Wednesday, May 16, 2012

Historical accuracy (and loving the haters)

I don't like it when people don't like my books – but I love it when they hate them. A writer wants to inspire passion, any sort of passion, to have the reader tell everyone they know about their book, and I'd much rather have a reviewer tell a thousand people how much they despise a book than have no one talking about it at all. I'm never going to be bothered by people's opinion of my work (though personally, I'm fragile, so please always tell me I look pretty, even if I don't.) The dear knows I don't like at least half the books I read (or start reading.) Bad reviews also tend to be the most entertaining, and the best thing about me (if I do say so myself) is that I think just about everything is hilarious.

But some people are saying Ladies in Waiting isn't historically accurate. Oh my, have you reviewers gotten my dander up!

A few reviewers have claimed that the female leads, with their unusual career choices and fairly strong wills, aren't realistic for the time. I feel compelled to point out that this isn't so. Yes, it was rare for women to be scientists or playwrights in the 17th Century, but Zabby and Eliza are based on real women of the time: novelist, philosopher and scientist Margaret Cavendish (who appears in the novel as Zabby's godmother) and playwright (and spy) Aphra Behn. So having two privileged girls who believe they can have what appear to be modern pastimes (or jobs) isn't particularly outlandish.

I've also been asked to provide some historical notes, about which parts of Ladies in Waiting are true, which fictitious. Those tidbits too will be forthcoming, and maybe I can update the paperback edition.

I'll tell you more about Aphra Behn and Margaret Cavendish soon, but in the meantime, here is a picture of Cavendish, the leading female intellectual of her day – bare-breasted! Because 17th century women knew how to be sexy and powerful (even if they mostly used sex to get what they wanted.) Plus, breasts aren't the big deal modern people seem to think they are.



Jaye Robin Brown said...

You get them, Laura!

Angelina C. Hansen said...

It is a challenge when you've done your research, but those who haven't claim that something is inaccurate. Makes me want to beat my head against the nearest wall. ^_^