Writing the Restoration
by Jaclyn Reding (a 1997 Write Byte)
With the release of my latest novel, I've written and published three books set during the Restoration period. The Restoration? "What is that?" you may ask. "Wasn't that some time during the Middle Ages?" Don't be alarmed if it is an unfamiliar time in history to you. It isn't a time period often written about, in fact stories set during this time are becoming more and more infrequent. And it is because the Restoration is so rare I'm often asked why I chose to set three consecutive stories during this particular time in history. My answer? It's quite simple, really.
Sometimes, as an author, it is more that the time period chooses you instead. When I first set out, I hadn't planned to write in the Restoration specifically, much less had I planned to write an entire trilogy based around it. It started with an idea I'd come upon while reading about the history of Ireland and the effects of the English Civil War there. The more I delved into the research, the more I discovered, and my ideas flourished. There was so much to tell of that time period, so many possibilities. How could I ever accomplish it all in one book? Well obviously, I couldn't, so one story quickly became three.
Let's cover the basics. The Restoration period comprises the period of time from when King Charles II returned to reclaim the English throne following the Cromwellian period, starting roughly in 1660. His father, Charles I, had been overthrown earlier in the century, tried for treason, and beheaded. His son and heir, the young Charles, had run for his life, leaving England to live in exile in Europe, a boy, and a king without a country, until, in his late twenties, the English people invited him back to take his rightful place on his father's throne. And at his return, the fun began. . .
England had come through a devastating civil war and been held in the throes of Puritanical rule for nearly twenty years. With Charles returned the merriment, the color, the romance that had been missing and that was sorely missed. Charles was a passionate and intriguing man, and it was this same passion and intrigue which came to the forefront at his court. Music and dancing, the theatre, card playing, colorful clothing, all of these things had been banned during the Cromwellian period. Now they returned in abundance.
The Restoration was a time of celebration, of freedom and of life, and it was a time of great scientific discovery. But it was also a time of great tragedy with the coming of the plague and then in its wake, the Great Fire of London.
Everyone has their own favorite settings and places in time in which they enjoy reading. It is much the same with writers. I would not be comfortable writing a story set during a time or in a place that didn't hold some interest for me. Still, I am fortunate in that I am fascinated by history -- all history, and having concluded my Restoration trilogy, I bid adieu to the 1600's for a time and move on to another place in time. Will I return to write another Restoration novel? I really don't think I have much of a choice in the matter, after all, there are still stories waiting to be discovered.
My Restoration Rogues trilogy includes Tempting Fate, Chasing Dreams, and Stealing Heaven, which was released this past September.
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