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Hello, my name is Valorie. I have a Master's Degree in History and a license to teach-- I have been both university professor and public school teacher. Currently, I am a middle school social studies teacher. I love horror movies and spooky things. Every day is Halloween. I am also a passionate book blogger.

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Tuesday, September 1, 2009

Guest Post: Judith James (Highland Rebel)

I would like to welcome Judith James to Morbid Romantic. I was fortunate enough to get to review Highland Rebel, so it is a double pleasure for me to get to have Judith James, author herself, guest blog here. Welcome!

Judith James Guest Blog, author of Highland Rebel Morbid Romantic; September 4, 2009
Fact, Fiction and Stereotype
The Encarta dictionary describes stereotype as an “oversimplified conception or standardized image of a person or group” Obviously stereotypes have some basis in fact. The key word is oversimplified. Stereotypes take complex phenomena and simplify them so they are easily communicated and understood, but in the process they loose the tremendous diversity and complexity that lie at the heart of what they describe. One thing research has taught me is not to mistake historical stereotype as fact. Many common stereotypes we hold about the past are mistaken for absolute historical truths, to the point that things that actually happened are sometimes challenged as anachronistic; modern day habits, customs and mores applied to older times. Many of them revolve around women’s roles, social life, and patterns of speech. Here are just a few I came across researching Broken Wing and Highland Rebel. Aristocrats never took to piracy they say? A little research on the Huguenot expulsions from France and the history of the buccaneers might just surprise them. Female upper class pirates historically inaccurate? A modern fantasy imprinted on older times? What about Grania, the Irish chieftain who stood toe to toe with Elizabeth in the 16th century? It’s said that Elizabeth gave her a handkerchief and enjoyed her immensely, even though, to the horror of the gathered courtiers, she blew her nose in it. What about Lady Mary Killigrew of Cornwall, the female pirate and lady in waiting who got herself into hot water with Elizabeth when she oops...got greedy and took an allied vessel and Elizabeth could no longer look the other way? She was a bloodthirsty woman who had a nasty habit of putting the crews she captured to death until her husband was ordered to lock her up. And then there’s the language. It makes some people cringe to see the F#@% word used in historical fiction. Well they may object on moral grounds, but they certainly aren’t on firm footing on historical ones. If the word upsets them they wouldn’t want to read any of the works of the 17th century court poet Rochester or those of his merry band of f#@#sters, or the ode a young Horace Walpole wrote to the Earl of Lincoln. Seventeenth century gentlemen also used slang, much of which is not repeatable here, and contractions such as won’t, don’t, can’t, ben’t, shan’t, etc., were all in common use at that time. A quick read through Sam Pepys diaries or most any Restoration era play will convince you if you believe it an’t so. These are just a few examples of some common stereotypes I found to be less fact based than I originally thought. There are enough about women and their roles to merit a blog on their own and I will be talking about that at a later date, but for now I guess it won’t surprise you if I tell you that my stories aren’t full of well bred lords and proper ladies in lovely gowns, though of course there is some of that. I am always more interested in characters that challenge the stereotypes of their time and gender. My characters curse and swear, they fight and kill, and though they all have their own sense of honour they tend to be rebellious, and question and challenge the rules of the society in which they live. They also deal with moral issues and moral ambiguity, and they insist on living life on their own terms, something some people have been doing all through history. These are the people I find most interesting from a story telling perspective, and it’s particularly true of Catherine and Jamie in Highland Rebel. It’s something that draws them together from the beginning and forms the basis of a friendship that leads to many adventures and makes them question everything they were taught to believe. I’d like to thank the Morbid Romantic for inviting me today. What a great name! And I’d like to thank everyone who stopped by. All comments are welcome and I’m delighted to answer any questions you might have, but I also like to end with one of my own. I remember a book by Bettina Krahn called Caught in the Act that made me pick up a book of poetry by Ovid when the hero read it to her in Latin and her toes curled, and more recently Lisa Marie Wilkinson’s exciting Fire at Midnight made me look up The Great Storm of 1703. Has anything like that ever happened to you?

Highland Rebel by Judith James, in stores September 1, 2009!  

Amidst the upheaval of Cromwell's Britain, Jamie Sinclair's wit and military prowess have served him well. Leading a troop in Scotland, he impetuously marries a captured maiden, saving her from a grim fate. A Highlands heiress to title and fortune, Catherine Drummond is not the woman Jamie believes her to be. When her people effect her rescue, and he cannot annul the marriage, Jamie goes to recapture his hellcat of a new wife... In a world where family and creed cannot be trusted, where faith fuels intolerance and war, Catherine and Jamie test the bounds of loyalty, friendship, and trust... 

About the Author 
Judith James has worked as a legal assistant, trail guide, and counselor. Living in Nova Scotia, her personal journey has taken her to the Arctic and the West Coast. Her writing combines her love of history and adventure with her keen interest in the complexities of human nature and the heart's capacity to heal. For more information about Judith, please visit http://www.judithjamesauthor.com/.

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