Monday, August 14, 2006

Scot Wha Hae, or Glencoe Part 2

As one of my birthday gifties, I had £15 worth of book tokens for Waterstones. Which is seriously like the best kind of gift you can give me (not that you should all be giving me gifts. Several de-lurked and introduced themselves, which was lovely lovely, and again, if you're now linking to me & want a link back let me know. Anyway.)

I decided, as I do every time I go to the bookstore, of course, to see what kinds of romances are on the shelves. This particular Waterstone's (Exeter) even had a section titles "American Romance". Cool. So I had a look. Let's see...contemporary paranormal, Regency, Regency, Regency, Victorian (ooh! But I won't get it today), Georgian, contemporary paranormal...ah! A book with "Knight" in the title! Just the kind of thing I like...oh.

It's set in Scotland.

So I put it back and look for another. Oh, there's a guy on the cover with a sword! Oh...and a kilt. The shelves are full of kilts these days, just like how all over America there is the smell of burning dinners.

You know, rumor has it historicals are coming back, and nobody could be more pleased than me. I love historicals, love love love them, because I love history and this way I have my two favorite subjects all in one.

But enough with Scotland! Please! How many of you people saw Braveheart and decided to write a frigging book?

Of course I'm sure most of these books are not written by Braveheart fans who consider the movie research, although I have noticed a lack of research in a large portion of Scottish romances I've read (sometimes, you just want a historical and do't care that buying the book means you're going to be stuck with 380 pages of phonetically spelled accents-hae, havena, noo, etc.) And a large portion of them conform to Gabriele's Rules of Scottish Romances, which isn't always a bad thing--some of those Rules are Rules because no matter how many times we read them we still enjoy reading them.

But come on, people! Why Scotland? Why does it seem to be the only setting medievals are still published in? (I should have written, "in which historicals are still published", I know. But you know what? I've just been doing edits in which all of my imperfect grammar has been ruthlessly excised, so fuck you. I'm ending with a preposition. As Churchill said, "That is the sort of English up with which I will not put.") Why not give us some loveable strong alphas fighting for Richard I in France, or John in France, or go back a little further and involve our H/h in twisted doings during Stephen's reign? There's plenty of intrigue and delight in early medieval England--my beloved Planatgenets aired their family greivances across several continents--and still later. The Hundred Year's War! Medieval pirates (yes, they had them!) The frigging Spanish Armada! (Notice I'm not mentioning the Wars of the Roses. That is because I hereby claim them. I will be writing about them for at least my next two historicals. I also claim medieval Wales. You guys can have the rest. Except Jenn, because I know she's already got something medieval and Welsh cooking in her bookpot.)

I love Scotland. Hubs and I spent our honeymoon in Edinburgh and it is hands-down my favorite city I've ever visited. Scotland is truly beautiful. It's a fabulous place, and I think you should all go there because you will love it, too. I'm all for Scottish Independence and think it's wonderful that they have their own Parliament. We've even talked about moving there at some point. But it's not like it's the only place to set a historical romance (outside of London and the ton, of whom I am sick to death of reading.) There were wars and people being fiery all over England and Wales, too, and Ireland! (And I am really interested in reading about medieval Ireland, btw, and thinking of it for a book. My next medieval hero is Irish.)

But medieval Scotland was not this perfect land of milk and honey, either. And they DID NOT WEAR FRIGGING CLAN TARTANS, people! Not in the 13th & 14th centuries! Scottish history is rich and beautiful enough! Quit futzing about with it, quit stealing it and changing it and exploiting it. If you want to write kilts, write about 18th century Scotland, a rich and fertile time and place that nobody seems to want to touch for reasons unfathomable to me.(For that matter, the time of Mary Queen of Scots had enough intrigue and excitement and strife to fill Loch Ness twice over, with murdered bishops and exploding Prince consorts and all. Write about that!)

But Scotland is not the end-all be-all of medieval history. It's not the only place where men were men (again, more on that very soon. I'm formulating that rant, which will probably be a two-part rant but I can't promise anything) and ladies were ladies, or weren't ladies as the case may be. And honestly, I'm a little tired of seeing the poor Normans and English get the short end of the stick. They had their good points too. They weren't all murderous rapist baby-killing thieves. I swear.

So let's write some other times and settings, okay? Please?


Jenn on the Island said...

I've got a plot for a medieval so far from Scotland it'd flip yer kilt. I've never even considered the Highlands for a setting. I suppose partly because of the glut available and partly because I really don't find the accent sexy (except on Ewan MacGregor, and even then, only if he has a beard).

Thanks for sharing Cymry with me.

And what about Vikings? When was the last time anyone saw a new Viking book? Nothing I like more than a viking with a big sword.

Jenn on the Island said...

Oh, and I read one where not only did they wear kilts in 13C Scotland, they ate potatos!!

Isabella Snow said...

I love me some fine Scottish men. But I can't be knocking boots with them. You know how I like my men to be chatty - what a pain it would be to constantly have to ask for clarification. Love my Scottish mates.. just cannae understand a word they say. ;)

December Quinn said...

Mmmmmm...Vikings! I've been doing some Viking research lately, too.

I know there's a Viking book coming out from Triskelion but I don't recall when.

And you're welcome! It's a big enough country to go around, I guess. :-)

December Quinn said...

Groan on the kilts and potatoes, Jenn. :-)

Very true, Isabelle. It is difficult, isn't it? And you never hear that mentioned.

Beth said...

I suspect that the success of Diana Gabaldon's Outlander and sequels has something to do with the glut of Scottish romances.

S. W. Vaughn said...

I'd love to see more medievals set elsewhere besides Scotland (just read a fantastic one, actually, by this wonderful author whose name starts with December and ends with Quinn :-).

However, please don't set them in France. Anywhere but France. Medieval Canada, anyone?

Robyn said...

I adore Julie Garwood's Scottish historicals, but they have big signs that say MY WORLD AND WELCOME TO IT. Really, they might as well take place on Neptune. The clan plaid, (yes! I'm riding alone across your land and wearing a bright piece of clothing that says Hey, I'm from the clan you're feuding with! Come and get me! the Highlander (always, always Highlanders! No lowlanders allowed!) who would never raise a hand to a woman, is always kind to children, and is always built like a 7 foot tall linebacker with arms and legs as sturdy as tree trunks...gotta love em.

But I guess Ms. Garwood gets points for The Prize, right? Her hero is a conquering Norman in that one- no Highlanders in sight.

Ciar Cullen said...

I'm with you. During my romance reading days (I don't read much romance anymore oddly enough), I probably read a dozen such books. Cliche, cliche, cliche, one after the next. The dinner where the boorish laird makes fun of the heroine. How she wins him over. How she puts herself in some ridiculous dangerous situation he has to bail her out of. Oy. Vey. We had a medieval period in the US, you know. Why not...oh, wait. We didn't. Which brings me to the flip side of the equation. Cowboys. Go back further--Native American shaman shapeshifter types. Shudder.

Ciar Cullen said...

Oh, one more boring thought. Sometimes the dialog...phew. I remember going into a store in Inverness and a dude and I getting hysterical laughing because we couldn't understand a word each other was saying. I was trying to ask him how much a candy bar was, and he was trying to tell me. That's how I feel sometimes when I'm reading the dialog of Highland stories sometimes--like pigLatin or some such.

Isabella Snow said...

Well could you imagine it in print??

Scot: "Aye... briginae ern ma, lass.."

Girl: (mmmpff.. moan..dramatic pause)"Hold up - what did you say?"

Scot: "Cannae hernda thasma luverly.."

Girl: (slightly peeved by the distraction) "Do what??"

Scot: "Aye, lassie.. wahaaay..."

Girl: (full on ticked) "Look, just shut up and get 'er done, ok mate?"


December Quinn said...

I think you're on to something there, Beth (and in my lamentations for authors ignoring the 18th century in Scotland I neglected to think of Gabaldon. Perhpas because after the introduction of the Brianna character I'm trying to block those books out.)

Aaaw, thanks SW! Don't worry, I won't actually be setting any books in France. I was just pointing out the many and varied other wars etc. to get involved in. England was at war most of the time, so there's lots to choose from-nobody ever writes about England at war with the Dutch in the 17th century, you know? It's always those clans!

I have never read Julie Garwood, but I've hear this before. One of these days I'll pick one up. And yes, writing a Norman hero gives her two-for-one in my account books--I'll remove two bad Scottish romances for every one good non-Scots romance an author writes.

December Quinn said...

The dinner where the boorish laird makes fun of the heroine. How she wins him over. How she puts herself in some ridiculous dangerous situation he has to bail her out of.

UGH! Oh I know exactly what you mean! And LOL on the shop in Inverness. I felt that way when we were in Edinburgh too.

Heh heh, Isabella! That could actually be a funny scene, if done right.

Bernita said...

Twelfth century Durham and a bonnie (oops) Norman?

Zinnia said...

I'm reading Cleopatra 7.2 right now by Elizabeth Ann Scarborough. Apparantly, she's a well-known author, but I'd never heard of her before. She's a Brit author and uses a combo of omiscient, first person and third so well it stuns me. Never read anything like this author's work before.

Beth said...

I find Brianna fascinating. She is so not me. [g] What is it you don't like about her?

December Quinn said...

I'll have to give Scarborough a try, Zinnia...sounds really good!

Beth, I hate Brianna because I think she's an idiot. She's supposed to be an historian but sends most of Drums of Autumn trotting around Colonial America in pants and refusing to get married for the sake of her baby. Does she want to be burned as a witch? Does she not care what happens to her child? Anyone with any historical knowledge knows there were very, very real consquences to such behavior at that time, but she insists on behaving like it's still 1969 or whatever and she can do anything she likes. It just irked me. I thought way too much time was spent on her and her irritating little notions and brattiness.

She's ver not me, either. Perhaps it's my failing, in not liking characters who aren't like me? Hmmmm.

Sam said...

I love historical romances too - but as a history buff I can't stand too many (I'll tolerate a few) errors.