A Guise of the Sea Release Week: Historical Accuracy vs Artistic License
There are no clear rules in fiction writing and the balance between creative license and historical accuracy when writing historical fiction can be delicate. Should an author use creative license and change details of history?
When writing historical fiction, I live in the realm of “what if?” When I hear a cool historical fact or event or idea, my mind often goes: “What if this person did this there?”
“What if there was a woman there?”
“What if this happened because of this?”
With A Guise of the Sea I took little creative license when dealing in facts or concrete events. But I did take creative license in tone and themes and adding my character to real historical events.
My protagonist Emme is very much a feminist and has agency. It was intentional. I would also say that my main male character/ love interest is a feminist and openminded. In this story, there is an open-mindedness that would have, historically, not been the case for many in 1756 for LGBTQIA+ representation.
One big event where my mind went wild with the idea of 'what if' was for my love interest Xander Lock. His backstory was one based on true events. Though many Jacobites were killed in the battle of Culloden itself, those who survived may have faced worse fates, such as succumbing to the cold natural elements, execution by brigade, or shipped to London to be put on trial. Many didn’t survive the voyage.
For Xander, I had him sentenced to indentured servitude, a fate many survivors faced. But for a particular group of them that were sent to the colonies, their ship was commandeered by a French Corsair called the Diamant and the men aboard the ship were released. When I heard the story, I asked myself what if my male main character was on that ship? As such the idea of Xander Locke the Highlander-turned-Privateer was born.
So what area of the story did I apply my artistic license? Well, when it came to 18th century divorce. Without giving too much away, I did blur the lines of rules on when one could be granted in 1756, England. This was intentional as my writing usually has a large romance plot, and most people don’t want adultery in their romance plot lines.