Tag Archives: The Revenant

My Hate-Love Relationship with Historical Fiction

8 May

I love historical fiction. In fact, I’m currently binge reading, watching, and writing it right now. But I have a beef with it. (Does anyone even say that anymore? No? Oh, well.) If you’re curious, I’m reading Stalking Jack the Ripper, watching Reign, and writing a book set in the ancient world. Very different time periods, but all can easily fall into my hate-love with the genre.

So what is my issue with the genre?

My biggest pet peeve with historical fiction is when I look up the factual story and the factual story is MORE—more fascinating, bizarre, fun, gory, symbolic, or anything MORE.

Let’s look at a few examples:

In the movie The Revenant with Leonardo Dicaprio, Hugh Glass fights his way back from the wilderness to enact bloody revenge on the two who left him to die. In real life? He actually tracked down the two men and ultimately forgave them, because it was better for society. (One was a solider and the other a young man with a family.) I actually LOVE the real version, because I think it teaches us more about survival and sympathy and societal sacrifice. But forgiveness doesn’t feed into the bloody climax many expect, does it? (On a side note, Hugh Glass could’ve been a pirate…but that also doesn’t make it into the movie either. Boo.) Here’s an article if you’re interested in more info: The Real Story of ‘The Revenant’ is Far Weirder (and Bloodier) Than the Movie.

In Reign, the show follows Mary Stuart, Queen of Scotland, as she marries the Dauphin of France. And it’s entertaining, don’t get me wrong. Lots of betrayal, murder, and sex. But the real-life version, if the show had been expanded to show more years, has MORE. Nearly everyone loses their head, country, or both. (It’s very Game of Thrones.) What I find strange, though, is not the focus but some of the blatant inaccuracies portrayed as fact. For instance, the show takes (weird?) liberties in taking shots at the blond hair Francis has when Mary herself was famous for blond-red hair, while Francis was the brunet. They even go as far as to say all Scots have dark hair. (Or bringing her mother into it, when they never saw one another after her childhood.) In real life, over time, there are three husbands. (Perfect for a trilogy, no?) That aside, I’ll absolutely acknowledge that brutal story is not the target audience or goal for the romantic TV show on the CW. Which brings me to my next point…

I don’t blame the authors or any creators behind this. Why? Because I get it. Truth is often stranger than fiction. If you wrote down some of the actual events that happened, readers or viewers would have a harder time believing that than the completely fictionalized version of an event. Not to mention that life doesn’t serve a linear, symbolic purpose…and with stories, that’s the whole point, especially when you bring genres and expectations for that genre into play. Not to mention the traditional narrative viewers and readers expect from certain historical periods. 

It was discovered, for instance, that slaves were not used to build the Great Pyramids. Skilled (and paid) craftsman were, which is why they could stage protests. (In fact, the first protests we now know of.) But our fictional worlds have yet to reflect this. (Oh, did I mention they were often paid with beer? I mean, come on.)

History—and what we understand of history—is constantly changing, and the genre should change along with it.

I want to see more Norse women out on Viking Voyages, as skilled seafarers. (Source) I want to see black cowboys (Source). I want to see skilled craftsmen building the pyramids (Source). I want to see the female sailors on the doomed Franklin expedition, especially since the entire crew was reported to be male (Source). I want to see an all-female battalion in the Russian Revolution (Source). I want MORE.

I get that it might be a little strange to see some of your favorite historical figures (and narratives) in a different light. But why not?

Why not challenge the traditional narrative, especially if it’s backed up by science and other types of studies? Why not write a version that’s based in factual evidence more than on speculation? On the opposite end, why not write a version that owns the fact that it’s not based in reality at all, like My Lady Jane (where royalty can shape-shift into animals)? Why not push those limits and expectations of what historical fiction can be? (On a side note, there’s actually a really funny/enlightening Oatmeal comic on why this is so difficult, and you can read it here.)

Historical fiction has limitless, constantly changing possibilities, and I cannot wait to see how it morphs in the future.

~SAT

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#SATurdate: Shadowhunters, Bad Bloods Shorts, BuzzFeed Books, and Zombie Clowns

16 Jan

Today was one of those crazy whiplash weeks where writing wasn’t the best, and then encouragement brought it all back! Keep chasing the dream.

What I’m Writing:

I basically skipped a section of Take Me Yesterday and continued to write in it, so I am moving forward, but I’m still struggling with it. (I always struggle, eh?) I wrote about two, very rough chapters. That being said, I worked on short stories for Bad Bloods this week too…which I’m going to talk about below, so let me know what you think!

What I’m Publishing:

My publisher is working on some awesome swag for you all, and I worked on the proofreads once again. I’m thinking about putting up short stories on Wattpad leading up to the book releases. Basically, it would be a prequel to show how all the bad bloods found one another and created their flocks. What is a flock? A flock is a group of 12 bad bloods who come together to survive. In Bad Bloods, there are four, but only two are left: The Northern Flock and the Southern Flock. Since each flock has 12 characters, you’re looking at 24 side characters alone. The short stories would only show 21 of these stories, so I would start posting them toward the end of February. Let me know if you think you’d be interested in this. And, of course, the #1lineWed winning preview is below. This week’s theme was old.

“I may be a homeless old man, but that doesn’t mean I’m worthless.”

Add Bad Bloods to Goodreads: November Rain and November Snow

Visit the Facebook, Pinterest, and the Extras page.

Coming soon!

Coming soon!

What I’m Reading:

purpleI started Throne of Glass by Sarah J. Mass, but I’m only about 100 pages in, so I’m barely into the competition. So far, it reads a lot like The Hunger Games, but it’s not dystopian and a hundreds times funnier. I’m enjoying it.

I started and finished Pretty Guardian Sailor Moon, V. 10 by Naoko Takeuchi. As many of you know, I love this series, but this is my favorite arc by far. We see so many aspects finally come together, but I think something no one ever thinks about regarding Chibiusa is answered in this volume. While it’s just a theory, I think one of the reasons she “feels” for Mamoru is because he’s tied into Helios’ soul. Of course, it’s up for interpretation, but that’s just my lil ol’ opinion. You can read my 5-star review here.

What I’m Listening To:

Mambo Italiano radio. This might be why I finally had a dream in Italian. I used to listen to this radio a TON when I was in college studying Italian.

What I’m Watching:

Shadowhunters. Yes, of course I watched it. As I said on my FB page, I loved it. I think it has a lot of potential to grow into itself, and I’m hopeful. I particularly loved Alec and Simon. (And of course Magnus.) But I wasn’t in love with Clary or Jace. The super-techy institute bothered me the most, but I can see it getting much better as the show continues on. ::fingerscrossed::
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The Revenant Okay. So I’m not normally into historical, non-fiction entertainment. (You caught me.) But my roommate is. He eats it up. (Which comes in handy when I need to know historical events for my novels. He does help. A lot.) So, you guessed it. I saw this masterpiece, and boy, is it a masterpiece. The beginning is VIOLENT. (All capitals.) The bear mauling is WOW. (It takes a while.) The rest of the film is slow, but in a way that I think the average historical piece is. And considering, in real life, he CRAWLED 200 miles (rather than walked like in the movie), I can imagine it was much slower in real life. Here’s my thing with historical things like this. I get so into it, but I don’t TRUST it. I know it’s lying somewhere, so I always end up Googling everything and learning the truth, and I almost always love the truth MORE. I don’t want to spoil it, but the movie is great. The ending is really cinematic, but the real-life story—to me—is so much more chilling. (Even though it’d be boring as hell to watch on the screen.) So, check this movie out. My love goes out to Leo. My roommate’s love always goes out to Tom Hardy. (I’ll give him love for his signature grunt.)

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What I’m Baking, Making, and Drinking:

I made beef stew. That’s it. I’ve been surviving this week. My services have been crazy. So glad so many of you are meeting your writing and editing goals in 2016 already! 

What I’m Wearing:

Long socks. They go up to my knees. And they are so warm.

What I’m Wanting:

Episode 3 of Shadowhunters! On a side note, this is actually the hardest section for me to fill out. I rarely “want” anything…other than sequels to books.

What I’m Dreaming Of:

I had my first dream in a foreign language, which was pretty funny to me, because my old Italians teachers used to say you were finally fluent when you dreamt in Italian. It’s been two years since my last formal class.

On a side note, I also had this terrible dream where a zombie apocalypse happened every first Friday of every month. So, there were all these laws where you could kill people who turned into zombies, but only if they were a zombie in that moment (so only on first Fridays). Well, it was a first Friday, and I was trying to drive away from them, but there were hundreds on the highway, so I pulled over into a little cabin, thinking it was fine. Now imagine that scene in Jurassic Park where the water glass starts rippling. That happens. And a GIANT clown zombie entered.

That’s it. I wake up.

What Else Is Going On:

I hosted Author in a Coffee Shop, Episode 2 last night! Follow me on Twitter via @AuthorSAT next Friday at 7 p.m. CDT for the next episode. If you’re wondering what Author in the Coffee Shop is, it’s just how it sounds. I sit in a coffee shop and tweet out my writer thoughts while…you know…I people watch…for inspiration. Here’s a sneak peek:

My friend captured the moment.

My friend captured the moment.

I was featured on BuzzFeed Books, 31 Funny Tweets That Are Way, Way Too Real For Writers! I was #22. I’m not going to lie, this was pretty insane for me. I read BuzzFeed Books daily. In fact, I actually was reading the article myself when my face appeared. It was surreal.

The Timely Death Trilogy hit 500 ratings! Thank you for reading and for taking the time to post a review. You mean a lot to me. If you haven’t checked out the Dark yet, Minutes Before Sunset is FREE!

Minutes Before Sunset, book 1:

AmazonBarnes & NobleiBooksKoboGoodreads

Seconds Before Sunrisebook 2:

AmazonBarnes & NobleiBooksKoboGoodreads

Death Before Daylightbook 3:

AmazonBarnes & NobleiBooksKoboGoodreads

After reading, you can come get your books signed on February 13, from 1-3 PM! I’ll be one of several featured authors at a Barnes & Noble Valentine’s Day Romance Author Event in Wichita, Kansas at Bradley Fair. I’d love to see you!

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You can even read The Timely Death Trilogy on your new Kindle Fire! Clean Teen Publishing is giving one away. Enter here.

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