Today's guest blogger is historical fiction author Robin Maderich. I recently finished reading the first book in Robin's Honor Trilogy, Faith and Honor.
Whenever I read a piece of historical fiction, I wonder why the writer chose a particular period in history as the backdrop for her story. My interest was further piqued with Faith and Honor because I've lived in Massachusetts my entire life, and I currently live only ten minutes away from Longmeadow--which is where the female lead, Faith Ashley's grew up.
With all that in mind, I asked Robin to discuss her interest in the Colonial period and how she made the places and characters real for her readers.
I have been asked how my interest in the Colonial period emerged as such a favorite of mine, because even though I am a history buff in general, the period leading up to and including the war of the colonies to achieve independence from British rule has always imparted a special energy to who and what I am as a person. I feel an affinity for that period as if, perhaps, I once lived through those times. From my very first trip to Williamsburg (quite a few years ago, the roads not yet fully paved and crowds at a minimum) I felt a pull to the Colonial era. This trip was followed by many others to a variety of historical sites. By the time I read Johnny Tremain by Esther Forbes, I was hooked in a fashion that bordered on the abnormal for a child of my age. I watched the short-lived television series, “Young Rebels”, with rabid intensity, pointing out the inaccuracies with annoying frequency to my parents. Throughout my childhood I expended a great deal of time reading all I could on the subject, whether fiction, biographical or historical treatise.
For the writing of Faith and Honor, I took my interest even further, researching everything from how shoes were made to the types of meals cooked to the particulars of hygiene, although not every single aspect of what I uncovered appears in the book. I was just generating the “feel” of the times to enhance my ability to write about them. I knew no one reading historical romance would be foaming at the mouth over a description of chamber pot usage and disposal of its contents. Not everyone possesses my fanatical fascination for all things Colonial.
However, what fascinated me above all else---and still does to this day---was the wickedly empowering division of sentiment that I discovered as I grew older had nothing to do with absolute rights and absolute wrongs. People of honor made their stands on both sides of the conflict. In Faith and Honor I brought that struggle for balance down to a very personal level, with Faith Ashley, the heroine, a fiery, stubborn patriot, and the man she loves against all odds a British officer in the military occupying Boston. When war erupts with the fateful shots fired on the green at Lexington and, later, at Concord, Fletcher Irons remains as true to his uniform as Faith does to the cause of independence. The decisions they make, the compromises or lack thereof, are difficult to overcome. As Thomas Paine described so eloquently, these were the times that tried men’s souls. Faith Ashley’s and Fletcher Irons’ are no exception.
I sometimes believe it may be hard for those who have no interest in the history of our Nation’s beginning to fully understand how these events shaped us, how they elevated ordinary men and women to excel in extraordinary situations. My hope is, and has always been, for Faith and Honor to not only touch a person’s heart because of its searing love story, but to further understanding of the honorable sacrifices by both sides.