New Thoughts on Historicism

Though I have much work to do to prepare a manuscript for submission, The Killers plot bunny won’t leave me alone. After rolling my main character’s possible name on my tongue for a few hours, pretending her friends were being either tender or tough with her, I think I’ve settled on it. The name is decidedly Irish and her story utterly fantastic. And I mean that in the true sense of the word – of fantasy. That lead me to start initial research into Irish lore. What if this story has been told before  – nay, I’m sure it has – so in what ways has it been told? If I find the answer, do I want to draw on the mythology as source material, acknowledge that it exists in an author’s note, or not look at it and write around it in my own way?

I’m tempted to do the last thing, as research is exhausting and attempting to create a new mythology in our modern world seems more fun. I get to create a society without all the hassle of creating a whole new world. If anyone has the link to Kristin Cashore’s wonderful speech at the Simmons College 2009 Symposium about the difficulties of world building, please let me know.

I guess I hesitate to play with melding historicalities with my own imaginings like a child would smash blue and yellow Play Doh together. Roger Sutton points out in his blog that a writer at Jezebel totally misunderstood Sharon Dogar’s forthcoming book Annexed, a novel told from the point of view of Peter Krause, one of Anne Frank’s companions in hiding. I have much to say about this book and the way fiction uses and plays with a historical reality, but that will come in a GoodReads review soon. While off base, the Jezebel writer and her commenters have valid fears that an author could co-opt a history for her own fictive purposes.

Not that fictive purposes need be nefarious. When you smash blue and yellow together, you sometimes get the lovely green. A whole new entity worthy of its own consideration. I suppose what I will do is what any of the great authors do: put the story first. History will always be there if I need it.


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