I believe writing historical fiction should mean being as reflective of the times as possible…NOT the current times
Or do you disagree?
Here in the South, we’ve lately had a spate of disgruntled, politically correct folks demanding that every city, small town, village or crossroads with a Confederate statue yank it down. “It’s offensive,” they say. “It’s glorifying slavery,” they say. “They’re statues of racists,” they say.
While I’m not going to get into a debate about the wrong or the right of removing hundred-plus-year-old statues, the argument, in general, disturbs me for one very big reason: WHO should be the arbiter of what makes HISTORY offensive and therefore powerful enough to erase it? Once we start erasing things, where do we stop?
I had a reader leave me a nasty review a few years back because I had characters (in a novel set in the 1870s) refer to Native Americans as Indians. And a few of the characters tossed out some of the labels commonly used to describe Native Americans at the time–such as squaw, Red Man, etc. None of this was gratuitous–it was historically accurate. But that one reader has kept me wondering ever since about censorship. If/when will it finally hit Christian books, magazines, movies, etc.?
As you would expect from me, my newest book, A Destiny in Defiance (releasing Nov 1) pulls no punches. Specifically, I cover the politically incorrect but historically accurate discussion of abortion. Haven’t you ever wondered what soiled doves did when they got “in the family way”? Some of my characters will deal with the very sticky subject firsthand.
Anyway, if revisionist historians start removing monuments, I don’t see anything stopping them from burning books next. What do you think?
So, till next time, happy fall, y’all, and pay attention to the history around you! It may not be there tomorrow…
I know most often I focus on ladies in defiance–women who do amazing things or survive incredible situations. However, I was having a conversation about how truth is stranger and often more incredible than fiction. To prove my point, I shared the story of the man who is the inspiration behind my character of Dent Hernandez in Hang Your Heart on Christmas. I thought you might find it interesting as well. Enjoy!
The legendary Elfego Baca is the inspiration for my hero.
Elfego’s father Francisco was a lawman, and, on occasion, he allowed his son to ride with him in pursuit of some pretty tough hombres. Francisco taught his son to shoot, to ride, to fight, and to wear the badge like a man of justice, not vengeance. He could not have foreseen how well the lessons would stick.
In 1884, nineteen-year-old Elfego learned that the rowdy cowhands from John Slaughter’s ranch were running roughshod over the mostly-Spanish community of Lower Frisco, NM. Raping, pillaging, the usual outlaw behavior. Outraged, Elfego somehow wrangled a badge (real, fake, the details are fuzzy) and headed off to clean up the town.
Not long after his arrival, he was alerted to the ungentlemanly behavior of one Charlie McCarty. Drunk and belligerent, McCarty was howling at the moon, firing his gun indiscriminately, and generally scaring the townsfolk silly. Baca arrested the cowhand straightaway.
As is always the case in these situations, things quickly spiraled out of control and Elfego Baca found himself hiding in a jacal (ha-cal – a flimsy structure-like a shack) and being shot at by between forty and eighty very annoyed cowboys. Hundreds of thousands of rounds were fired at him during a thirty-three-hour siege. Just the door to the one room, cedar-and-mud structure was hit nearly four hundred times!
Elfego survived unscathed.
He did, however, kill one cowboy, shoot one horse (which then fell on its rider and killed him), and wound several of his attackers.
When the siege was over, our young lawman still wasn’t done. He sent a letter to the cowboys who had tried to kill him. It read, “I have a warrant here for your arrest. Please come in by March 15 and give yourself up. If you don’t, I’ll know you intend to resist arrest, and I will feel justified in shooting you on sight when I come after you.”
Most of the men couldn’t surrender fast enough.
Elfego’s good fortune and startling bravado was the foundation of his legendary status. He lived a colorful, sometimes controversial, life as a lawman, attorney, politician, and hero. He left behind a statue and some tall tales. I thank him for being the inspiration behind Hang Your Heart on Christmas.
By the way, Hang Your Heart is not only .99 this week, I just released the AUDIO version as well. Soooo many ways to enjoy a great story!