“I think anyone who enjoys history knows that fact is stranger than fiction and there is no shortage of interesting and diverse people who could inspire some romance novels.”
That’s why I love when HR authors include a page spread in the back to discuss their research findings. Beverly Jenkins in particular is excellent about giving a mini history lesson at the end of her books with resource lists for readers who want to know more. She said in an interview that she felt like she unfortunately *had* to justify a lot of the lesser known aspects of history because she doesn’t write whitewashed Regencies. On the one hand, I can understand her frustration. But on the other hand, I think more HR writers should consider concluding their stories with real-life references they used.
Mary Jo Putney included a fascinating tidbit in one of her HR stories, Once a Scoundrel.The plot concerned the sea captain hero having to pay a ransom to rescue the heroine from going to a harem in addition to transporting a menagerie of exotic animals to save a sultan’s wife from that same harem. On the surface, it seemed like a really pie in the sky story, but Putney had the good sense to point to an actual account in history that inspired her HR- menagerie-based ransom payments, harems, and all. She further stated that the sea captain hero in her story got off easy because the real-life captain he was based on had to agree to point the front of his ship toward Mecca five times per day for prayer! In her version, the captain basically had to put his foot down or they would never be able to deliver the ransom in time. Plus, it would create a narrative slog. But if Putney hadn’t detailed her research in the back of the book, a lot of readers- including me- would probably say, “Puh-LEEZE! That never would have happened.” Well, apparently something like that did happen, and I learned something new. Talk about a win win!
Tying this into the topic of diversity in HR, what do you think about writers including their sources of inspiration at the backs of their books? Does it help inform readers who might otherwise roll their eyes due to a perceived lack of “believability?” I know I love reading authors’ behind the scenes research stories.