I’m instituting a new series of posts inspired by my novel, A Duchess’s Heart, where I shall share a bit about the book and my writing (and mostly research) process, and also get a bit of feedback from you!
MY WIP is set mostly in WWI, told primarily through the eyes of four characters–Cornelia, the Duchess of Malvern, her estranged husband the duke, his younger sister Lady Beryl, and an ambitious housemaid, Nelle Ransome. Since a section of the book flashes back and forth from 1914 to 1918, my duke and his sister (who joins the F.A.N.Y.), are first-hand witnesses to the carnage and destruction of the war. I admit to being a little squeamish and sensitive to violence, but I try my best to soldier on (no pun intended) in order to research as much as I can bear. Yet, since I am not writing specifically about the war, but about the people living through and affected by the war, I begin to wonder just how real and gory these war scenes should be.
I worry that because I am a woman author and because ADH focuses on the fractured romance between the Duke and Duchess, I run the risk of two outcomes: 1) being criticized for toning down or glossing over the violence to write a “fluffy romance” and/or 2) being criticized for writing too much violence that spoils the romance aspects. “Write it the way you want!”, you say, and I definitely agree, but as I stated before, writing the untapped genre of romantic historical fiction tugs me in two directions and in front of two different–and often disparate–audiences with singular expectations of content in my writing.
Then there’s the whole other ballgame of getting the war details right!
Fortunately, there are a ton of primary resources out there to help with most of the details, facts, figures, etc etc, but I’m still a bit anxious about this irrational tool of procrastination (because worrying about this does fall into that category), so I turn the table to you: how real do you want it?