4/22/07

I Give Up

After spending almost two hours trolling the internet, I give up. I yield. No more can be done. That's right -- there is no earthly way to reconcile the Robin Hood myth with any semblance of history.

I started on a routine fact-finding quest because I am writing about the town of Nottingham, particularly its castle. The good news: the castle was built upon a sandstone foundation and riddled with caves, secret entrances, and hidey-holes. That's good new for both me and my plot.

The bad news: no one knows exactly what it looked like. The castle was replaced in the 17th century with a ducal mansion, but sketches of the original structure are unreliable and lacking in detail. I mean, Juliette could draw a better castle than this one, depicted by a man named John Speed in 1615. As opposed to when I wrote about early 19th century Salzburg for Serenade, I am totally without period maps, photographs, and other writing aids. Time to make stuff up, baby!

Then there's the tricky issue of Loxley, as in Robin of Loxley. Where is it? Some same York. Some say Warwick. Dude, those are not even close to Nottingham. Not to mention that the Robin Hood myth sprung up in relation to Henry III, about a hundred years after Richard the Lionheart and Bad Ole' King John. How did these names even come into association with each other? Ummm... no one knows. Seriously. Asking for a consensus invites full-blown historian catfights.

The whole thing is a mess. When I started, I thought I would find it entertaining to write an historical novel that continues where the myth leaves off, but how to do that when the myth is a hydra? Perhaps I was only thinking of Prince of Thieves as my jumping-off point -- if I'm willing to completely do away with the largest portion of historical Robin Hood research.

That's fine. I can cope with blending mythological elements with sound historical research about living conditions, royal politics, and medieval technologies. I can make life within this period SEEM real, at least. But I loathe the day when I'll have to write one of those author's "fact vs. fiction" pieces, justifying how and why I chose to scrap fact in favor of mythic fancy.

The irony is that, tired of fantasy paranormals featuring magic powers, I started this project with a genuine alchemist in mind. I wanted to base Meg's skills in the real science of the time. How she comes to know these things is a little far-fetched, but at least SOMEONE knew them in the early 13th century. Now I'll be working in fantasyland after all, with regard to Will's origins and the Robin Hood canon, not the science behind Meg's alchemy.

It's fiction. And at this point, I just want the damn thing to make sense within its own world, within the confines of the pages I create. I think I'll look at this here picture of Christian Slater and clear my mind of these difficult thinky things. Then I can assign RWS to a long, long list of very unlikely tales about a turbulent but largely fictionalized era.

"It's too late to change events.
It's time to face the consequence
For delivering the proof
In the policy of truth."
"Policy of Truth" by Depeche Mode

1 comment:

Ann(ie) said...

Yes, down with thinky things! They cause me no end of trouble.