By Katherine Bone, author of The Rogue’s Prize and Lost Treasure, Captive Princess
One of the joys of researching history for Historical Romance is finding those little gems, golden nuggets, if you will, which give credence to every story a reader connects with. More intriguing, those glistening, tempting jewels oftentimes lead stories into the wildest of adventures. From an author’s standpoint, that’s pure heaven!
Writing historical romance? The possibilities are endless.
Reading it? The fun begins!
For instance, I’ve discovered great and fascinating things writing my Nelson’s Tea Series and researching the royal navy. Admiral Nelson, of course, is the key ingredient in my series. And without Nelson, England wouldn’t have become the greatest naval power on earth in the early to mid-1800s. But Nelson wasn’t alone in creating that myth and legend.
Every story has two sides, doesn’t it? The same can be said for every war throughout history, where opinions and lifestyles bred multi-cultured and multi-motivated men and women.
• England’s beloved Nelson shares history with the likes of notable Robert Surcouf, famed French privateer. Most people in the day suspected he was a pirate, including one of my heroes, Simon Danbury, who spent many years during the late 1700s chasing Surcouf across the Channel.
• Admiral Pierre-Charles-Jean-Baptiste Silvestre de Villeneuve was Spain’s prize, a man who quickly rose in rank and saw flaws in Napoleon’s plan to invade England. After leading Nelson on a goose chase to the West Indies, he disobeyed Napoleon’s order to rejoin the French fleet. His hesitance to act created a domino effect that forced him out of Cadiz into the open at Trafalgar. While we all know the outcome of that deadly battle, little is known about Villeneuve, whose only crime was disobeying Napoleon and then racing out to meet the English fleet head on. What bravery! And yet, as Villeneuve watched four of Napoleon’s ships flee the battle, he was doomed to die. Not at the hands of the enemy. No, that would be a hero’s death. Knowing he would probably be executed, Villeneuve traveled to France to explain his actions to Napoleon. Intercepted by Napoleon’s secret police, he was stabbed six times in his left lung and once in his heart. His death was somehow ruled a suicide. Strange, but true!
• England also hailed one other hero—Lord Thomas Cochrane, 10th Earl of Dundonald, aka Le loup des mers, The Sea Wolf. Cochrane’s exploits sailed into legend in the Aubrey-Maturin series written by Patrick O’Brian. He is better known as THE Master & Commander! Whatever Aubrey did in O’Brian’s books, Cochrane did better. Legendary and innovative, this hero changed naval tactics forever. It is Cochrane’s innovation that inspires the men of Nelson’s Tea.
So you see, tidbits of fact, nuggets of gold waiting for discovery are a writer’s best friend, me hearties. History is more than his story. History is yours and mine for the taking. And I, for one, am willing to put in the hours to fight for its delight!
What historical nugget teases your senses? Is there an historical figure that inspires you?