history, keep the POV to that of the hero and heroine and shove the secondary characters into the background and make it a Historical Romance. Or go the opposite direction, tone down the hero and heroine’s roll and beef up the history and make it a Historical fiction.
In the end, Historical romance won out and once I had made the necessary changes, the book was picked up almost immediately. Did I compromise quality or my intent for the sake of guidelines? No. There is a place for both genres and once you know the difference, writing to those guidelines is much easier.

B.J Scott Bio

With a passion for historical romance and anything Celtic, Barb always has an exciting new work in progress. Each storyline offers a blend of romance, adventure and where appropriate, a dab of comic relief. Carefully researched historical facts are woven into each manuscript, providing a backdrop from which steamy romance, gripping plots and vivid characters—dashing alpha heroes and resourceful, beguiling heroines you can't help but admire—spring to life. She also writes contemporary, paranormal, time travel and romantic suspense.

After establishing a career in nursing and child and youth work, Barb met her knight in shining armor and he whisked her away to his castle by the sea. Actually, they live in a small town on the shores of Lake Erie Ontario with her husband Steve, their three dogs and a cat. When not writing, working at her child care job or small business, you will find her reading, camping, touring historic sites or antique hunting.

Highland Legacy… released by Soul Mate Publishing, LLC  Oct 2011

Amazon Best Seller for Historical romance  Jan and Feb 2012

Faced with an abhorrent betrothal, Cailin Macmillan flees her father’s castle and quickly learns that a woman traveling alone in Medieval Scotland is an easy target for ruthless English soldiers. When Highland patriot, Connor Fraser, comes to her aid, his steadfast dedication to king and country is challenged by an undeniable attraction and overwhelming need to protect her—even if he must marry her to do so.

Accused of murdering one of her assailants and relying on her own initiative, Cailin dresses as a lad, intent on seeking refuge at the camp of Robert the Bruce. Can she elude an enemy from her past—a vindictive English lord bent on her capture and utter demise? Or will she fall prey to his carnal intent and be executed for a crime she did not commit?

B J Scott book trailer:

Barnes and Noble:

Contact the author: 


  1. Thanks for inviting me to join you today on your blog Zrinka. I look forward to chatting with your guests

    1. You are very welcome, B.J. It is real pleasure to have you.

    2. It should be fun.

      I am also giving away to one commenter, their choice of either a copy of my book or a pen and book mark

  2. Hi Zrinka and Barb.
    Hey us Ontarians should all get together some time.
    Barb, great post. Research and deciding what to put in and what to leave out to give the readers a real sense of place and not drown them with details, is such a balance. Great job in Highland Legacy.

    1. Thanks Kendra/Bev

      Great to see you here and best of luck with your new releases as well! A little bird told me that Ghostly Justice has been released and is on Amazon and Barnes and noble Congrats!!!

  3. You know I love everything Scottish so am looking forward to reading your story. The cover is awesome and should draw lots of readers. :)

    I have my first story coming out in August and wonder how the people who live in my community will react to how I have presented the gold rush era in our town. I did change the name of the town to give me leeway, but am sure I will get comments on even the slight changes. I found it interesting that you needed to change your story for it to be published.

    Best of luck with lots of sales.

    1. Thanks for stopping in Paisley,

      It is a fine line and editors are reluctant to cross over. Changing the name of your town is a good thing. There will be those who see the similarity, but your disclaimer usually fixes that. Good luck with your release in Aug!!!! Will be watching for it.

  4. Good post, Barb. There is a fine line when you write historical romance. You want the history to be accurate, but it also has to appeal to today's reader, who doesn't want to hear about soup made with ox cheek. (Just researched that today for my 1860s novel in edits right now).

  5. Thanks for stopping by Callie.
    Good luck with your current releases and the new ones coming out in MAY!!!

  6. Historical romance is my absolute favorite. I love losing myself in another time, in a great story, in a book where I can learn a thing or two. HL is a great book. Looking forward to the next one, too, BJ. :)

  7. Thanks for stopping in Ann

    as you know they are my all time fav as well ;)

  8. Thank again Zrinka for having me on your blog. The winner of the book or pen and bookmard is Paisley

    congrats!!!! you will be contacted re your choice of prize. To all the others who stopped by, thank you for your support.

  9. Great Post!! I've always been interested in the Scots. I married one but unfortunately he doesn’t have the accent nor does he wear a kilt. :(

    Your story sound so fascinating. Who doesn’t love a knight in shining armour. :)