Monday, April 3, 2017

The Real Scoop in Fiction

As fiction writers, we often create the world our characters reside in and the people they interact with. But sometimes we don't. As a historical author, location and situations are very often based on actual history.
My last novel, The Scarlet Coat, was set in the Mohawk Valley, New York State, 1777. It begins during the aftermath of one of the bloodiest battles of the American Revolution. A couple of historical figures were mentioned and one played a small role.

When I set out to write book two of this series, I knew my main character, Daniel Reid (a secondary charactor in book 1), needed to distance himself from the Mohawk Valley and all that had happened in book 1. But where would he go?

The answer was easy when I remembered a series Walt Disney had done on the Swamp Fox, Colonel Francis Marion. Though filmed years before I was born, I grew up on these shows and loved them. How wonderful would it be to bring Colonel Marion to life and let Daniel interact and learn from him?

Since the British hated Marion for his fox-like ways, disappearing into the swamps where they couldn't track him, a plot was easily derived. My heroine would be a British spy, recognising Daniel as a Patriot and trying to coerce Colonel Marion's location and movements from him.

Now to bring Francis Marion to life.

Right away I came to realise that Disney had taken some liberties with history...something I didn't want to do. (Not too much, anyway.) A lot of research was required (yay for Google searches) to get a feel for his character, personality, and looks. Unfortunately, he didn't look just like Leslie Nielsen who played him in the movies. ;)

Here is the real one:

There was something very rewarding about sticking close to history. From the places Marion and his man camped, to the timing and locations of their offences against the British. Even what they ate while hiding out there in the swamps (gotta love sweet potatoes--unless that's all you eat for weeks!). True events became the plotline for my book, the map for my characters' actions and reactions.

How have you used (or seen other authors use) real events to add to the story?

Completing his three years in the Continental Army, Daniel Reid still has no desire to return home—not after losing the woman he loves to a British Captain—so he volunteers to ride south through enemy lines and deliver a message to Colonel Francis Marion, the Swamp Fox. With his temper needing a release and a dark haired beauty finding her way into his broken heart, Daniel decides to join the Swamp Fox’s efforts against the British. Little does he know the British still have the upper hand.
Lydia Reynolds has learned that love comes at a price, and she refuses to pay. Better to close her heart to everything and everyone. When her brother-in-law won't grant her passage to England, where she hopes to hide from her pain, New Englander, Daniel Reid, becomes her only hope—if she can induce him to give her information about the notorious Swamp Fox and his troops. When the British grow impatient and Daniel evades her questions, Lydia must decide how far to take her charade. The poor man, already gutted by love, hasn’t grown as wise as she. Or so she supposes…
Until the truth is known, the muskets are loaded…and it is time to decide where true loyalties lie.


  1. Angela, it's one of the aspects of historical and Biblical fiction that I enjoy reading - the thin veil between fact and fiction.

    I just read Katie Donovan's review of The Patriot and she was glowing. She loved your first one in the series too. Congratulations on The Patriot's release and I hope you'll receive a bounce in sales of Book 1 as well.

    1. Thanks, Ian! That is kindof the hope -- bounce in sales. :) You are right about that thin veil between fact and fiction--it is the best part about reading historicals of any era.

  2. Hi Angela, I like reading historical romance to learn about history, and I always read the author notes on the historical details. Congrats on your latest release! :)

  3. Angela, I can't wait to read your series. And follow in your footsteps in how you approach writing historical fiction. Congratulations on your new release!