Tuesday, July 6, 2010

Normal History Goes a Little Abnormal (Guest Blogger A.R. Cummings)

I love writing historical fiction. I love inventing a hunky hero and a spunky, determined heroine to match him and placing them in a story that depicts the way the past unfolded. I always know that whatever the odds, they’ll come together at the end for that satisfactory happily-ever-after.

With historical fiction a lot of research has to go into the background if you aren’t already knowledgeable in the era. I try not to play in the eras I don’t know much about but sometimes you have to cross the lines you’re unfamiliar with and go boldly where no writer has gone before.

Or in my case I went crazy and started writing a steam punk/paranormal romance set in Australia. I know next-to-nothing about steam punk and only marginally more than nothing about Australia. But I dove in anyway and came up with a novella currently in the editing stages. It was so much fun to write. Since it was steam punk and that’s largely set in Victorian England, I had a pretty good idea of what the dress code was, how people acted, and what was expected of a woman back then. My heroine didn’t want be lumped in as a model of society. She’s bold, adventurous, and best of all was brought up to believe she could do anything a man could do--including swear like a sailor. The perfect heroine to use steam punk technology. She brandishes a laser pistol at the hero, flies across the continent of Australia on an airship, floats along the Swan River in a steam-powered boat and faces down a creature of legendary proportions to help save the day. The obstacles and situations presented through this technology helped bring the hero and heroine closer together--in spite of the fact that she held a gun on the hero.

I’ve read that some editors frown on taking a perfectly good everyday object and turning it into something “new” and giving it a new name. So strive for unique items in your stories. There’s nothing wrong with adding a laser to a gun or even coming up with something far-fetched to make ordinary objects stand out. One of my favorite resources for ideas, be they a story line or a pirate ship name is Seventh Sanctum (http://www.seventhsanctum.com) a randomizer than can help cut through the writer‘s block.

Besides adding fantasy technological elements to a story, I’ve also tried adding some magic. Folklore has always interested me. Particularly with movies like Sleepy Hollow and An American Haunting. The paranormal genre is booming. I thought, why not jump on the wagon? Shoot for something a little different. Vampires and zombies might be right up your alley. They’re oldies, but goodies and everyone can offer a twist on the usual vamp story. On the other hand, I was looking for something a hair different.

I started researching American folklore and found a little known, but spooky story to form a romance out of. Every story needs a conflict, so I added demonic hags to form a love triangle. The first step might be to look at your area and the kinds of stories you grew up on. If none of those provide the inspiration you need, the web and a local library are additional resources. The best part of all is you have the creative license to bend, mold and shape folklore to meet your needs. Not only is this a great way to express your creativity, but it might also spark an interest in your readers to take a closer look at the myths and legends in their area. Stories focused around folklore provide entertainment and also help reinforce local history.

A.R. Cummings


Brenda said...

Howdy, A.R.
Hey, great post. Your story sounds awesome, and something I would totally be into. Love how you combined modern technology with the past. Way cool!

Charli Mac said...

I've been playing with the idea of 2 historical romances. The research is half the fun. I haven't the time yet but I really look forward to getting to them...one day....