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
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. Ontario
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?
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