Why History Makes the Best Stories: Part 1
I’ve known I wanted to be a writer for as long as I can remember. The bug first bit me when I was ten years old and realized I didn’t have to wait for the teacher to assign a creative writing project to write something. But when my college years rolled around and it came time to choose a major, instead of taking the English or Creative Writing track I chose to major in History. Why? Why would I do such a thing if I knew I wanted to write?
As I told people at the time, and still firmly believe, I majored in History so that I would always have something to write about.
There’s a reason two-thirds of the word “History” is “Story”. Every dry, dusty story that we take notes on in history class, every name and date and location that we’re forced to memorize for standardized testing, has a wealth of emotion behind it. These things really happened! It sounds trite saying that, but I’m convinced that most students forget that fact as they study. But when you read the literature of the time period, when you study its art and feel its artifacts you begin to realize. Today’s history was yesterday’s current events.
More than that, the truth of what happened all those years ago is usually stranger, wilder, and more vivid than any modern depiction. Take the background subject of my Noble Hearts trilogy. The books are set in the reign of Richard I of England while he was off fighting the crusade. Oh!, you say. I know all about that! King Richard was the Lionheart, Prince John was an evil miser, and Robin Hood robbed from the rich to give to the poor!
The true history of Richard and John is way different and far more interesting. Richard and John were the 4th and 5th sons of the great king, Henry II. Neither of them were meant to take the throne, but their three older brothers killed each other off fighting for the crown. Richard lived most of his life in France, hated England, and didn’t speak English. John was his father’s favorite and spent a great deal of his life directly responsible for much of England under the feudal system of management. Richard bankrupted his kingdom fighting a pointless war and by being captured and held for ransom by his enemies. Richard was probably bisexual and only spent six months of his reign in England.
Wow. Right there, hidden in those facts, is enough plot and passion to produce an entire dramatic mini-series! And yet it all happened.
Some of the most fascinating plots ever were not created in the mind of Stephen King or J.R.R. Tolkein or John Grisham, they were the result of lives lived, wars fought, loves requited and unrequited. And they’re all hidden in plain sight, between the pages of your history textbook.
Merry’s Author Bio
Merry Farmer is an award-winning novelist who lives in suburban Philadelphia with her two cats, Butterfly and Torpedo. She has been writing since she was ten years old and realized one day that she didn’t have to wait for the teacher to assign a creative writing project to write something. It was the best day of her life. She then went on to earn not one but two degrees in History so that she would always having something to write about. Today she is a giant History nerd and a hopeless romantic waiting for her own love story to start. Her first book, The Loyal Heart, is a swashbuckling Medieval Historical Romance involving a love triangle that will keep you guessing. Both The Loyal Heart and its sequels, The Faithful Heart and The Courageous Heart, are available wherever eBooks are sold. She has also begun a new Western Historical Romance series set in Montana in 1895. The first of that series, Our Little Secrets, is now available. The second, Fool for Love, will be released in early 2013. Merry is also passionate about blogging, knitting, and cricket and is working towards becoming an internationally certified cricket scorer.
Merry can be found here: http://merryfarmer.net/
4 thoughts on “Guest Post: Merry Farmer”
I love this! History is a brilliant choice, I so wish I had had your wisdom
Wait until next week when I post part 2. Such a great read from Merry.
Aw, thanks so much, Sharon! *blushes*