Sunday, September 7, 2014

"Facts? We don't need no stinkin' facts!" Historical Fantasy for the win!

I love reading well-written historical romances. They also have to be believable for me to enjoy them. Call me a nitpicker but getting the history right, or at least in the ball park, matters. If the story is built on shaky history, I DNF it. The term "historical romance" is self explanatory. It's a romance threaded together with history. I adore when an author does the research required to pen the story. Which brings me to the latest batch of writers who have decided to jump into creating HISTORICAL romances with heroes and heroines of different races. Especially when half of the duo is Caucasian and the other half is not.

People, do your frickin research! Please! I beg of you.

Unlike the contemporary, paranormal or New Adult genres where race is usually not a crucial story point, race is a BIG DAMNED DEAL in the INTERRACIAL historical. If the chosen duo in the IR historical consists of a White partner and the other partner who is not White is from anywhere on the globe besides another Western country, there is going to be conflict. First of all, their families might not be thrilled. Society's rejection of the couple, solely based on their differing races is gonna be an obstacle to that pair living as peacefully as same race couples or couples of the same class but different ethnicities of the era. As a writer, you cannot ignore those facts and remain true to the work.

If a writer desires accuracy in building this type of story, then depicting the pair as being mad for each other will not be enough. Love alone will not keep them together. The author is going to have to show what a s**tstorm they will be up against for thumbing their noses at society to be together. Which means researching the racial laws, the real rules decreed against persons of color in the country at that time, etc. If a writer is not willing, or able to do research, I say call the book HISTORICAL FANTASY. because that's what it will be.

I've come across a number of new authors who write these unpalatable fantasies, especially when it comes to the slavery era in the USA. These writers don't get into the period's history too deeply, other than the basics. You'll get the Master and the bed wench he has fallen for. He just doesn't know why but she touches some tender side of him he didn't know he had. Oh boy. You'll get the bed wench, who even though she's listed as property on his books, finds lovin' Master makes everything A-OK. Besides, since she's been "picked" by him, her work load has grown lighter, she gets extra food and she gets gifts and oh! it's kismet! UGH! And that's just one scenario. I'm sure someone has penned something as equally as ludicrous, with other duos in other countries, set in similar circumstances.

Deity. Help.Us.

It's the tidying up of those pesky, historical facts to fit this fantasy take on actual, unpleasant shit that makes me hurl. I've read some interviews with some of these authors. When asked about the real history of the times in which they set their IR tale and how it's missing from their books, they all respond by saying, "I write emotion between two people not history. I write about the love." Even some readers have expressed the same sentiment of wanting "to read about the forbidden love between the characters not the history." That's not historical romance. Oh, it's got IR love interests but it's not historical. These authors are writing fairy tales for people who don't want to read an IR historical with any history to interfere with the fantasy in their mind. I'm certain some readers sit back and say, "Just like I thought. Wasn't that bad back then," Plus the writers may be reaching out of their scope of ability. Their view of the world, of those times, mocks all writers who research like nuts to make a book ring true. In this case, love does not trump all. It taints it.

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