I’ve heard from a few writers who have heard a story or thought of a character and they just know that they have to write about it. It’s like if they don’t, they’ll never have peace–the story/character will keep nagging at them until the story is written.

I’ve found that character.

I watched the movie Lady Jane a few days ago. It’s a film from 1986, with really young versions of Helena Bonham Carter and Cary Elwes as the main characters. The film was okay, nothing to put on my top 10 list or anything. But I can’t stop thinking about Lady Jane.

She was sixteen when she was put on the throne of England for nine days, only to be executed when Mary reclaims the throne. And she won’t get out of my head.

I think I’m supposed to write her story. The thing is, while I love reading historical fiction, I never pictured myself writing anything like it. I hate research. But I guess if she won’t leave me alone, I’ll be able to get through the research aspect because I want to know about her.

This is one of those novels that I can see taking me a long time to complete. And do teens even read historical fiction anymore? And can I possibly make Lady Jane die in a book, even if it’s what really happened? Or would I have to end it before then? All these questions…but she’s calling the shots here, so I’m going to be her lady-in-waiting until I finish her story.

Have your characters or certain stories ever compelled you write about them? Or when you read, do you ever have characters and stories that you can’t get out of your head?

PS after looking around some more: It seems that Alison Weir has beat me to it. Does that matter?

About Karen Krueger

I write for teens when I'm not chasing after two cute kids. I love to sing and eat cereal (though not at the same time), and I most certainly am not a vampire because I'm addicted to sunshine.
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8 Responses to Lady-in-Waiting

  1. Cheryl says:

    I get requests for historical fiction for teens from time to time, mostly because it’s required for school. I’m sure you’ve already read The Book Thief, which is by far the most popular of YA historical fiction, mostly because it’s so deep that it keeps getting picked up for book clubs. Also check out Donna Jo Napoli. And even though it’s younger, it can’t hurt to look at Karen Cushman, who is of course incredibly successful.
    And if you really don’t want to do a historical fiction, you could always cheat, like I did…Or you could do an alternative history, like Westerfeld’s Leviathan or (so I hear) Watchmen. It’s like, what would history have been like if….?

    • One of my favorite historical fiction books is The Smile by Donna Jo Napoli. But yeah, I’m thinking of ways I can cheat too. I like the idea. But then we still have the problem of her dying in the end. I’ll have to figure out how to deal with that. 🙂 Thanks for the good suggestions!

  2. Okay, so I watched that show NOT KNOWING HOW IT ENDED and can I just say how TRAUMATIZING IT WAS?

    I cried. Mostly of Cary Elwes dying, but still.

    I kind of agree with Cheryl that if you don’t want to stick with the original ending, make it steampunk alternate reality. I’ve heard agents and editors begging for that genre, and then you can take the story where you want it. But seriously, great idea.

  3. Cheryl says:

    *tries to remember when steam-engine technology was developed, and if it was before or after the era we’re talking about to see if steampunk is a viable option….* Yeah, this is why I couldn’t do a historical novel. I’m good at remembering stories about people, but I can’t remember dates (or even the century!) to save my life.

  4. Cheryl says:

    And no, it doesn’t matter. You just need an original angle. Besides, it sounds like she stuck to history religiously, which unfortunately worked against her, at least according to the critics.

    And for the record, I don’t have an objection to killing off your main character. Shakespeare did it.

  5. Cheryl says:

    I think Lady Jane might be haunting me too…I’ve tried to go to different pages from this page, but it keeps mysteriously coming back to your post when I walk away for a second. It’s probably just a computer glitch, but it’s happened three times now and it’s starting to freak me out…
    WRITE THE STORY! I don’t want her mad at me!

    • Oo-ee-oo-ee-oo! Creepy! It’s meant to be. She’ll haunt us all until I do.
      And yes, this story would be in the 1500s, so steampunk would be an option (although I’ve read that the technical definition is that steampunk is usually in the Victorian era). And I read some of what the critics said about that other book, and I agree with you–doesn’t matter.
      I’m excited to get started on this. It’s actually kind of good that it will take some serious research before I get started, because I can do it while I’m still finishing Melisma. I’m going to start reading steampunk novels for starters. I can’t say I’ve read that many.

  6. rbs says:

    These comments sorta helped me define steampunk and little bit more, and I want to learn more about it because I actually LOVE historical fiction, and LOVE research. (I’m old, remember.)

    Anyway, I have a cast of historical people – little known or written about – that haunt me on a regular basis. The one roadblock I throw up is the perceived need to travel to the locale to research setting and anything else I can find out. That takes TIME and MONEY – neither of which I have a lot.

    So, what to do in the meantime? I’ve researched locales via Google Earth and Maps and can quite a few villages from the “eye in the sky.” I’ve also gone to and punched in search words for various places. Lots of people have traveled and photographed countries I long to visit.

    It’s a poor substitute for actually going there, but hey, there was a day when we’d actually have to go to the library and search out travel books. 😀

    Have I told you I love your blog? Renae

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