This past week I’ve been working on a fun project set in Norfolk in medieval times (1204 to be precise!). And it’s a different kind of challenge for me!
In a fantasy or science fiction novel, you can make things up as you will and play with what your characters might know or how they’d speak. In a contemporary, you have usually assimilated enough that you know what to do in most situations (though I am often doublechecking!).
For a Regency novel, I’ve read enough (starting with the great and wonderful Georgette Heyer!) and know many of the rules or can find wonderful resources to check them out.
But it was hard to settle into this world at first. I know that it’s not going to be written in Old English, so forbidding any words from after 1205 isn’t going to make it readable (at least for those who haven’t been devouring The Canterbury Tales recently!). But where do you land between inspiring the “feeling” of the times and the demands of the contemporary reader?
It’s been an interesting project and has expanded my search browsers and temporary knowledge of King John (boo, hiss—yes, he of Robin Hood infamy). And luckily the author has done a lot of research and can answer my questions or concerns with why this was so, or agree that maybe this is pushing things a bit too much and can switch to another thing.
The heroine is brave and independent—but it makes sense within the context of her upbringing. That’s one thing I often do wonder. How does a woman of that time grow to know about the world beyond what she’s shown ever day? Here she has gaps of knowledge (can’t read or curtsy), but it is balanced with practical knowledge (herbs and forest survival)
I’m wrapping it up and handing it back to the author this week as she does the final polish. I’m looking forward to the next book in the series and settling deeper into this new world. (In case you’re interested, check out https://www.amazon.com/Defending-His-Lady-Medieval-Romance-ebook/dp/B07V39VP7D at the end of September!)
So readers, what do you care most about for novels set in the past? Getting the language and customs right? Seeing heroines who are breaking the rules of the time? Or are you happy just falling into a strange world where a hero and heroine learn to love and trust despite their differences?