Saturday, September 22, 2012

Historical Fiction Can Be Exciting! J. R. Tomlin Guest Post

As an indie author, I love helping other indies spread the word about their books, especially when they write in the same genre I do.  Today I am very pleased and excited to welcome  author J. R. Tomlin to my blog.  She has several books to her name and loves to write fiction with Scotland as the backdrop.

Let's hear why J. R. feels you might be selling yourself short if you think historical fiction is anything but exciting.

Let me tell you a secret about historical fiction. What many people don’t understand is this: it has almost nothing to do with history as you study it in schools. History, the academic history, is about movements and periods and the sweep of nations. But historical fiction is about – a person.

Let me tell you a little about how I came to write historical fiction, and I hope you’ll see what I mean.
It was my granny who first told me the story the great Bruce and the day at the Greyfriars Church that he murdered the Red Comyn, he and his brothers and their followers, because the Comyn had betrayed him to the English. He gathered his followers and rode hard for Scone to be crowned King of the Scots. And that was part of the sweep of two nations at war.

What made a story, a novel, was something else. 

You see, at the top of hill in that Scottish spring, a young man waited. He was no great knight, no knight at all as a matter of fact. He was alone and poor because everything had been lost in the war. But he was tall and strong and broad shouldered, so they say. He had made an oath the day he learned his father had died in an English dungeon. He’d sworn that somehow the hated English would be driven from his lands. That somehow they would pay.

His name was James. And when Robert the Bruce topped that hill, James knelt and gave him an oath. And that was the start of a great story. It wasn’t always a pretty story. The stories of real people often aren’t. But it was a story that gripped me because it tells of one man’s loyalty and betrayal and love and grief and victory in the face of implacable odds. 

Of course, any period of history, particularly one as full of drama as the Scottish War of Independence, has more than one person who has a story and there was another one that gripped me. At the same time that James of Douglas was swearing his fealty to live or die for his king, a woman named Isabella of Fife, Countess of Buchan, was torn with a terrible decision. Her husband was a Comyn, you see. The Comyn’s now had a blood feud with Robert the Bruce, and the Comyn’s were the most powerful family in Scotland, even more than the Bruces. 

But she was a MacDuff and they had a loyalty and duty to Scotland. When a crown was placed on the head of a King of the Scots, it was a MacDuff who crown him. Her father was dead, her brother with English. If any MacDuff was going to stand for Scotland and her family’s duty, it had to be her, even if it meant betraying her husband. It is hard to imagine the courage it took when she rode out of Buchan and led her men-at-arms in a frantic ride for Scone. She placed a crown on Robert the Bruce’s head. When the Bruce and James Douglas were defeated in battle to flee into the heather, Isabella of Fife rode with them. She paid a terrible price…

What storyteller wouldn’t want to tell a story like that?

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Connect with J.R. on twitter: @JRTomlinAuthor

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