Historical Fiction or Historical Romance?
As writers of historical romances, my History Imagined colleagues and I are very much aware of what’s going on in the world during whatever time period and country we choose to write in. We try to incorporate as much of what’s
happening at the time as we can, using actual events as a backdrop to the story, and showing how the events going on at the time impact the lives of an everyday citizen. Does that mean we write historical fiction? Exactly where is the dividing line between historical fiction and historical romance?
Historical fiction is defined as any book having a high degree of historical accuracy and detail, which appeals to readers who want to learn more about a particular period. Many of today’s historical romances can cross the line from romance to historical fiction because they impart a great deal of historical accuracy into the pages. From my own experience, researching the book and writing the book take about equal amounts of time.
My newest release, Expressly Yours, Samantha, takes a slice out of the old West, by showcasing one of the most iconic periods of the West–the much-lauded Pony Express. For me, it’s not enough to have my characters stand on the sidelines, cheering on the Pony Express riders as they gallop by. No, my characters are the Pony Express riders. I show their grit, their determination to get the mail through at any cost, their compassion for both the horses and each other. It was a rough-and-tumble time in American history, and the book pulls no punches.
I was surprised to learn the Pony Express lasted only eighteen months. I had thought it was years in duration. And I knew that Wild Bill Hickok and Buffalo Bill were part of the Pony Express and later made a living in the Wild West show, but I didn’t know that Wild Bill was too big to be a Pony Express rider and his involvement in the Pony Express was limited to driving supply wagons to the various posts. I worked both of these surprise facts into my story.
If all the discussion about how the Pony Express worked makes the book cross the line from historical romance to historical fiction, I’m thrilled. The fact that one can learn a bit more of America’s fascinating history by reading my books is an honor, and not one I take lightly. My intention is to show how the events of the day molded and shaped people. Expressly Yours, Samantha, is a much grittier tale than any of the others in this series. I want the reader to taste the trail dust. And, if you learn a bit more about the Pony Express than you knew before, that’s okay, too.
In fact, the intention of this blog site is to enlighten and inform readers and authors alike about events that shaped our history, both in America and in Europe. History can be found around every corner, and we hope our excitement for uncovering little known historical facts is evident in our posts. So, if you find yourself galloping along with a Pony Express rider, or if you find yourself marching in battle as an English soldier during the War of 1812, or fighting against or for slavery during the Civil War, you don’t need to question if you’re reading historical fiction or historical romance. Just enjoy.