Historical Fiction trying not to lie

So I’m doing a lot of research lately on the 17th century. Specifically, my area is SE France, but there are locations and events that I don’t want to exclude. Events that don’t exactly coincide with the time frame of my historic novel, but are close. I wonder just how far away, in distance and in time, is considered allowable in this work. For example, I want to use references to Saracens, to the Crusades, to the last thirty years of Mary Magdalen’s life, and to the expansion of the Sardinian kingdom just prior to the French Revolution. This amalgamation includes about five centuries and a geographical zone across three nations. Am I stretching too far? I don’t know that I have a source to reckon with. What is “allowable” in historic fiction? Where can the history end and the fiction begin? I’ve hoped that “stretching” truths will suffice — where known towns exist, I add a non existent spring, a foreign invasion, a near mountain range, a river (that exists too far away, in fact), and some dialects that would not in fact be spoken there.

I’d like to know if the above is literarily speaking, OK. Anyone? Anyone? In my attempts to answer my own question, I found this article:

Historical Fiction: An Enduring Genre in a Changing Landscape

It was interesting, but mainly reminded me not to overuse historical references and props. OK. But what about the authority? The fact checker? Am I going to get busted for my mergers and bleedings and whateverings of specific points in time? Having written two manuscripts of historic content, I know there are going to be readers, editors, critics with a “you can’t do that!” reply to me. But then, it’s fiction. It’s a load of lies. So . .. why can’t I? Anyone?

YA or MG or Both?

Want to know if your kid protagonist is really an adult in sheep’s clothing — like Pi, I guess, in Life of Pi. Or is she just a plain old, text-loving, shoulder shrugging kid, without the hangups?

Someone who seems to REALLY KNOW (b/c I’m sure I don’t) is the lovely author I just found, Claire Legrand, writer of The Cavendish Home for Boys and Girls.

See her wisdom on the use of junior protagonists, from ages 7-18, here, at the writeoncon electronic writers’ conference:


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