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A couple of questions about writing historical fiction/fiction inspired by

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Hi Blueboarders, :)

I have a couple of questions about writing historical fiction, or I guess fiction inspired by this is not like a non fiction biography of that person or event, it is fiction based on something related to it, in a creative way. I hope this is making sense..... :) 

If you have a historic site/landmark in your book, do you get permission from the site to put it in your book? I'm especially thinking of sites that give tours/open to tourists.

I also have a question about historical fiction that is inspired by historical events or people. For example, I'd like to have a relative of the historical figure in my book (someone who is a great-great-great-great granddaughter or grandson), is that okay? Can you research the person and create fiction based on what they could have been thinking when they were doing something?

I am new to historical research, so I am sorry if my questions seem a little basic. I welcome any thoughts and suggestions. Thank you Blueboarders for your time!

:) Abby
#1 - May 05, 2012, 03:52 PM
Top Dog Series - Rosen Publishing, 12 x 12 in 2012, fiction & stories published Stories for Children, Under the Juniper Tree and Kids 'Magination

Well, I've only written one historical fiction, but I can tell you that historical places (if they are public) are generally in the public domain and permission is not require to mention them in your story. As for mentioning historical figures? Of course you can drop historical names, most of our forbearers are part of the public domain. But if you want to use a real descendant of a historical figure, I'm guessing you'll need permission. They are private citizens after all and might take offense, or their children may take offense. If it's that important to the story, I would make an effort to get an okay.
#2 - May 05, 2012, 06:11 PM
The Last Station Master, Feb. 2013

Hi Shelliep, :)

Thank you for your answers. :)

It is NOT a real person, a made up relative. The historical person lived in a place and my fictional novel would have a pretend great-great-great-great-grandson/daughter of that historical person in a place nearby. Should I make them a cousin or a very far off distant relative? I don't think I am saying anything negative, I certainly wouldn't want anyone to take offense, I welcome your or anyone's thoughts....thank you so much for answering.

:) Abby
#3 - May 05, 2012, 06:31 PM
Top Dog Series - Rosen Publishing, 12 x 12 in 2012, fiction & stories published Stories for Children, Under the Juniper Tree and Kids 'Magination

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Abby, as long as you write an author's note explaining that the relative of the "real" person is fictional, you should be fine. And as Shellie say, places are in the public domain, so you don't need permission to use them.

HF is one of my favorite genres. Good luck writing your story.
#4 - May 05, 2012, 06:39 PM
Max & Dagny, Why in the World, Tongue-Tied, Bound, Ten Easter Eggs & 100+ bks/mags

There'a a recently released novel, sorry I don't remember the name, but it's about two of Thomas Jefferson's sons from his slave lover, except these two sons in the story are fictional. This seems to be permitted. Writer hypothesized about the lives of our forbearers all the time. National Treasure also comes to mind. Wasn't the main character in that movie, again, I can't remember the name, supposedly descendant of an actual signer of The Declaration? So if the character is fictional and the ancestor is in the public domain, it doesn't sound like you would have a problem, Hopefully someone with more experience in historical fiction will chime in here.
#5 - May 05, 2012, 06:50 PM
The Last Station Master, Feb. 2013

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These are hard questions. My historical fiction is set so far in the past that I don't have to deal with descendents!
#6 - May 06, 2012, 02:11 PM

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Well, I've had actual people (Queen Victoria, among others) as characters in my books, and Buckingham Palace hasn't complained yet.  :)  What Vijaya said--put in an author's note to explain what you've done.  And you don't need to have permission to mention historical sites in your fiction.
#7 - May 06, 2012, 03:21 PM
The Leland Sisters series: Courtship and Curses, Bewitching Season, Betraying Season (Holt BYR/Macmillan)

I think real historical places and figures are quite common in HF. Recently, I've read PRISONERS OF THE PALACE (with the young Queen Victoria) and THE KING'S ROSE (one of Henry VIII's wives). I think all you need is an author's note--what I plan on doing for my own WIP which has a few real places and people.  :)
Shellie, are you thinking of JEFFERSON'S SONS?
#8 - May 07, 2012, 08:42 AM


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