Thursday, July 14, 2011

History Can Be A Bit Hazy

Hello everyone. My name is Georgie Lee and I write historical and contemporary romances. My first novella set in ancient Rome will be published by Carina Press in January 2012. I don’t have an official title or cover yet, but when I do, I will definitely post it. I am thrilled to be posting my first blog and want to thank all the great writers who invited me to be a part of Romancing the Past. 
I am a rabid non-fiction history reader and have been for years. I enjoy delving into other time periods and I get great story ideas from true life tales. Is it the sweeping world events that catch my attention? Sometimes, but most of the time, it is the obscure references tossed off by scholars; the blonde ancient Egyptian Queen, or the missing list of mistresses. These are the sentences that make me sit up and say “Oh, that would make a great story!” The problem with being inspired by obscure references is the fact that they are obscure.  The source material is sketchy or non-existent and it is often difficult to find more details than a passing mention here or there. While this may be the perfect opportunity to create a fictional story, it makes it difficult to really delve into an interesting subject.
Thankfully, I set my Roman novella during the chaos surrounding the assassination of Emperor Caligula. His life and death are well documented by both ancient and modern historians. However, I still managed to find an obscure detail to chase after; the physical looks of Caligula’s German Guard. There are many descriptions of their outfits but I’ve been unable to find a reference to their hairstyles. Did they wear it in the Roman fashion, as I suspect they did, or longer? I don’t know and I couldn’t find the answer, so I made an executive decision.
 I’m not always so accurate with the historical facts in my stories because I’m sensitive to reader expectation.  For example, in my Roman novella, I have Caligula use the well known thumbs up/thumbs down signal to determine a character’s fate in the amphitheatre. In reality, historians continue to debate the correct meaning of the thumb signals. Some sources say up for mercy, some say down for death, some say sideways and some say the exact opposite of all of these.  However, movies have made the thumbs up to signify mercy and the thumbs down to signify death the expected standard.  Since I didn’t want to pull readers out of the narrative, I decided to go with reader expectation and have Caligula give the thumbs…well, I don’t want to ruin the story for you. I hope you’ll read it to find out what happens and that you’ll join me on the 14th of every month to see what I have to say. If you’d like to  learn more about me and my novels, or see which historical fact is currently striking my fancy, please visit my website or follow me on Twitter @GeorgieLeeBooks.


Melissa Cutler said...

Fascinating fact about the thumb signals. Is the German Guard the hero of your story? Give us a hint!

Chris Marie Green/Christine Cody/Crystal Green said...

Georgie, this sounds very cool! I'll keep my eye out for it. : )

Wendy Soliman said...

Welcome to the blog, Georgie. I enjoy learning how people do their research and what inspires them. I don't think any of us are quite alike in that respect, which makes for a diversity of fiction, thank goodness! Good luck with the book.

Locksley said...

Great start here Georgie, best of luck.
Your comment about the writing process bringing together dissimilar thoughts is right on. What would a romance be without interior monologue...a movie.


Anonymous said...

Very fascinating blog. I feel fortune to have read your story before going to publication. Can't wait for it to be released. Let me know what the title is going to be.

Taryn Kincaid said...

Welcome, Georgie Lee!

Georgie Lee said...

Thanks to everyone who left comments! I hope to see you all on the 14th of next month.