I am a history nut. Many of the things we believe in the present are based on our perception of the past.
For example, we learn in grade school that in ‘1492, Columbus sailed the ocean blue’, and discovered America. For the longest time we have one opinion of the man based solely on that. Then as we re-examine history, we find he wasn’t the first one to find America, and also may not have treated the natives all too well. Many would like to see Columbus Day done away with as more and more of the man’s past is revealed. To me Columbus was a hero, someone to be honored. Now, I’m not so sure. My belief in the man has changed based on my new perception of the past.
That is not why my topic is ‘History’ though. I just thought that was something interesting.
In regards to writing, I think weaving history into a novel is an amazing art. Taking something non-fiction and meshing it with fiction takes skill. One of my favorite authors Clive Cussler of the Dirk Pitt adventures does this with ease.
In my first novel, The Dragon and the Faerie, I try to explain a little of the history of the area in which Andy & Emilia’s adventure begins. I think it makes the story richer and more real to the reader. I’ve pasted the opening scene below. I hope you enjoy it.
As Andy walked farther up the path, he felt that the air had compressed around him. It was as if a thought were floating on the wind just dancing out of reach. He looked out across the water again and found himself staring at the ruins of Bannerman’s Castle. The castle never ceased to fascinate him. He couldn’t help but wonder what secrets were hidden inside its walls.
Andy remembered bits and pieces of the castle’s history. The castle was built in the early 1900’s as a place to warehouse old weapons from the Spanish–American War. Up a short path to the top of the hill on the island was a house, erected in the same Scottish style as the castle. Almost forty years ago, a fire ravaged the island and left the house and castle in a ruinous state.
“I wonder what really happened there,” Andy thought. No one knew the origins of the fire, which left the mind to speculate all kinds of answers. He had heard all the ghost stories that surrounded the place, and he couldn’t help imagining that some spirit or god of the island would not suffer anyone on its shores.
He remembered a tale his dad told him of an English war ship that was able to sail beyond the West Point cannons during the Revolutionary War and came to weigh anchor near the island. It was a dead calm when they put their dories into the water and rowed to the beach on its east side. As soon as their feet touched dry ground, the river became a rolling tempest. The wind rose to gale force and caught the sails, causing the ship to lurch violently and break up on the rocks hidden below the surface. Everyone on the ship perished. Those still on the island jumped into their boats and tried to row for the nearest shore, only to capsize and drown. Andy thought it was a fascinating tale, but he believes there could be some duplicity on his father’s part since history did not record such an event.
The tale about the English war ship is a tribute to the military significance of West Point. Andy suspects duplicity in his father’s story, and with good reason. For a ship to navigate the small stretch of water around West Point, the vessel needs to come to an almost complete stop to change from a north -south direction to an east-west, making it vulnerable to the cannons of Fort Putnam on the heights. This is why Benedict Arnold was so important to the English. The capture of West Point would split New England from the rest of the colonies, because the British would then own the Hudson.
History is awesome! I Love it!