As one of my birthday gifties, I had £15 worth of book tokens for Waterstones. Which is seriously like the best kind of gift you can give me (not that you should all be giving me gifts. Several de-lurked and introduced themselves, which was lovely lovely, and again, if you’re now linking to me & want a link back let me know. Anyway.)
I decided, as I do every time I go to the bookstore, of course, to see what kinds of romances are on the shelves. This particular Waterstone’s (Exeter) even had a section titles “American Romance”. Cool. So I had a look. Let’s see…contemporary paranormal, Regency, Regency, Regency, Victorian (ooh! But I won’t get it today), Georgian, contemporary paranormal…ah! A book with “Knight” in the title! Just the kind of thing I like…oh.
It’s set in Scotland.
So I put it back and look for another. Oh, there’s a guy on the cover with a sword! Oh…and a kilt. The shelves are full of kilts these days, just like how all over America there is the smell of burning dinners.
You know, rumor has it historicals are coming back, and nobody could be more pleased than me. I love historicals, love love love them, because I love history and this way I have my two favorite subjects all in one.
But enough with Scotland! Please! How many of you people saw Braveheart and decided to write a frigging book?
Of course I’m sure most of these books are not written by Braveheart fans who consider the movie research, although I have noticed a lack of research in a large portion of Scottish romances I’ve read (sometimes, you just want a historical and do’t care that buying the book means you’re going to be stuck with 380 pages of phonetically spelled accents-hae, havena, noo, etc.) And a large portion of them conform to Gabriele’s Rules of Scottish Romances, which isn’t always a bad thing–some of those Rules are Rules because no matter how many times we read them we still enjoy reading them.
But come on, people! Why Scotland? Why does it seem to be the only setting medievals are still published in? (I should have written, “in which historicals are still published”, I know. But you know what? I’ve just been doing edits in which all of my imperfect grammar has been ruthlessly excised, so fuck you. I’m ending with a preposition. As Churchill said, “That is the sort of English up with which I will not put.”) Why not give us some loveable strong alphas fighting for Richard I in France, or John in France, or go back a little further and involve our H/h in twisted doings during Stephen’s reign? There’s plenty of intrigue and delight in early medieval England–my beloved Planatgenets aired their family greivances across several continents–and still later. The Hundred Year’s War! Medieval pirates (yes, they had them!) The frigging Spanish Armada! (Notice I’m not mentioning the Wars of the Roses. That is because I hereby claim them. I will be writing about them for at least my next two historicals. I also claim medieval Wales. You guys can have the rest. Except Jenn, because I know she’s already got something medieval and Welsh cooking in her bookpot.)
I love Scotland. Hubs and I spent our honeymoon in Edinburgh and it is hands-down my favorite city I’ve ever visited. Scotland is truly beautiful. It’s a fabulous place, and I think you should all go there because you will love it, too. I’m all for Scottish Independence and think it’s wonderful that they have their own Parliament. We’ve even talked about moving there at some point. But it’s not like it’s the only place to set a historical romance (outside of London and the ton, of whom I am sick to death of reading.) There were wars and people being fiery all over England and Wales, too, and Ireland! (And I am really interested in reading about medieval Ireland, btw, and thinking of it for a book. My next medieval hero is Irish.)
But medieval Scotland was not this perfect land of milk and honey, either. And they DID NOT WEAR FRIGGING CLAN TARTANS, people! Not in the 13th & 14th centuries! Scottish history is rich and beautiful enough! Quit futzing about with it, quit stealing it and changing it and exploiting it. If you want to write kilts, write about 18th century Scotland, a rich and fertile time and place that nobody seems to want to touch for reasons unfathomable to me.(For that matter, the time of Mary Queen of Scots had enough intrigue and excitement and strife to fill Loch Ness twice over, with murdered bishops and exploding Prince consorts and all. Write about that!)
But Scotland is not the end-all be-all of medieval history. It’s not the only place where men were men (again, more on that very soon. I’m formulating that rant, which will probably be a two-part rant but I can’t promise anything) and ladies were ladies, or weren’t ladies as the case may be. And honestly, I’m a little tired of seeing the poor Normans and English get the short end of the stick. They had their good points too. They weren’t all murderous rapist baby-killing thieves. I swear.
So let’s write some other times and settings, okay? Please?