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 Métis (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.

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12 comments:

  1. Thank you for letting me stop by and share a bit about crafting my story around real history.

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  2. Pegg, I respect authors who write historical fiction so much. The research it takes to recreate settings, facts, culture, etc., so they can write about it in an authentic way, adds a level of rigor to writing...which is already hard enough. :) I enjoyed your post.

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    1. Thank you! It is a lot of research, but I enjoy it. I think I was born a history geek. :)

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  3. This is such a great story! I'm glad you're here talking about it. You're so good at getting all your historical information perfect. I love reading your stories!

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  4. I agree - we can’t simply ignore history to make the story a little more “pleasant”. I find it interesting you create your own yarn. Blessings!

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    1. One might say that I can spin two kinds of yarns. ;)

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  5. Pegg, I’m so thankful you are spending the day with us on Seriously Write. I’ve always admired historical authors. Using history accurately while weaving it into fiction takes skill. Hats off to you. I enjoyed your post and love the little teaser about your book!

    The shawl you knit is gorgeous. I certainly rushed right over and signed up for your newsletter. My fingers are crossed.

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    1. I have another book releasing in November, and another shawl to give away with that one, too. :)

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  6. I loved this book! I loved how you saved them from the uprising too. You are very clever 😉

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