Every once in a while, I go through a crisis of confidence about whether or not I belong in the historical romance genre. I also realize this is crazy Jeannie rearing her ugly head because I was also the one that insisted historical romance is exactly where my books belonged whenever I received suggestions that perhaps I should target upmarket historical fiction or fantasy instead.
Every time I get out on this ledge, it takes a couple of writer buddies–my good friend and tough critique partner, Bria Quinlan, to be exact, to talk me down from it.
The conversation goes something like this:
Jeannie: What am I doing here? My emperors and generals are made up. This is more fantasy than historical.
Bria: Calm down. You do write historical romance. All romance creates a fantasy world, in a sense.
Jeannie: But I have a woman wielding a sword!
Bria: Isn’t that historically accurate for that culture?
Jeannie: Well…historical accuracy is a bit squiffy when it comes to Chinese tradition. There are a bunch of historical accounts of woman warriors. It’s all mixed up with legends and myths. Asian history often reads like fantasy.
Bria: Trust me. You write historical romance. (Then she goes off on a very cool analogy using brushwork and how you can paint with the edge of your brush and let some elements of fantasy from the culture come through, i.e. ghosts in Irish tradition.)
Jeannie: Wow, I love that analogy!
Bria: Just write the book.
Jeannie: Someone brought up all the dukes who are secret spies in historical romance right now. I’m at least as historically accurate as dukes who are secret spies.
Bria: It’s okay. I’ll tell you if it’s going over to fantasy. And if your prose gets too purple.
Jeannie: It’s sort of like in historical romance, there’s Jane Austen and then there’s Alexandre Dumas. I’m more Alexandre Dumas. Hey, I LIKE that.
Bria: I LOVE Alexandre Dumas! All that crazy drinking and womanizing.
Jeannie: I’m totally Dumas then! Well, except for the womanizing.
(Bria thankfully doesn’t give me the eye that says, “Jeannie…I’ve read Dumas. I like Dumas. You are no Alexandre Dumas.” But it’s hard to give the eye via DM in Twitter)
Bria: Just write the book. Then we’ll deal with it.
Jeannie: Thank you for talking me off the ledge again. I know I do this once per book.
Bria: Should I be worried that you haven’t even started this one yet?
So a bunch of e-mails and Twitter DM notifications later, yes, I’m writing the book.