Thursday, April 19, 2018

Using Real History in Your Stories by Pegg Thomas

Writing historical and historical romance means using real history in your stories. Sometimes, that history isn’t pleasant. There are many instances of difficult situations—true history—that need to be told, even though they don’t always show humanity at its best.

Such was the case while I was writing Her Redcoat for the Backcountry Brides Romance Collection. This is a collection of stories set in Colonial America on the frontier—the backcountry as it was called then. I wanted to set my story in what is now Northern Michigan. Most people don’t equate Michigan with Colonial America, but the northern reaches of the state were first visited by the French in 1623. By the 1700s, there were several towns along the waterways between the Great Lakes.

Not too far from where I live is Fort Michilimackinac (mish’-ee-lee-mack’-in-naw). I set my story there because of a well-known uprising of the Ojibwe and Sauk tribes against the British at the fort. The British had recently ousted the French following the French and Indian War. The local tribes had been friendly with the French for over a century. They did not like the British who were stingy with their gifts and arrogant in their demeanor. 

How was I to craft a romance amid so much tension? By playing off the tension, of course! My hero is a British soldier, but one who doesn’t want to be there. My heroine is a local M├ętis (May-tees’), a woman of mixed French and native cultures. He was prejudiced against the “heathens,” and she was prejudiced against the English. 

So what was going to bring them together? There had to be a connection. He was educated, highly educated for the time, and she owned a book she couldn’t read. Bam! 

Now for the biggest challenge of all … they have to survive an uprising that killed almost every soldier save the officers who were kept alive and traded for ransom. How did I do that? You’ll have to read the book!

To celebrate the release of The Backcountry Brides Collection, including my story, Her Redcoat, I’m giving away one of my signature shawls. Today the area around Fort Michilimackinac is known for its beautiful lilacs. One subscriber to my newsletter will win Northern Lilacs, my handspun, handknit wool shawl on May 31, 2018. Subscribe today to be entered!

Pegg Thomas lives on a hobby farm in Northern Michigan with Michael, her husband of *mumble* years. A life-long history geek, she writes “History with a Touch of Humor.” When not working or writing, Pegg can be found in her barn, her garden, her kitchen, or sitting at her spinning wheel creating yarn to turn into her signature wool shawls.