Sheri Humphreys Romance Inspired by History
I got hooked on historical research while writing my first Romance novel. I love history and spend about as much time researching as I do writing. I love knowing historical details in my fiction are accurate.
Twining historical facts through a book helps the reader get lost in the novel’s setting, and presents me with fun challenges. Finding the perfect historical detail for a story is like finding the missing piece of a puzzle, and sometimes it takes hours.
One of those perfect fits of history and story happened when I began writing A Hero to Hold. David Scott, the hero, is disabled. He needed an office job. The heroine, Lady Haliday, needed something meaningful to fill her days and build her self-esteem. The perfect solution? David could manage a charity. Many Victorian ladies were involved in philanthropy. Charlotte could do volunteer work for the charity David directed.
The next step was deciding on an appropriate charity. Because David became disabled during military service in the Crimean War, I thought a government-sponsored charity aiding veterans’ families would give his job special meaning. Then I wondered whether there had been an actual charity similar to the one I’d imagined.
It took very little research to discover the Royal Patriotic Fund, established by Queen Victoria in 1854 to provide assistance to widows and orphans of servicemen killed in the Crimean War. The similarities between my fictional charity and the Fund were amazing. I changed my fictional charity to the real one, and The Royal Patriotic Fund became the perfect puzzle piece for A Hero to Hold to revolve around.
I love to fit in small historical details whenever I can. When the story needed David and Charlotte to stay the night at an inn, I found a popular 1800’s stopping place on their route—Hockerill crossroads, where an inn sat on each corner.
Readers may not realize my novels are full of historical details. Sometimes the detail is so small, the reader really couldn’t know. But I think using real places, people, and events brings something special - a historical patina, even when the reader is unaware. I hope that translates into a setting the historical reader finds believable.
Even better, one they can get lost in.