November 16, 2011

Historical Fiction is Double Talk by Killian McRae

Please welcome author Killian McRae to HF-Connection, who has kindly provided us food for thought regarding romance and historical accuracy.

History is written by the Victors Survivors Idealistic Revisionist – And why that suits romance

I’m about to say something radical. Ready?

The term “historical fiction” is double talk.

Most of history as you know it is fiction. Oh, there are the occasional truths and some particulars are more or less right. In the modern era, the dates we assign to key events are scarcely wrong. Names tend to be correct, though when transliterating spelling variations are par for the course. And there is one, underlying reason we can attribute for this mass deception: the human reliance on the linearity of time.

History is not a sequence events, nor is it as simply recalled and structured as a flowchart. The problem is, this is how we read: left to right, top to bottom, page after page. We’re sequential beasts. History, however, is messy. It’s a complex overlapping of time, judgments, cultures, weather conditions, climatic patterns, phases of the moon, the price of wheat... Some believe you can take the entire history of the Roman Republic and summarize into a few chapters of a book. But, take one specific day out of a typical Roman’s life and try to tell a modern reader, and you could write volumes about the why, how, and what of everything he does, tastes, sees, smells, touches, and thinks. The linearity of our existence deceives us into believing that our past is non-contextualized. Personally, mine has more nooks and crannies than that Palace of Versailles, and I bet yours does too.

When an author sets out to write a romance, romance that is also historical fiction may be at least fictioniest. (Yes, I know this is not a word, but it should very well be one.) It’s not the love story that’s unique. Most are of a “a boy and girl meet, fall in love, and come together” variety. What we get to explore, however, is the very real historical miasma through which their love had to battle. In writing A Love by Any Measure, I had to keep in mind the very ugly truth of the historical context. In 1860’s Ireland, the Irish were seen as uncivilized vermin that some British didn’t even recognize as human. How then could an Irish peasant catch the eye and win the heart of a British lord? Even if she is beautiful, there must be qualities of her environment in which she is set in opposition in order to make that connection possible. He, likewise, must be motivated by more than just his loins. Lust is fleeting, but love is forging. Thus, there are some very real, very ugly passages in the book that don’t tip-toe around the issues. Does this make the love story suffer? No, on the contrary, it makes the love that more precious.

Publication Date: November 8, 2011

An Irish lass. An English lord. A love that overcomes all boundaries.

August Grayson has secretly dreamt of the girl living on his family's Irish estate since childhoods spent together in Killarney. Now a proper Lord of the British Empire, he knows that Maeve could never be more than just a distant fantasy. Still, if only...

Maeve O'Connor owns nothing in this world but her good name, which proves just enough to win a proposal for a marriage of convenience to a good, Irish lad. Until the wedding, however, she's in dire straits. Rent on the cottage she and her father share is due, but there simply isn't the money to pay. Driven to desperation, Maeve hopes Lord Grayson, childhood chum turned dashing English rogue, will prove lenient when she comes seeking clemency.

The temptation presented proves too much, and August offers Maeve a compromise: should she permit him twice as long on each succeeding visit to do whatever he wishes in pursuit of his pleasure, he will consider her rent paid. Starting with a mere five seconds, pulses soon out race the ticking clock, as August's desires become Maeve's own. Passion blinds them to the challenges closing in on both the Irish and English fronts, threatening to destroy the love they've only just rediscovered.

Working to bridge that which divides them, tempting fate with each stolen kiss, and torn between desire and obligation, Maeve and August must strive to overcome all and find a love by any measure...


  1. I'm trying to figure out a nice way to say how stomach turning the description of her "allowing him to do whatever he wishes" in order for her and her father not to be (in essential fact) condemned to even greater poverty and probable death. In what way would this be not force?

    History does exist and sometimes trying to trample it is not a good idea.

  2. Great post, Killian. History is much more than what we read in books and historical fiction gives us a way to explore those parts of history that we haven't read in books or has been left out, whether by omission or completely by accident.

    I can't wait to read your book. =O)

  3. JR:
    It's not force, but it is definitely a coercion. As one sees quickly in the book (within two chapters), Maeve does have an alternative. She's not without choice, and August reminds her at several junctures that she is under no obligation to continue. It then becomes a study of character and culture to journey with her,to understand why she chooses to agree to this arrangement, and what August's true intentions are.

    No, it's not a fluffy, everything-on-the-up-and-up type of romance. There are sections where August and Maeve both a deplorable in their actions and decisions. It's not the type of romance for someone looking to sigh gently at the blissful promise of true love, but rather to question the value of a love forged within such a complex and destructive construct, one which is modeled on a highly realistic historical construct.


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