Historical fiction is a sub-genre of fiction that often portrays fictional accounts or dramatization of historical figures or events. Writers of stories in this genre, while penning fiction, nominally attempt to capture the spirit, manners, and social conditions of the persons or time(s) presented in the story, with due attention paid to period detail and fidelity....
Historical fiction presents readers with a story that takes place during a notable period in history, and usually during a significant event in that period. Historical fiction often presents actual events from the point of view of people living in that time period.
In some historical fiction, famous events appear from points of view not recorded in history, showing historical figures dealing with actual events while depicting them in a way that has not been previously recorded. Other times, a historical event is used to complement a story's narrative, occurring in the background while characters deal with situations (personal or otherwise) wholly unrelated to that historical event. Sometimes, the names of people and places have been in some way altered.
I do not mean to sound disparaging of romance novels, since when I first started out to write The Night's Dark Shade I thought I would make it a tame sort of PG-13 bodice-ripper. I was told by an agent in New York that if I wrote a romance novel, instead of my usual historical fiction about the French Revolution, than she could make a lot of money for me. So about nine years ago I decided to try my hand at a romance novel, based on a story that came to mind when I was in Lourdes in 1994. However, as the story grew and the characters took life, and as I delved into the theological conflicts and liturgical aberrations of the time, then I knew there were too many important issues at stake to water it down into a rabid romance just for the sake of profit. I think Our Lady had her hand on me and wanted me to write something that would contain solid spirituality, while exploring the ravages of heresy in both society and individuals. The days of the Albigensians/Cathars were times that mirrored our own. In that way, history becomes relevant to the present. I hope that my novel helps people not only to understand the past but to gain insight into the issues of our own time.
One of the challenges of writing The Night's Dark Shade is that it is set in a time infamous for Catholics Behaving Badly. How does a Catholic writer deal with such moments of history, moments that are readily exploited by enemies of the Church in books and films? Do we gloss over the truth? As I told author Catherine Delors in a recent interview, only the reality of the past can help us to understand the realities of the present. I believe that we need never be afraid of the truth of history, no matter how ugly it might be, because we have to learn from it. If we present the history with accuracy then the truth of the faith will shine through in spite of the failings of the brethren. But prayer has to accompany our literary journey, as well as an understanding of Church history and teaching. In the darkest times there were saints, there were martyrs, both famous and obscure. As I wrote in the Preface to Trianon: "the darkness of the night makes the stars shine with an ever greater resplendence."Share