By Sherry Jones
After finishing my novel Four Sisters, All Queens, I did what most writers of historical fiction seem to do: started thinking of ideas for blog posts about my characters.
I came up with a list as long as my arm -- I'm an idea person -- but I haven't written a single post about these fascinating sister-queens yet.
Why? Because pretty much everything I have to say about them, you can read in the book.
Frankly, the idea of writing blog posts about them bores me. If I'd wanted to write history, I'd be doing that. After all, I worked as a professional journalist for nearly 30 years before turning to fiction, which is what I love to read. Now that I'm writing it, and loving every frustrating, exhilarating moment, I don't really want to go back to writing nonfiction.
And I wonder: Do readers of historical fiction -- not just its writers -- really read the plethora of posts about medieval recipes, or fashion, or stained-glass windows, or whether the two princes were murdered in the Tower of London and if so, by whom?
Wouldn't they, like me, prefer a good, juicy work of historical fiction to another blog post about history?
Which would you rather read: my opinion on whether Henry III was a good king or a bad king, or my novel which shows, rather than tells, what I think of him? Better yet, wouldn't you rather see him through the eyes of his wife, Eléonore, with whom he enjoyed a (mostly) successful marriage?
Maybe I'm just lazy. But when I thought of ideas for blog posts, what I found myself itching to write was a story about Blanche de Castille, the powerful (and manly) White Queen of France, who, in Four Sisters, All Queens, is a jealous and wicked mother-in-law to Marguerite.
How did Blanche become such a cold-hearted woman? What was her deal with Louis IX, her son with whom she had a relationship that can only be described as "creepy"? What was she like before her husband died and left the kingdom to her, and the misogynistic barons tried first to overthrow her and then to smear her name with allegations of (gasp!) illicit sex? Wouldn't I become a bitch, too, in her shoes? Wouldn't any woman worth her salt?
Instead of blogging, I sat down and wrote a story about Blanche. White Heart is about 18,000 words long -- 60 pages or so -- and a lot more enjoyable to read than a blog full of facts, figures, and eyewitness accounts would be.
"I'd have you hanged, only there isn't a rope in France strong enough to hold your fat carcass," she spits at her lovestruck cousin Thibaut. What a gal! You just don't get this kind of stuff in the history books -- because, frankly, not a lot was written about Blanche. She was, remember, a mere woman.
I'm not saying I won't blog about Blanche. I probably will. But what I really want to do is research my next novel about Heloise and Abelard and write a steamy, erotic book filled with intellectual riposte (they were the original sapiosexuals). I want to research and write another story about one of the many women in Four Sisters, All Queens who could fill a whole book with her larger-than-life personality if I had the time to write all the books I wanted to write.
Recently, another author lamented to me all the time she'd spent blogging in support of her new book, only to be disappointed by mediocre sales. Was all that -- free -- work for naught? She made me feel more certain than ever that blogging is not the way to sell books. The only way I'm going to sell books is to write them, I suspect, and to make them really, really good.
Now, if you'll excuse me, I'm going to sign off. Heloise and Abelard are about to meet, in my imagination, for the first time. I don't want to miss a single exciting moment.
Sherry Jones is the author of the internationally best-selling novels The Jewel of Medina and The Sword of Medina, published by Beaufort Books. Her novel Four Sisters, All Queens is scheduled to debut in May 2012 from Simon & Schuster's Gallery Books. To find out more about Sherry and to buy her books, visit her on Red Room.