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Maggie Armstrong grew up enchanted by her father’s tales of blood feuds and border raids. In fact, she could have easily fallen for the man portrayed in one particular image in his portrait collection. Yet when her father reveals he was himself an infamous Border reiver, she finds it a bit far-fetched—to say the least—especially when he announces his plans to return to his sixteenth century Scottish home with her in tow. Suspecting it’s just his way of getting her to accompany him on yet another archaeological dig, Maggie agrees to the expedition, only to find herself transported four hundred and fifty years into the past. Though a bit disoriented at first, she discovers her father’s world to be every bit as exciting as his stories, particularly when she’s introduced to Ian Rutherford, the charming son of a neighboring laird. However, when her uncle announces her betrothal to Ian, Maggie’s twentieth-century sensibilities are outraged. She hardly even knows the man. But a refusal of his affections could ignite a blood feud. Maggie’s worlds are colliding. Though she’s found the family she always wanted, the sixteenth century is a dangerous place. Betrayal, treachery, and a tragic murder have her questioning whether she should remain or try to make her way back to her own time. To make matters worse, tensions escalate when she stumbles across Bonnie Will Foster, the dashing young man in her father’s portrait collection, only to learn he is a dreaded Englishman. But could he be the hero she’s always dreamed him to be? Or will his need for revenge against Ian shatter more than her heart?
Hurrying up the turnpike steps, she passed by one of the few decent-sized windows and froze. She could see over the barmekin wall from here, and her eyes fixed on the rugged men who bore down upon them from the southwest. With a flaming spear signaling their lawful approach, the band of angry horseman sallied forth, trumpet blasting and sleuth hounds barking at their heels.
The glint of sunlight hitting a sword caught her attention, and she squinted to see better, cursing herself for not sneaking a pair of binoculars along on the journey. She uttered a quick prayer, hoping it might be Dylan or her uncle, but she couldn’t tell, not at this distance.
Biting her lip, she focused on the figure who came closer to the barmekin wall with each stride of his horse. How angry he looked in his plated jack with his pike held high. And yet something about him unleashed an entire flock of butterflies within her stomach and sent shivers down her spine so intense they caused her knees to quiver.
It’s him! The late afternoon light illuminated his face, and though she couldn’t really distinguish his features enough to identify him, somehow she knew. The heat rose in her cheeks, and she fanned herself, determined to retain her composure.
Do you agree with the adage “Write what you know”?
To a certain degree I do, but not completely. Let me explain. You definitely do need to know what you’re writing about. Don’t just fake it. There’s nothing worse than reading a historical novel where the facts are all wrong. That being said, you can’t exactly know what it was like to live through World War 1, but you can learn about it and write a compelling piece of literature. Looking at it in that context, only writing what we know would be extremely limiting and stifle most creative work. However, research and study do present us with a viable solution.
In today’s world, with internet access to just about every place and subject you could imagine, knowledge can be gained by the click of a few keys. Of course, doing a quick Wikipedia search doesn’t make you an expert, or even supply documentable information, but if you dig deeper and work at it, you can become comfortable enough with the subject you’re interested in to pursue it further and write a compelling novel. I didn’t live on the sixteenth century borders, but after months of research, I began to become more acquainted with the period and it gave me a feel for how my characters should react. It is a bit romanticized, being a historical romance, but I have endeavoured to keep it as historically accurate as possible.
Being a history major and librarian, I did have experience in deep dive research, but it is something anyone can learn to do well if they put their minds to it. It involves tapping resources that go beyond a quick search on the internet and scouring every outlet you can think of to find accurate information on the subject you’re researching. Fortunately, nowadays, even that can be done through the internet in many cases. Original sources are posted through national and regional historical societies and the like, so you can study actual documents from the period.
There are also scholarly books, written by authors whose academic studies have made them knowledgeable in the period or subject you’re seeking to research. It may mean spending a few dollars, but it is well worth it. When I first started researching Thunder on the Moor, I had to send to Scotland to locate a few books that I felt would be extremely useful, one of which detailed a list of border reivers, what they had been tried for, and the sentences they had been given. It was a gold mine. One thing I would caution, however, is to make sure the source is reliable before spending hours studying it.
The next thing is that you need to continue your research, even after you’ve started to write. New finds are always being made, more recent books always published, and additional information added to bookstores, libraries, and yes, even the internet. Take in all you can, and before you know it, you’ll understand the subject you wish to write about and be fairly knowledgeable on the subject yourself.
So, I guess what I’m saying is that perhaps you don’t have to write what you know as much as know what you write. And that is whatever you want to learn.
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Andrea Matthews is the pseudonym for Inez Foster, a historian and librarian who loves to read and write and search around for her roots, genealogical speaking. She has a BA in History and an MLS in Library Science and enjoys the research almost as much as she does writing the story. In fact, many of her ideas come to her while doing casual research or digging into her family history. She is the author of the Thunder on the Moor series set on the 16th century Anglo-Scottish Border, and the Cross of Ciaran series, where a fifteen-hundred-year-old Celt finds himself in the twentieth century. Andrea is a member of the Romance Writers of America, Long Island Romance Writers, and the Historical Novel Society.
Andrea Matthews Historical and Paranormal Romance - Website - https://andrea-matthews.com
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