Unintended Influences: Why Reading Academic History Is Also Important

I have been surprised by a theme that developed within the Christmas novel(la) I am currently finishing.  When I thought of the story, I thought it was about finding that perfect acceptance of true love and the gifts that such an exchange brings to two people.  I thought it was about a son who had always felt second-best and a ward who had always felt unwanted finding in one another the place where they belong. The trappings that started them on that path were superficial circumstances.  However, I have found that those circumstances have become one of the repeated themes for the hero’s journey to a proposal, and those circumstances are directly influenced by an academic book I read on the subject of primogeniture.

I’ve mentioned the book before–Primogeniture and Entail Law in England–but I didn’t grasp even though how differently that book made me view the relationship a hero might have with his father, if he is the heir to an entailed property or title.  Often in romance the hero’s father is dead (it’s so much more exciting for him to hold the title than be the heir!) but my hero is the heir to a man with many years left to him…many, many years in which to run the estate further into the ground than he already has.  The father has no control over the son, because he can’t disinherit him, so no threats he could actually carry out will have enough weight to matter.  And the hero can do nothing to escape his inheritance or to stop his father from destroying his future other than what he can convince his father to do willingly.

Realizing how that entail dynamic has become so integral to the story makes me think I should read more books like this. They make me think about aspects of the culture and laws that I might never have considered, even having seen those dynamics in fiction.

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6 Comments

Filed under Reflections on Romance, Research

6 responses to “Unintended Influences: Why Reading Academic History Is Also Important

  1. Um, yeah, I’ll have to check it out at the library. Zon has it at $60.

    • lol i checked it out from my local university library. it’s definitely an academic press book…they are always exorbitant.

      • Ah, cool. That means my kiddo could possibly find it at university. Nice.

        I have a few old textbooks on my reading reference shelf that come in handy with new projects. The one on Tudor England–yes, I read the whole dry, droning, *Bueller* thing–was helpful for my faerie series because, most of the time, they act like middle age/renaissance royalty.

        Yanno. A little light reading.

      • the lightest reading! here’s what’s funny…I decided long ago that I wanted to write “frivolous” books in genres like romance or fantasy so I wouldn’t have to do much research. But yet the more I write in either the more research I find myself doing, just because I am OCD and can’t not look something up when I know the information exists. At least with fantasy I always know going in that research is for inspiration, not something I have to change my story to encompass. I’m just glad that sometimes with romance it becomes inspiration, too!

        Also, faeries who act like Tudor courtiers sounds about right. When can I beta read this one for you? 🙂

  2. *gah* How did I miss this?

    OCD: Seriously. I can’t NOT look something up if I know it’s out there.

    The beta answer: As soon as I kick my own tail and finish it. I have a case of “you suck” going on.

    • 😦

      but…you don’t. So tell that voice to kiss your lily white (I assume; I don’t know your life or your tanning proclivities) arse. What’s the worst that happens? You write something terrible and have a lot of work to do to make it right. Still better than not writing at all. To use my brother’s bike racing motto, the only thing worse than being DFL is being DNF….

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