Thursday, May 5, 2016

The Traps of History in Mysteries

My mysteries take place in contemporary New York City. Well, to be fair they take place in the supernatural world that exists in tandem with this contemporary city. But, from my books title, my hero is a private eye who happens to be a vampire. BTW, would now be a good time to mention he has a shape-shifting sex demon secretary who prefers to dress in the style of the 1940’s era? She rocks but I’m prejudiced about her. But she is another possible post topic.

The point of this post, are the traps that await me when I sit down to write one of the Julian books. Since my hero is a vampire who died at the dawn of the early Roman Empire it stands to reason he has been alive for quite some time. That fact is a two edged sword when I write the books. On one hand I can weave his recollections of his past lives into each book thus, I hope, making it a richer reading experience.

BUT, and it’s a big one, when I’m writing a “past life” section I know I need to be sure about every fact during that time frame. I’m not just talking about getting the correct dates though, that helps alot. I mean getting right the critical details of that period. If I write about a costume, a ceremony, a physical description of a building/room even the spelling of an ancient word I need to be pretty darn sure about it. Why? Well first, I feel it’s my responsibility not to be slipshod with my books and thus my readers. The second is fear based: if I mess up someone, e.g. reader, will let me know and fast. J I do not want to lose that trust from any of the people who read my books. So I research an era of the past then research it again from another angle.

Most times this process is not a problem. Sometimes, however, it can be difficult especially when historical sources do not agree on what was going on or how things were done etc. In those cases I take my best shot. I go with one side or the other’s interpretations and cross my fingers. Worse is when there is only a vague historical record of that time frame. When that happens I stick to the current historical thoughts about the period.

In the end it’s really all about making the book fun and informative too. I picked my hero, or rather he picked me, so we both make the best of it. I may not write like Tolstoy but I think I write a rattling good yarn. But do not take my word for it. Go buy one of the books in the series and check me, and Mark Julian out. Now about that secretary ....*wink*

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