When folks find out I’m an author the next question I’m asked is usually, “What do you write?” And when I respond, “historical romance,” the reaction is often a mixed bag. Many folks get hives at the thought of all those names and dates they had to memorize in high school. I’m assuming since you subscribe to this blog, that you’re not in that category.
I suppose the simple answer would be, I write what I love. But, the questions remains, why history?
Considering my high school American history teacher, Mr. Beard, rarely spoke to us, opting instead to give us worksheet after worksheet with the occasional historical film tossed in to mix it up, it’s a wonder I enjoy the subject. Not only that, I actually have my B.S. Social Studies Education from Messiah College and my M.Ed. in History Education from Penn State. Despite Mr. Beard’s attempt to make me loathe his class, I’ve only become more passionate about the subject.
As Long as I Can Remember, I’ve Loved History
But I suspect my love for history began fermenting as a child when I tuned in each week to share the joys and struggles of the Walton family during the Great Depression or to watch Laura’s adventures on Little House on the Prairie. I slept in my night cap, had a slate and chalk to play school with, and even pretended to tote my lunch in a tin pail. When mom wasn’t looking, I donned my yellow, calico bonnet and sat on the back of the couch pretending it was the seat of our Conestoga wagon as we crossed the prairie through the Dakota Territory.
I’ve always enjoyed my paternal grandfather’s stories about our ancestors. He could regale us for hours with poems from his childhood or tales of life growing up on the Criste farm in Cresson, Pennsylvania. I remember staring wide-eyed when I’d learned that my maternal ancestors had been fur trappers and whisky runners on the Pennsylvania frontier during the French and Indian War. I loved the pictures of my father smiling proudly in his WWII naval uniform as well as the hats, spats and gloved hands in my grandparents wedding photos. From hat pins to war medals to my mother’s worn and faded WWII ration book, I was captivated.
Then one September night in 1979, Laura Ingalls peered lovingly into Almanzo Wilder’s eyes and called him “Manly” and I’d discovered something new—historical romance. However, it wasn’t until my sister introduced me to Love Comes Softly, nearly twenty-five years later, that I knew Christian historical romance existed as a genre. Not only did I devour the entire LCS series, but everything that Janette Oke had written. I quickly moved on to other authors and before long found myself lost in their story worlds.
It’s been a love affair ever since.
It seems as though I’ve always been wondering, always dreaming about what it might have been like to live “back then” whenever “then” might have been. Inspired by my youngest son, I decided to tinker with storytelling myself. It wasn’t long before my secret hobby became a God-given passion.
While I love dragging my family to museums and battlefields, I fully acknowledge I wouldn’t truly want to live then (although a short stint on a historical reality show might be cool to try). Writing historical romance allows me to ponder bygone eras and visit all those place I wonder about — a medieval castle, Civil War battlefields, a Regency estate, or a wagon train on the Oregon trail — all from the comfort of my twenty-first century home.
This giveaway is now closed
Congratulations to our winner, June Jacobs.
I’m giving away a paper copy of Homefront Heroines to one Romancing History reader. Homefront Heroines is a WWII novella collection from Johnnie Alexander, Amanda Barratt, Lauaralee Bliss, and Rita Gerlach. To enter, tell me your favorite historical site, museum, or battlefield in the comments below.
There are so many historical sites I’ve enjoyed visiting .
Nemours Estate comprises an exquisite, 77-room Mansion, the largest formal French gardens in North America, a Chauffeur’s Garage housing a collection of vintage automobiles, and 200 acres of scenic woodlands, meadows and lawns.
Nemours is absolutely incredible and I loved touring it and recommend it to everyone who hasn’t visited yet.
Hi Deanne, I’ve never heard of Nemours Estate. I’ll have to Google that. I love exploring grand old homes. Sounds like something I’d enjoy as well. Thanks for sharing.
O, my goodness how I love to read WWII Christian Fiction! I read non-Christian stories too. Thanks for this chance to win the book. I am thankful to have been to some great places just like most of Y’all. Loved the Smithsonian when I went as a child. Cades Cove, TN, Harpis Ferry, WV (my Mom had a friend who owned a hotel right on the river & we visited sites around the town) and yes I too have been to Williamsburg.
Hi Denise, Harper’s Ferry is one of my favorite places to take friends who come to visit. It truly is a gem. Best of luck in the drawing!
You and I are kindred spirits, my friend! I can’t get enough of history! I love visiting New Salem State Park where Lincoln spent some time. I also enjoyed visiting the Battle of Pea Ridge in Missouri as a girl.
Hi Cynthia, I would love to visit places where Lincoln lived or spent time before his presidency! You’ve got to get out here and check out some of the places you’ve been writing about!
I love Colonial Williamsburg and Gettysburg battlefield. I have visited both a few times. Thank you for the opportunity!
Hi Betsy, Colonial Williamsburg is amazing. Truly a gem! They have the coolest programs. We saw a re-enactment of witch trial and the Virginia assembly voting to sign the Declaration of Independence.
I have been to a re-enactment at the Shiloh Battlefield in Corinth Mississippi. I loved it. So I would say it’s my favorite.
Hi Brenda, I love going re-enactments. I suspect if hubby and I had discovered them in our earlier years we might have gotten involved ourselves. Thanks for visiting Romancing History!
I visited the memorial to the battle of the Little Big Horn by the Crow Reservation in Southwestern Montana. My son was blessed to visit the Gettysburg battlefield which i would love to visit. Whenever we would visit a town that had a museum, my husband knew he would have to wait for me to check it out. I didn’t like American history in high school as our teacher was boring. We never got past the civil war. Now I am really interested in it.
Hi Vivian, I would really like to visit Montana! I would like to learn more about events like Little Big Horn. And yep, I’m the same with museums and I have to read EVERYTHING!
I’m not a big history buff. Actually hated the subject in high school. But I grew up five minutes from the Chickamauga Battlefield in Northwest Georgia so that has to be my favorite historical battlefield.
As I’ve gotten older, I’ve learned to appreciate the importance of history and find pleasure now in learning more about it. And I LOVED Little House on the Prairie. Your picture of Laura and Manly brought back such memories.
Hi Deena, I own the Little House DVDs and in the bonus material they talk about how hard it was to find someone to play Almanzo because they wanted to keep it accurate and he was at least 10 years older than Laura. In the 1870s that wasn’t a big deal but when the show was being filmed in the 1970s, sensibilities were much different. They needed to find an older man that wouldn’t appear threatening or predatory. I think they hit the nail on the head in Dean Butler!
Colonial Williamsburg is my favorite. It’s been about 45 years since I was there and I’d love to go again!
Hi Joan, Yep that’s one of our nation’s treasures! They have the best interpretive history programs I’ve ever seen.
My personal favorite is the Pensacola Naval Museum here in Pensacola, Florida. It is well maintained and informative.
Hi Cherie, I’ll have to remember that the next time I go to Florida. Thanks for the tip.
I don’t think I have ever traveled to a historical site, but I love reading historical fiction! It wings me to so many sites, places and eras. I get to experience and learn about history in a fascinating and memorable way…so much better than from a text book!! Thank you for the chance to win a copy of Homefront Heroines! It sounds so good!!
Hi Alison, That is one of the best benefits of reading HR, you get steeped in all that history without the cost or the inconvenience of no electricity or running water! LOL! Thanks for visiting today.
Greetings! It was hard for me to choose my favorite here because we are history buffs who visit as many historical sites, museums, and homes as possible. However, I decided that my most memorable experience was when we toured Hearst Castle in San Simeon, California, at Christmastime back in the early 2000’s. The home is exquisite on any day of the year, but with the lovely Christmas decorations and huge red velvet bows draped from the tops of the many Christmas trees to the bottom of the trees it was a site to behold. They did not allow tourists to take photos, so I bought some Christmas cards in their shop so I would have a visual memory of this treasured memory. *** Thank you for this giveaway. This book was actually recently recommended to me by one of my good friends. Take care, everyone!
Hi June, I’ve never been to Hearst Castle but last year I visited Biltmore in Asheville, NC. It also was decorated for the Christmas holiday and was truly exquisite. I can’t even imagine living in that kind of luxury. Thanks for visiting today.
What a tough question! My favorite historical site I’ve traveled to thus far is Gettysburg, Pennsylvania, but Colonials Williamsburg and Pearl Harbor are high on my list.
Hi Marisa, Welcome to Romancing History. I love Gettysburg. Not only exploring the battlefield but the quaint, well-preserved town as well. I absolutely adore Williamsburg. We travel there every couple years. I especially enjoy the live interpretive history programs. It’s a true national treasure. I’ve never been to Pearl Harbor but it is high on my bucket list. Thanks for visiting today!