Book Releases

Barely Breathing (A Colorado High Country Novel) — Look for the first book in my new Colorado High Country series on May 10! This new contemporary series is set in the small mountain community of Scarlet Springs and focuses on the lives and adventures of members of an alpine search and rescue team. It will be available in print and ebook, with audiobook coming sometime this fall.


Soul Deep out in audiobook! — Jack West, widower, rancher and former Army Ranger, gets his own love story in this special I-Team novella, which was picked by readers at Grave Tells as the Best Contemporary Romance of 2015. It will be out in audiobook any day now.


Seduction Game is out in paperback, (I-Team #7) — Holly and Nick’s story is out in all formats — ebook, audiobook, and paperback. Look for it in Wal-Mart, the Kroger chain of stores, Barnes & Noble, and your local bookseller.


Dead By Midnight: An I-Team Christmas is out! — The grand finale of the I-Team series finds all the couples you love brought together when terrorists attack holiday festivities at a historica hotel in downtown Denver. It’s bad news for the terrorists. They have no clue what they’ve done when they take Marc Hunter and his friends hostage. Featuring cameos by the men of New York Times bestselling author Kaylea Cross’s Hostage Rescue Team series. Available in ebook and paperback.

About Me

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I grew up in Colorado at the foot of the Rocky Mountains, then lived in Denmark and traveled throughout Europe before coming back to Colorado. I have two adult sons, whom I cherish. I started my writing career as a columnist and investigative reporter and eventually became the first woman editor of two different papers. Along the way, my team and I won numerous state and several national awards, including the National Journalism Award for Public Service. In 2011, I was awarded the Keeper of the Flame Lifetime Achievement Award for Journalism. Now I write historical romance and contemporary romantic suspense.

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Seductive Musings

Friday, November 28, 2008

History is sexy / Untamed Contest!




How important is historical accuracy to you in historical romance?

It's a question someone asked on an Amazon thread, and it's turned into quite the robust debate, with some readers saying they don't really care about it, while others say they don't respect books that are culturally or historically inaccurate.

It probably comes as no surprise to anyone that I fall into the latter camp. I've always felt that romantic fiction can be as literarily sound as literary fiction in terms of the research, attention to writing and the quality of the stories. So I try very hard to provide all of those things, in addition to a story that focuses on love and romance. You can decide for yourselves whether I succeed at that or not. I also try to be very accurate to the non-European cultures I place in my stories, so that I avoid stereotypes and depict that culture as accurately as possible without coloring it with my own biases and cultural perceptions — not any easy thing to do.

There are some readers who feel there's too much violence or "gore" in my stories, and that's fine. I won't tell anyone what they're supposed to think. The only time I got involved in a discussion about one of my books was a time when someone accused me of being racist for my portrayal of certain Native tribes for burning people alive. It was an absurd accusation because the events were absolutely taken from history and nothing I made up at all. As someone who's reported on Native issues and has Cherokee ancestry, I know that many people view Indians through a romantic lens, lending them "sacred" and "spiritual" qualities that might or might not be there. News flash: Indians are people. But I digress...



I find history sexy. I love to watch documentaries, to read historical diaries and letters, and to do straight-up historical research, because what unfolds in my mind as I do this research are the daily struggles of people who really lived. Their tragedies and triumphs begin to feel real to me and inspire me to tell stories about them. I think of men who trudged league upon league through the forests that once blanketed this continent and I think, "Yum." There's something about the untamed wilderness, and the men and women who were willing to face it, that I find terribly romantic and exciting. It is "stirring to my blood," as Cora says in the movie.

If anyone doubts that history is sexy, she should watch the 1992 film The Last of the Mohicans. I saw the movie when it came out, and I loved it. It describes — in not-so-accurate detail — the battle of Fort William-Henry, which I recently visited. Two strangers are brought together in the wilderness and find themselves in the midst of the battle that led to the destruction of the fort and the massacre of dozens — I'm not sure anyone has an accurate count of how many — of British soldiers and civilians. These victims of war are now interred beneath a parking lot — it's own tragedy. We drove through the site of the massacre on our way to Lake George last month, and it gave me chills.




(Editor's note: The author of this blog has just talked about the need for historical accuracy and is now praising a film which is not historically accurate. Think of this what you will...)

Though the film isn't accurate in its details about the battle and the French and Indian War — there are, for example, still Mohicans, as you will see in my MacKinnon's Rangers series — it gives you a sense of what it was like back then with great attention to costume and weaponry, etc. You get a real feel for the epic scale of everyday life and the struggles for the common person who tried to build a life on the frontier.



Though my MacKinnon's Rangers series and Ride the Fire are not based in any way on this film, it certainly helped to make this period of history one of my favorite by inspiring me to do my own research. It may also account for my decision to mix the Scottish and Indian cultures together in my heroes — something I didn't think about until just this moment. The soundtrack is fantastic, and I write to it all the time while working on a historical novel.

So in honor of that, and as part of my continued celebration of the release of Untamed, the second book in the series, I am giving away a DVD of the film together with the a signed copy of Untamed to one lucky person chosen at random from those who post to this blog. I hope you enjoy it as much as I did!

Today's discussion topic: How important is historical accuracy to you in historical romance? But feel free to comment on the film Last of the Mohicans, as well.

23 comments:

Barbara said...

To tell you the truth, historical accuracy in a romance novel is not THAT huge of an issue with me. Granted, it can't be completely ridculous, but an author can improvise here and there.

I think what IS important is the connection, and story between the two main characters. I'm not reading a historical romance novel for a history lesson. But rather to be sort of "whisked away" to another time and place. Historically accurate or not.

The very first romance I ever read was an American Indian Romance. I'm not a historian, so of course I wouldn't have know whether or not the author was being accurate or not anyway. I knew Indians lived in teepees, and well--in the book--they lived in teepees. That's damn accurate to me, lol.

All I know is that before I read THAT novel I hated to read. And now, I couldn't imagine life without the joy of books.

As far as The Last of The Mohichans. Ugh, it was recently on TV but I missed such a good portion of it that I didn't bother. I do recall my mother watching and loving that movie when I was a teenager, but I think I was still too young to completely understand it. I really need to rent it one of these days.

I hear what you're saying, Barbara. No one reads historical romance for a history lesson, me included. So let me rephrase this. :-)

Aren't romance authors yielding ground to those who say romance is nothing but fluff -- sex packaged in a fluffy story — if we don't make an effort to write books that are as historically accurate as possible for the story?

Part of the skill of writing means getting the history in there without making the reader fell like she's being given a history less. I hate books that feel like History 101.

I did a lot of reading before I stumbled across The Flame and the Flower. What I don't like about what a lot of "literary" fiction are the miserable endings. I don't care if the author has revealed a universal truth about humanity if the revelation makes me want to slit my wrists. :-)

And LOL on the teepees. All that means is "home" or "house," so in a manner of speaking all Indians -- and all people except those without homes -- live in tipis.

Ellory said...

I enjoy knowing there is historical accuracy. I enjoy the glimpses into the past with a romance added.

Many historical romances have encouraged me to look deeper into the historical era it takes place in.

Tena said...

I love a book that can give me apart of history Ill read it even if it dont but I love the fact it has some real facts in it I love how you write fact in some of them I love how you can write so much love in the middle of pain and sorrow that someoen could find love in the middle of pain I got your new book today it wasnt $4.99 I thought your web site said it would be but I got it cant wait to read it

shirley said...

hi Pamela Id have to say I like all books no matter what but do like it alot when I can read something that has some fact in it it helps you see something that happened years ago can you tell me how much your book will be when it comes out too thanks

Hi, Ellory — I was the same way as a teen when I started reading romance. I found myself wanting to look into the historical events that were mentioned in the story. I wanted to know more about it. I think romance is a more interesting way to learn history than the classroom. :-)

Hi, Tena — Thanks! I'm glad you enjoy the mix of story and history. I try to make it seamless so that you can't tell it's anything other than part of the story.

The re-releases — all of my historicals prior to UNTAMED — are $4.99. That's what the post about that said. UNTAMED, because it's new, is the regular price. Sorry for the confusion. I suppose there might even be older versions of the re-released books out there that never got taken off shelves that are selling for $6.99, but I don't know for sure.

Hi, Shirley — The new historical, UNTAMED, is selling for $7.99, and it is out. It's been out since Tuesday. :-)

I just got back from picking up Benjy, who took the train to Denver. I got on the highway and a blizzard hit. It was NOT a fun drive. And tomorrow I take him to the airport so he can fly back to Ithaca.

Alec is still at his dad's recovering from last night's car crash. Benjy says his arm looks pretty bad. :-(

Joan said...

Hi Pamela,

Hmmmm....accuracy. Well, I am a firm believer that there be accuracy but I think the differentiation comes between accuracy within the details that give the story life or straight out facts ala early historical romances who quoted page after page after page of battles and military recitations of strategy.

So Sherman marched to the sea? How did that affect my hero's journey to his home?

I think you did an EXCELLENT job of blending the facts with the gist of the story which gave UNTAMED a remarkable feel and flavor and dear God I'm in love with Morgan!!!

{Deep Sigh}

Hi Joan,

That's an excellent distinction to make.

My son, Benjy, read my blog post (as a fellow history geek) and he said something like it. He said it's okay to take liberties with events but it's not okay to take liberties with the time. The events don't have to be accurate, but as long as the story could have realistically taken place then in his mind it's a successful use of history in fiction. And I guess that's what I mean.

So it's more important to have the hero wearing the right clothes and carrying the right gear and speaking the period language and acting like an 18th-century man, for example, than it is to have him at this place on that day doing X, Y and Z that really occurred.

Now, help me to understand... You already read the story??????????? Thanks very much for your kind words about it, and I'm glad you're in love with Morgan. I love him too! But you finished already?!? I didn't even know you had it.

Amanda said...

Hi Pamela,

I do like a certain amount of historical accuracy in what I'm reading, especially if its a time in history I know alot about or if someone writes about history in Ireland.
I know that a certain amount of artistic license can nbe applied for the samller parts in history that not much is known about because sometimes all there is on the time is speculation. But if the author is writing about a well known time then I think they should get the facts straight and do the history and its memory justice.

Don't know if any of that makes sense, sometimes I don't LOL

And wow a blizzard, I can't imagine what that is like, we don't really get snow here.

Hope you have a wonderful day!

Debbie H said...

I LOVE the accuracy. I want to melt into the history and know what they did and how they did it. Like the moss in the diapers, etc. It makes me more intune with the characters and brings them to life for me.

The "gore" was part of everyday life for our ancestors. Why sugar coat it? It makes for a more realistic story, that I, personally, would rather read than fluff.

As for Last of the Mohicans, it is a wonderful love story full of struggle to stay alive in the wilderness and I can never get enough of love stories.

Sue Z said...

I DO enjoy historical accuracy in my books. I want to trust that what I am reading has a least been reseached enough to spark my interest to maybe learn some more about the events. 100% accuracy is not that important. The author is gonna have to use some fiction.

Here is a good example. I watched the Tudors season one from Showtime. I LOVE LOVE LOVE that series, but it does stray a lot from accuracy to bring about a more dramatic story. But it made me want to look up stuff on the internet and see what really happened. I enjoy the learning aspect.

I knew nothing about the French and Indian War until I read Pamela's books and read her blogs.

So, Yes, I do like accuracy but I am not strict that it has to be 100%.

Joan said...

I didn't even know you had it.

Wellz, YEAH Pamela!!! I subscribe to your newsletter and circled the 25th on my calendar and imagine my delight when I found it a day EARLY at my grocers!

THAT was one reason why I was so challenged getting an acceptable full of my second GH done in time to Express mail it this morning. I was reading.

And let me just say, you kept me on the edge of my seat wondering HOW it would all work out till the very end!!!!! I had to keep reminding myself "There will be a HEA. There will be an HEA...HOW? I don't know, but there WILL be an HEA" :-)



The "gore" was part of everyday life for our ancestors. Why sugar coat it? It makes for a more realistic story, that I, personally, would rather read than fluff.

Thank you Debbie H.!!!

This is the same argument I give for the crucifixtion scene in my Roman era mss. It was Rome. They weren't always NICE.

And yeah, I work out a HEA too :-)

Now off to scrub the bathroom which needs major attention after my week in the CAVE :-)

Anonymous said...

Hi Pamela! Did I mention lately that I liked TLOTM a lot? Not in a couple days I'm sure. ;-P

Historical accuracy is important to me but not to the extent that I feel the need to be bored to death with loads of details concerning historical events. But I do feel the need to be there. Reading means escapism (sp?) for me. I want to travel to places and I want to travel back in time. I want to feel like I'm actually in the 17th/18th whatever century. I don't want to be told that it takes place two hundred years ago. I want to feel it.
stef

Ronlyn said...

You and I have had many discussions on this topic, so you know my position and I won't beat a dead horse. Sufice to say I like accuracy, but I don't like it shoved down my throat in a way that would ruin the story. And, I can get behind a little bit of inaccuracy if it doesn't get in the way of the story too.

How's that for a non-answer? LOL.

It bothers me to no end (as I told you last night) when a 16th century woman is lamenting the fact that she doesn't have the same rights as men. And just so happens to run into an alpha male with the same views. uh huh. Not that I don't like strong women and the men who respect them, I do. I just like it to fit in the time and the place of the story.

And on that note...I think I need to go watch LOTM again. *sigh* LOVE that movie.

Judy said...

History was one of my favorite subjects in school many moons ago, so I enjoy reading novels that have a little "realism" to them. I love romance novels and your historicals add enough "facts" to know "this really could have happened". I hope that makes sense. Sometimes I just want to pick up a book and forget about everything else, but yet it is also fun to pick up a book that is based on fact (with liberties taken).

Jane said...

I think historical accuracy is important, but I do realize I'm reading fiction so it doesn't bother me if it's inaccurate.

Barbara said...

Ah, the infamous Bodice-Rippers phrase came to mind when you mentioned romantic fluff.

With ANY BOOK GENRE their are truly talented authors. Yet, for some odd reason talented ROMANCE authors really don't get the credit they deserve.

It's sad to say but, yeah, I can definitely see why a romance novelist would want to take those extra steps in their historical research and plotting to make certain their stories are so much more than just "Bodice-Rippers".

LOL, oh and about tipis...I never knew that it meant "home". You learn something new everyday!

Ahhhhhhh - Last of the Mohicans - no need to enter me into the draw since I have my own copy of the DVD as well as a CD of the soundtrack. I ADORE that movie and before I had it on DVD & CD, I had it on VH & tape *g*. I can't imagine better music to write your colonials too.
As for accuracy in historicals, to me, it's very important - not that I know that much about it to tell you the truth. I'm just about finished Untamed and one thing that has struck me - and something I'm planning on doing something about - is my lack of knowledge about Canada's own history of that time. I plan on doing my own history search, with a picture of the MacKinnon Rangers in my head as I do so :)
I like historicals on the grittier, more honest side anyway and that's just one of MANY reasons why your Colonial historicals resonate so much with me. There's nothing more enriching then learning history, with a wonderful romance as the vehicle by which to learn.

Lori said...

Historical accuracy is fairly important to me, but I don't get bogged down in the minutia. As long as there are no glaring errors, and the feel of the era is there, I am genreally pretty forgiving. Obviously, huge errors are no-brainers, and that indicates that the author isn't writing about something they love, and didn't take the time to ensure their book was accurate. But as to whether folks held up their opera glasses with their right hands or their left? I really couldn't care less.

Hi, Amanda — I think that makes sense. Well-known periods of history need to be done with greater attention to accuracy because people know more about them. If the event is relatively unknown, then you've got a bit more wiggle room. As for snow in Ireland... I want you to know that I actually called climatologists in Ireland to ask them what the largest snowfall they had on record for Meath so that I could fall within realistic parameters in CARNAL GIFT. After I put a snowstorm into the plot — why not? We have them here even in July — I realized Ireland is probably like Denmark, where snow is rare. D'oh!

Hi, Debbie H — How are the grandbabies? You just described how I feel about history. I want to know what people's lives were like down to the smallest details. I want to know what was important to them, what frightened them, what they believed. I want to know their jokes, their joys. I want to know everything. LOL! I don't think the book of LoTM was a love story in the same way as the movie. The movie feels like a historical romance to me, with a bit more unhappiness than most readers would tolerate. The heroine's sister being killed? Um, probably not...

Hey, SueZAY! I'm so glad to have been your history teacher. LOL! I'm glad my stories have inspired you that way. I always feel disappointed if I see a historical movie and it's completely bogus. Of course, with TUDORS, one understands they're making a lot of it up. And one doesn't care because one can simply stare at Charles. But I too went and looked up Henry's sister and found it was SISTERS in the plural. Very interesting.

Hi, Joan — I'm glad you found the book early, and I'm glad it kept you on the edge. You know, as I was writing it, I wondered exactly the same thing. How is this going to resolve itself into an HEA? LOL! i'm so thrilled you enjoyed it! As for that crucifixtion scene, good for you! I still fully intend to dive into that manuscript. I can't think of a historical premise that grabbed me quite the same way as yours did. The hero about to be crucified???? GIVE ME THAT BOOK! I wish someone would just grow a brain and publish it! Did you get the GH entry off? I hope so! And GOOD LUCK!!!

Hey, Stef — Let me think... Yes, I do believe you did mention something about LoTM recently... Maybe we even had a looooong email chat about it. Good movie, huh? Makes a person CRY! Or at least two people I know (throw in Kristie there, too).

Hi, Ronlyn — Yes, we discussed this very topic, didn't we? We agreed that having modern feminist women running around the 16th century is a major drag, as is having sensitive New Age alpha males wearing armour. LOL!

Hi, Judy — You make perfect sense. And I'm glad you feel that way about my stories. I think the consensus emerging here is that if the story FEELS accurate it doesn't matter so much if it is absolutely 100-percent factual. The more it feels real, the less perhaps it needs to be real. Interesting!

Hi, Jane — I think if the reader buys the story, then perhaps because it's fiction and they're enjoying the story the accuracy isn't so important. That makes sense.

Hi, Barbara — Oh, yes, that term. LOL! Yes, romance writers have to work twice as hard to be taken half as seriously as other writers. "When are you going to write a real book?" I started writing romance because I love romance novels, but I always believed there was as much literary potential in romance as there was in any other kind of writing. I'm still trying to prove that, I guess. I try to prove it with each book, and I try to challenge people's perceptions of romance when I talk with them about it.

Hi, Kristie — Yes, the soundtrack is the perfect music to write to. You know what else I listen to -- Old Blind Dogs. I've also been listening to the soundtrack for THE WAR THAT MADE AMERICA, an excellent DVD that I found after I'd already started this series. Ben and I just love it. I'm so glad UNTAMED is inspiring to beef up on your Canadian history. As I said in my email to you, Fort Carillon/Ticonderoga is where the two nation's history really overlaps. And I will forever be grateful that you like grit in your romance. YAY!

Hi, Lori — Wow, I don't care how they held their opera glasses either. Being a lefty, I sure hope it was okay to hold them in one's left hand. But I like something you said here. An author needs to put care into the details of hers story. Gross historical mistakes indicate perhaps a lack of attention that says, "Whatever, I don't care. Just spit it out." And that's not good when it comes to building the image of romantic fiction as a worthwhile genre.

Thanks everyone for your wonderful comments! I will do the drawing tomorrow and see who gets this copy of LAST OF THE MOHICANS!

Amanda said...

LOL wiggle room!!

Yes we don't get much snow here anymore, we used to once upon a time. But think we might get some this year, we are having the coldest snap I can remember in a long time! I would love some snow!

Christi said...

As a lover of history (romantic or not) I am a big fan of accuracy. However, what irks me more than historical-inaccuracy is when authors use things-not-yet-invented, issues-not-time-appropriate, or wordage-not-used-at-the-time.

THAT is what makes your novels "real" to me, no matter if you made up any places or people (historical or contemp).

Honestly, I love reading romances. And a good author --like you-- will create a wonderful story around the "romance".

Hi, Amanda — I'll hope for you that you have a snowy Christmas Eve. That would be cozy, wouldn't it?

Hi, Christi — I share your frustration about books that have people talking like they stepped out of a modern-day shopping mall or something. I've actually shrieked and thrown books across the room for the kinds of inaccuracies you're describing. Those things really take the reader out of the time period and ruin the illusion of the historical novel. And I'm glad you feel my books give you want you want as a reader when it comes to romance. Thanks! :-)

OK... Drumroll, please! I'm going to draw a name now... And the winner is — ELLORY!

Congrats, Ellory! Please send me your snail addy so I can get UNTAMED and LAST OF THE MOHICANS in the mail to you!

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