Reviews. They are a part of the writing/reading/publishing business. Like them or love them, they happen and I for one look forward to reading them. It’s like opening a Christmas gift when I go to Amazon and see that there are more reviews than the last time I visited. My heart speeds up a little. I start guessing how many stars it is based on the overall rating and hold my breath as I scroll down. And then, there it is! Someone’s honest feedback in black and white, there for others to see!
Of course when I open my present and find a lump of coal, it feels a little like getting punched in the gut. Of course, I take it all in stride because negative feedback is all a part of what I do. It is bound to come eventually, no matter how many five star reviews a book has. Not everyone is going to like what I do, and that’s cool. But I’ll tell ya, it’s definitely not easy being criticized by a history buff. They know their stuff and they’re not shy about letting you know it! Those people tend to be my harshest critics, and I don’t blame them. If they picked up a copy of The Third Son looking for historical accuracy, they just aren’t going to get it. Not that I intended for it to be accurate. In fact, accuracy was the last thing on my mind when writing the first story that would eventually unfold to become the Kings of Cardenas series.
One day I got this idea. I wanted to write a Romance novel about a love that should never have happened. I man…a prince with everything he could ever want, yet craves more…finds love with the most unlikely of women, a Gypsy dancer with a scarred past. As I began thinking about the story, I actually took the time to research monarchies of Europe in different time periods. I did my homework on Gypsy culture as well, but knew I could fit them in almost anywhere, as Gypsies were travelers and turn up in many places throughout history. As much as I love Historical Fiction, and wanted to be in that lane, I just couldn’t find a kingdom, nation, province, or real character to base my story on. Besides that, I knew that if I set it in my favorite time periods, Victorian or Regency, there was no way a prince (or duke , or earl) could ever wed a Gypsy. It’s just not done and it would piss off a lot of diehard Historical readers. The only way it would work is if I made the Gypsy a long lost daughter of a nobleman or royalty and I just didn’t want that. I wanted the authenticity of her background to be there.
I created my own damn world. Because, really, when you create your own world and call it Fantasy, you can do pretty much whatever the heck you want. like have a Prince marry a Gypsy girl. Or turn the Gypsy girls grandmother into a Romani prophetess with the power to see into the future. Why, then, is the book classified as Historical? Very good question. One I am happy to answer.
Officially Historical Romance is defined as a romance set before World War II. That’s it. That’s the definition. See how much wiggle room there is within that. Because the Kings of Cardenas series is set in the 1850s, it is actually considered Historical fiction. I took the things I loved from the Victorian period ( and yeah, some Regency too) and made the setting my own. It is considered Fantasy as well because of it’s made-up kingdom and place in time and history.
So…is Cardenas in Europe? It is if you want it to be! Does it neighbor Britain? Possibly. See, that’s the whole point. Cardenas is wherever you think it is, which is why I’ve never given it an actual geographic location in relation to anywhere else, accept to say that you’d have to sail if you wanted to go to America or the Carribbean. That leaves a lot of room for interpretation and a lot of places of the world where Cardenas could be. And who’s to say a place like Cardenas couldn’t have existed? I like to think there’s much of History that’s been lost to us, despite the things we know and the things we think we know. Who’s to say that somewhere in the world, a couple like Prince Damien and Esmeralda the Gypsy didn’t actually exist. I know that in my heart, they do.
Not to mention, on a side note, that some of the places and people I’ve written of are actually based in History. The lady Knights that everyone seem to be so fond of are all based on famous warrior women documented throughout history. I studied extensively the African Amazon and the Japanese Onna Bugeisha and Samurai in my preparation to write about the lady warriors, as well as the island they travel to in the Caribbean, Martinique. I also like to research period appropriate clothing and foods to lend the stories the right feel. I do love the Victorian era, after all!
Do I plan to ever write Historical Romance that’s actually based in History? Absolutely! I am full of ideas about books based on the Tuskegee airmen, as well as a love triangle set in the midst of the American Revolution. In those instances I plan to stick to history while still writing a compelling, romantic story. In the meantime, though, a little Fantasy is a-okay with me!