Why I write historical fiction

J.M. Aucoin . Author interviews, History, Hope & Steel (Darion Delerue), Jake Hawking Adventures, Self-Publishing, Writer's Life, Writing about writing 892 No Comments

“Why do you write historical fiction?”

It’s a question I’ve gotten a lot over the years, ever since I took my first fiction writing workshop back at Emerson College. While everyone else in the class were writing gloomy tales of characters with some sort of substance addiction or dealing with abuse, I was writing tales of pirates, swashbucklers, and sword-wielding ne’er-do-wells. And I always got the same question: “Why are you writing about historical fiction?”

Of course, the wise-mouth in me wanted to be like:

But the more useful answer was always, “Because it’s the type of stories I like to read. Write what you like to read, right?”

I fell in love with historical adventure tales and swashbucklers at a young age. I spent every Wednesday evening after dinner watching reruns of Disney’s Zorro starring Guy Williams as the masked swashbuckling vigilante.

Zorro cosplay

Not much has changed in 25+ years

But it wasn’t until college that I fully realized my love for historical fiction. I went through the classic histfic — Alexandre Dumas’ The Three Musketeers, Rafael Sabatini’s Captain Blood and Scaramouche. I also found contemporary swashbucklers like Arturo Pérez-Reverte’s Captain Alatriste series, C. W. Gortner’s Spymaster’s historical suspense novels, and C. J. Sansom’s Shardlake mystery series.

So when I picked up the pen (or fired up my laptop, to be exact) it seemed natural that my first stories would be about pirates and swordsmen. There wasn’t enough swashbucklers out there to quench my thirst, so I wrote stories to entertain myself. If I was able to entertain anyone else in this world, even better.

Jake Hawking & the Bounty Hunters cover

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I love the idea of being transported back through time and reading a unique perspective of historical events that I already know about, or learning something new from events that tend to get overlooked in your average history class. It’s fun to see, in some ways, how far we’ve come and yet also humbling to realize that in other ways, as a race, we’re still the same.

I enjoy learning about old cultures, reliving historic moments, and to getting lost in a world long since changed.

For me, it was the swordplay that drew me into the genre. The image of a lone hero — or band of heroes — with nothing more than a sword and their wit to right wrongs and fight for good enthralled me as a kid. Zorro jumping from roof top to roof top to help the peons, and d’Artagnan and his Musketeer brethren saving the queen from Richelieu’s evil plots hooked me as young, ideological child who saw the world in black and white. As I got older — and more jaded — I found solace in the grayer world of sell-swords and cutthroats. Sometimes good men make bad decisions, and not every villain is evil at heart.

It’s the balance between this high adventure and gritty realism that I aimed for in Honor Among Thieves, the first book in the Hope & Steel series. It takes place in early-17th Century France, a few decades after the French Wars of Religion came to an end. Europe was changing. Spain’s title as the world super power was being challenged and France was in the middle of reinventing itself.

Honor Among Thieves book cover

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In the novel we follow Darion Delerue, a former soldier turned highwayman, who’s growing tired of his criminal life. He wants more out of life, albeit he isn’t sure what. But fate — and history — have other plans for the young Gascon swordsman. After a heist on a royal ambassador goes awry, Darion is thrown into a political plot to undermine the crown, pitting his old life as an honorable soldier against his new life as a thief and bandit. His actions could send France back into civil war.

Honor Among Thieves is (I hope) a gripping tale of daring sword-play and political intrigue. A story that’ll transport you back to 17th Century France where fictional characters and plots weave themselves seamlessly into real-world events. A tale that’ll entertain and delight, and perhaps even leave you wanting to learn more about the era of Henry IV of France. But most of all I want to leave readers reaching for their swords to right for glory!

That’s the plan anyways.

So why do I write historical fiction?

Because it’s downright fun.

J.M. Aucoin

Author. Fencer. Sometimes actor. Full-time nerd. I write swashbucklers & historical adventure novels.

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