Challenges and Rewards of Writing a Historical Romance – A Guest Post By Heather McCollum

We’d like to thank Entangled Publishing for letting us host this wonderful guest post by Heather McCollum, author of the Highland Hearts series! =^.^=



Challenges and Rewards of Writing a Historical Romance

By Heather McCollum

Thank you so much for having me today on What the Cat Read! I’m very excited to be here to talk about the challenges and rewards of writing historical romance. I have four full-length historical romances out and one novella. Although the settings range from 10th century Denmark (MAGICK) to Elizabethan England (MASQUERADE), my favorite setting is 16th century (Henry VIII’s time) Britain, especially Scotland.

My latest releases, full-length CAPTURED HEART and its prequel novella, HIGHLAND HEART, both take place in this fascinating setting. Scotland, just like the Highland hero I love to create, is larger than life. The land is rugged and brutal, but in its honest grandeur, it’s thrilling and fresh and full of spirit. The people, the shaggy cows, the stone circles, the ruins and moors – the very air itself rejuvenates the spirit with its tantalizing freedom. To build the Highland world for the reader, an author must capture this essence through a smattering of details interwoven throughout the story. The plot should be so interwoven with the setting elements that you can’t just pick it up and move it to a new setting without shredding it completely.

Luckily I LOVE history, especially Tudor history. So research is fun. The more I look, the more I learn and the more my books come to life. To make history real enough to play in it with my characters, I have to unearth the details of everyday life in that time period. Did they have toilets? What did they have for entertainment, nourishment, and comfort? Some details are fairly easy to discover through books like Everyday Life in Renaissance England by Kathy Lynn Emerson. Others are antidotal or practically non-existent like trying to truly figure out what menstruating women did without tampons. FYI: there’s speculation from Elizabeth I’s household accounts of rags and something that could have been a belt to hold them in place since they didn’t wear underwear back then.

The challenge lies in first making certain you accurately depict details and events that are recorded in the history books and then making certain that you can’t find true details about something you are making up. This is very important when you bring factual historical figures or events into your story. The figures must act true to their personalities, and outcomes of events must be real to give your story credibility as in – it could have happened. But within those confines, there is usually a lot of room to play. And that’s where the fun starts!

In CAPTURED HEART there is an underlying fear that the English, headed by larger-than-life Henry VIII, will come to Scotland to wage war on my hero’s clan. There is also a treasonous plan against the English monarch that spurs my plot forward. Without King Henry’s tyrannical hot temper and paranoia about threats to his rule, the plots in my series wouldn’t work. So getting to know him is key. Thus I read his biography, the biography of his wives, and Queen Elizabeth’s biography. I also love to watch The Tudors, which although not completely accurate, gives a nice visual about how the people lived in the 16th century.

I haven’t visited Britain for about fifteen years, but I’m thrilled that I’m going back this July! I plan to sit on a sheep-dotted hill overlooking the ruins of Kilchurn castle and breathe in the atmosphere. The sights, sounds, smells and the very feel of the earth in Scotland bring history to life for me and that is what brings my writing to life.

Thank you for having my here today! For more information about me and my books, please check out my web site at Have a purrrfect day!


Thank you Heather for stopping by! Later today Buggy will be posting her review on Highland Heart, the prequel novella to Heather’s wonderful book Captured Heart. To see Buggy’s review of the first book of the Highland Heart series, please click HERE. To read the author interview we did with Heather, please click HERE. =^.^=


Posted on February 7, 2013, in Authors. Bookmark the permalink. 1 Comment.

  1. Great guest post and I love HF and history. I love reading about it and watching the history channel. Scotland intrigues me and I love books set there.