Historical fiction, invented by Sir Walter Scott with his novel Waverly (1814) is a remarkably flexible form, offering everything from what might be called costume drama to meticulously accurate depictions of real events and people. My own work shares that range. Books like Midnight Magic, or The Book without Words, reference the historical moment, but not much more. Crispin, is (I hope) very accurate as to place and time, but has only one real character, John Ball. The Man who Was Poe tries to depict Edgar Allan Poe’s real character in a real place, at a real time, but all else is fiction. The Fighting Ground is real as to place, event, and time, but all characters are fictional.
Sophia’s War, just published, goes another way. Here all events, place, and most characters, are historically accurate. Even minor characters are real. BUT—the main character, Sophia (and her family), is a work of my imagination. That said, it is Sophia, who, if you will, causes the real events to happen. How can that be? In the celebrated case of Benedict Arnold and John André, though studied countless times by historians, there are some key events which happened but which have never fully been explained. Coincidence? Luck? The hand of Providence? Enter Sophia, and those events are explained in as exciting a way as I could write it. It is my attempt to give life to Ralph Waldo Emerson’s notion, “All history is biography.” Sophia’s War is real history, as lived by a real, fictitious person.