Above painting: Louis Jean Francois - Mars and Venus an Allegory of Peace


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Tuesday, March 18, 2014

The Writing of a Historical Novel by Barbara Longley

Welcome to History Undressed, guest author, Barbara Longley! She's here today to talk a bit about her writing process. Enjoy!

I thought readers might be interested to see what goes into writing historical fiction, so I’ve included a picture of some of my reference books. It took me a year of reading, note-taking, research and plotting before I typed a single word of TRUE TO THE HIGHLANDER.

Have I taken liberties for the sake of the story? Yep. Like kilts. Experts say kilts as we know them were not popular until the eighteenth century. TRUE TO THE HIGHLANDER is set in 1423/1424, but I included kilts anyway. To me, a Scottish historical without kilts is like toast without butter, or coffee without cream. It’s just not . . . complete. Have I manipulated historical events and facts here and there for the sake of the story? Yep. I write fiction.

However, the inspiration for the story, like the Feast of Reconciliation between the Comyn and MacKintosh clans, and their long-standing and brutal feud, are based upon well-documented historical events. Only, in the real version, a young woman was murdered by her own father (the Comyn laird), who suspected she revealed his nefarious plot to slay the MacKintosh during the feast. I just . . . changed the outcome a little.

That’s what I love about writing “fiction.” We get to make stuff up, change tragic outcomes, turn them into happily-ever-afters, and save lives that would otherwise have been lost.

A life hangs in the balance . . .

A king held for ransom, a country under thumb, clans at one another’s throats. Malcolm of clan MacKintosh has enough to worry about without finding a mysterious lass sleeping on the side of his road. He tries to help her—in his overbearing, arrogant way—and winds up flat on his back. God’s blood, who is this woman . . . and why does she captivate him so?

And only she can tip the scales.

The fortune-teller said something about saving a life, then zapped Alethia Goodsky back to fifteenth-century Scotland—a land bristling with broadswords and intrigue. Alethia is no damsel in distress, though, even if brawny, blue-eyed Malcolm has sworn to protect her. With her wits and special abilities, she races to solve the gypsy’s mystery and protect those she’s come to love. The stakes climb higher and enemies close in, forcing Alethia to choose between finding her way home . . . and staying true to her Highlander.

As a child, Barbara Longley moved frequently, learning early on how to entertain herself with stories. Adulthood didn’t tame her peripatetic ways: she has lived on an Appalachian commune, taught on an Indian reservation, and traveled the country from coast to coast. After having children of her own, she decided to try staying put, choosing Minnesota as her home. By day, she puts her master’s degree in special education to use teaching elementary school. By night, she explores all things mythical, paranormal, and newsworthy, channeling what she learns into her writing.

Visit Barbara at...

Her website: www.barbaralongley.com

1 comment:

Barbara Longley said...

Thanks so much for hosting me today, Eliza! YOu have a lovely site, and I'm seeing all kinds of books I want to read!