I really liked this blog post by Patricia Simoes on historical fiction: Fiction Versus History: Which is most truthful?
What turns me off from traditional historical writing is the distance from which the story is told. When I pick up a book on a historical figure, I want that book to take me into the head space and emotional state of the person I’m reading about. Unfortunately most history books are unable to do that. They are told from the view point of the observer or researcher. And despite the historian’s best efforts to give the protagonist a personality, it always seems to fall short of what the real person must’ve been.My alternative to history books has become historical fiction. They provide the depth and complexity of character that I crave as a reader and the historical background that I appreciate learning about.
Discovering the past is my main motivation for writing historical fiction. Research sparks me, but it’s only through delving deeply into the day-to-day lives of my characters that I even begin to understand.
This post was initially on my WordPress blog. When it first appeared, the author of the blog cited, wrote:
Thanks for quoting my blog post Mrs. Gulland!
I agree with what you’ve said about “delving deeply into the day-to-day lives” as a way to better understand them. Fiction allows us the freedom to recreate the situations and events that shaped a person like Josephine B. In doing so, we are able to better understand her options and the reasons why she made the decisions she did. It may not be factual truth, but it reveals a truth of the human condition nonetheless.
On another note, your comment on my blog completely blew my mind. Josephine B. is one of my all-time favourite female characters (she’s in good company with Jane Eyre and Maggie Tulliver). And I can’t wait to start your new novel.
Hope to keep in touch,