Monday, June 20, 2016

History Following A Book Can't Be Changed, So What comes next?

In April I released a box set/trilogy of the three parts of my Highland Moonlight Spinoff Series, To Capture A Highlander's Heart. I had just finished the third installment To Capture A Highlander's Heart: The Wedding Night and was eager to get all three parts together in one set.  My cover artist Tracy Stewart gave me a kickass cover and I couldn't wait for readers to see it. 

I rode the high of having finished the three part series because it was well overdue and I was thrilled with the full length book and my hero.  I wanted to give my readers a really good finish to the series for waiting so long for it. Life had interrupted again and again and I'm a slow writer. 

After about a week I found a little depression kicking in. Not because I wasn't pleased with the book but because, knowing the Scottish history I had based the book on, and the year I had set it in, I was aware of what followed only a few years later after my character's story had been resolved.  I kept dwelling on it, worrying over it, and feeling a kind of grief for them. So I decided to write about it on this blog. 

We writers get so attached to our characters they become real people to us. And I've been attached to the characters in this series for a long time. Especially Lady Mary and Lord Alexander. They were the beginning as a published author for me because their story was my first published book, Highland Moonlight.  

I fell in love with Gabriel during Highland Moonlight and always wanted to give him a Happy Ever After.  Grace was such a sympathetic character I wanted to explore her situation a little more and see how much she could grow, so I decided to put them together. They were such complete opposites. Gabriel was a warrior, big, bold, handsome, and Alexander's right hand man. Grace was Lady Mary's maid, diminutive in stature,  meek, mild, innocent, and waiting to be awakened to both love and the possibilities of what more she could be. 

After I had finished The Wedding Night what followed the resolution of story kept eating at me. 

In 1330, during Grace and Gabriel's story, Robert the Bruce had already died and Thomas Randolph, Robert's nephew, the Earl of Moray, had been placed as Regent of Scotland because Robert's son, David II, was only five. As acting king and David's guardian, Moray was a just and nobel ruler, much loved and admired by the Scottish people.  He was known as the "good Regent".

During 1330 Scotland was still basking in a brief peace but still on constant guard against attack by the English. That peace would only last two more years. In 1332 Edward Balliol led an attack against Scotland once more, and Thomas Randolph died on his way to lead the charge against the invasion. 

His death was devastating for Scotland.  In years to follow, the English invaded and waged such a campaign against Scotland they nearly decimated the Lords of the peerage, and challenged the structure of Scottish leadership. Following the invasion, the young king David was imprisoned by them for years.   

Having written about Sir Thomas Randolph and having my character's meet and interact with him, I felt grief at knowing he would only survive a short time after Gabriel and Grace's marriage. And that led to the knowledge that Gabriel, Lord Alexander, his brothers, Duncan and David, their father Lord John Campbell, Laird of the Campbell clan, and all the men they led would more than likely march into battle against the English. 

I found myself worrying about their survival, the survival of their clan.  In The Wedding Night, Lord Thomas, demands Gabriel be prepared to rise and follow him into battle should the need arise, in return for being allowed to stay peacefully wed to Grace. He would not have denied the call, nor any other leader in the Scottish realm. They would have risen and called to arms every man within their power to stand against the English. 

I know my characters are not real people. But they represent the real people who lived and died in a struggle of survival and a quest for Freedom against tyranny. Real people who continued to push on and carry their heritage forward. 

So, now I have to worry about what turn each one of my character's lives may have taken after rising to Lord Thomas's call. Who may have died on the battle field, who may have been stripped of their land, how they may have been punished.  And because I had written most recently about Gabriel, the warrior who had covered Lord Alexander's back while he fought at Robert the Bruce's side, the man who had lived by his sword.  I could see where his future lay.  And I worried about he and Grace's happiness. I worried about all the Campbells I wrote about. I still do. And my mind keeps coming up with challenging, worrisome scenarios and hoping the best for them.

For we writers, even when our characters are not being read about by readers, their worlds continue to move on. They do not live in a static bubble. Their history, their lives continue on and we continue to revisit them. I may have to write another book in the spinoff series just to put my mind and heart at ease.

If I do, it will be Duncan's story. It's time for him to stop being the medieval playboy and take on some responsibility. To become a leader. And by the time that takes place, Scotland will be in dire need of many.

How do you as readers feel about the characters you become attached to? Do you worry about their future as much as we do?

I'd love to hear from you.

Teresa Reasor