I think I am speaking for most of us who writer historical settings, whether its historical romance, historical fiction, historical mystery, or time travel, there’s a passion for the period. I don’t know a author who writes about a certain time and place that doesn’t also read books that are set in the same period.
My father taught history so it was a common topic in our house when I was growing up. He spoke of many different eras and regions and/or countries. But even as a young girl, I had my favorites. Medieval history struck a chord with me. Like so many girls and women, knights and the Age of Chivalry captured my imagination.
Once I decided to write my first book, which was from a story idea I had for many years, I knew the romantic hero would be a knight. That book has been followed by two sequels, all involving medieval English knights. All are part of my Knights in Time series. When considering a particular period for my books, I like to focus on an event or historical figure. In that series, all the heroes are knights (friends) who fought in the Battle of Poitiers, a famous English victory. Edward of Woodstock, the Black Prince, led the English army to that victory. My knights are associates of his and fight alongside him. The battle and the prince are the common denominators in all three books.
My latest book, Silk, is a historical suspense set in Victorian London. The setting was my first and only choice. To me, the city in that period of time is perfectly suited to the genre for many reasons: the mood of the people with Jack the Ripper running loose, the sumptuous lifestyle of the wealthy upper class vs. the struggling lower classes across town, the way the fog could swallow up a person walking after dark, and the incredible mix of architecture, to name a few.
For a long time, I’ve had a passing interest in the Zulu Wars between the Zulus and the British army (the South Wales Borderers regiment) in 1879, especially the battle at Isandhlwana and Rorke’s Drift. Several years ago I had the opportunity to visit the SWB regimental museum. The volunteers spoke to me for a long time about the two actions. The Victoria Cross (the equivalent of the Medal of Honor) was awarded to eleven men of the regiment who fought at Rorke’s Drift. I left knowing that one day I wanted to write a story with a hero who was a veteran of that battle.
Detective Inspector Rudyard Bloodstone, is Silk’s determined investigator and the veteran of Rorke’s Drift I sought to portray. He was, for me, the perfect character to reflect that moment in time. He’s a hero who doesn’t consider himself one. He likes to hang with a veteran friend who owns a pub, he enjoys music hall entertainment, he’s not a man who envy’s others. He is what he is.
As a writer, it is such fun to “walk” with a character, shadow them. To bring them to life using the time and place. Rudyard (Ruddy) moves from crime scenes to his friend’s pub to the moors of Cornwall.
Historical fiction creates a scene that hopefully readers will experience with their senses. You want them to know the cold and disorienting feel of the evening fog, the smell of popular perfumes used by ladies at the time, the sight of a black polished carriage drawn by a team of elegant horses, the call of newsboys repeating the headlines of the latest editions, even the taste of a warm stew of some kind.
I love to hear from readers who talk about how real the setting was for them. It doesn’t matter if the setting scared them or delighted them, only that it took them to another place. That place for a brief time became a living, breathing thing, another character so to speak.
Buy the Bloodstone murders here: https://www.amazon.com/dp/B0BVBD42VL