I speak here only for myself. I share my authoring experiences, particularly in writing romantic/historical fiction. I don’t claim to have some especial authority (and certainly don’t mean to be harsh about anyone else), but aim only to address – based on my own journey, so to speak – various issues that may be common to anyone who gets involved in this
insane challenging activity.
As you probably know, I have been gradually working on a new novel that I hope will follow 2017’s Conventions: The Garden At Paris. It will be a “stand alone” tale of a similar scope and length, and will include some carry over from that previous book. Three people who appear in “1840” in Conventions – its final chapter – are important fictional characters throughout, and unsurprisingly appear in this new tale; but for spoiler sakes, I’m not naming them here. Several story-vital deaths also occur, but I don’t want to reveal here either who they are. As to the ultimate fates of all of the others, that is meant to be unclear… so I may bring them back or not in this “sorta-sequel.”
This new book – which I still haven’t titled; I can’t come up with a title I like – will encompass the years from about 1797-1805. In Conventions we were mostly at sea, in central/upstate New York, England, France and Spain. In this new novel, Holland will be added to the geographic mix.
There will naturally be new characters, both fictional and historical, in addition to those who reappear from Conventions. I’ve already introduced in previous posts Cartagena-born, half-Spanish, “Ana Sánchez,” daughter of a South American pro-independence leader. I’ve also already mentioned “Edward Floyd”: he is a fictional nephew of real-life Long Island, New York, U.S. Declaration of Independence signatory, William Floyd – and is thoroughly smitten by “Ana.” Unmentioned outside of my manuscript until now, there will also be “Amelia Stuyvesant,” an upstate New Yorker who marries a well-to-do widower twenty-five years her senior: she’s 36 and he’s over sixty, a pairing that was not uncommon in that era.
In terms of the historical, we will meet – as I have previously noted in other posts – John Marshall during his U.S. diplomatic mission to France in 1797-98, a couple of years before he would become Chief Justice of the U.S. Supreme Court. I’m hoping former U.S. Secretary of the Treasury Alexander Hamilton (famous now, as we know, for a musical) will make an appearance as well. We will encounter Great Britain’s Admiral Nelson (who had little time for Americans) and his Lady Hamilton (no relation to Alex) also, and other historical figures.
Admiral Nelson and his lady “slept here”… as did, err, uh, *her husband* (35 years older than her) as well, on the edge of Tenby harbo(u)r, here in Wales: “Admiral Lord Nelson, Sir William and Lady Hamilton stayed here in 1802”.😳📸🇬🇧😂 . #travel #tourism #Wales #GreatBritain #Tenby #Pembrokeshire #town #georgianera #history #romance #bankholidayweekend #humor #humour #holiday #writers #authors #writersofinstagram #authorsofinstagram #expats #expatlife #photos #photography
Back to the fictional. “Amelia” is a creative result, for instance, of wanting to fit something about “widowerhood” into the plot. It is driven by what I’ve seen of my father’s life after we lost my mother in 2015. That is but a single example of how I find one may weave in one’s personal observations and experiences into fiction in order to give that fiction a realistic bite.
Indeed if I ever find I am “stuck” for ideas at all, I always consider my personal world for new inspiration and sources. Why else do you think I’m on Instagram too? LOL!
All kidding aside, that is where I suggest anyone starts if one wants to write fiction and doesn’t know quite how to begin. Look around at whom you know and borrow liberally from them. Even if you choose to re-make all of your friends and family into half-trolls, half-humans inhabiting the lost island of Ganlenti in the Unguarded Sea of Sysatanium, you are now off and running…
…Or you can stick to fully humans, which is my preference. Conventions was exhausting writing. But, I like to think, it’s good “fun” reading as well: romances, marriages, and children (not necessarily in that order; shocking, I know), unrequited love, politics, diplomats, aristocrats, revolutionaries, duels, guillotines, murders, narrow escapes, wars, and such…
As I go at it again, my now late uncle’s words come back to me regularly: “Fiction comes from fact, and lots of fact makes great fiction when you re-write it as fiction.” I love it. Come sometime in 2019, I hope you will love this, too.😊
* * *
Separately, it is reported that American author Philip Roth died last night.
A good time, I suppose, to relink to this post…
Wikipedia’s response to Roth’s approach manages to mix overzealous with inadvertently comedic. That said, it is not unreasonable either. As I understand it, nobody is supposed to write his/her own Wikipedia page. (But no doubt some sneakily do so.) Yet in replying to Roth’s official representative, Wikipedia states it requires a “secondary source” to support what Philip Roth himself is asserting about his own novel?
…from almost exactly one year ago: To Be Read Like A Roth?